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Martin Luther (not King) Day

15 Jan

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In a sermon last Sunday, I heard this quote from a Martin Luther letter to his dear friend which had me guffawing in church.  Read it and tell me if you think he would make it today when we are so careful of one another’s feelings?

I beg you, who are so pugnacious in everything else, fight against yourself, your own worst enemy, for you furnish Satan with too many weapons against yourself. . . . I pray for you very earnestly, and I am deeply pained that you keep sucking up cares like a leech and thus rendering my prayers vain. . . . If we are not strengthened by his promises, where in all the world are the people to whom these promises apply?  But more of this another time.  After all, my writing this is like pouring water into the sea.

 

From Luther:  Letters of Spiritual Counsel (p. 147)

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S.T.O.P.

26 Feb
CAM00034

As you can plainly see, I’m having difficulty with the “O” in S.T.O.P..

I recently attended a workshop on executive functions–which just means what you need to do to execute anything.  The acronym we were taught was S.T.O.P..

S = Space

T = Time

O = Objects

P = People

For example, if I’m leaving work and want to stop at the grocery store before a 6:00 appointment, I need to think of the route I want to take (Space), I need to work backwards from 6:00 and think of the drive time to and from the grocery store and determine how much time I can spend at the grocery store (Time).  I also need to think of what I need to bring, like my wallet and passport and what I need to buy (Objects).  And of course, I need to think of Mike’s likes and dislikes when I grocery shop and the person that I’m meeting at 6:00 (People).

I was thinking about executive functions in the spiritual realm.

S = Space – We are pilgrims in this world, just passing through. Our citizenship is in heaven. Psalm 84:5; Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11

T = Time – We need to use our time well now, but will soon live in eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5

O = Objects – We hold them lightly and know how to be content with much or little. Acts 2:45; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8

P = People – We treat them as we would like to be treated, loving them unconditionally and giving grace and mercy.  Matthew 7:12; John 13:34

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Lilies of the Field & Birds of the Air

23 May

red flowerI’ve just started a book by Soren Kierkegaard.  Don’t know much about his theology, but the first chapter of his Christian Discourses touched my core.  He speaks of the anxiety of poverty:

The deeper he then sinks in anxiety, the farther he removes himself from God and from the Christian position; he is most deeply sunken when he will not know anything higher, but on the contrary wills that this anxiety shall be, not merely the heaviest (which in truth it is not, for the heaviest is the pain of repentance), no, but that it shall be the highest.

I’ve written before that growing up in my family it was considered an unspoken virtue to worry–after all, how else can you show that you truly care??  Until now, I’ve not heard of anyone else speak of lifting up anxiety to a high place.

Kierkegaard uses the parable of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air to speak his truths, and even more than that he refers to the birds and lilies as our teachers in learning to trust God and His provision.

The book begins with this prayer:

Father in heaven, when spring is come, everything in nature returns in new freshness and beauty, the lilies and the birds have lost nothing of their charm–oh, that we might also return to the instruction of these teachers!  Ah, but if in the time that has elapsed we have lost our health, would that we might regain it by learning again from the lilies of the field and the birds of the air!

Deception

15 Nov
Every good thing is a gift from God.

Every good thing is a gift from God.

Greetings!  I’ve taken a hiatus from spending quality time with my husband/spending any time with others/blogging/writing while I’ve dealt with the learning curve of my new job–curriculum coordinator for elementary school and early childhood at CDS in Costa Rica.  I don’t ever think I’ll be able to say, “Hey!  I’ve got this job down,” but I can say that it is not consuming every waking hour any more.

A few weeks ago I was preparing a teaching for the Women’s Bible Study based on one of Beth Moore’s teachings from her book Breaking Free. It’s a marvelous study and if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it.  This particular study included some mathematics:

My environment + My experiences = My “truth”

My “truth” + 0 = Incomplete

My “truth” + Satan’s lies = Captivity

God’s truth > My “truth”

At the same time I was reading Brendon Manning’s book, Abba’s Child, about God’s “boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs.”  As I read his book and thought about Beth Moore’s teaching about self-deception, I ran across this quote:

“And so we unwittingly project onto God our own attitudes and feelings toward ourselves.  As Blaise Pascal wrote, ‘God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.’ Thus, if we feel hateful toward ourselves, we assume that God feels hateful toward us.”

It had never dawned on me before that the same way we can project our feelings upon others, we can project them upon God, but once it finally did, it became obvious that this very fact holds many of us back from a rich love-relationship with God.  So I’m going to add a little math of my own:

God’s truth + My acceptance = Peace

Abba, Father, help us to learn to receive your amazing, enduring love each and every day.

Do You Know?

10 Mar

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Do you know that although “Americans are safer and more secure today than at any point in history,. . . America now ranks as the most anxious nation on the planet, with more than 18 percent of the adults suffering from a full-blown anxiety disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.”

Also, “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.” These quotes are from a book I just finished called Nerve: Poise under pressure, serenity under stress, and the brave new science of fear and cool.  I’m interested in the topic of teenage anxiety, as I teach 7th grade English Language Arts in a middle school in Costa Rica, and my students are continually stressed out.

The book has a number of suggestions for dealing with fear, anxiety, and stress, which I am taking the liberty of giving a Biblical point of view:

Breathe:  Physiologically when we take deep breaths we are telling our body that everything is all right.  Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! Praise ye the Lord!  Psalm 150:6

Put your feelings into words: Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! Thou hast set me at large when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1

Train, practice, and prepare:  to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:19  As Christians, we prepare for extraordinary crises in our lives through reading and meditating on the Word of God and fellowshipping with Him during ordinary times in our lives.

Redirect your focus:  “The culprit in cases of meltdown under pressure isn’t fear but misdirected focus:  we turn our attention inward and grow preoccupied with worries about results, which undercuts our true abilities.”  Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation through your prayer and the support of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,according to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.  Philippians 1: 18-20

Mindfully disentangle from worries and anxious thoughts:  Taylor Clark, the author of Nerve, suggests two routes through which we can disentangle ourselves:  1) mindfully watch your worries, or 2) postpone worries.  The Bible suggests that we Humble [ourselves] therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Expose yourself to your fears:  But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light. Ephesians 5:13

Learn to accept uncertainty and lack of control:  According to Oswald Chambers, “Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated.”  That is the fear we need to deal with, and the only way to deal with that is to acknowledge our weakness and learn of His omnipotence through worship and communion with Him.  O Lord God of hosts, who is a mighty one like unto You, O Lord? And Your faithfulness is round about You [an essential part of You at all times].  Psalm 89:8  Oswald Chambers goes on to edify:  “If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.”

Continue to persevere.

Presumptions…Good Ones

16 Sep

IMG_8030Last week I was reading a book about Cognitive Coaching, of all things, and came across a direction to presume. When I hear the word presumption used, it’s usually in a negative sense.  Since word dissonance nibbles away at my brain, I decided to investigate.  Checking in my beloved Noah Webster 1828 dictionary, I found some of the major definitions of the word:

  • To venture without positive permission; as, we may presume too far;
  • To form confident and arrogant opinions; or
  • To take or supposed to be true or entitled to belief without examination or positive proof, or on the strength of probability.  We presume that a man is honest, who has not been known to cheat or deceive; but in this we are sometimes mistaken.

Back to cognitive coaching.  I read that when we are coaching, whether coaching a student or fellow teacher we are to make three positive presumptions:

  • Nobility of purpose
  • Positive intentionality
  • Prior and ongoing thought

Isn’t that rich?  Rather than walking into a coaching situation presuming the worst, presume the best.  Of course, I immediately thought of the Biblical principal about thinking the best of someone.  But sometimes I need a new way to look at an old truth to make it live in my life.  Think about those positive presumptions as you read this verse from 1 Thessalonians.

Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out. I Thessalonians 5:13b – 15

Emotional Intelligence & The Word

23 Mar

I was at a teacher’s conference in Quito this past weekend–it included teachers from International schools all over Latin America.  My friend, Lore, taught a class about teaching emotional intelligence to our students.  These were the 5 abilities:

  1. Consciousness of our emotions (self-awareness & self-evaluation)
  2. Self-control
  3. Channel emotions positively (self-administration)
  4. Empathy
  5. Social relations (communities)

During her teaching she mentioned how an internal positive dialogue can change your brain.  She said, “You can’t imagine how powerful the word is!”  I asked her about it at lunch and she told me how she couldn’t mention it in the setting of the class, but her whole attitude had changed from negative to positive through praying the Word of God.  “You can’t imagine how I have changed through learning to pray Scripture!  It’s so powerful!  I changed so much, I just wanted to be with Him!”

But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7