Monthly Archives: June 2010

experiencing injustice

While serving in the former communist world, (or any part of the developing world, I guess) one must be prepared for experiencing injustice. Last night a couple of us had a tussle with the local public transit officials. First the lady (?) at the ticket window intentionally closed the blinds instead of selling us day passes. Great. So we will buy tickets at our destination. I inform the checkers of our dilemma and they say no problem. So off we go. When we arrive at our next stop, we realize that the ticket windows are all closed and I can’t bring myself to paying single ticket prices. So we pool our change and are able to buy 24 hours passes for those in need of tickets! Off we go to our destination.  Later, the crew is checked by the ever present checkers who seem to be targeting foreigners these days and are always watching the adolescent portion of the population. Lo and behold, they singled our our crew and tell them, erroneously, that their 24 hour ticket was only good if they stayed underground. It would seem they though our crew was in possession of transfer tickets (these machine made tickets DO NOT look like normal 24 hour passes). So the leader of the crew wisely bought single tickets and off they went.

There are a couple of lessons here. One, if you are a foreigner, beware. If you are a foreigner who looks like an adolescent, watch out. If you are a female foreigner who looks like a teenager and are travelling with teenagers, you may be targeted. So be sure you know the deal, and be ready to think fast as our leader did last night. Don’t expect justice in an unjust world. The other lesson is this, the world is full of injustice and trips like our crew are on are a great way for people to gain an appreciation for those who are experiencing far greater injustices, like Aung San Suu Kyi. Check this out.

I am off to Poland tonight. Part of the journey will be to visit Auschwitz. I’ve been there five times before, so this time I am going to take along two larger texts I have chosen to meditate on as the team takes the tour. I might guess that I will have some thoughts for you when I return. I will be thinking and praying about justice and injustice on this visit to a place where the experience of injustice has been profound.

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more from _A Praying Life_

“What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love.”

“He (God) wants our material needs to draw us into our soul needs.”

“One reason we don’t ask a mature friend these questions is Western individualism.”

“Usually, what bugs us the most about other people is true of us as well.”

“If you slow down and reflect, you’ll begin to see whole areas of your life where you’ve been  prayerless”

“At the center of self-will is me, carving a world in my image. At the center of prayer is God, carving me in his Son’s image.”

from A Praying Life by P. Miller

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_A Praying Life_

This is a very helpful book by Paul Miller. I’ve really been encouraged and exhorted by it. Here are some quotes:

“The only way to come to God is by taking off any spiritual mask. The real you has to meet the real God. He is a person.”

“We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are.”

“So the feel of a praying life is cautious optimism – caution because of the Fall, optimism because of redemption.”

This reminds me of “pessimism kills faith” from last summer from which am daily reminded that optimism builds faith.

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forgiveness

we may run out of money, energy and time, but our opportunity to give and receive forgiveness are without limit

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routine

I wonder why we are creatures that need routine, or is it just me? I’ve just moved back to the place in Budapest where I will spend much of my current trip from a bed-and-breakfast in Vac. Though that is a great spot and I needed to be there for a few days, it was difficult to establish a routine, and that plays havoc with my spiritual well being. I need routine. Here, in this no-more-equally familiar place, I find it easier to have a routine that facilitates ease in pursuing my disciplines. The fellow who keeps the B&B (panzio) really wanted me to be in time for breakfast. If I was a few minutes late for my appointed time, he would come upstairs and say “breakfast” and then he would look at the clock and say “discipline” (he has about as many words in English as I do in Hungarian). This word, discipline, as I have noted herein previously, is important in the spiritually.

I began reading a book on prayer a little while ago and one premise that the author puts forth is that prayer is not our problem – our relationship with God, that’s our problem. It is difficult to have a conversation with someone who you are not on good terms with (for whatever reason), the author points out that difficulty in prayer indicates a relationship problem. Makes sense. We’ll see what more I have to say about the ideas in this book. But having a time and place for one’s main time of prayer makes sense. I’m glad to be back in such a place so as to re-establish routine.

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thinking about Sabbath

 

What is God saying to you? or What are you thinking? (because I believe that it is in thought that God often speaks to some of us, indeed, when grasped, this thinking can and does turn into prayer and when tamed, becomes a spiritual discipline.
What indeed? “Care for people” was my response to my pastor-questioner. But in the busy-ness that I encounter, it is hard. It is not so hard for me to care for people, but it is hard in the work-a-day world for them to be cared for. For to be cared for one must slow down and stop. Rest. It is here that care happens. This is why Sabbath is important, to be cared for.
On a trip to DC a few weeks ago, I heard a radio program while driving among the NoVa suburbs where our younger daughter works about sleep. The levels of sleep are several, from the light sleep where we are totally aware of our surroundings to deep sleep where we are virtually paralyzed in stillness. It is in this deep sleep that the body heals and has physical restoration. It is in dreams, the expert stated, that our mind goes through a daily ‘de-fraging’ (excuse the computer lingo). It is, therefore, in rest that we are renewed. Hence, Sabbath.
I’ve read a little bit over the last years about Sabbath. The philosophy I’ve developed about Sabbath comes from that. Once a week we are to stop. But God intends for it to be intentional, not random, like the train I was on yesterday slowed down and stopped. It stopped in the hottest part of the day and without explanation. It just stopped. After awhile people began to get restless. They looked out the window and wondered. Soon people began to get off! It was then that I figured that we were near the city. Indeed we were only about a km out of the city very near the outer train station. So I joined the folks who were rats from the stopped ship. And I made the walk into the city. This random stopping, in an uncomfortable situation, without preparation was not the best time for a rest. It was not planned, it was not intentional, it was not among loved ones, but among strangers. This was not Sabbath. But many people treat their “Sabbath” like this. With randomness. I’ll just take what comes! This is not scriptural. In Scripture, we read that God expects detail and panning and that which is supposed to consume one-seventh of our lives deserves thought and planning.
Sabbath, according to one writer should include delight. Intentional time to delight in God for He wishes to delight in His creation and we are made in his image, so we are made for delight. Delight in Him, one another, and in creation. This requires one to understand what we delight in. But this too requires an intentionality that is often missing in our work-a-day random world. What are the ways in which you delight in connecting to God, your loved ones, your own mind and heart? For we are all different and have different ways of going about things. We need to each identify ways of deepening our Sabbath.
Another writer urged that it is important to have daily Sabbath moments through each day. I have my smartphone organized in such a way that with each hour it reminds me with a brief Scripture text or a prayer. it’s like the chiming of Big Ben (though not so load) but better. Similarly, in a teaching on worship, my pastor stated that if we are not engaged in daily worship as individual followers of Jesus we are going to be less well prepared (or not prepared at all) to enter into corporate worship. I think he’s right, and I’ve found the through-the-day reminders as an important reminder that there need to be moments of quiet.
So what is God saying to us? Back to the original question. Most have no idea because most do not slow down long enough to listen. We all have so much input that it is hard to give attention to God. Often when I am engaged in the “business” part of my work, I am moving fast to accomplish x, y, and z and I’ll get a “business” call while driving here or there and I will (only half jokingly) tell my caller that they have 72% of my attention. But when I am engaged in the shepherding role of my work, I try to give the person with whom I am communicating as near 100% (as I can) of my attention. We don’t hear from God mainly because we fail to slow down and stop and listen. We say, “huh?” only to realize that God doesn’t stutter.
If you keep a calendar, answer yourself this: is God getting the attention on your calendar that He should? And I’m not necessarily talking about going to church, or worship for three hours on Sunday or whenever. I’m talking about you and God. Have you intentionally pushed aside other things in your calendar to MAKE room to slow down, rest, stop and listen. Listen for that still small voice. Decide on a a spot, a time and sit (or walk through a park) and listen. You will please God if you do, for He will delight in you, and with practice, you too will find that ability ro delight, in Him and in those and that which are around you. Without this, you violate at least two commandments, for you are failing to have Sabbath and you are robbing yourself of that blessed quiet that He so wants to enjoy with you.

What is God saying to you? or What are you thinking? (because I believe that it is in thought that God often speaks to some of us, indeed, when grasped, this thinking can and does turn into prayer and when tamed, becomes a spiritual discipline. 
What indeed? “Care for people” was my response to my pastor-questioner. But in the busy-ness that I encounter, it is hard. It is not so hard for me to care for people, but it is hard in the work-a-day world for them to be cared for. For to be cared for one must slow down and stop. Rest. It is here that care happens. This is why Sabbath is important, to be cared for.
On a trip to DC a few weeks ago, I heard a radio program while driving among the NoVa suburbs where our younger daughter works about sleep. The levels of sleep are several, from the light sleep where we are totally aware of our surroundings to deep sleep where we are virtually paralyzed in stillness. It is in this deep sleep that the body heals and has physical restoration. It is in dreams, the expert stated, that our mind goes through a daily ‘de-fraging’ (excuse the computer lingo). It is, therefore, in rest that we are renewed. Hence, Sabbath.
I’ve read a little bit over the last years about Sabbath. The philosophy I’ve developed about Sabbath comes from that. Once a week we are to stop. But God intends for it to be intentional, not random, like the train I was on yesterday slowed down and stopped. It stopped in the hottest part of the day and without explanation. It just stopped. After awhile people began to get restless. They looked out the window and wondered. Soon people began to get off! It was then that I figured that we were near the city. Indeed we were only about a km out of the city very near the outer train station. So I joined the folks who were rats from the stopped ship. And I made the walk into the city. This random stopping, in an uncomfortable situation, without preparation was not the best time for a rest. It was not planned, it was not intentional, it was not among loved ones, but among strangers. This was not Sabbath. But many people treat their “Sabbath” like this. With randomness. I’ll just take what comes! This is not scriptural. In Scripture, we read that God expects detail and panning and that which is supposed to consume one-seventh of our lives deserves thought and planning.
Sabbath, according to one writer should include delight. Intentional time to delight in God for He wishes to delight in His creation and we are made in his image, so we are made for delight. Delight in Him, one another, and in creation. This requires one to understand what we delight in. But this too requires an intentionality that is often missing in our work-a-day random world. What are the ways in which you delight in connecting to God, your loved ones, your own mind and heart? For we are all different and have different ways of going about things. We need to each identify ways of deepening our Sabbath.
Another writer urged that it is important to have daily Sabbath moments through each day. I have my smartphone organized in such a way that with each hour it reminds me with a brief Scripture text or a prayer. it’s like the chiming of Big Ben (though not so load) but better. Similarly, in a teaching on worship, my pastor stated that if we are not engaged in daily worship as individual followers of Jesus we are going to be less well prepared (or not prepared at all) to enter into corporate worship. I think he’s right, and I’ve found the through-the-day reminders as an important reminder that there need to be moments of quiet.
So what is God saying to us? Back to the original question. Most have no idea because most do not slow down long enough to listen. We all have so much input that it is hard to give attention to God. Often when I am engaged in the “business” part of my work, I am moving fast to accomplish x, y, and z and I’ll get a “business” call while driving here or there and I will (only half jokingly) tell my caller that they have 72% of my attention. But when I am engaged in the shepherding role of my work, I try to give the person with whom I am communicating as near 100% (as I can) of my attention. We don’t hear from God mainly because we fail to slow down and stop and listen. We say, “huh?” only to realize that God doesn’t stutter.
If you keep a calendar, answer yourself this: is God getting the attention on your calendar that He should? And I’m not necessarily talking about going to church, or worship for three hours on Sunday or whenever. I’m talking about you and God. Have you intentionally pushed aside other things in your calendar to MAKE room to slow down, rest, stop and listen. Listen for that still small voice. Decide on a a spot, a time and sit (or walk through a park) and listen. You will please God if you do, for He will delight in you, and with practice, you too will find that ability ro delight, in Him and in those and that which are around you. Without this, you violate at least two commandments, for you are failing to have Sabbath and you are robbing yourself of that blessed quiet that He so wants to enjoy with you.

 

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