4.11.15–>”Lectio Divina” (part 3)

lectio divina 1

Psalm 1:1-2

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.

Lectio Divina consists of four parts:

  • Lectio (reading)
  • Meditatio (meditation)
  • Oratio (prayer)
  • Contemplatio (contemplation)
Or, if you’re not into the whole Latin thing, and prefer alliteration, some put it as
  • Read
  • Reflect
  • Respond
  • Rest
*Me, I think I’m forever ruined by alliteration as I heard enough of it in Baptist preaching growing up to last me about four lifetimes. Which is also why I was adamantly opposed to naming our children with first letters anywhere near each other in the alphabet. “G” and “Z”, 19 letters apart, I can live with that. But I digress.*

So when sitting down to hear from God via Lectio Divina, you choose a rather small passage of Scripture to focus on, usually no more than ten verses. The idea is that you will really get to know the passage. You’re not going for quantity here, so you may start with just two or three verses. You will end up reading the passage around four or five times and focusing in on possibly just one word the Spirit reveals to you.

Here’s a guide to practicing it that I like and have adopted from Dallas Willard’s Hearing God:

Reading-lectio
Read the passage slowly.

S l o o o o w l y.
Now that the words are familiar, read the passage again.
This time, listen with the ear of your heart for a word or phrase, a detail of the story that shimmers or stands out to you. It may even be a person in the passage that you resonate with.
Do not choose this yourself. Let the Spirit bring it to you. Even if you don’t like it, try to welcome it with meekness and see what happens (James 1:21).

Reflect-meditatio
Read the passage again slowly.
As you do so and for a few moments afterward, reflect on the word or phrase that stood out to you.

Sit with it and chew on it over and over. (I’ve heard that the word for meditation was linked to the chewing of cud or a dog chewing on and savoring a bone. This is what you do with the word or phrase. It’s amazing how much will come to you through this process.)
Why do you think these words resonated with you?
Then ask God, “How does this connect with my life today?”
“What do I need to know, or be or do?”
Give yourself a few moments to do this.

Respond (Pray)-oratio
Read the passage one last time, preparing yourself for what you want to say to God, about what you think the Spirit might have said to you or what came to you.
Pray however you are led to pray.
You might thank God for something or ask God for something.

Rest-contemplatio
Do as you are led.
You may wish to wait on God-to simply be with God.
You may wish to ponder, How did God seem in this passage?
Is there anything about Christ that makes you marvel at Him or makes you want to worship Him?

Contemplation differs from meditation in that you really aren’t thinking during contemplation, just sitting in the presence of God, soaking in it.
For me personally, reading Scripture in this manner has been extremely life-giving to me. I’ve heard from God clearly on so many occasions and been given His peace that I’ve felt in the most real sense. Until diving into this about four years ago, I did not know what I was missing.

Again, let us be clear, we are not talking magical incantations here. We’re not trying to focus on a method but rather further and more deeply focus on God alone by opening ourselves up to hear from Him more clearly. This is a beautiful way that I and thousands of others have found to turn up the volume of Jesus and consequently quiet the noise of the world always rushing in.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:11-13

Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance and secret wonders that fill the world.
-Chasidic saying, eighteenth century

“It’s amazing what I can hear when I shut my big yapper.”
-Me, just now, 2015


*rabbit trail

Forward this email to a friend

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.10.15–>”Lectio Divina” (part 2)

Lectio Divina 2

 Bible from cloud

Psalm 119:148

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

We humans are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with our God, speaking, and being spoken to. I believe one of the main reasons for reading Scripture is to allow ourselves to be spoken to by God.Some say that it is dangerous to have someone read the Bible without teaching them how to read it.The Bible is best engaged in a spirit of silence, of meditation, and reflection, and most important of all, in the context of prayer in order to realize its power to transform us.Silence is key.

I love Thomas Keating’s words: “Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation.”

