Tuesday, February 25, 2020

How to prepare for a spiritual fast.

fasting and prayer

The Spiritual Practice of Fasting

If you are thinking about fasting on Ash Wednesday (and I hope you are), I'd like to offer a few pointers about preparing to do so. Typically Ash Wednesday (this Wednesday) is a day of fasting to prepare us to rely on God and focus our energy on Him If you've never fasted before for spiritual reasons, here are a few pointers...

  • Fasting should not be done for show. You don't need to post about it on Social Media. Or tell everyone you see. Jesus got a bit wordy about people who did that. 
  • Fasting for health reasons is different that fasting for spiritual reasons. THIS IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. Maybe you can lose weight. But you can't be focused on God and something else at the same time. This time lets focus on God. 
  • You may need to work your way up to it. You don't start the spiritual practice of fasting by giving up food for 24 hours. Its not smart. Its not healthy. But you can start by giving up something. Perhaps coffee or chocolate (I never said it'd be easy people). Then work up to giving up one meal or pushing a meal out a few hours. Maybe you have a smoothie or drink juices or broth. After a few times of trying this, you could work up to a 12+ hour fast. Make sure that you are clear about your intentions. This is a spiritual discipline and a means of grace so expect to rely on God during the fast as well as experience God through it. 
  • Don't crack out on carbs the day before. If you plan to fast on Ash Wednesday (or any day), plan ahead. Its okay to eat extra amounts on the day before but be sure to have some protein and veggies. And plan your meal before the start of your fast and the first meal afterwards. You can do this! 

Fasting isn't easy but it's worth it.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, February 24, 2020

Making Meaning of Life in Turbulent Times


People Matter


Particularly for those of us in the UMC, there has already started an onslaught of headlines posted and broadcasts regarding General Conference 2020. This is an anxious time, no denying. Do not get sucked into the strong emotion and knee-jerk re-actively shared media.

Please remember that NO MATTER the results of whatever is decided in May, God has already declared you, yes YOU, beloved. You are valuable. You are important. You matter. YOU matter. If you’re reading this post, it is for YOU.

No matter the outcomes in Minneapolis, we are still called to be the Church (no other label specifically). We are called to love deeply and with reckless abandon. It is scandalous. It is audacious. It is outlandish. It doesn’t make sense to our human brains. It is, however, what we are called to do and be.

There will be processing that needs to take place. Absolutely. The processing very well could be hard. We may have a particular reality with which we don’t know what to do. Again. Nonetheless, we will continue to gather to worship a God who has already set a place for us in our future.

“So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:34

God loves you and so do I.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Praying Near Living Water

Places to pray

Spiritual Health and Living Water

The Hebrew words for “living water” in the Bible are maxim chayim. They can refer to both water and scripture. Both come from God and both are needed for physical and spiritual health.

I’ve been very disciplined recently in seeking out both time and places in my day where I can pray and just be with God. After meeting with a spiritual advisor and trusted friend, she asked me when I had heard God’s voice most clearly and the answer was fairly  quick...near water. 

A Place to Pray

So I’ve spend the past 30 days seeking out different places with water where I could pray. This one shown above is a creek near my house. I’ve stopped at.a lake nearby, a fountain, and another lake I had to drive to. I found that my time was more meaningful when I was around “living water.” Living water is water that moves. If it doesn’t move it is more likely to grow things in it that aren’t good for drinking. I’m not sure if it is the sound of the water hitting the rocks or the sight of the white as the water washes over the rocks but these spaces were the most peaceful for me.

As I watched the water it struck me that if there weren’t dips and breaks in the water then I wouldn’t hear the babble of the water or see the whiteness created by the rocks. Sometimes life is like that. We have dips and unexpected obstacles that seem to be in the way. But when we learn from them and view them in the full spectrum of our lives, it really is quite beautiful. 

May your days be filled with the peace that passes understanding and may you always see obstacles in a Godly perspective.

Until Everyone Hears.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

My Opinion

spiritual life

Opinions Matter

‪My opinions may not be as loud as others. Or expressed in words. But they’re still there, waiting for the right moment for someone to say that that I matter...words and thoughts included. That doesn’t mean I’m right; it means that I’m worth understanding. And so are you.‬

Opinions are dangerous things. They can change a course of action. Fight for justice. Offer compassion. But they aren’t the truth. They are based on an individuals perception of the world. A finite lens through which each person filters what is around them. You can’t see what someone else sees but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

People Matter

For when we see through someone else’s eyes, it changes our filter. We see the world differently; its bigger and clearer. And when we filter our opinion and others’ opinions through the lens of God, we can start to see the world through God’s eyes and can offer others a glimpse of what the world could be.

May we always remember that everyone matters to God. Opinions included.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

God who creates

God, prayer chapel, faith, spirituality

Names of God

There is a chapel in Atlanta that is centered around the “names of God.”  Yahweh, El Shaddai, Elyon etc, One of the names of God is Elohim which in Hebrew means “God who creates.” This is the name of God used in one of the Genesis stories of creation. Our God creates. He created us. He created everything. And because He created us in His image, we also create.

God commands us to “be fruitful and multiply.” This command has a twofold meaning. The obvious is that we are to produce offspring.  But creation goes beyond the ability to ensure the propagation of our species. We are also called to be fruitful. The work we do should be productive but also beautiful. Creation is beautiful. And we have a role and responsibility to do likewise.

This chapel is beautiful. Someone took great care to make it a place that focused on God but also visually spoke to our souls. May we do our work today paying attention to what makes it beautiful. After all, it is what we were created to do and to be.

Until Everyone Hears,

God, prayer chapel, spirituality, faith

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Does this count?

