Friday, July 8, 2011

Two Approaches to God


The night before my Grandpa Young died Kathleen and I took the girls to visit him in the hospital. I don't know what inspired our daughter Jessica to do this, but while we were there she got a hold of  a small piece of paper and drew him a free ticket to heaven. Jessica's ticket was a beautiful expression of God's grace to a man who really understood grace and had tried to communicate it through the thousands of sermons he had preached over his lifetime.

One of my Grandpa's favorite authors, and maybe one of the inspirations for his grace filled approach to life, was the late Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones. According to Jones there are two approaches to God. There is self-salvation where we try and reach God through our own efforts, and there is God initiated salvation where God comes to us and offers us salvation as a gift that we can receive. Jones says the key word for self-salvation is "struggle" and the key word for God initiated salvation is "surrender."

Over the past few days I have been thinking about my Grandpa and the gift of my grace filled heritage as well as Jones' breakdown of these two approaches to God and have been deeply moved. Here's how Jones breaks it down...

Self salvation:
  • is never certain
  • never arrives
  • is self conscious and is a form of religion based upon our own efforts and achievements
  • striving
  • exhausting
  • guilt ridden and ashamed
  • self-condemning
  • depends on the will and constantly needs to be "whipped up"
  • depends on suppression of the spirit
  • exhausts itself on the problems of life
  • looks for a return on it's love and is disappointed if there is no return

God initiated salvation:
  • is certain
  • it helps us know we have arrived
  • is available to EVERYONE
  • is God conscious and based upon "the gift of God"
  • relaxed, receptive, exhilarating
  • non condemning, so it is free, abounding, joyous
  • the will surrendered then given back purified and released
  • our bodies, thoughts and emotions are surrendered and are also given back to us to be expressed on a deeper level
  • based on the inexhaustible resources of God; the more it gives, the more it has to give
  • asks for nothing except the privilege of giving and gets everything in return.
Learning to pray: As you pray and go throughout your day, I invite you to surrender your will, thoughts, emotions, ego, temptation, achievements, actions, self-loathing - EVERYTHING - to God, and receive the free gift of God's love and salvation. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lilies of the field



I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. With my cheap cameras it is hard to take pictures of flowers without the flower being over exposed. Flowers seem to reflect too much light for my cameras. As I used this picture as the focal point of my meditation this morning I started thinking about flowers and light, and thought: if I am made in the image of God and God is light then each created thing is light. Could we, like the flower, powerfully reflect the light of God?

Obviously, this is a rhetorical question, but if it is true, that I can reflect the light of God, then why don’t I? This is a sincere struggle for me. The rebel in me resists being light.

Reflection…

Maybe I do shine, and I don’t know it (rhetorical answer, therefore, part of the answer is to relax and simply let the light of God shine that is in me and always has been in me from the time of my first breath). Beyond my obvious dark side, and my tendency to live in it, why won’t I shine? Why do I resist being light? How can I be more like the flower and not hold back? How can I be more like the flower, and naturally let the light shine that is within me?

More pics...






All the best!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Didn't Someone Tell Me That Earlier? By Richard Rohr

The line I often quote from Paula D’Arcy should be obvious:  “God comes to you disguised as your life.”  Why didn’t someone tell me that earlier—that this life is the raw material that I need to take seriously?  Every day, what’s right in front of me is the agenda.  And even more, the natural world all around us has all the lessons that we need for life, love, death, and salvation.  Really!  Just look and listen, and note how Jesus himself seems to have looked and listened to lilies, birds, hens, sheep, “red sky in the morning,” green and dry wood, moth and worm, etc.

You can see how merely believing doctrines and practicing rituals is very often a clever diversionary tactic to avoid my actual life—to avoid the agenda that is right in front of me every day, which is always messy, always muddy, always mundane, always ordinary—and all around me.

By Richard Rohr

Adapted from Emerging Church Conference, Swannick, England, 2010 (unpublished) Website: https://cac.org/index.html


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pics from the Park

Where do you go to pray? Do you have favorite place at home, or in a park somewhere? Below is one of my favorite spots a little bit off the trail in Houston Trail Head.



Thursday, March 31, 2011

RIVER OF LOVE - Richard Rohr




"When we learn to enjoy and trust the presence of God, we will naturally turn to that presence in prayer.  When the church is no longer teaching the people how to pray, we could almost say it will have lost its reason for existence.  Prayer is the ultimate empowerment of the people of God, and that may be why we clerics prefer laws and guilt, though they often disempower us and make us live in insufficiency and doubt.  Prayer, however, gives us a sense of abundance and connectedness. An overemphasis on social prayer (i.e. attendance at services where the clergy happen to be in charge) has left many of our people passive, without a personal prayer life and comfortable with “handed-down religion” instead of first-hand experience.  We don’t do God any favors by keeping the people passive and unaware."

~ Richard Rohr From Everything Belongs, p. 147 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Desire



Where do contemplative people come from? Contemplative people come from all walks of life and personalities. Eventually, contemplative people seem to take on some of the same characteristics like simplicity, justice, caring for the poor, but these characteristics are more the fruit of a contemplative life than common characteristics present at the beginning of a contemplative journey.

The common characteristic of contemplative people is that they all seem to have been visited by grace in a way that tore back the veil to time and eternity. Author James Finley eloquently puts it this way, looking back:





…We are able to see moments of love, birth, religious experience, justice, aesthetic inspiration, or of sensing the incomprehensible stature of simple things, we glimpsed a great depth, which we intuit to be the hidden depths of the life we are living*…
These glimpses into the depths “have occasioned within us the DESIRE for a more abiding, daily awareness of the depths so fleetingly glimpsed*” along with the “riddles*” or mystery that go along with them. 





This weekend I have been feeling this desire; the desire to abide, and to be constantly aware of the divinity of the present moment. How about you? Looking back...Was there a time in your life where you sensed there must be something more? Did you have a "glimpse into the depth of things? Maybe at some point you sensed the "incomprehensible stature of simple things?" Or through a "moment of love, birth, religious experience, justice, aesthetic inspiration" you sensed the "depths of the life you are living."

Learning to pray: If you have the desire to abide and live in the present moment and mystery of God’s grace, accept the invitation to “join in the general dance*.”

*“Contemplative Heart” James Finley

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Litany of Penitence for Lent





We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.

Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people

We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work,

We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,

We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,

Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,

Accept our repentance, Lord. 
Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us; 
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great. 
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
 By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord, 
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.