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Author: MK

Be Kind to Yourself.

Be Kind to Yourself.

In a conversation about counseling methods this year, a friend made the statement that people will begin to share things and their voice will shake, or they will fight down tears. They will apologize and try to hurry on, and he will encourage them to recognize these signs from their body that are trying to get past their words and be noticed. We are embodied creatures, and often we fight to be all head and expect our bodies to just keep up. They betray us, and can feel things better than our thoughts can at times.

Which is partially why I was grateful and a little surprised while standing at the kitchen island this morning, serving pancakes to my daughter, and in a moment I went from singing to tears as the song behind me turned over a new verse:

Well how does it end when the war that you’re in
Is just you against you against you
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too

You can’t expect to be perfect
It’s a fight you’ve gotta forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon, darling
Take a deep breath and believe that I love you

Be kind to yourself.

I’ve head Andrew say that he wrote this song for his daughter, and then realized how much he needed it himself. This morning, looking at my own daughter, thinking of all I hope for her in these words and the years ahead, I hit the same stop in my own road: that I needed to take a deep breath myself, and believe. My tears betrayed my disbelief, and my weariness of it.

God is so good to meet us in moments like this. How generous He is to his children.

Maybe you need to hear these words too. Take a moment and listen to Andrew singing with his daughter (and his son on drums):

Despising our Shame: Beau Hughes & Dallas Willard on the work of the Spirit in our daily habits.

Despising our Shame: Beau Hughes & Dallas Willard on the work of the Spirit in our daily habits.

Beau Hughes, who is one of my favorite pastoral thinkers and preachers, took The VIllage Church Denton through a six week series entitled He Covers Our Shame. I’m working my way through it at the suggestion of a coworker, and I’m thankful he pointed me to Beau’s words. Hughes has a gift to research, distill, and present truth to the heart in a way to exalts Christ and dismembers our defenses – and he’s doing it faithfully among the people of Denton. Here’s a quote from week 4, entitled, Despising Our Shame beginning right around the 10 minute mark:

J.I. Packer wrote that, “habit-forming is the Spirit’s ordinary way in leading us as Christians on in holiness.” In other words the way we begin to live out our identity as children that have been freed from shame and had our shame covered is primarily through habit forming as the Spirit empowers us and leads us along. And it’s interesting now, you know, because the research about shame is showing, especially from a Christian perspective as we think about this, that those who live in increasingly and pronounced healing and freedom from shame are those who, despite the ongoing presence of sin and shame in their lives, have developed habits and practices in their daily life that cultivate their trust and their confidence that through Jesus, they are loved, accepted, and delighted in by God. So, in other words, those that are walking in pronounced freedom, and are learning to walk in their identity, to put on the covering of Christ day by day are those who have developed habits and practices that have helped them to hold fast to the assurance of hope that they have been washed and have been made clean by Jesus.

This process. The way the Spirit forms us into the image of Christ – the way he combats the seeds of doubt sown by the serpent in the Garden – to help us believe with childlike joy that God is good, and He does love us. This is worthy of our attention and thought at every corner of our lives – because we need desperately to be formed into something else than the image of our distractions and diversions. We are meant for Christ.

As the new year rolls around, and you may be thinking and planning of how to be a better you in 2018 – may I encourage you to be a weaker you? A more vulnerable and compassionate, gentle-tongued and creaturely you? A child of God, trusting their father and walking in the covering of Christ in the moment to moment life among others who are just as scared, needy, and prone to be defensive as you.

With an eye toward the impossible that only Christ can make possible, we plan our days and sow toward a field where we pray the Spirit bears fruit. Sowing takes effort, and it takes work. As Dallas Willard often said, Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort.  Here is one of my favorite articles from Dallas on the process of intentional habits and the work of the Spirit in our lives: Living a Transformed Life Adequate to Our Calling.

With you, friend. He is trustworthy, patient, kind and loving. And He is calling us forward to greater life.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year…

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year…

A few weeks out from the new year, and one where the unknown can be feared rather than anticipated – this was a welcomed encouragement. Enjoy.

 

THE GATE OF THE YEAR (or ‘God Knows’)
by Minnie Louise Haskins

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”

And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

reading: a year in one vein

reading: a year in one vein

This year I’ve given myself to reading in one predominant vein outside of the Scriptures: emotional health and spiritual formation in the personal life of a leader and the culture they influence.

I’ve read widely, in and out of my tribe or stream. Taking the meat, leaving the bones, and trying to stretch my comfort level – it’s been helpful.

