Saturday, April 21, 2018

12. Renovation of the Heart by Willard

I read this two times in one year. Last time, I listened to it on audiobook, this time I underlined and took extensive notes since it is an assigned text for a class. It is even better the second time around. Spiritual transformation really is possible. 

97799Here is the gist quote:

“Spiritual formation for the Christian basically refers to the Spirit-driven process of forming the inner world of the human self in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself…the outer life of the individual becomes a natural expression or outflow of the character and teachings of Jesus.” (22)

My only thing about Willard is that he doesn't realize that this has been going on within pockets of followers of Jesus for a while now. I was taught all these principles in the Navigators when I was in college. He has definitely brought it to the forefront and articulated it beautifully. I prefer to think of it as discipleship rather than calling it spiritual formation, but that is just my preference, and spiritual formation is the popular way to term it these days. 

14. A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly

I love this little gem.

A few good quotes:
How, then, shall we lay hold that that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the deeps of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established (p. 15).

Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life.

We are not integrated. We are distraught. We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all. And we are unhappy, uneasy, strained, oppressed and fearful we shall be shallow. For over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center!

Gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of humans. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action.

In this humanistic age we suppose we are the initiator and God is the responder. But the Living Christ within us is the initiator and we are the responders. God the Lover, the accuser, the revealer of light and darkness presses within us. “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” And all our apparent initiative is already a response, a testimonial to God’s secret presence and working within us.-

Do you want to live in such an amazing divine Presence that life is transformed and transfigured and transmuted into peace and power and glory and miracle? If you do, then you can. But if you say you haven’t the time to go down into the recreating silences, I can only say to you, you don’t really want to; you don’t yet love God above all else in the world, with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. For…we find time for what we really want to do.

Previous review:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Morning Freewrite

It has been two weeks since I have done a freewrite.

The April praxis exercise is "An Unhurried Space."  Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

Purpose:  The writer of Proverbs understood that, “It is not good to . . . be hasty and miss the way” (19:2). Likewise, the apostle Paul emphasized the importance of taking time to follow God’s leading: “So to make sure there will be no slipup . . . I want you to have all the time you need to make this offering in your own way. I don’t want anything forced or hurried at the last minute” (2 Cor. 9:5, MSG). In a moment of Jesus’ life when it would have been logical to rush (to heal Jairus’ daughter), he instead took time not only to acknowledge the healing of the woman with the flow of blood, but also to listen to her tell “the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).
Dallas Willard comments on the motives behind haste and rushing in the article “Looking Like Jesus” (Chapter 4 of ​The Great Omission
). He says,

"Many well-meaning people . . . cannot succeed in being kind because they are too rushed to get things done. Haste has worry, fear, and anger as close associates; it is a deadly enemy of kindness, and hence of love. If this is our problem, we may be greatly helped by a day's retreat into solitude and silence, where we will discover that the world survives even though we are inactive. There we might prayerfully meditate to see clearly the damage done by our unkindness, and honestly compare it to what, if anything, is really gained by our hurry. We will come to understand that for the most part our hurry is really based upon pride, self-importance, fear, and lack of faith, and rarely upon the production of anything of true value for anyone.

Perhaps we will end up making plans to pray daily for the people with whom we deal regularly. Or we may resolve to ask associates for forgiveness for past injuries. Whatever comes of such prayerful reflection, we may be absolutely sure that our lives will never be the same, and that we will enjoy a far greater richness of God's reality in our lives." (​The Great Omission, p. 29)

So this is the basis for my freewrite this morning. 

Nessa came over at the beginning of the month, and I told her about this monthly praxis, and she said, "Well don't you usually live a pretty unhurried life?" That was nice to hear from someone I have known since 2011 when she was in our ministry training for a short time until she decided to go to India for a short-term and then (a couple of years later) went to Southern California for her training in order to free from all the obligations her large family demands. It was a smart move. She is back for a few months until she flies off to Central Asia soon. 

She has sat in my living room in my "unhurried" space time on my couch many times. I usually don't schedule something on the other end of my time with women. I let the time go, and that particular afternoon, Nessa and I spent about 3 1/2 uninterrupted hours together. This is why I don't know how good I would be as a person who saw people in 50 minutes chunks of time. (Less is more.) I like to have an unhurried space to truly listen to others. 

There was one particular morning where it could have been hurried, and I purposely documented my feelings throughout the morning. On the first week of the term, the first day is pretty casual because people are still adding and dropping classes, so I don't make a master class list or index cards for each student (I take roll by the students having the card at their mat during class so I can identify and learn their names as I walk around the room and they turn in their cards at the end so I can record their attendance) until they have come to class that first day and filled out a card. Before the SECOND day of class, I make the master list and record the attendance and bring blank cards for those who didn't show up for the first day of class. This particular day, I allotted 1 1/2 hours for my two classes. I planned it. I had not procrastinated because the add drops often continue until the morning right before my class. I exported the class lists and made up my own attendance/tardy/points for cognitive learning assignment and extra credit (writing they do at the 5th and 8th week of class). It was going well, but my printer was not working. BUT I did not panic and I did not hurry. All that to say, it took about ten minutes longer than the allotted 1 1/2 hours. I continued to pray. I got on my bike and rode and prayed and sang praise songs like I usually do when I ride to class ON TIME. I am an "on time" kind of gal, and in the past being behind schedule is stressful for me, but I chose to breath and not tense up and keep in dialogue with Jesus about the delay. It was glorious! 

