Window

The window that looks into ourselves. The looking glass. The mirror. Whatever it is. Mine needs some Windex treatment. A light spray and a soft cloth.

Not a clean offered by man.  I am too savvy and suspicious for that. The spray of faint praise and flattery - any value in that was ruined long ago.

We need desperately to know from God that He loves us. He sees. He cleans us up.

Young people - hell all of us - are asking for validation from the world about us - asking repeatedly for value from others, when it is our father, THE Father, who has jumped over everything and demonstrated that he is our biggest fan. How do we believe this?  How!

Today I find it easier to believe. I choose to see myself like this - 

Me - Artist not worker

Me - Lover not servant

Me - Creator not engineer 

Easier on my heart and easier to believe He could love that. 

 

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Let’s Do This!

Sometimes we need a word of encouragement to move on and keep following our calling. We have been encouraged here in Malaysia to keep our engines on! To continue in the ways we know are good. Encouraged to see interactions with people as a chance to imitate Christ by showing compassion and love in unexpected ways.   

So let’s do this! 

 ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good’ Galatians 6

 

Spare me the details


Do I need to know all the details?  Do I need to know all the variances?  The consequences. The possible outcomes.

Jesus seems to be saying to us to trust in Him and seek wisdom and understanding.

As I heard this week at a wonderful conference on the Fathers Heart….

‘Knowledge is linked to the mind. Wisdom is linked to the heart.
Knowledge doesn’t change who I am.  Understanding does.
— James Jordan - FathersHeart Ministries


We live in a world demanding answers for unfathomable situations. This is the culture we try to help and love.  We are so wrapped up in our search for the perfect answer.  The fine line. The distinctions between good and evil.

Instead, I suggest a path towards understanding.  To set aside our Pharisaic nature and breathe a little deeper into our heart.  Ask God to give us eyes to see a little better. And a new hearing to hear a little better.

That they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts. And turn and be healed
— Isaiah 6,10

THE JESUS HALO - HE PROVIDES THE BELLS AND WHISTLES

Howard Schultz is like a mega-church pastor.  He has many followers worldwide. He has formulated a strong brand identity.  He has his message. He did take the ‘high road’ when it came to the Philadelphia incident this year. He made a point to train his staff rather than make excuses for bad racist behaviour. Good Marketing.  Psychology at work in the marketplace. He  talks about creating a ‘brand halo’.  Like Hillsong Church used their great worship department to build a huge brand halo and then added preaching and mission and education. So, too, Schultz wants to change up the Starbucks branding by adding  a few classy roasteries to take the basic Starbucks messaging to a whole new level. 

Schultz had a dream.  He had a couple of dreams!  His goal, before retiring as CEO, was to develop an arm of the Starbucks group that could be classed as a luxury – high end – the First Class seats in the coffee business. 

So,like Apostle Paul – he wanted to become ‘ a Jew to the Jews to win some’ (1 Cor 9:20), but in his case, it was to grow the business to serve the perfect Italian espresso to the Italians…. He wanted to meet the best, head-on, and to prove that he could have a spot at the table considered to be the birthplace of the coffee aristocracy. Yes, so that he might make more money and notoriety. Nothing wrong with that in the world of business. In business (and who knows maybe in White House politics) he has maintained a good record over all these years. 

How beautiful is this first Starbucks recently opened in Milano? The perfect place to enjoy a cuppa joe.

 

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We have a brand halo, and his name is Jesus. He gives us notoriety, and with Him, we can go into territories where others might fear rejection or death. He needs no marketing or promotion. He is the full package. He has his own Agent. We sit around boardroom tables politely negotiating new strategies, renovations of old skins, conferences and smart multi-pronged approaches. Good marketing? Good stewardship?

He says - just Follow Me. I’ll provide the bells and whistles


The halo effect is a term for a consumer’s favoritism toward a line of products due to positive experiences with other products by this maker. The halo effect is correlated to brand strength and brand loyalty and contributes to brand equity.

Dawn

Reading Joan Chittister’s ‘Between the Dark and the Daylight’ and I offer a thought for today..... 

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That is the cry of our barbarian hearts. I smile as Joan offers her recipe for rest.

"It’s time to sleep in like you did in the good old days. Have a late breakfast. Read the newspapers all day long. Call some friends in for a game of pinochle. As Ashleigh Brilliant says, “Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.”
As the proverb teaches, “A good rest is half the work.” At least, that is, if you really want to be productive."

Ahh..... gotta get me some pinochle?

