In this fourth week of Lent, the author of Ecclesiastes continues to speak to me. I have begun to believe this may be my favorite book of the Bible. Despite the uselessness of any teaching I have ever had on it before (including in my college and seminary classes on it), it has so much to offer.
I’m realizing that while it needs the context of the rest of the Bible to help illuminate exactly what it’s talking about, these 12 chapters contain the core of everything the whole Bible has to offer. It lacks the narrative of God’s people and Christ’s gospel, but the fundamental wisdom contained in both are here.
Read More Meaningless: Reflections for Lent, Week 4
Below is an audio recording of a time of prayer and meditation on Jesus’ teaching on loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute. It was presented as the morning devotional for a church retreat, and I decided to share it with whoever else decides they might benefit from allowing the Spirit to work in them with it.
Read More Love Your Enemies
Understanding approaches slowly, but it arrives all at once.
Since I was a kid, I have had an affinity for certain people who didn’t quite align. I remember helping out at vacation Bible school as a young teen, and I was drawn to the kid (maybe kindergarten age) who was already the “difficult child.” I immediately liked him, and I spent more time with him than with any of the others.
As an adult, I have found that same element in myself drawing me toward certain people.
Read More Draw and Drive
What is wisdom? There are many answers to that question. I’ve heard it described as knowledge applied to life. I’ve heard it worshiped—under the name Sophia—as a sort of new-age or neo-pagan spirituality. I’ve read it was involved in the creation of the world.
That last one is provocative, and I think Christians tend to gloss over it, ignoring its significance. It’s found in the most known collection of wisdom writing in the Western world—the biblical book simply known as “Proverbs.”
Read More The Secret of Wisdom
A few years ago, in what seemed a different life, I had an experience that deeply impacted me and shaped much of how I viewed myself in relation to the people I encounter. The catalyst at the time was viewing the movie Silver Linings Playbook.
Read More Forgotten Margins, Revisited
So far, I have learned that doing the steps of centering prayer is simple. Learning to enter into prayerful meditation requires a lot of practice, but I am happy to realize that mindfulness meditation is very similar mentally and is good preparation. The significant difference is the foundational goals and internal posture. Mindfulness meditation is about personal and interpersonal health. Centering prayer is about orienting your will toward Christ so that your spirit, mind, and emotions, given by God, can be renewed and uninhibited in its quest for relationship with God. I plan to refocus my meditation practice on this when my MBSR course is completed.
One of the more interesting side effects of developing a meditation practice and contemplative prayer discipline is the lines of thought I have been inspired to follow. One has been a breakthrough in my understanding of biblical wisdom literature. I have understood for many years that wisdom literature is not intended to be read as commands, and it is meant to stimulate the thoughts of the reader. However, it is only now that I have realized that Proverbs is not intended to be practical advice either. It is meant to be prompts for meditation.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 04: Discovery
What do you do when you have a master’s degree in the divine, a bachelor’s degree in the study of the Bible and biblical languages, have built your identity on the depth and wisdom of a spiritual life you have always hoped was meaningful for more people than just yourself, and you’re even in the middle of writing a series of blog posts about prayer and meditation, and in an instant, you no longer believe? What do you do when you’ve defined your life as a search to find the right steps to dance to the ancient and eternal song composed of God’s love and the music fades from hearing?
Read More When the Music Fades
We were not made to be mindless. We were not made to be loveless. We were not made for violence or fear. Perfect love casts out fear, and we were made to immerse our wills, our hearts, our minds, and our souls in the vastness of divine love. We were made to let that love renew us and change us and lead us to think about love, feel love, and live love in tangible ways.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 03: How God Changes Your Brain
When I experienced my crisis moment and the decisions of the weekend that followed, which I described in my last post, I was brought to a pivotal moment that didn’t happen in a vacuum. The idea of mindfulness wasn’t just a divine revelation that weekend. I had been being prepared for months.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 02: No Time Like the Present
I experienced something akin to an emotional breaking point. Like all good crises, it seems to have forced the issue of change on me. Change is hard for me. I know it’s supposed to be hard for everyone, but still, it feels really hard for me.
I’ll tell you more about the crisis in a minute. It wasn’t an emergency, just more of an intolerable experience. It happened at the right time though, and for that, I am super grateful.
The results are the really important part. The intolerable experience that twisted my arm toward change pushed me to pursue nothing less than life transformation. I have started down a path with a dream. I dream of becoming a pioneer in my own soul, mind, and spirit. The point is to become healthy. I dream of finding mental, emotional, relational, spiritual, and even physical health in the frontier of my inner world.
I’m gathering my tools and equipment. I’m training. I’m gathering resources and making plans. All of this is for readiness to learn to be mindful, to pray, and to meditate.
Those are the means to my end. This is new territory for me, and I plan to document my journey. It may serve as both inspiration and map for those who come after me. Or it may only be a nostalgic record of that thing I tried one time. Either way, I believe it’s worth doing.
Read More With All Your Mind, Part 01: An Intolerable Experience