All that to say, I haven't mentioned that I usually arrive at my classroom 20 minutes early to set it up and have soft music playing before my students arrive because I like to create an atmosphere of peace for them. So, I ended up arriving at my class only six minutes later than I usually do. Granted, there were about six students waiting at the locked door (but part of it was I chose to also linger a bit in a conversation with the office staff as I picked up my Pilates mat). I still maintained peace with less minutes to prepare my class, and there was no need to panic, and the great thing was I DID NOT! 

All that to say, I am going to give myself TWO hours for preparation of the class lists next term. so that I can make sure to have extra margin in getting to class. 

I think I am pretty responsible when it comes to my classes, and perhaps I am overly so, but the fact that I allow 20 minutes before my classes really saved me Fall term when my bike got a flat tire about a mile away from my classroom and I had to lock it somewhere and walk the rest of the way to class. So, that is a good thing. 

I am adding two more classes next Fall term. So, we will see if this will be a challenge. I don't want to over commit, but the two additional classes will be at an athletic club with a pool and other classes I really want to take. So I will have Mondays and Wednesday to add weight lifting to my schedule. Something I have not been very good at adding since I left the other athletic club I taught at 1 1/2 years ago. This should prove to be more beneficial to my body than I realize. 

Well, the fifteen are up, and I am on to other things right now. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

11. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

I think this is my fourth read of this classic. I read it two years ago and went through the DVD series with two women. One of the women was in a very dry time of her life, and this was so helpful for her.

I am reading it for the Renovaré Institute so I took a lot of notes and got so much more out of this time around because of that. I had to put this picture of the original 1978 cover. I own a copy with this kind of cover (although mine is in much better shape than this one). I don't know why I read it first. I know that I had talked about it with my friend, Dave, before I was married. So, I think I read it for the first time during the 80's. I also read the Freedom of Simplicity, but I cannot remember when I read that one. I really like that one. 

Some memorable quotes:

Joy is the keynote of all the Disciplines. The purpose of the Disciplines is liberation from the stifling slavery to self-interest and fear. When one’s inner spirit is set free from all that holds it down, that can hardly, be described as dull drudgery. Singing, dancing, even shouting characterize the Disciplines of the spiritual life. (p.2)
(I have danced with Richard Foster, by the way. He came and directed our Concert of Prayer back in the early 90s, and he had us all dancing. It was great!) 

Meditation was certainly not foreign to the authors of Scriptures . . . These were people who were close to the heart of God. God spoke to them not because they had special abilities, but because they were willing to listen. (p. 14)

Often meditation will yield insights that are deeply practical, almost mundane. (p. 17)

Quote my Morton Kelly: Christian meditation that does not make a difference in the quality of one’s outer life is short-circuited. (p. 17)

We must come to see, therefore, how central the whole of our day is in preparing us for specific times of meditation. If we are constantly being swept off our feet with frantic activity, we will be unable to be attentive at the moment of inward silence. A mind that is harassed and fragmented by external affairs is hardly prepared for meditation. The church Fathers often spoke of Otium Sanctum: “holy leisure.” It refers to a sense of balance in life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves. With our tendency to define people in terms of what they produce, we would do well to cultivate “holy leisure.” And if we expect to succeed in the contemplative arts, we must pursue, “holy leisure” with a determination that is ruthless to our datebooks. (p. 20-21)

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our live.  (p. 30)

Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them. Pal wrote, “’All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). Our human cravings and desires are like a river that tends to overflow its banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channel. “I pommel my body and subdue it,” said Paul (1 Cor. 9:27). Likewise, David wrote, “I afflicted myself with fasting” (Ps. 35:13). That is no asceticism: it is discipline and discipline brings freedom. In the fourth century, Asterius said that fasting insured that the stomach would not make the body boil like a kettle to the hindering of the soul. (p. 49)

The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. It aims at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits. Nowhere is this purpose more clearly seen than in the Discipline of study. (p. 54)

Study produces joy. Like any novice we will find it hard work in the beginning. But the greater our proficiency the greater our joy. Alexander Pope said, “There is no study that is not capable of delighting us after a little application of it.” Study is well worth our most serious effort. (p. 66)

Inwardly modern man is fractured and fragmented. He is trapped in a maze of completing attachments. One moment he makes decision on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others will think of him. He has no unity or focus around which life is oriented. . . Because we lack a divine Center our need for security has led us into an insane attachment to things. We must clearly understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. “We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.” (Arthur Gish) (p. 70)

The central point for the Discipline of simplicity is to seek the kingdom of God and the righteous of his kingdom first—then everything necessary will come in its proper order.

