I am fragile. When I get out of my rhythms of being with God, I am dangerous. I make unwise decisions; I over-function; I cross boundaries; I fail to be present to those I love; I become anxious; I rush. In fact, the finding of God’s rhythms for my life, and living them, is a matter of life and death – for me and for those I serve. And I am not alone. We are all fragile. This podcast is an invitation to get deeply anchored by deliberately structuring your life in ancient spiritual practices that have stood the test of time. In particular, I focus on the revolutionary practice of Sabbath-keeping and God’s invitation for us to stop and rest for a 24-hour period each week. This inevitably leads to many new insights about God and ourselves. As one person wrote: “Tell me one thing that is productive or efficient about it? The. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
I have invested my adult life in studying and understanding Christian leadership. I’ve attended conferences, earned advanced degrees, and read broadly – for decades. But I cannot recall any discussion of discretion. For the first 500 years of the church, discretion was considered the most precious gift, or charism, for the church (John Cassian’s Conferences). They understood that without discretion individuals and communities could easily be ruined. In fact, all abbots of monastic communities were to be distinguished by discretion (The Rule of St. Benedict). Without it we are dangerous – speaking too freely, giving people burdens they cannot bear, and offering superficial spiritual counsel. Discretion is the opposite of our 21st century leadership culture that emphasizes bigger, better, and maximum impact as quickly as possible. Discretion is the ability to wait to see what unfolds, to not act. It involves the humility and patience to know when to leave things alone, knowing. Read more.
In Stephen W. Smith’s recent book, Inside Job, he cites the Rule of Life Mother Teresa laid down for her nuns in their work among the sick and dying in Calcutta. It reads as follows: The Sisters shall spend 1 day in every week, 1 week in every month, 1 month in every year, 1 year in every 6 years in the Motherhouse, where in contemplation and penance together with solitude she can gather in the spiritual strength, which she might have used up in the service of the poor. (p. 344, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light) Imagine 1 Sabbath day every week, 1 Sabbath week every month, 1 Sabbath month every year, and 1 Sabbath year every 7 years. What I like best about this is 1 Sabbath week every month! Every one of us ministers among the sick and dying. Yet we consistently underestimate how much emotional/spiritual life is flowing out from us.. Read more.
One of the turning points in my leadership happened 12 years ago while spending a week praying the Offices at a Trappist monastery. My prayer life had been marked by waiting on God FOR “THINGS” –e.g. leaders for specific ministries, creative strategies, breakthroughs, key donors to support the work, healings, growth in our church, family blessings, etc. At that point I moved to waiting on God FOR GOD. It turned out to be life-changing – both for my relationship with Jesus and my leadership. While praying for those “things” is good and biblical, I realized that my will was inseparably mixed with God’s will. The lines between the two were blurry. I always seemed to need something else from him. During that week with the Trappists, I sensed from God an invitation to seek his face (Ps. 27:4) and wait for Him alone. Out of that, I trusted, He would reveal himself and his. Read more.
Silence, Stillness, and Centering before God (2 minutes) Scripture Reading – Psalm 84 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca (i.e. trouble) they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Devotional Both the king. Read more.