Category Archives: Uncategorized

Message from Mark 16

Standard

 

Message from Mark 16

I’ve been camped out in Mark 16 for a bit. I love camping in a Bible passage. Sometimes I dig around hermeneutically with word study, historical context, memorizing the passage. Sometimes I love to practice lectio divina.

Lately I’ve enjoyed learning from God about Mark 16 through lectio divina. Here are some of the messages I’ve been pondering upon:

Mark 16, as you know begins with the 2 Marys and Salome bringing spices to anoint the body of a dead friend and instead they hear the wonderful news of the Resurrected Christ. The chapter ends with our familiar Great Commission.

If I were writing a story, I think I’d make this chapter the denouement, where all the loose ends were happily tied up. Is that what happened? No!

Instead, the chapter opens with great news of the Resurrection and then follows the entire body of the story filled with disobedience, fear, and disbelief. Good grief. They act like real people.

First Mary, Mary, and Salome meet the angel who tells them that Jesus has risen. Then he gives them instructions: “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he said unto you.”

Clear instructions. Not complicated.

What did the ladies do? “…neither said they anything to any man, for they were afraid.”

Afraid of what? Afraid of the angel? If they were afraid of the angel, you’d think they’d quickly obeyed. Afraid of the Risen Christ? Then you’d think they would have obeyed even quicker.

What if, in a rather misogynistic culture, they were afraid that the menfolk would not believe them and reject the message? I wonder if perhaps they’d experienced being respected by Jesus but marginalized by the menfolk and were afraid to repeat that kind of pain? So, they disobeyed.

What happens next? Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (the one Jesus had delivered from seven devils). So she goes  and tells his disciples, as they were busy weeping  and mourning, that he was alive and had been seen by her.

Their response? They “believed not”.

Jesus first came to women. To marginized, unheard, unimportant women.

Then he appeared to two “nobodies”. Just to two nameless followers as they walked out in the country. These two told the disciples the great news that Jesus was risen!

Their response? “Neither believed they them.”

Then finally Jesus came to the big guys, the inner circle, the ones who were busy mourning, weeping, and disbelieving. He upbraided them for their hardness of heart and for not receiving the message from those women and unimportant people.

And then, what did Jesus do? Punish them? Lecture them?

No.

He reminded them of who he created them to be and of the reason he created them that way. Remember when he sent 70 of them out two by two? He told them to heal the sick and share the gospel. They came back rejoicing that in his name, even the devils had to flee (Luke 10).

So in the Great Commission, Jesus reminds the disciples that he’s already given them the gift and mission to go in his name and “share the gospel, cast out devils, speak with new tongues, be safe from poison and snakes, and heal the sick”.

This was not new. It was not a surprise. They’d already done all those things. It was a gentle reminder, a clear reminder of who he made them to be and why.

My take-aways from this?

While some people may feel marginalized, God goes out of his way to show that marginalization is not God-business.

Even important, wise, anointed leaders can be so busy in their own pain and garbage that they miss what God is doing.

When we goof up, cop out, give up there is an answer: Go to God. Ask him to remind you who he made you to be and why.

And don’t marginalize people OR maybe it is cool to be marginalized because maybe God will talk to you first 🙂

The answer has always been there…just sometimes we need to refresh the message.

 

 

Presence

Standard

Presence

I’ve been a therapist for 20 years. I notice nonverbals without thinking about it. For years I’ve been immersed in being present with my clients, so I notice them without really noticing, if that makes sense.

Many people have had a “God moment” where they tangibly feel a warmth or tingling when they are praying or are being prayed for. These moments are beautiful but transient. They are gifts but not lifestyle. What if there was more, a walk with God so mature that our relationship with Him was more than hoping for an occasional God moment? What if we were present with Him, so present and immersed in him that we notice Him without noticing- always

God is immanent. What if we could be attuned to him everywhere and became subconsciously aware of him always?

Like Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence had spent his life as a monk doing mundane kitchen work but he looked for God (and himself IN God) so persistently that he came to live in God’s presence. Always there. It took practice but Brother Lawrence came to always live in God’s presence.

Ahhh… it is what I want.

 

What IS a Silent Retreat

Standard

What IS a Silent RetreatOne of my favorite things to do is go on Silent Retreat. When I tell people I’m heading off for one of them, sometimes I get asked, “What IS a Silent Retreat?”

Silent Retreat is an extended time of listening, watching and waiting on God. Often I am too busy in normal, hectic life to be quiet long enough to truly know I’m hearing from God.

There’s not a definite Silent Retreat format. Here are some ways that I’ve been on Retreat:

1) I first discovered retreating when an old friend and I used to go on quarterly weekend retreats to pray about an organization we co-led. We would get up in the morning and head out into the woods, each going in separate directions. We’d spend hours alone with God, just listening, journaling, watching. Then we’d come back at the end of the morning. Often we’d find that we had heard the same thing from the Lord (imagine that- same Holy Spirit)!

2) Next I found that a local Christian conference center was starting to have Silent Retreats. I started attending their silent weekend each year. At their Silent Retreat, they set up stations all over the center with quiet prayer activities. I find the guided activities uplifting and also spend hours walking alone with God. Sometimes, when life has been rigorous, I take silent naps 🙂    I learn something new from Him each time I go- about Him, about me, about His plans for me.What IS Silent Retreat?

3) I also have started attending weekend Silent Retreats at a monastery. These are sponsored by the spiritual formation school that I hope to take spiritual direction courses with. At these retreats, I also spend long walks around the grounds, sit in my simple room and meditate, walk the labyrinth, or sometimes join a group lectio devina. Again, I come away refreshed and encouraged in the Lord. Always, I hear something I needed to know.

4) Some people go on absolute Silent Retreats where they simply sit and listen for an entire weekend. No other activity and definitely no group things. I haven’t participated in one of those yet but will someday.

Are there other Silent Retreat formats that you have discovered?

Extroverted Geese, Introverted Geese, and the Way People Pray

Standard

I was out for my walk the other day. Early spring was in the air, still a bit crisp but the hope of warmth had pushed the daffodils up from their beds and the maple buds from their branches.

The clouds were graceful wisps, the sunset tossing delicate pinks across the horizon… when suddenly there burst through my placid musing such a cacophony as I have never heard. Swa-honking calls of Canada geese, only unusually loud.Extroverted Geese, Introverted Geese, and the Way People Pray

I looked up and it was geese alright but the biggest flock I’d ever seen. I stopped counting at 100 and EVERY one of them joyously calling. It was a happy, haphazard flock, no discernible formation. For a few minutes they rollicked westward toward the Chesapeake Bay. Then a couple veered off northwards, as if obedient to the ancient prompting to head north. Within minutes the raucous troupe had joined them. Next thing I knew, a sharp left turn of 100 fat birds and they were headed bayward again. Eventually, it looked like they crossed the Pennsylavania line northward and continued that course, the honking chorus finally faded.

Silence. It was kind of nice after the fun frolic of the extroverted 100.

Then a calm, quiet, “honk, honk”. I looked up and there were 12, exactly 12 Canada geese flying so quietly overhead that I could hear their wings whir. They held a perfect V formation with the lead goose giving an occasional quiet “honk” to keep the group on task. After a few minutes, following perfect goose tradition, he gently dropped to the back left wing of the V and the second in command faithfully, silently took his place at the front tip. Perfect introverted goose-ness.

Meeting Of Support Group

It got me thinking about our weekly prayer meetings. The extrovert pray-ers consider prayertime a social time to which God is invited. They merrily share about everything in life and comment on everyone else’s prayer requests or praises. Extroverts praying together is often a happy, raucous time. The actual “Dear God” part of the session is short because they were confident that God was listening to the whole thing anyway.

When introverts pray together, the request time is shorter. There is no cross-talk and not much merriment is required. It is quiet and purposeful. The actual, “Dear God” part is longer and comes sooner in the session. They pray in orderly fashion, waiting turns, and often allowing moments of silent listening.

Just like both flocks of geese successfully ended up in the right direction, I imagine our prayers do, too. We all have a part to play and a way to pray.

I ran this post concurrently at  7 Sisters Homeschool.

Listening, Imaginative Prayer: Lectio Divina

Standard

One of my favorite ways to pray is Lectio Divina (Latin for Divine Reading). It is to me the most fun and hopeful kind of prayer.

Lectio Divina is an ancient Benedictine form of prayer that is practiced by many people. There are a number of different ways to pray with Lectio Divina. Wonderfu! I never run out of new ways to connect with God through it.

Here is the most common way I practice Lectio Divina:

1) I choose a Scripture passage (my favorite is Revelation 4).

2) I read it respectfully, but not as “Bible study” (which I also love- looking up words and similar passages- that is for another day).

3) I read it again, slowly, asking God to speak to me through the passage.

4) Then, I imagine myself into the scene. What would it have been like if I were there? What would I see, feel, do? I ask God to teach me through my imagination.

5) I read the passage again and ask Him what He wants me to do with or learn from the passage.

6) I listen for His answer.

When I imagine myself into Bible scenes, I never fail to learn something. Usually I learn something about hopefulness, trusting God, or just enjoying the acts of God.

Try this: Read Revelation 4: respectfully, then slowly. Next imagine you are in the Throne Room of God. The 4 beasts and the 24 elders are all calling, “Holy, holy, holy…”. God is on His throne surrounded by a rainbow, lightenings and thunderings are coming from His throne. The elders fall on their faces and cast their crowns before the Lord…. How are you feeling? Read the passage again. What are you learning by seeing yourself there? What is God teaching you?

 

The Perfect Bedtime Prayer- The Daily Examine

Standard

If you’d like a prayer that will truly help improve your nightly rest- and improve your trust in God- the Daily Examine is a good place to start.

I learned this ancient prayer years ago and have made it part of my nightly routine.

The Daily Examine was taught in the early 1500s by Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish monk. He devised the Examine while he lived in a cave for a while, spending his time learning to seek God.

Over the years, many versions of the Daily Examine have been developed. Here is the Examine I practice:

Each night, before I go to sleep:

1. I examine my day. Where did I see God at work in the world around me?

Maybe I saw a beautiful sunrise or heard a wren sing. Maybe I saw God’s handiwork in a the colors of the trees or the chirps of the crickets.

2. I examine my day. Where did I see God at work in people around me?

Maybe a student had a moment of insight. Maybe I saw God bless someone by providing for a need.

3. I examine my day. Where did I see God a work in me?

Maybe He revealed to me another character issue (kind of a daily event…). Maybe he brought a Scripture verse to life for me.

I note these things and thank God for them. That is the Examine.

 

The Jesus Prayer

Standard

This may be the world’s simplest prayer: The Jesus Prayer. It is a brief statement:

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

This little phrase is called “The Jesus Prayer” and has its roots in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. (The story goes that originally, the old monks prayed only the first phrase of the prayer. However, when a number of young whipper-snapper monks joined, they added the humble line to help the novices maintain perspective- they didn’t know it all- haven’t “arrived” yet, everyone is a work in God’s progress…  good thoughts for us all.)

As I have learned to pray The Jesus Prayer, it has become a lovely way to relax with God and ready myself to listen to Him.

I simply breathe in slowly while saying (I say it silently), “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God”.

Then I exhale slowly while saying, “Have mercy on me, a sinner”.

I find that my body slows down, and after a few repetitions of the prayer, my mind slows down, too. Soon, I am able to put aside the chaos of life and simply concentrate on the meaning of the two lines.

And then, amazingly, I am feeling relaxed and trusting. And can listen when God directs.

Give it a try!

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.