That which is infinite cannot be put into a finite container. Therefore, the Bible, if it really is God’s word handed down to us, needs a “new” way of reading. It beckons for a different way of ingesting that we may not be use to. This new way of reading does not change the Bible, but how we approach it. This is the secret of Lectio Divina’s power.

Reading a spiritual text in the “normal” way of reading can have the unintended consequence of pushing God further into hiding. How? We fill ourselves with more head knowledge, crowding out His actual presence. Instead, we read as an act of slow, deliberate prayer. In an unhurried receptive manner. Listening.

In contemplative prayer, you listen in receptive silence, and hold yourself open for the purpose of fostering the experience of God’s presence within you. You listen for and to the “Helper” that Jesus told His disciples about:

“This other helper is the spirit of truth. The world can’t receive him, because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you, and will be in you.” John 14:17

Tomorrow, we’ll start to look at the actual practice of Lectio Divina.


 

I do believe God speaks directly to us via the Holy Spirit, but as the humorous picture above suggests, the Spirit’s communication is many times and usually quite clearly through Scripture. Without the Scriptural foundation, especially the four Gospel accounts, then we are quite likely pursuing someone or something other than YHWH.

As David Benner well says, “the God we must come to know is uniquely revealed in His word. Even though the word became flesh, we must start our knowing of the Word in Scripture, not simply in our inner experience.”

And the monks of Saint Meinrad put it this way, “We…follow the Benedictine way of seeking God with the Gospel as our guide.”

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.9.15–>”Lectio Divina” (part 1)

Lectio Divina 3

Psalm 145:5

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

“Let the world be silent in your presence, Lord, so that I may hear what the Lord God may say in my heart. Your words are so softly spoken that no one can hear them except in a deep silence. But to hear them lifts him who sits alone and in silence completely above his natural powers, because he who humbles himself will be lifted up. He who sits alone and listens will be raised above himself.” 
-Guigo II

Lectio Divina is a Latin term that means “Divine Reading” or “Sacred Reading.”

It is an ancient monastic practice that employs a particular method of reading. It is a unique, listening approach to reading that enables you to open up the time you spend with the written word so that your reading becomes a doorway to meditation, prayer, and contemplation.

Historically, it to go back to Origen in the third century, Benedict and his order in the sixth, and Guigo II’s formal instructions in the twelfth.

It is a powerful tool for opening up to the presence of God in your life, in your interaction with sacred Scripture. It opens you up to allow God to lead you where He chooses. You do not choose. You do not seek to control but rather to yield. In a sense, you could say that the text reads you.

Lectio Divina is not mere intellectual exploration, but about actually becoming intimate with God. You’re not studying God. You’re getting to know God.

Before the printing press and modern ideas of scholarship, research, and academic pursuit of knowledge, those who wrestled with the words of Scripture did so to acquire a spiritual, rather than intellectual understanding of the text. It was not an exercise in “figuring out” Christianity, but rather a practice for encountering God through the medium of the written word. The goal of Lectio Divina is simply to create space where God may encounter you via the sacred word.

The ancient spiritual practice of Lectio Divina suggests that, in terms of fostering intimacy with God there are approaches far more valuable than mere study and analysis. That may stimulate the brain, but not transform the heart. Knowing about God more than knowing God.

To be continued…

Forward this email to a friend

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.8.15–>”The Prayer Process”

Prayer Process2

So in keeping with our look at some foundational spiritual practices, and coming off the examen prayer, I wanted to also share something I found a couple years ago that I found helpful and meaningful: The Prayer Process.

As has happened to me a few times now, whenever I make fun of a book title, it is that very book that becomes one of my favorites upon actually reading it. So a couple years ago, my spiritual partner Dave and I went to retreat at Saint Meinrad monastery, and each guest room had this book by Matthew Kelly, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. Growing up non-catholic, I was like, “What is this? Sounds so cheesy.”

