Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Devotion vs Devotions

The reputation of 17th-century monk, Brother Lawrence, is that he was a very religious kind of guy, but while reading The Practice of the Presence of God, I'm finding that to not be the case.

I'm not saying he wasn't spiritually aware or that he didn't love God. I am saying that he didn't seem to care too much about outward forms and rituals that most folks would call religious.

Allow me to quote (and then translate):

I have quitted all forms of devotions and set prayers but those to which my state obliges me. And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes in me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others.

In other words, Larry didn't bother with having "a quiet time" or a set-apart schedule for "personal devotions" beyond what was required of him by the fact that he lived in a monastery. Instead, he purposefully thought of God as his constant companion; silently talking with Him as he went about his daily duties. And it seems that consistent awareness of God's presence sometimes brought Larry such joy that it took some effort to keep from looking like a giddy fool to the brothers around him.

Truth is...I'm not necessarily recommending that we all discard any devotional habits we may have cultivated. Instead, methinks it would be a great advantage to add to them the awareness that we are with the Lord whether we're kneeling in prayer or weeding a garden or commuting to work.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

THIS Explains a Lot!

I've often been accused of having no filter, but now I can see a positive side to that.

I am indebted to delancyplace.com and their sharing of a snippet from The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric by Shelley Carson.

From DelancyPlace:
Many highly creative people behave in ways that are viewed as eccentric. Why? Researchers are finding that their creativity and their eccentricity are rooted in the same cause -- a diminished ability to filter out nearly as much of the constant stream of information as the average person, and thus the need to process and organize this information in untypical ways. The term for this trait is "cognitive disinhibition".

From Carson:
Many highly creative people [display] personal behavior [that] sometimes strikes others as odd. Albert Einstein picked up cigarette butts off the street to get tobacco for his pipe; Howard Hughes spent entire days on a chair in the middle of the supposedly germ-free zone of his Beverly Hills Hotel suite; the composer Robert Schumann believed that his musical compositions were dictated to him by Beethoven and other deceased luminaries from their tombs; and Charles Dickens is said to have fended off imaginary urchins with his umbrella as he walked the streets of London....

In fact, creativity and eccentricity often go hand in hand, and researchers now believe that both traits may be a result of how the brain filters incoming information. Even in the business world, there is a growing appreciation of the link between creative thinking and unconventional behavior.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. (Psalm 139:14 NLT)

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

When Love Was New...Wow!

Having looked at foundational "Jesus Music" albums from Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill, it would be remiss of this blog to ignore the force of nature that was Keith Green.

Keith was a musical powerhouse at an early age. For instance, have you seen the clip of his appearance on I've Got a Secret when he had signed a recording contract at the age of 11?

After years of spiritual exploring and experimenting, Keith fell in love with Jesus. That not only transformed Keith Green, but it ended up changing a lot of Christian musicians, as well. To be sure, his unexpected death in a plane crash (July 28, 1982) shortly before the release of his fourth album brought additional attention to his music, but his songs of worship, personal testimony, and John-the-Baptist-like challenge were making waves and changing lives long before he bid this world goodbye. 

Keith's first album, For Him Who Has Ears to Hear, charges out of the gate with the infectious piano-rocker, "You Put This Love in My Heart".

I found it hard to believe
Someone like you cared for me
You put this love in my heart
I tried but could not refuse
You gave me no time to choose
You put this love in my heart

I want to know where the bad feelings go
When I'm depressed and I get down so low
And then I see you coming to me and it's alright

I want to tell you right now
I'm not afraid to say how
You put this love in my heart
There are sometimes when I doubt
But you always find me out
You put this love in my heart

Cause when I see all that you've done for me
It's hard to doubt, I just have to believe
Cause you follow up, proving all of your love

Well I know
the loneliness I had before
Is gone now
I'll never feel it anymore
Cause your love has released me
From all that's in my past
And I know I can believe you
When you say I'll never be forsaken
Your love is gonna last

There's so much more I should say
If I could just find a way
You put this love in my heart
Is all this real or a dream
I feel so good I could scream
You put this love in my heart

I want to know where the bad feelings go
When I'm depressed and I get down so low
And then I see you coming to me and it's alright

You put this love in my heart...

