Monday, June 28, 2010

Liz's PrayerPoints ~ Accountability

Here's an outstanding meditation from a dear friend of min in Indiana-

Today's PrayerPoint ~ Accountability

What is it with me and needing accountability? Why can't I just do the better thing because it is the better thing?

Drink more water...

Exercise 3 or more times per week...

Eat 20 grams of fiber each day...

Consistent and lengthy time in God's Word...

I will be working through Romans this week, drinking more water, biking each day that it doesn't rain, and eating 5 or more servings of fruit/veggies each day. Oh yea--no diet coke this week either. No pop at all...I have switched to unsweetened tea....

So, pray for me as I make the changes I need to make. I have flirted with them all (and others) during the course of my life. But they need to be a life style and not just a passing phase like hair and clothing styles.

Paul mentions to the Romans that he wants to "be mutually encouraged by each other's faith" tell me, or anyone else of your choosing, where have you seen God working in your life? or changing your heart about a matter? or answering a prayer? or sustaining you with His strength? How many times have I been too busy to see God's work or too lazy to contemplate and encourage someone else with the news. Sharing God's work in our lives is an important component to our spiritual health....

Take the time to notice His work, thank Him for it, and encourage someone else with His Good News....



Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peace, Love, and Understanding

"Compassion can be roughly defined in terms of a state of mind that is nonviolent, nonharming, and nonagressive. It is a mental attitude based on the wish for others to be free of their suffering and is associated with a sense of commitment, responsibility, and respect toward the other." ~The Dalai Lama
"Love your neighbor as yourself... love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you... whenever you did it for the least of these my brothers, you did it for me..." ~Jesus Christ

I wish all of my liberal friends (especially atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and members of other faiths) knew Jesus personally, because He is not just another prophet, and He's obviously misrepresented too often by His supposed followers. He is a loving and living God who sacrificed everything so that we could be in relationship with Him eternally. His grace is inconceivably incomparable.

Meanwhile, I wish my conservative friends (especially all the Christians) knew Jesus more personally, because He is not just a savior and God, He is also a teacher and exemplar who's core practice is in fact compassion and unconditional love for others.

Compassion. What a family value, right? Not rugged-individualism, personal responsibility, personal property, smaller-government, or promoting "American-style democracy" around the world, deregulation, protecting our borders, or tax-cuts for the rich.

Do you think it's possible that advancing God's kingdom does not entail establishing Evangelical Protestantism as America's official state religion, legislating morality, or preparing the the geopolitical world for Christ's second coming through some celestial star-gate at some geographical location? Is it possible, that kingdom living is more about seeking to make our character more like Jesus and doing the kinds of things He did?

Would He rather we acquire control of society economically, politically, and culturally? Or would He rather we produce spiritual fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control?

Seems to me that when we surrender our agendas to Him, empty ourselves of self and ask Him to fill us with Himself instead, we will be closer to achieving a sort of Christian Zen- and that would make "compassionate conservativism" a revolutionary concept, and not just a campaign ploy from 10 years ago that everyone has long forgotten.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Warmth, Compassion, and Empathy

Some of my summer reading this year 'The Art of Happiness' Coauthored by Psychiatrist Howard Cutler and THE Dalai Lama. My friend thought it would be up my alley because (if only as the cheerleading coach) I'm always encouraging people to be positive at the school where I teach.

Needless to say I don't agree with Mr. Lama on everything. I'm a pretty orthodox monotheist, I'm not sure whether he believes in sort of a universal god-energy thing as a Buddhist or maybe if he's a polytheist from the ancient Indian tradition that Buddhism sprang from. He believes that we need to perform on the "field of merit" in order to effect our next reincarnation, I believe that it is Jesus' merit and sacrifice on the cross which secured me eternal relationship with God Himself.

But those distinctions were givens before I ever started reading. The new difference I discovered was that Dalai believes that people are by nature warm and compassionate and all we have to do is to relearn what society has driven out of us. Me, I lean more toward Thomas Hobbes' contention that people are naturally selfish, brutish and in continual conflict. This may come as a surprise to those who know me because I really hate Hobbes, I think he was a jerk that perpetuated social stratification and his writings are used as an excuse for oligarchy and tyranny. Usually I prefer my archaic British political philosophers on the John Locke side, but I digress.

I don't think you have to harp on the doctrine of original sin forever and a day, all you have to do is look around to see that human beings tend to be selfish, sort-sighted and underdeveloped in the being-thy-brother's-keeper department. If they weren't we wouldn't have terrorism, a war on terrorism, irresponsibility in avoiding safety regulations leading to dead miners and ecological disasters, malfeasance and malpractice in the financial sector, politicians being... well, politicians, pedophile priests, cover-ups, divorce, racism, bullying, or extreme partisanship.

Be that all as it may- I actually like this book for the most part, and all differences aside, I think the exiled leader of Tibet is a smart guy with some very valuable ideas. I totally agree with him that we are put on this Earth to be in nurturing relationships with each other. I absolutely love that he thinks that we can choose to be happy and content by being disciplined and deliberate about certain things like appreciating what we have rather than desiring what others have or constantly trying to accumulate more material things, status and power. And I really appreciate his thinking about how we should seek to find what is good and valuable in everyone, consider everyone an equal worthy of kindness and dignity, and that we can give attention, affinity and affection with everyone to some degree if we intentionally practice empathy and warmth.

"I look at any human being from a more positive angle... This attitude immediately creates a feeling of affinity, a kind of connectedness." (Art of Happiness p.68) "My basic belief is that you first need to realize the usefulness of compassion...That's the key factor. Once you accept that the fact that compassion is not something childish or sentimental, once you realize that compassion is something really worthwhile, realize it's deeper value, then you immediately develop an attraction towards it, a willingness to cultivate it."
"And once you encourage the thought of compassion in your mind, once that thought becomes active, then your attitude towards others changes automatically. If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow openness with other people."
To me, that sounds a lot like "perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18)," If you genuinely "love your neighbor" as Jesus commanded, then everyone becomes not just your neighbor, but your brother. Good advice whether if comes from a Lutheran, a Catholic, a Methodist, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Buddhist.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sacred Places; a facebook group

Visit the new "Sacred Places" facebook group and photo gallery.
In this gallery I'd like to explore and analyze some of perspectives of and interpretations of places of worship.

I am inviting you to enter these spaces with me and hoping to share with you what they seem to say to me. I welcome your commentary and want to encourage you to engage in conversation not only with me, but with each other about what you see here.

Perhaps you will look at your own houses of worship a little differently when you're done. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Rand Paul and Glenn Beck

"Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.