So I pick it up, subconsciously in order to probably mock it, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s really good and pulled me right in. So basically the book is based off of studying the catholic church and specifically those who are the most involved ministering and serving. You know the ole 80/20 rule? 20% of the people do 80% of the work? Well, in this study, they found it was actually 7% doing most of the load. The new 93/7 rule.

So they studied this 7%. What did they have in common? What’s going on there? Well, they found many things, but just four things that they ALL had in common, which were:

  • Prayer – They are committed to daily prayer
  • Study – They are continuous learners
  • Generosity – They are very generous with their time and money
  • Evangelization – They invite others to grow spiritually by sharing the love of God with them

So here is what he gives as a possible starting point to prayer, a contemporary version of the examen. You might like it.

THE PRAYER PROCESS BY MATTHEW KELLY From THE FOUR SIGNS OF A DYNAMIC CATHOLIC (2012) His Web Site: DynamicCatholic.com
Be Bold. Be Catholic.

In The Prayer Process we take time – a minute, two minutes or maybe ten minutes – to spend time with the Lord every day. Pick a specific time when you will pray; ex. Morning Prayer or Night Prayer. It is an intentional way that we grow in our faith. The seven steps of The Prayer Process are as follows:

  1. Gratitude: Begin by thanking God in a personal dialogue for whatever you are most grateful for today.
  2. Awareness: Revisit the times of the past twenty-four hours when you were and were not the-best-version-of-yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them.
  3. Significant Moments: Identify something you experienced today and explore what God might be trying to say to you through that event (or person).
  4. Peace: Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you have committed (against yourself, another person, or Him) and to fill you with a deep and abiding peace.
  5. Freedom: Speak with God about how he is inviting you to change your life, so that you can experience the freedom to be the-best-version-of-yourself.
  6. Others: Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for today, asking God to bless and guide them.
  7. Finish by praying the Our Father.

Prayer Process1

Forward this email to a friend

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

4.7.15–>”The Examen Prayer” (part 4 of 4)

Examen2

James 1:22-25

But be people who do the word, not merely people who hear it and deceive themselves. Someone who hears the word but doesn’t do it, you see, is like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror. He notices himself, but then he goes away and quickly forgets what he looked like. But the person who looks into the perfect law of freedom, and goes on with it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who does the deed–such a person is blessed in their doing.

The fifth and final step of the examen is Renewal.

You look forward to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for your life.

We have looked back in order to look ahead. We allow the past to illuminate the future. This is actually learning from our life and tangibly moving forward accordingly for spiritual growth. Again, we don’t do this for the exercise’s sake, but to move toward God in the growth He desires for our lives.

We look forward to tomorrow and what keystone habit we may need to institute, what God is asking us to be aware of, or who to encourage. We look at who we will be with and pray for what is needed there, be it patience, wisdom, self-control.

We are constantly learning from our experiences…if we take the time to reflect on them and proceed out of what we learn from that reflection. Someone said it is not our experiences that change us, but rather our reflection upon them. We go through many experiences every day, every week, all our life. We don’t necessarily grow from them automatically. We can just go through stuff and stay stuck where we are unless we are strategic in looking and learning and changing whatever courses necessary for spiritual progression.

The examen, remember, is a tool. A tool to bring us closer into oneness with God and to clear space for the Holy Spirit to fill. It also serves to  s  l  o  w   u   s    d    o    w    n. And in general, it is always good to slow down and smell the roses. Unless you’re being chased by a puma.

I believe this prayer to be a basic foundational practice that is of utmost value to anyone who really takes it on.


 

Always, only, for my King

4.6.15–>”The Examen Prayer” (part 3)

Examen2

Romans 4:7

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.

Step four: Forgiveness.Out of step three’s review of our day, in which we search for our consolations and desolations, we will inevitably be drawn to seek God’s forgiveness for our wrongs we have uncovered. 

Timothy Gallagher makes a great point on this step, so let me quote from the first section on his chapter on forgiveness:”This step in which we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness touches deep relational spaces in our hearts. We must approach it with great sensitivity, for much in the practice of examen depends upon how we understand and what our hearts feel in regard to this: asking God’s forgiveness.

