Through a Glass Dimly

Not All is Clearly Defined Therefore We See Through a Glass Dimly

Month: August, 2013

A Little New A Little Old – The New Monastics

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I am reading a wonderful new book by Ken Shigematsu titled, God in My Everything, How an Ancient Rhythm Helps People Enjoy God. Ken is the lead pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC. I would call him a neo-monastic in the Celtic tradition, which, by the way, is very near and dear to my heart due to my family roots originating from Carmarthenshire in Southern Wales.

Thinking in terms of classic Celtic Christianity, their culture was one of a moderate to relaxed pace or rhythm of life that found God’s presence best experienced in moments or seasons of rest, peace, meditation, contemplation, scripture reading, prayer, solitude, work, play and other spiritual disciplines.

In comparison to some of the frenetic and damaging work cultures I have worked in, and in some cases perpetuated myself, the rhythm of the monastic tradition (by the way, the Celtic monastics were not reclusive in nature, but actually built their monasteries close to villages and populated centers in an effort to demonstrate Christian hospitality and grace) allows for time to actually “be” with God and commune with Him in an unhurried and undistracted manner.

Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation wrote that “unnatural, frantic, anxious work, work done under pressure of greed or fear” is “never willed directly by God.” Similarly, Evelyn Underhill observes, “Fuss and feverishness, anxiety, intensity, intolerance, instability, pessimism, and wobble, and every kind of hurry and worry – these are signs of the self-made, self-acting soul.” (exceprt from Shegematsu’s God in My Everything)

So what is our fascination with the appearance of busyness, intensity and doing life at the speed of light? Having “been there and done that,” I believe it is an unhealthy and dysfunctional need to validate one’s worth through self-effort. The “self-made man” syndrome may sound good in the pages of a book or magazine, but it often translates into real life as fierce self-reliance, selfish ambition and rugged independence.

Have we missed the mark and convinced ourselves that we are somehow garnering God’s favor by working “For” Him and on His behalf as opposed to walking “With” Him and resting in the grace to simply “Be” His child? I have worked in an environment where my day was filled with talking staff and employees “off the ledge” in an attempt to counter the unhealthy and ambitious self-validation of a broken and dysfunctional leadership culture.

I am finding hope in books, writings and articles like Ken’s. Perhaps you too can find hope for living a life that follows the rhythm of the Spirit of God and not the unhealthy drivenness of fallible and damaged people. There is a rest that has been given as a gift, perhaps you will discover and recover your rhythm of rest, play and work and thereby “…glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (excerpt from the Westminster Catechism)

Jimmy
13:13

Link to Ken’s new book on Amazon: Ken Shigematsu – God in My Everything

The Soul That Waits

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I am currently reading Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting on God and am being challenged daily by this classic. There is something profound about the way writers from days past expressed themselves. Each word dripping with meaning and carrying the weight of those who have walked intimately with Jesus. Here is a nugget from this morning:

“In daily life, let there be, in the soul that is waiting for the great God to do His wondrous work, a quiet reverence, an abiding watching against too deep engrossment with the world. My soul, wait thou only upon God!” – Andrew Murray

Simple, profound and clear… but not easy. I will be governing my soul today in order to enter into His rest and looking with joyful and confident expectation for His wondrous works in the ordinary moments. Join me?

Jimmy
13:13

Slow Up or Speed Down?

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I was caught in traffic due to construction on the I-75 in the middle of nowhere in North Texas. I watched with curiosity as people become agitated, then angry, and then aggressively peeling off one by one, driving across the grass median, risking damage to their cars, just to get to the service road.

They chose movement over waiting. I had to smile (bad Jimmy) when it was apparent that the access road ended and they had to slowly and painstakingly merge back into the same line of cars they had so quickly abandoned.

In life there is a time to generate movement, spin your wheels, and put the pedal to the metal, but there is also a time to be still, wait, rest and receive the strength that only the Lord can provide. When was the last time you throttled back, took a little more time, and poured an extra cup of coffee without rushing off to the next task on your To Do list?

Wait before the Lord even if everything in you screams, “It’s a waste of time!” Trust me on this, it’s the very thing you need in order to know Him, love people and embrace life. Why not today? Why not now? Wait for the Lord.

Jimmy
13:13

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

No Free Pass on Love

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There is but one authentic indicator that you are a follower of Jesus and it’s not a rubber bracelet, a trendy T-shirt or a creative tat. One irrefutable marker that you are the real deal is that you intentionally love other Christians… the wonderful, lovely and joyful ones… and the mean, difficult and broken ones. I’m not going to lie, I was convicted as I wrote that last sentence.

We don’t get a free pass on those that are unloveable. Our capacity to love and extend grace to broken believers is the truest indicator that we really know we are loved by Jesus. When the proverbial coin drops and we comprehend God’s great love for us, that it’s laced with grace and unconditional, our two responses should be to worship Him and to embrace others with that same love and grace.

Knowing God…
Loving People…
Embracing Life…

Jimmy
13:13

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus (John 13:34-35)

The First Domino

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I was honored to speak to a small group of pastors and leaders today in Oklahoma. Here are a few takeaways:

Our fear of discovery cripples our ability to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the key to authentic connection and relationship. We, as ministers and leaders, must choose vulnerability with the people we serve.

If you as a leader will exhibit transparency, like the tipping of the first domino, others will feel safe to follow.

Drop the facade and the pretense. Risk vulnerability armed with this truth, “I am worthy of love, acceptance and connection.” Why? Because Jesus values you and counts you worthy of dying for.

Jimmy
13:13

It is finished! John 19:30