Obviously these matters are not restricted to possession but include such things as our reputation or our employment. Simplicity means the freedom to trust God for these (and all) things. (p. 77)

God give us the courage, wisdom and strength always to hold as the number-one priority of our lives to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” understanding all that this implies. To do so is to live in simplicity. (p. 78-83)

Our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds. (p. 84)

We can cultivate an inner solitude and silence that sets us free from loneliness and fear. Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment. Solitude is not first a place but a state of mind and heart. (p. 84)

There is a solitude of the heart that can be maintained at all times. In the midst of noise and confusion we are settled into a deep inner silence. (p. 84)

In Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled one of his chapters “The Day Together” and perceptively titled the following chapter “The Day Alone.” Both are essential for spiritual success. He wrote:

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. . .. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. . .. Each by itself has profound pitfall and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.

Therefore we must seek out the recreating stillness of solitude if we want to be with others meaningfully. We must seek the fellowship and accountability of others if we want to be alone safely We must cultivate both if we are to live in obedience. (p. 84)

The purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear. (p.86)

Thomas à Kempis wrote, “It is easier to be silent altogether than to speak with moderation.” (p.87)

One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let our justification rest entirely with God. We don’t need to straighten others out. There is a story of a medieval monk who was being unjustly accused of certain offenses. One day he looked out his window and watched a dog biting and tearing on a rug that had been hung out to dry. As he watched, the Lord spoke to him saying, “That is what I am doing to your reputation. But if you will trust Me you will not need to worry about the opinion of others.” Perhaps more than anything else, silence brings us to believe that God can justify and set things straight. (p. 88)

What freedom is corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get our own way.  (p. 106)

As the cross is the sign of submission, so the towel is the sign of service. (p. 110)

We serve out of whispered promptings, divine urgings. Energy is expended but it is not the frantic energy of the flesh. Thomas Kelly writes, “I find He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.”

Since it is living out of a new Center of Reference the divine nod of approval is completely sufficient.

True service is free of the need to calculate results. (p. 112)

Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community. (p. 113)

Service that is duty-motivated breathes death. Service that flows out of our inward person is life, and joy, and peace. (p. 122)

The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works. – Augustine of Hippo (p. 125)

To worship is to experience reality, to touch Life. It is to know, to feel, to experience the resurrected Christin the midst of the gathered community. It is a breaking into the Shekinah (The glory or radiance of God dwelling in the midst of His people. It denotes the immediate Presence of God as opposed to a God who is abstract or aloof.) of God, or better yet, being invaded by the Shekinah of God. (p. 138)

Worship is human response to divine initiative. (p. 138)

If the Lord is to be Lord, worship must have priority in our lives. The first commandment of Jesus is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30). The divine priority is worship first, service second. Our lives are to be punctuated with praise, thanksgiving and adoration. Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry. Activity may become the enemy of adoration. . . For the Old Testament priesthood, ministry to Him was to precede all other work. And that is no less true of the universal priesthood of the New Testament. One grave temptation we all face is to run around answering calls to service without ministering to the Lord himself. (p. 140)

In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. (p. 151)

God does guide the individual richly and profoundly, but He also guides groups of people and can instruct the individual through the group experience. (p. 151)

We would be well advised to encourage groups of people who are willing to fast, pray, and worship together until they have discerned the mind of the Lord and have heard His call. (p. 152)

Celebration is central to the Spiritual Disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every discipline should be characterized by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving. (p. 164)

In the spiritual life only one thing will produce genuine joy, and that is obedience.  “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk. 11:28). (p. 165)

We have seen how meditation heightens our spiritual sensitivity, which in turn leads us to prayer. Very soon we discover that prayer involves fasting as an accompanying means. Informed by these three Disciplines we can effectively move into study which gives us discernment about ourselves and the world in which we live.

Through simplicity e live with others in integrity. Solitude allows us to genuinely present to people when we are with them. Through submission we live with others without manipulation, and through service we are a blessing to them.

Confession frees us from ourselves and releases us to worship. Worship opens the door to guidance. All Disciplines freely exercised bring froth the doxology of celebration.

The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life beckon us to the Himalayas of the Spirit. Now we stand at timberline awed by the snowy peaks before us. We step out in confidence with our Guide who has blazed the trail and conquered the highest summit.  (p. 171) 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp’d town to another due, Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv’d and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain, But I am bethroth’d unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. (John Donne, Holy Sonnets XIV)

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is
the kingdom,
the power and
the glory,
for ever and ever.

Sunday Seventeen Freewrite

  New Tea Pot and One of the Cups I have not written a freewrite for so long. I thought I would write in a different font. I am going to try...