“Jean Vanier writes: ‘Forgiveness and celebration are at the heart of community.’ The two pillars that sustain relationships are the joy of togetherness and the readiness, when human limitation emerges, to ask forgiveness. Vanier continues:

‘We can only truly accept others as they are, and forgive them, when we discover that we are truly accepted by God as we are and forgiven by him. It is a deep experience, knowing that we are loved and held by God in all our brokeness and littleness.’

“In its fourth step, the examen is the privileged daily space of this ‘deep experience’ of ‘knowing that we are loved and held by God in all our brokeness and littleness.’ To live the fourth step daily in all its richness strengthens our communion with God and empowers us to be agents of healing forgiveness in our communities, in our families, and in society as a whole.”

So forgiveness has a lot to do with our image of God, how we relate to one another, and of course avoiding cancer–be it emotional or even physical.

If our image of God is based on Jesus, Scripture, and nature, I believe we will then realize God is loving, merciful, and forgiving. That He has already dealt with our sin through Jesus’ sacrifice, so there is nothing to fear in approaching YHWH. The curtain separating us from God has been torn. It is only up to us to approach then. Confessing our failings brings healing via the touch of God. We are human. We are limited. We fail. Admit it. Release it. As God does. It actually feels pretty good to do so.

“The God of Christian revelation is a God who rejoices in the encounter of forgiveness, whose loving forgiveness respects human dignity and heals human hurt. Joy is nowhere so repeatedly mentioned in the Gospels as in Luke 15, the chapter of the parables of forgiveness: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. The profound link in the Scriptures between God’s forgiveness and joy indicates that the more truly we experience step four of the examen, the more this step will become a time of joy.”

And remember what Tozer said: “Whatever comes into your heart and mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”

Relating to othersMake allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (Col.3:13) There’s a few places in the Bible mentioning that we will be forgiven the same measure we forgive. If we believe this, and our image of God is good, we will pretty darn quick to forgive. (We could start an organization named “PDQ Forgiveness”!) There is no healthy relationship without forgiveness. A while back we described forgiveness as:

Actively relieving others of payment for their wrongs against you. Our punishment of others, which is their payment, often comes in the form of our silence, but may also be our disgusted stare, slander, defamation, or simply our inner resentment.

Forgiveness refuses to punish with silence.

Forgiveness does not punish with a disgusted stare.

Forgiveness does not punish with slander.

Forgiveness does not punish with defamation.

Forgiveness does not nurture inner resentment.

Forgiveness is not easy.

There is no healthy relationship without forgiveness. Which leads us to avoiding cancer. So my mom, trying desperately to get me to eat green beans-which I hated, would tell me at dinner, “Rob, eat at least three green beans or you might get cancer.” Now I may be misquoting her slightly, but it was something like that, something mildly traumatizing. But we could definitely utter in truth a similar phrase related to forgiveness. “Relieve people of payment for their wrongs against you or else get cancer.” Maybe not physically (though I think that’s a possibility because of one story of someone I know), but at least emotionally or spiritually. Unforgiveness will tear you up inside. Don’t try it. It will eat away at you until not much is left of who you once were.

So forgiveness is huge. Receiving, as well as giving. It is healing. Even more than green beans.



Tomorrow, the fifth and final step: Renewal.

Always, only, for my King

4.5.15–>”The Examen Prayer” (part 2)

Examen2

Psalm 119:59

I considered my ways, pondered the direction of my life, and turned my feet to your decrees.

Step three of the examen is review. This is that valuable habit of reflection. You simply walk back through your day, from waking up, looking for where God was at work, when you were paying attention to Him, and when you were not. 

The bigger words Ignatius used for this are consolations and desolations. In short, consolations are those things you recognize as bringing you closer to God, and desolations are those things that take you away from God. These “things” we review could very well be activities, but much of the time they will be our thoughts. We ask ourselves which thoughts were God-inspired, and which ones seemed to be inspired by the enemy in order to draw us away from God.