Random acts of kindness

Random Acts of Kindness: What Counts?

While challenging others to acts of #holymischief, I've often gotten the disclaimer, "I'm not sure if this counts but ..."

Here's the answer...no one is counting. No one is posting a score. No one keeps a spreadsheet, pie chart, or database.

If you think someone does, that's not love. That's not experiencing #holymischief. That's someone who isn't dealing with their own issues so they feel the need to manufacture or micro-manage what they think your issues are.

So stop asking if it counts. Love doesn't count. But it does matter. No matter how big or how small you perceive it. It matters. Love matters because you matter. You matter to God. And you matter to me.

Until Everyone Hears,

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Taste and See

Faith, spirituality, prayer

Creating a moment

There is a ceremony from the 14th Century where young students were brought to the rabbi for instruction and they would lick some honey off the slate of the Torah. There are several reasons for this tradition but they all lead to making a memorable moment for young students. In “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath, they describe what makes something a moment, “our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter.”

Licking honey off the of Torah elevates the learning of the scripture and provides a connection with the other classmates of a shared experience.

It doesn’t take much to make a moment. Add some ice cream and a high five and you’ve created a moment.

Over the weekend I challenged a group to create a moment of #holymischief by having ice cream and hugging or high fiving their server. It was small, simple,yummy, and memorable. Perhaps it was a moment or maybe it was just a treat. For me it was a moment. As I high fived the teenager that probably wanted to be outside on a beautiful February day, I noticed that he smiled a bit more which in turn made me smile thinking of the hundred or so other servers who had their hearts strangely warmed by an act of kindness over the weekend while my friends enjoyed something strangely cool.

We need more moments in the world. Even if they are small, they make this world a better place.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Holy Mischief Movement

Acts of kindness

Changing the World

Imagine a world where kindness is the norm. Where we truly loved our neighbor.  A world where love is the default.

Imagine a movement that is not so much about a place or a program, but about people and a purpose.

Imagine a movement where faith was not dictated by a calendar.

Imagine a movement where people engaged in fun  acts of kindness that   also  renewed their heart and  minds.

This is what happens when we engage in #HolyMischief. Holy Mischief is the mysterious disruption of God’s love in action. This disruption leaves us curious about how to experience more of the excitement that happens when God shows up  in simple acts of kindness.

I’ve started a Facebook group of people who want to engage in Holy Mischief and make this world a better place. If you want to join us go to www.facebook.com/groups/holymischiefmakers Let’s make it a movement.

Until Everyone Hears,

Dottie - a Holy MIschief Maker

Dottie is 29+ years young and from the moment I first met her I knew she was a Holy Mischief Maker. Our first conversation was in my office and the topic was regarding a book on my shelf about how to talk to your teenager about sex. Dottie is unafraid to share her thoughts and I love her for it.

Recently she’s been coming into my office to give me a hug but also to pray. Her heart is breaking. She’s strong most of the time but she also knows there are places and spaces where she can be raw and real. My office is one of those places. Dottie’s grandson Noah is fighting cancer. We pray for him a lot. I pray for Dottie and her family a lot.

A few days ago Dottie got to spend time with Noah because his mom was out of town. I’m not sure Dottie really needed to be there but I get the feeling both her and Noah enjoyed it. She was very excited when she told me she watched Dawn of the Dead. “They had chainsaws cutting people up and blood spewing everywhere. I kinda liked it.” Dottie engaged in Holy Mischief. She made a memory with her grandson doing something that most Nana’s won’t do. Way to go Dottie - you’re my shero.

Be like Dottie...
Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, February 3, 2020

Making Moments

Making moments

Holy Mischief Challenge: Make a Moment

On Friday I challenged a group to have a dance party over the weekend. There were no guidelines. It could be as simple as putting on music in your kitchen and dancing with your family or fur-babies. Or it could be bigger.

I had decided to take the simple route. Kitchen dancing is a favorite of mine. That was until my daughter’s orchestra concert. This wasn’t an ordinary concert with traditional etiquette. It was more like a rock concert. They played “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N/ Roses and “Take Me Out” by Frank Ferdinand. It was amazing!

The leader of the orchestra told us to feel free to come up to the front and dance.  And of course no one did. She mentioned it again. And no one did. I felt the irony and tension of issuing this challenge. I now had an opening and was too chicken to take it. I asked the family and friends in my row to go up and join me. Apparently they don’t serve enough (any) alcohol at school events for them to do something so benign yet daring. Finally the leader said, “If there was a song you were going to dance to, this is it!” It was “Shut Up and Dance with me” by Walk the Moon. So I got up and danced.

Why would I challenge a group of people to have a dance party? Is there any purpose beyond the act of moving to music?

In “The Power of Moments” Chip and Dan Heath caution, “Beware of the soul-sucking force of ‘reasonableness’ otherwise you risk deflating your peaks. Speed bumps are reasonable. Mount Everest is not reasonable.” When we create a “moment” or do something that disrupts the ‘reasonableness’ of life we connect with something greater than us. Moments break the script of the world and if done with someone you love, creates a moment of love. A moment of connection. A moment to perhaps glimpse the Divine.

I’m not sure that I experienced God in a big transformational way during my dance party. But I did stretch myself. I did make a memory with my family. And I had fun! And the sum of all my fun memories make me who I am and who God created me to be.

So if you haven’t done it yet, DANCE! Or at least listen for an opening to disrupt the reasonableness and create a peak. I promise it will be worth it.

Until Everyone Hears,

P.S. - If you want to hear more stories of Holy Mischief and how to create more in your life, sign up for my newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/gTEwbD

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