Meditation on Eating

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A chapter titled ' Where We Go Wrong (and Right) in Eating' in Brett McCracken's book , Gray Matters, takes the challenge of analysing our relationship with food in light of life as a follower of Jesus. A thoughtful piece.  I am taking a big chunk of the chapter as an offering to you. Read it and Eat.

Eat for connection instead of using food to ameliorate our stress or emotional turmoil. Food as escapism is not limited to the realm of gorging on Twinkies and potato chips after a bad breakup. It can be a bad habit of foodies as well. Sometimes our obsession with eating gourmet or “artisan” food can be equally consuming and self-focused. The gourmands who get weak in the knees over the Valdeón cheese samples at Whole Foods and can’t go a day without some sort of Marcona almond acai granola bar are equally at risk of relying on food for narcissistic boosts of self-esteem or comfort. The temptation to turn to food for comfort is widespread and—to an extent—understandable, but is it the best way? Perhaps we should instead think of food as a way to—paradoxically, perhaps—get outside of ourselves. Eating food should bring together rather than isolate human beings. Instead of eating food as a way to detach from the world, perhaps we might try eating as a way to reconnect. It’s actually a pretty natural fit. “Food connects,” writes Tim Chester. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends. And it connects us with people around the world. Consider what you had for breakfast this morning. Tea. Coffee. Sugar. Cereal. Grapefruit. Much of it was produced in another state or country. Food enables us to be blessed by people around the world and to bless them in return. As a habit that every human has in common, eating brings us together. And as something that involves ingredients from all corners of the globe—sometimes all at once—food connects us with one another. It reminds us that we are part of a global ecology; that what we are eating originated somewhere, for granted have origins in specific cultures and geographical locations. It’s like a World Civilizations class every time we eat. In his book Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Duke Divinity School professor Norman Wirzba suggests that in a trinitarian theology, “all reality is communion” and that even eating should be conceived of in relational terms of membership, belonging, responsibility, and gratitude. Eating “joins people together, to other creatures and the world, and to God through forms of ‘natural communion’ too complex to fathom,” writes Wirzba. “It establishes a membership that confirms all creatures as profoundly in need of each other and upon God to provide life’s nutrition and vitality.” Far from a solitary and self-indulgent activity, the universality of food should remind us of our interconnectedness every time we eat. Tom Beaudoin in Consuming Faith writes “The body is not a closed system but an open one, utterly reliant on the world.”
Indeed, the greatest of all meals for Christians—the Eucharist—rebuffs the isolationist mode of consumption. It’s a sacred means of connection and solidarity. In it we identify with the suffering of Christ. We connect with our Saviour and his body: our fellow believers throughout the ages. And it’s thoroughly countercultural. It may seem odd to think about eating in terms of connection, solidarity, humility, and suffering rather than as a matter of satiating our primal needs and emotional urges. But in the meal Christ gave us, the Eucharist, the former is exactly what eating is. It’s about getting outside of ourselves and reflecting on the bigger picture.
— https://www.amazon.com/Gray-Matters-Brett-McCracken/dp/0801014743

At our kitchen work we attempt to bring the pieces together and to create a place where food becomes an integral part of community - one to another - something that joins us together.

Rest

 I found a personal 'chapel' this week ... new Parq hotel   

I found a personal 'chapel' this week ... new Parq hotel

 

We have been trained since infancy to strive. To strive for effectiveness and productivity.

 Look he walked at 10 months

Look she won her race at the school sports carnival

Look she learned how to ride a bike

Look they bought their first house

 Achieving or output maximizing is the goal. 'Make this life count' is the narrative. Of course, this dialogue infiltrates into our faith culture.

Look my prayer got answered

 Look I got baptised

 Look I am ordained

 Look Look look at what I achieved!

We are living in this output-based life while we neglect the deep satisfaction of input.  The quiet sense of glory when no one is watching. The beauty found in creating an attitude of goodness inwards. Beautiful because it brings us forward to feel a real sense of being loved by God and of loving ourselves. This sense of peace is quickly ripped away when we take this and trade it off for ‘output‘points. Like a generous credit card reward system, we strive to build up points.  Occasionally making choices in order to get the extra points. Travelling on a flight or buying stuff that you didn’t really want just in order to get the 2500 points for future pleasure.  We become stockbrokers and our time of input a commodity to be traded for a quick future gain instead of valuable for now.

Our psyche is flooded with well-meaning people giving us messaging equating to  ‘Your Output is determined by your Input.’ And so we strive even in our quiet time. Investing in rest?  The prayer time or meditation or the good eating or the exercise is not felt as a value in itself but is purely part of the striving to get results.  Subtle pressure to make ALL things count.

Consider. Let it go. Eat well to eat well.  Pray to Be. Quiet yourself just in order to enjoy the silence.

Look in order to see

 Listen in order to hear

 Walk in order to move 

Rest is not an investment for future gain at its core. It is rest because we are designed by God to need it.

Find the true rest.

Hang on a minute, when did authenticity take a turn for the worst?

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The thrill of being known as authentic – the ego – in a John Lennon sort of way.  I’m cool. I’m real – hide your hymnbooks, hide your piety  - here I come.  I certainly drank the cool-aid on this one. I’ve been using authenticity for years now to gain points with others and God.  Amidst our hunger for significance, the heart can be devious. It has a habit of turning on itself.

Bible scholars have the same danger. Theirs is allowing intellectualism to be its own goal.  

Artists sip on their own cool-aid.

Martha drank the Spray-n-Wipe.

These dangers abound because we all are weak.  In the book of Matthew, the Bible warns us that ‘the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak’. Always Christ points us towards holiness as our benchmark. We tend to want to create a fancy-dress costume of our own making on our pilgrimage towards that goal.

Today re-focus with a time of quiet contemplation. Make your attributes work for good rather than for self.

True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment, and refreshment.
— William Penn

Give me that old time gospel story

As I grow older I am more often than not identified as Auntie Louise or Grandma particularly in Asia. The elderly are given respect all over Asia and they deserve it. Many intentionally help out with their grandchildren. Our friends there have their two grandsons with them for over 2 weeks from Kuala Lumpur in the school holidays. Nothing is too much. They show such love for them. Oldies assist churches and non profits with time, finances and advice.

The last stage of life is to be viewed as a time for intensified spiritual work as well as for passing on wisdom to other generations. Don't get me wrong ‘sixty is the new fifty’ but I am well aware that I need some spiritual tweeking in order to be of value to younger generations. Let the work begin.

I have buried myself in a cloak of mysticism which has been such a time of healing but now feel ready to approach the old time - the gospel train with a renewed outlook and confidence. Our time at a prophetic conference last year reminded me of days gone by. Intense. Passionate. I continue to trust and find new hope in Christ.

 

As Paul said " I’ve decided that while I was with you I would forget about everything except Jesus Christ  and his death on the cross." 

 

Full Circle

 

 

 

The Breaking of Bread

An excerpt from one of the beautifully aggressive pieces from Jesuit priest, Daniel Berrigan (1921 -  2016). Berrigan's legacy of work manages to constantly surprise and startle me. This simple essay on bread and the poor is simply profound. 

Take your “typical man” across the world. Let him in. Look at him, he isn’t white, he probably isn’t clean. He certainly isn’t well fed or American, or Christian. So then what? What’s left? Well, maybe now we’re getting somewhere; Christ is all that’s left, if you’re looking for a mystery. He’s real as a man. Don’t just stand there! Sit him down. Offer him some bread! He’ll understand that; bread comes across. So does Christ – Luke says so – in the breaking of bread. What a beautiful sound – try and see!

I keep thinking of that poor man. And his face, when someone shows up against all odds to treat him like a human being. But that isn’t all, or even half the truth. The other half, or more, is what he sees in you. And that’s a mercy, because Christ is merciless about the poor. He wants them around – always, and everywhere. He’s condemned them to live with us. It’s terrifying. I mean for us, too. It’s not only that we are ordered, rigorously ordered, to serve the poor. That’s hard enough; Christ gives so few orders in all the gospel. but the point is, what the poor see in us – and don’t see, too. We stand there, American, White, Christian, with the keys of the kingdom and the keys of the world in our pocket. Everything about us says: Be like me! I’ve got it made. But the poor man sees the emperor – naked. Like the look of Christ, the poor man strips us down to the bone.

Read the whole essay HERE

Common Book of Prayer - Night Prayer

As I lay down to sleep I am aware of those in trouble and distress this night.  I find this beautiful Prayer ......

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch,

or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary,

bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted,

shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

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The Generous Grocer (Part Two) - VIDEO COMING SOON

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Anthony Sullivan from Marketplace IGA on Robson Street writes:

I’ve seen Hannes each morning while he picks up from our store and we’ve become friends, exchanging stories and getting to know one another. But, embarrassingly, I had never seen his program first hand. That was finally about to change. Hannes, his sous chef Hannah, his volunteers and the tenants who use his program were gracious enough to let me spend a day beside them learning about how it all works - where our food ended up.

Read about the impact of Anthony’s recent 'field trip' to Soulkitchen HERE