Don’t text & drive. Why? When our attention is divided, the quality of our focus decreases & our ability to engage declines. Simple translation: you’ll get in a wreck 🙂
I would suggest that the same principle applies to spiritual values as well. Because we live in a tangible & natural world, it’s easy to get our focus / attention on natural & flesh stuff. But if we become entirely absorbed with natural stuff, we’ll have a spiritual wreck. To be sure, we need to have balance with our focus & attention. Let’s be sure to give our attention to spiritual growth & not only natural urgencies & inclinations.
I’ve been enjoying the Spring weather & trying to take a daily walk to improve my physical & mental health. It’s nice to enjoy some sunshine, fresh air and feet on the ground. While my body is definitely grounded during these daily walks, my mind tends to wander to various topics: kids, work, schedules, prayers, writing, etc. Some of my thoughts can be healthy & constructive, but some of my thoughts not so much.
I was reminded today about setting my mind above and not below from Colossians 3:2 & Philippians 4:7-8. I think our thoughts can be kind of like fish:
bottom feeders who scavenge off the dirt and refuse at the lowest levels
horizontal eaters who forage through their daily living, focus set throughout this horizontal world
flying fish who sail above the average existence and get to see things from a vertical rather than horizontal perspective
Let’s keep our minds fixed above & not dwelling on the average or below average existence!
I’ve got my kids at the dentist for their regular checkup. We’re all hopeful for a no-cavity report, but that’s a stretch with 3kids & 96 total teeth (I think). We do this wonderful appointment twice a year & we cross our fingers, hoping for good outcomes.
Sometimes, people treat church like the dentist – a twice yearly visit, hoping for painless, quick & uplifting. Alas, dental hygiene is kind of like spiritual hygiene. Weekly visits, daily Bible time & occasional retreats often yield healthy spiritual growth. If plaque is like sin, then steady prayer & Bible time would be like daily flossing & brushing. Let’s stay the course until Christ be formed within us – Galatians 4:19!
In the last year, I’ve “enjoyed” two kinds of robust, daily therapy. Last year I did a few months of physical therapy to recover from some shoulder surgery. This year, I get to try brain therapy, which is helping me recover from a concussion a few months back. All of this has made me think about the whole concept of therapy (a word that comes from a Greek word for “heal”).
Some of the things I’ve learned about therapy are super relevant for our spiritual growth & not just physical / brain therapy. Consider the following:
Consistent – doing exercises everyday is essential to getting better / well (growing in our spiritual life happens best when we are most consistent & daily)
Small victories – don’t belittle nor shame incremental progress; recovery is often a journey & not just a sprint (sometimes spiritual growth isn’t blatant & obvious)
Accountability – my wonderful family has been super encouraging to help me stay the course & not quit (church family & small groups come to mind in relation to spiritual therapy)
Constant improvement – seems to me that we either grow or we regress and the idea of treading water isn’t helpful
Let’s keep growing & doing our exercises, physically, mentally & spiritually!
Our spiritual exercises include daily prayer & Bible time, along w consistent community / fellowship 🙂
Oh the glories of waking up at midnight with complete alertness! I’m currently in Ethiopia & it seems like this is a great opportunity for me to catch up with blogging, since my schedule presently is “unbooked” ,) My internal clock says it’s around 4pm but the external clock here says its about 1am, or something like that.
With that being said, this trip to Ethiopia has really big personal significance for me. It was here in Ethiopia about 5 years ago that God began to stir in my heart Saving Moses, having met twin newborn girls that had been abandoned on a field. It has also been my experience that getting to minister in Ethiopia is an extremely unique privilege for me. There’s something here that is deeply spiritual & personal for me so that whenever I get to visit here, I always seem to come away with greater awareness of God & God’s presence in my life. So far, this trip has been very engaging & deepening for me with God.
I’ll try to keep you posted on what’s happening here, as the time & sleep allows, but in the meantime, as you read this, I pray that you will sense God’s deep and full love for you! 🙂
While today is Thanksgiving in America & many of us will be consuming high volumes of calories in all kinds of different ways & at all times, I’m remembering that the fundamental purpose of eating is to provide energy. Ultimately, I eat so I can work, function & be productive.
Let’s remember in our high calorie consumption today that we must never neglect to feed our hearts. Indeed, an emaciated heart is unable to live out the purpose for which it was created. Heart food can include prayer, the Bible, spiritual fellowship, some solitude & pause. May your Thanksgiving be truly full of joy in all ways 🙂
Its interesting to take a step away & look “objectively” at our desires. I think that we often get so wrapped up in achieving our desires that we neglect to consider what is motivating the desires that we have. Sometimes, you can tell alot about a person by the things they like & desire. For example, when I look at myself lately, I find that I’m very interested in deeper conversations & things that feel shallow to me at the present are very unappealing. In fact, I had a very superficial & short conversation today w someone that I’ve known for a really long time. When I got off the phone, almost the entire conversation felt like a slap in the face, I guess because I had been hoping for a discussion at greater depths.
So my take away is this: I think my desire for greater depths could possibly be a beckoning from God to move away from the shallows & into the depths w Him. Maybe the call of the wild seems wild to my soul because it is God beckoning to the depths in my heart to embark on deeper adventures with Him. I think that we need to be careful not to mistranslate our desires into shallow soul pursuits that distract us from genuinely spiritual destinations.
Probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ps 42:7 – deep calls to deep & Your waves have swept over me (sarah paraphrase).
I’m very excited about the inaugration of Senator Obama! I’m excited on many levels: the making of history, our 1st person to become President who was raised by a single mom, the acceptance & recognition of the 1st African American to lead our nation along w many other firsts. Let’s make it a priority to pray for President Obama. The weight he will shoulder is extremely heavy, particularly in this year.
With that being said, living in 2009 is very exciting! I believe that this year will be a highly significant year from an historical perspective. Most importantly, let’s make this a massively signiciant year in our spiritual lives. If you want something you’ve never had, you probably have to do something you’ve never done. Be historical, be spiritual, be more filled w Jesus than any previous year.