Never wanting to overwhelm ourselves, you may begin by reviewing just one part of your day and your thoughts that arose within it. Here are some questions you may ask:

  • Where was God in my activity today?
  • Toward what was the Lord calling me today?
  • How did I respond to this call?
  • Were there inclinations and thoughts this day that were not of God? If there were, was I able to discern and resist them?
  • Was the use of my freedom in accord with God’s loving desire for me today?
  • What brought me peace today?
  • What brought me anxiety this day?
Timothy Gallagher, in his book on this practice, says that “Each of our days is filled with a richness of interior experience: love, hopes, anxieties, joys, fears, attractions, resistances, desires, disinclinations, all accompanied by an endless flux of varied thoughts. This interior experience occurs in the context of continual and constantly changing activity: interactions with others, conversations, meals, prayer, work, travel, projects, planning, and decision-making.”

The examen helps us “make sense” of our days and to better pay attention to the activity of God that we easily overlook if we do not take the time to notice it. These spiritual practices, remember, are to bring us closer to God and create space for His filling us. And we do this in large part via intentionally paying attention to Him.

Tomorrow we will look at step four: Forgiveness.

 

Always, only, for my King

4.4.15–>”The Examen Prayer” (part 1)

Examen2

Lamentations 3:40

Let us examine and see what we have done and then return to the Lord.

I’ve been practicing the examen regularly since last fall, and I cannot tell you how valuable it has been for my spiritual growth. This habit of reflection is so very vital.

Someone said that “the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” For we just move through our days not noticing them, not taking the time to reflect and be thankful. God is with us at all times, speaking to us even, yet we may live our lives not paying attention to Him or His voice, which often is a gentle whisper. Thus the need to pay focused attention.

Many of us tend to live our days at the surface. But there is so much meaning to be mined at the depths of day-to-day life. The examen helps us do this very rewarding excavation. To just look back over your day with specific gratitude is enough to change your life. It’s been shown that writing down three things you are thankful for every day for 21 days actually rewires your brain toward greater happiness.

As you can see from the info graphic above, the Ignatian way of the examen has five steps. Many times I don’t make it past step two before falling asleep in heavenly peace. That’s ok. Remember the point of it all from yesterday: to be united to God. It is not about the practice itself. That’s why it is so important to experiment and actually do these things for a period of time–to see how it best draws you personally to the personal God. For instance, you don’t have to practice this only at bedtime. A short examen in the afternoon I have found to be a great break in my day for the purpose re-centering.

So the first step is simply asking God for insight and strength to make this examen a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human capacity alone. This is real. Believe that God will actually help you to do this. He wants to and will give you greater insight than your normal capacity. I believe God wants to bless you in this way. Perhaps after this request (or even before) you may just sit in His presence until you have some sort of sense of God being with you. Do not rush. Take three to five minutes to simply be still. Trust that God is with you. Immanuel.

Gratitude. This is such a rich and jugular practice in life. Note the gifts God’s love has given you this day, and thank God for them. Start from the beginning of your day noting the specific gifts bestowed upon you that you are not responsible for. This reminds us that God is the first reality, not us. God is, therefore, we are. Ignatius, who is given credit for this version of the prayer in the 16th century, only knew God as giving–One who bestows gifts of grace upon us freely and constantly, revealing through these gifts the infinite love with which we are loved.

It is very good to physically write these gifts down as it will better synthesize into our being. Over time, our attunement and awareness of God’s plentiful gifts will grow. We will notice them more and more in real time, and thus start to live at that higher consciousness I believe we were meant for. We will be in the moment, and full of gratitude within it.

“For Ignatius, recognizing God’s loving gifts and God’s loving presence through them–summarized in the word ‘gratitude’–lies at the very heart of our relationship with God.”


That last quote taken from The Examen Prayer by Timothy Gallagher, a beautiful book on this practice. In it, he has gratitude as step one and petition as step two FYI. Whatever works best for you.

