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Showing posts from December, 2013

Joy- The Fruit of Being Loved

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In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. Luke 1: 47 CEB

Perhaps humor is an easier way to transcendence- since joy can be hard, especially if we're hurting.

I remember a wise friend once said that laughter is God's respite from grief. If you're in a season of grief, you may well find this to be true. In laughter, our body releases endorphins that can ease the pain and make our loss a little more bearable, at least for a time.  
While joy is not the same as happiness, it can't be bad to be happy and joyful. Chesterton once wrote that gratitude is the real measure of happiness. Whenever I see my life as entitlement, my happiness and joy are diminished.  
Losing joy is something we do to ourselves. We begin seeing our lives less and less as a gift and a mercy. We squawk when there's no hot water. We begin to expect privileges and tell ourselves we're deserving. We end up praying the prayer of the Pharisee. (see Luke 18) We say  "there but the g…

Hope- God's True Miracle

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The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.” Luke 2: 10-14 CEB

In exploring hope we can't escape one of gifts God has to give us!  The paper discussing transcendence defines hope as "expecting the best and working to achieve it."

But hope is a core Christian virtue as well. And hope is much more than celebrating Christmas a certain way. It's about what God wants, not just what we want.

So what happens when hope is lost? The Bible includes many instances of human hopes being shattered, or unmet. How about the majority of the people expecting a political deliverer and king, especially discip…

Surrender

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Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:38

-We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
-Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
-Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Steps 1-3,  Alcoholics Anonymous

Is it easier to surrender to wonder if you trust a higher power such as God? Oprah thinks so. We fear loss of control. In fact, part of what pushes some anxiety disorders, such as Agoraphobia is loss of control. It's not necessarily rational, since there are many situations where we are not in control. Drained of energy and reserves, we attempt the impossible- to manage the unmanageable- life itself.  
The attempt to manipulate others can do serious harm- to others and ourselves. It poisons relationships, and it's why some Christians will never venture back to church. …

Appreciation

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 Our capacity for appreciation is a function of the "human" brain over the reptilian, at least for the times we choose to exercise our God- given capacity for wonder and appreciation. It's worthy of its description as one of the "transcendent" emotions, because it allows us to be human, to love, to calm down, and better endure difficult times.    


One way to counteract the natural tendency of adaptation to good things (the animal brain) is to make a regular list of all the things which we take for granted.

There are two ways to experience appreciation: one, we practice it daily or, two, we undergo the loss of blessings- and we recognize them after the fact.  Adapting to the good can be countered by intentionally remembering the good in our lives. Psalm 73:25, is instructive here: "Do I have anyone else in heaven?" Or, whom do I have to thank?

Another way to embody appreciation is to relinquish what we cling to as our rights. Instead, see them as f…

Silence- Spiritual Detox

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Ecclesiastes counsels that there's a time and place for everything... a time for "keeping silent and a time for speaking." Ecc. 3:7 CEB. One of the ways wonder is expressed is silence, because what are the words that can really describe wonder? We're led to silence, not more words. Silence is God's oft forgotten language.
True worship of God can happen without any words at all. Worship and prayer in the pagan world was known for pouring out the "empty words" Jesus mentions in Matt. 6:7. The mark of idolatry, then and now, is noise and wordiness, in contrast to our silence before God: Doom to the one saying to the tree, “Wake up!”
or “Get up” to the silent stone.
Does it teach?
Look, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
but there is no breath within it. But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.  -Habakkuk 2: 18-20 CEB. 
If we keep quiet and listen, we might be able to hear what God is speaking to us, what our life…

Wonder- See God Anew

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A sense of wonder lifts us out of the anxiety and stress of the holiday season. Wonder is healing and life-sustaining. Other such "transcendent" emotions, such as humor, appreciation, gratitude, and hope can also nurture our spiritual connection with God and others, but wonder seems uniquely organic to the Christmas story. 

Wonder by definition is awe, astonishment, marvel, admiration, reverence. It often comes as the fruit or byproduct of seeing God's life and love revealed to us in a new way. Wonder usually comes with surprise, because it undoes even our best schemes for self-producing happiness.   

Wonder invites us to relinquish our tight gripped illusions of control. It's a sharp counter- balance to our fixation on having, buying, and making for ourselves the perfect Christmas. It's also a correction for all the voices around us and in us, promising us happiness if we only buy or do more. How often do I choose to listen to those false consolations?  

Onl…

Author Advocates Slow Medicine for Fragile Adults

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Measuring Spiritual Strength

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Find out how often you become disturbed in the course of a single day.   Anthony De Mello, One Minute Wisdom