I recently learned that Relaxation is a Skill. One of the ways to relax is to breathe deeply. Our son is 9 months old and it doesn’t do us much good to tell him to take a deep breathe. What we can do is to hold him close and breathe deeply.
This helped me know more about my relationship with God. One of the ways to relax in life is to be close to God and breathe deeply in and with God’s spirit. Deep breathing is good for the body and soul.
As you celebrate Independence Day in the United States today, I invite you to remember. the words of Paul in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
I have heard these words from those who were officiating at Holy Communion, but for some reason had not realized that they were from scripture until recently. They are beautiful and true.
“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
This week, I read Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will by Adam Hamilton. In this short book, Hamilton addresses three questions of theodicy, God’s justice in the face of suffering, Why do the innocent suffer? Why do my prayers go unanswered? Why can’t I see God’s will for my life? He concludes with a few words about Why God’s love prevails.
As a pastor, I have spent time studying the history of Christian thought around these questions as well as spending time with people who are asking some of these very same questions. In this book, I found both a few new approaches to responding to these questions and encouragement for my own why questions. I appreciated the clear illustrations, biblical examples and easy to follow structure.
While this book will be helpful for anyone who is struggling with why questions about their faith, I most strongly recommend it for leaders of Christian communities who will interact with people who are trying to make sense of God’s presence and action in their life at difficult times. In addition, I believe that you will find, as I did, that the words of this book provided helpful guidance for my life in ways that I was not expecting.
I know that I will refer back to this book again in the future for both personal and professional use.
Paul is brought before the city leaders in Athens and preaches the good news of Jesus Christ. In response,
“Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” Acts 17:34
The text clearly states that people “became followers of Paul and believed.” While the example of a deeply committed Christian is worth following, I would have first considered that they became followers of Jesus. Is there a difference between belief and practice? Can you help me make sense of this verse of scripture?
What about this idea for spiritual growth? Is there a way to connect with people with others on the journey of knowing, loving and serving God to know what is actually helpful in growing in faith? As more people take part, it would be able to better help others connect with what might be helpful in their journey.
This can be done one on one through work with a spiritual director, but even the value of that guidance is limited by the experience and connection of that individual. Does something like this exist? Would you find something like this useful?
Christian denominations celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints’ Day and the Feast of All Souls‘ Day because of the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those in the state of grace who have died and are either being purified in purgatory or are in heaven (the ‘church penitent‘ and the ‘church triumphant‘, respectively), and the ‘church militant‘ who are the living. Those who have died and are with God watch over those still living, and the saints are held to intercede with God on behalf of the living. On their part, the living pray to the saints and remember in intercessory prayers to God all who have died, particularly their deceased relatives and friends.”
There are many saints in my life who have died and now live with God. Today, I specifically give thanks to God for my grandparents Mary, Arlyn, Alice and Nora.
“You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they “are rebellious.” –Ezekiel 2:7
Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” –Ezekiel 3:11
“But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ Whoever will listen let them listen, and whoever will refuse let them refuse; for they are a rebellious house.” –Ezekiel 3:27
The Lord gives clear instructions to Ezekiel to prophecy whether or not the people listen. This is challenging for me. I believe that the work of speaking God‘s word is one in which it matters to be both faithful, relevant and delivered in a way that it will be received. God’s guidance for Ezekiel seems to disregard how it will be received. It seems that these verses emphasize faithfulness over relevance. But then, maybe faithfulness is truly the most relevant. What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions?
The article, Does a Calling Have to Be Religious?, from the Huffington Post addresses something that has shaped my life – calling. For me it has primarily been God‘s call in my life and a call. Here is an excerpt from the article, that I just couldn’t break into pieces.
“In 1904, Rainer Maria Rilke, writing to a younger man who’d sought his advice, suggested that the authenticity of one’s calling can be found only inside oneself. “[A]sk yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And … if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity.” Substitute work with the poor, forestry, law enforcement, the stage, the military, religion, painting, banking, coaching, law, politics, teaching, or another pursuit, and the answer remains the same: If you can live a full, satisfying life without doing it, it’s not “your necessity,” it’s not your calling. Not even if you’re really good at it. Not even if your parents, their friends, your friends, teachers and religious leaders all want you to do it and think you ought to do it and would be nuts not to do it, would it be wrong not to do it — not even if you think you should want to do it but in fact don’t. Rilke might agree that the presence of any language of obligation would be all the evidence you would need to differentiate the true calling from the false. To say I must because I shouldimplies an obligation, not a calling. I must because, if I don’t, I’ll die inside is quite another matter.”
This is a powerful description of calling. I believe that each one of us may be called by God in multiple ways throughout our life. It may be a career, relationship, an ethnic group, rural life or any number of things that can significantly shape one’s life.
At this time in my life, I feel called to serve as an ordained elder in a local United Methodist church. I pray that I will be attentive to God’s continued call.