In his book, it looks like this:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Petition
  3. Review
  4. Forgiveness
  5. Renewal
Always, only, for my King

4.3.15–>”First: The Point of it All”

Crucifix1

Mark 12:28-31

One of the legal experts came up and overheard the discussion. Realizing that Jesus had given a splendid answer, he put a question of his own.

“Which commandment,” he asked, “is the first one of all?”

“The first one,” Jesus replied, “is this: ‘Listen, Israel: the Lord your God , the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your understanding, and with all your strength.’

And this is the second one: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

It is always good to start everything that is meaningful with the “why.”Before we begin exploring these foundational keystone habits of the Christian life, let us first discuss why we would even consider them.

What’s the point of it all?

I agree with the mystics that the point of it all is union with God.

Oneness.

“I and the Father are one,” Jesus said. And that is why He was able to do all He did. To say all He said. He was clear on this, on where it all came from. His father.

I believe the point of our entire lives is to become one with God through spiritual union. And the reason for even exploring spiritual practices of any kind is this.

To be united to God through Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

God’s story as handed to us in all of Scripture is God revealing Himself and reaching out to humans to be united in love with them.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus affirmed “commands” to love God and others? How do you command love? I mean, you can make a law that I must stand whenever the president enters the room or walks by, but you cannot force me to respect him or her in my heart. You can make laws not to murder, but you cannot demand that I have positive thoughts about others. Laws concern external actions. God is after much more.

I believe Jesus tells us that in order to fulfill this lofty command of love we must first fill ourselves with God who is love. As Augustine said, the Law of Christ gives what it commands. His command is actually an exhortation to transcend obligation and live on a higher plane, and this, through being united to God through Him so that it is even possible to live in this supernatural manner.

We reduce much of God and His desires for us to mere human striving and willpower. Though noble much of the time, I’m sure, it is futile. We try hard to love annoying people, or to overlook what we can’t stand in the name of piety. But YHWH transcends this, and desires the same transcendence for us–to bring us to the point where we actually see the beauty that is in the core, the soul, of every person, for they are all made in the image of God. With the new eyes of our rebirth we see people more accurately, for who they really are and who they were created to be. The annoyances and even evil actions are no longer the first thing we see. We now see first and foremost someone loved by God, made by God to love Him. We see or look for where God is already at work in their lives as He no doubt is and has been, wooing them to Himself since their birth, or perhaps even before.

And concerning our love for God, we tend to think we must conjure up feelings of affection for this unseen Spirit God which seems a formidable task to say the least.

And it is.

Before we encounter Him.

Before we are touched by God in actual experience. We love Him because He first loved us. Not because of anything we’ve done or proven to be worthy of. Just because we are. When you are touched by that, and believe it with your whole heart, you are changed. Our love for God must be a returning of love if it is to be authentic.

The only way we can fulfill these two commandments, on which everything else hangs, is to be filled with God.

That’s it. You can try hard all you want. You’re gonna get very, very tired.

And how do we fill ourselves with God? Ah, I’m so glad you asked that question. It brings us back to where we started today. We do our part by creating space in order for God to fill us, and this through foundational spiritual practices.

God does the heavy lifting, yet we must place ourselves in His path of grace. I love Tozer’s clever example of this. How does someone get a tan? Do you tan yourself, or does the sun tan you? The answer is of course that you tan yourself by exposing yourself to the sun. You have only to bring yourself into contact with the sun’s rays and the sun will take care of the rest.

Being filled with God gives us new life, sight, and consciousness that transcends human consciousness and abilities. Please, for the love of God, stop trying harder and simply be filled with the Holy Spirit.

So we create space for God’s Spirit to fill us up and live through us. If you are sick and want your favorite cup filled with healing tea, you must first empty it of the Mountain Dew with which it is already filled. There is no space in your cup for the tea to even enter. Yes, that Dew may taste good to you, but it ain’t doin’ a dang thing good for your body. And it’s taking up precious space that is meant for that tea!