I thought I’d list the resources here in case they might serve someone else. I’ll try to keep adding podcasts, videos, etc. as I think of them. Just thought I’d get this list moving. – MK

 

  • Alan Fadling, The Unhurried Leader
  • Peter Scazzero, The Healthy Christian Leader
  • John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
  • David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself
  • Storbel / Goggin, The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb
  • David I. Starling, UnCorinthian Leadership
  • Jan Johnson, Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina
  • Chuck DeGroat, Wholeheartedness: Busyness, Exhaustion, and Healing the Divided Self
  • Erik Raymond, Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age
  • Gene Edwards, A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness
  • C. John Miller, The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller
  • Robert Fryling, The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How We Lead by Who We Are
  • Ruth Haley Barton, Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups
  • Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves
  • Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us
  • Harter, Michael, Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits
  • Johnson, Jan, When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer
  • Muller, Wayne, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
  • Fryling, Alice, Mirror for the Soul: A Christian Guide to the Enneagram
  • Ford, Leighton, The Attentive Life: Discerning God’s Presence in All Things

Audible:

  • Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
  • Henry Blackaby, Experiencing the Spirit

Podcasts:

  • The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast
  • Renovare
  • The Invitation
  • Unhurried Living

 

 

 

 

Cynicism profiles Goodness.

Cynicism profiles Goodness.

“For some of us, Cynicism is sapping us.
Cynicism is a prejudice against Good.
Cynicism profiles Goodness.
If Goodness or Joy walks into the store, Cynicism follows it—cause it doesn’t trust it.
Cynicism stereotypes Joy.

Cynicism is an all or nothing thing.
Either everything is beautiful or nothing is.
Cynicism: either everything goes well or nothing does.

Cynicism means that you trust darkness, but you don’t trust light.
You trust brokenness, but you don’t trust healing.
You trust that there are zombies. That it’s a metaphor for something in life, and life is a mess, and dark and broken and mangled.
You trust that.

But if true Wholesomeness were to stand right in front of you, the real thing—the real thing that you long for—stood right in front of you, you’d dismiss it. Because Cynicism gets to the point where you can never embrace Joy.
You can never embrace Goodness. You can never embrace a good thing, because it just might be an illusion. It just might deceive you. It might be tricksy. It might trick you, so you can’t trust anything.

Now here’s the thing, Cynicism can help you for a while. But it just can’t get you through anything. Because any remedy that would ever come you way, you’re going to doubt it. Because the one thing in life that you trust is your Doubt.

Cynicism doesn’t know how to stand, feisty with hope, staring at a tomb.”

Zack Eswine
The Greatness of an Ordinary Hope
Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church Podcast (7/11/2017)
Quote found at 25:15-28:36.

 

Your Legacy: Ordinary Love.

Your Legacy: Ordinary Love.

“In order to have an extraordinary greatness, you must have ordinary love.

Now where is it that this personal ambition to do something great, this personal desire to leave a legacy – I’ve been listening to several men a bit older than myself the last couple of years who are retiring. They’re wondering what their legacy will be. And it’s instructive for me as a younger man, who will one day be there, it’s instructive for me to realize how many of us men do not have love in the calculation of a legacy. We’re thinking of legacy in terms only of work.

Even though we’re surrounded, maybe, by grandchildren.
Even though we’re surrounded, maybe, by friendship.
Even though we’re surrounded, maybe, by the love of our life.
Somehow, we’re surrounded with that kind of opportunity to love and we think we have no legacy.

It’s because we are continually tempted to look for extraordinary greatness outside of ordinary love.”

 

Zack Eswine
The Greatness of Ordinary Love, 1 Cor 13:1-8
Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church Podcast (7/9/2017)
Quote found at 15:03-16:20.

Emily Dickinson and the Commandment She Kept.

Emily Dickinson and the Commandment She Kept.

And then, of course, the New Testament tells us to stop, look, and listen again. I think of Jesus, and I think of Emily Dickinson, of all people, who said a wonderful thing in a letter she wrote: “You know, there is only one commandment I have never broken”—which is wonderful, for I can’t imagine Emily Dickinson breaking any commandments, though I’m certain she has broken as many as the rest of us—”and that is the commandment, ‘Consider the lilies of the field.’ ” Wonderful. She is referring of course, to what Jesus says to the crowd on the hillside—”Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).

It’s a joke, in a way, the thought of commandments like this, but in another way it is the kind of commandment that it seems to me Jesus gives in different ways again and again, that this life is, in a way, a parable: Consider the lilies of the field. Consider what it was to find that thing you had lost, that coin, that ring your mother gave you, that photograph that could not be replaced and suddenly it is there. Consider your heart itself…consider that. Consider the lost sheep. Consider the dead sparrow. Consider the way leaven works in bread. Consider the way seeds grow, that tiny little bit of a seed that grows and grows and grows until it’s a tree as big as Texas.

Pay attention to these things.

And of course, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is this: loving God and loving our neighbors. I don’t know what it means to love God—really, I’m not all that good at it—but I think one of the things it means is, just as in the case of loving anybody else, you stop and watch and wait. Listen for God, stop and watch and wait for him. To love God means to pay attention, be mindful, be open to the possibility that God is with you in ways that, unless you have your eyes open, you may never glimpse. He speaks words that, unless you have your ears open, you may never hear.

Draw near to him as best you can.

 

 

Frederick Buechner, The Remarkable Ordinary, pp.36-37.

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