Showing posts from May, 2013

Street wisdom: Prayer changes our perspective

I just came from my weekly prayer meeting with street folks at Loaves and Fishes. One of the men who attends frequently asked me, “How do you feel as you drive to Loaves and Fishes in the morning? Do you experience anything special?”

I thought for a moment and then replied, “It all depends on what has happened before I get in the car. When I feel rushed and haven’t connected with God well, and I usually don’t feel anything special. But when I have spent good time with God to start the day, I look forward to seeing my wife and kids in the morning, and I feel closer to God as I drive here.”
He said, “The reason I come to these prayer meetings is because when I take time with God in the morning, I feel better about things and experience more peace throughout the day. I am able to deal with people who are mistreating me or other people. There’s a difference between a day when I have prayed in the morning and a day when I haven’t.”

The link between dying to our selfishness and practicing a Bible reading plan

When it comes to reading the Bible, some of us like to be "in the moment," picking whatever passages strike us that day. Others want the sense of order that comes from sticking to a prescribed reading plan. I bet few of us put as much thought into why it matters as the monastic fathers and mothers.

As I have posted before, I am slowly reading through an account of monastic life written by one of the ancient world's greatest authorities, John Cassian. Yesterday I was fascinated by the reasoning behind the monks' practice of praying a prescribed list of Psalms every night. This will sound radical to our fiercely independent ears, but we need to hear it.
No monk is fit for the spiritual life "before he has... learnt the fact that he is not his own maker and has no authority over his own actions." (Institutes, book II, ch III) Submitting to the communal prayers and Scripture readings is important because the monk needs to internalize a fundamental, scriptural t…

Ten essential Dallas Willard quotes

This week the church has lost a great saint and a shining light. Dallas Willard succumbed to cancer. As John Ortberg says in a wonderfully written tribute, Willard was brilliant, but "his heart and his life were better than his mind."

I thought it would be appropriate to bring out ten quotes that do a pretty good job of getting at what Willard spent his life teaching and working on.

1. This quote states the central problem Willard spent his career working on:
"My hope is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. In his case, quite frankly, presumed familiarity has led to unfamiliarity, unfamiliarity has led to contempt, and contempt has led to profound ignorance." (opening paragraph of The Divine  Conspiracy)
2. The central problem, restated:
"The governing assumption today, among professing Christians, is that we can be 'Christians' forever and never become disciples." (The Great Omission, …

Adopting a "grace first" approach to people

This morning I began reading a book called The Grace Outpouring: Becoming a People of Blessing, by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts. The authors talk about having a "grace first" lifestyle, specifically toward those who don't have faith in Jesus:
Having a heart to bless will challenge the judgmental mindset that can color how we look at those we live with and among. We can become a "grace first" people. We're still asking people to turn away from rebellion against God, but we're seeking to be part of the revelation from the Father that his primary desire to bless those he created in his image. (location 187 of 2222) Godwin and his wife relate stories of praying God's blessing over people and seeing God reveal himself to them. People started encountering God. They started coming to faith. But not everyone agreed with this approach.
We found that there is often resistance to heart habits that incline toward grace. There were plenty of Christians who told m…

The difference between "God is love" and "God loves me"

A couple days ago I wrote about how we want God and resist God at the same time. Today I want to write about one of the ways we do this.

Have you seen the Free Hugs Campaign? A man holds up a FREE HUGS sign, and he gives a hug to whomever will accept one. He can't discriminate between people. He would hug the bouncy soccer mom, the homeless person, the arrogant business power broker, the meth addict, the depressed man, the harried woman -- any and all people get hugged.

We can imagine God this way. He loves indiscriminately. Whoever will receive his love... gets to receive his love.

Now imagine the scene in a different way. At different times, you are like each of the people walking by. You are sometimes bouncy... sometimes homeless... sometimes arrogant... sometimes addicted... sometimes depressed... sometimes harried... 

God loves you in all those states. Even when you are like the person who walks by and says, "No thanks." In fact, he loves you when you are like the polic…