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...the love of God is certainly worth singing about; maybe even making you feel so good you could scream! It's good to be reminded of how it felt when it was fresh and exciting. Make it so again, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Have You Been Doing It?

It's one of the easiest things in the world to do. Almost all of us find ourselves doing it without even thinking about it.

And we need to stop it.

The "it" under consideration here is comparing ourselves to others.

Whether we're considering our job performance, swimming abilities, or usefulness to God, we always seem to be glancing around ourselves to see how well we're doing compared to those around us.

The problem with doing that, no matter how naturally we fall into it, is that we end up in one of two unhelpful situations. Either we start thinking too highly of ourselves or we start putting ourselves down.

Take the opening lines of the Rich Mullins song, "Hard", for example:

Well, I am a good Midwestern boy 
I give an honest day's work if I can get it 
I don't cheat on my taxes, I don't cheat on my girl 
I've got values that would make the White House jealous 

Well, I do get a little much over-impressed 
'Til I think of Peter and Paul and the apostles 
I don't stack up too well against them I guess
But by the standards 'round here I ain't doing that awful

More often than not, I see folks leaning toward the extreme of thinking their gifts, their abilities, and their skills aren't good enough to be of any use for the Kingdom...that there are way more people who can do way more impressive things and get way bigger results.

The sad part of that kind of thinking is that it usually results in the person not doing anything with their gifts, abilities, and skills. It gets left up to "all those other people who are more talented."

Paul had something to say about this in First Corinthians 12:12-21.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ....

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

Truth is...We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. (Brother Lawrence)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Have You Found Brother Lawrence? (I Didn't Even Know He Was Lost!)

I enjoy browsing through the library.

Almost always, it results in finding something I didn't know I was looking for.

For instance, during a recent stroll through the 248 section of the Dewey Decimal System (no relation), I found a book that I had heard about countless times but had never read, The Practice of the Presence of God: Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence.

For something first published in 1692, it certainly feels up-to-date so far. I'm sure several quotes will be finding their way into this space. Such as this one:
In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him, we must at first apply to Him with some diligence; but after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty. (Oneworld Publications, Oxford, England, 1993 p.15.)

In other words, when our first attempts at a spiritual mindset seem forced and done out of a sense of duty, we shouldn't fret. They will eventually become matters of the heart that we could never abandon.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...if at first you don't succeed, pray, pray again.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

God Is the World's Biggest Abortionist

Nobody kills more unborn babies than God.

Apparently because of some recent state legislation, the topic of abortion has been trending again. And because of that, I reposted my first blog entry on the subject to my Facebook timeline.

And because of that, I've been involved in a few comment threads of late, one of which brought up the point alluded to by the title of this post and spelled out in the first sentence above.

The argument basically goes like this:
Abortion shouldn't be such a big deal because there are far more miscarriages, including those that happen before a woman even knows she's pregnant, than there are abortions.

My single-point response? There are far more people who die every day from natural causes than there are murders, but it's still illegal to murder.

Truth is...to get a broader scope of my take on this topic, click the "abortion" label to the right, or just click here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What Did You Become at School Today, Johnny?

So there's no misunderstanding, the title "What Did You Become at School Today, Johnny?" is not meant to imply that this post will be a disparaging diatribe on how the educational system in the United States has turned from teaching skills or knowledge and is more focused on indoctrinating the young in the ways of political correctness and the celebration of all things except traditional, Judaeo-Christian values.

Not that I couldn't spend some time ranting about that.

No. Instead, I'd like to bring to our attention a quote from Oswald Chambers.

"We are apt to think that everything that happens to us is to be turned into useful teaching; it is to be turned into something better than teaching, into character. We shall find that the spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something but to make us something." ~ Oswald Chambers, "The Love of God: An Intimate Look at the Father-Heart of God", Discovery House

Truth is...Yahweh has never been a tyrant demanding adherence to a set of ideas or a list of rules. It's always been about relationship and the condition of the inner person. " The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7 NLT)