Creating space for God to work in you does require effort on your part, but it is effort well spent because of its aim. It is smart effort, diligence. You will know God and yourself. And we need both to live whole lives.

This is why we talk about these practices, these “keystone habits.” Because of what they create space for, not what they do in and of themselves. The more meditation on Scripture and Jesus’ life I practice, the more at peace I am with God, myself, and others. The more unified with God I become. I do not do it to try to win the “Best Meditator in Indiana” trophy. Although now that I think about it, that would probably be a really cool trophy wouldn’t it? Or would it actually be plain and simple due to the nature of the contest?

Anyway, I look forward to exploring more of this tomorrow after having set this (hopefully clear) foundation of the “WHY” starting point.

Always, only, for my King

4.2.15–>”Keystone Habits as Foundational”

Keystone Habits

Prefer Nothing

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God and nature shows His handiwork.

So I’m here with my fam at Saint Meinrad Archabbey this morning. We were loving our time here so much, we decided to stay an extra nite. Ana, not known for her spontaneity, checked her work calendar and said, “We can stay!” This place does funny things to a person.

It’s amazing being at a place that is so bathed in prayer. You feel it. I mean you can actually feel a palpable difference in peace, tranquility, quiet, and clarity. Something actually happens with your neurons, but that’s for a different day.

Lately. God has shown me so affirmitively that He is at work where I don’t always look or expect, and sometimes He is silent where I am looking. And in my looking, many times it is more my effort and conjuring in trying to get Him to do something than mere “looking.”. On my worst day, I treat God like what my daughters called me yesterday–a “trained monkey.” “Entertain us, trained monkey!” Zayra uttered from the backseat.

This is one of the many things I receive from coming to this wonderfulhaven of worship. I am set back in my proper place before my Creator who I can never control, but only surrender to. Two nites ago, I walked out to the car to get a bag and looked up. The stars. Beautiful. Awestruck was I. And for some reason I began thinking of the sun setting and rising. I began to contemplate the rhythmic rotation of earth. The greatness of it. I can’t really explain it, but it has given me a trembling awe before YHWH. More respect. More love. More surrender.

He is ineffable, incomprehensible. And yet He has reached out to us, revealed Himself in different ways–nature, Scripture, and ultimately in Jesus of Nazareth. He is too much. Of course, He is God. Here at Meinrad, you are in constant remindation of the greatness of our loving Creator and Sustainer. I can do no justice with words describing the rich times in nature we’ve had with Gaby & Zayra here.

Walking hand in hand with them noticing every beautiful thing God made–flowers, trees, water, turtles, fish, Chloe the monastery cat, the clouds, sky…

Just noticing and paying attention and giving thanks. I’m overwhelmed by the blessings of YHWH. And the, as if that’s not enough, every twenty feet or so Zayra would just burst out, “I love my daddy so much!” Taking time to notice, you never exhaust the list of gifts He has bestowed upon us every single day. My agendas go out the window as forgotten ridiculosity. So much that does not even enter my mind as there is a focus here of all that is actually important.

So thinking of foundational keystone habits that simply place us before God in love and gratitude and surrender. And allow Him to work as He will and maybe it will even be through us. I am so nothing without Jesus. I am understanding this just a bit more deeply. That it really is all Him. Yet at the same time, He is crazy about me because of all He has done for me. You and I are of infinite worth.

So we’ll take April to look at foundational keystone habits that have been game-changers for me, and that I believe will be for anyone who truly from the heart practices them. Because of their opening of your heart to be filled with God’s love.

  • The Examen
  • Lectio Divina
  • Spiritual Partnership
  • Memorization
  • Practicing the Presence of God
  • And much much more! (I don’t know if there’s any more, I just thought it’d be fun to say that)

I know this is a jumbled mess today, but it goes along with the fact that I am a jumbled mess today. A wonderful jumbled mess before the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who was, and is, and is to come.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria