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.
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
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….
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.
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.
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
Reading Joan Chittister’s ‘Between the Dark and the Daylight’ and I offer a thought for today.....
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Read the whole essay HERE
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.