RSS

Tag Archives: super power

Pick Your Planet

earth deadSome days, it can seem as if the world is dead. Covered in a  coating of ash and choking dust. The evening news, calls from friends or family about tragedy, painful memories and regret of past decisions, misunderstanding by those we love… Some days, it seems difficult to look about us and see any light at all, see any purpose, see that we are making any difference with our little candle flames against what seems the overwhelming force of darkness and shadow.

Yes, life can seem like that at times.

And if we aren’t careful… if we stay in that posture… if we continue to see only the darkness and shadow… it can seem to leach the very life force from us, and we can find ourselves in a very dark place indeed. A dangerous place. An empty and painful place.

What then? What are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to put on “Rose Colored Glasses”, pretend to be Pollyanna, just ignore all the pain and hurting people around us? Are we supposed to lie? To ourselves, to others, to God? What do we do, to be honest and truthful… and yet not be overwhelmed by the sorrows we open our hearts to?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We exercise our Super Power. We use our power of Choice and Free Will to see Truth beyond the appearances. We can grasp and embrace a deep spiritual truth, at the same time that we heed the advice of one of the greatest realists of all time… The Apostle Paul.

Paul gave this instruction to the Philippian Church: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Paul is hardly a “Pollyanna” guy. He’s been chased hither and yon by both Religious Authorities and Romans… he’s been stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, thrown in jail, threatened with execution… you name it, he’s been there, done that. He’s seen friends and co-workers tortured and killed. Nothing “warm and fuzzy” about Paul, or rose-colored to his view of the world.

We all “know” these verses. We could probably recite them. But do we ever really LOOK at them? Do we ever really see what he’s saying here? Let’s do that…

Let’s look at this from the bottom up. Let’s see that Paul is giving a very PRACTICAL instruction here, revealing a very profound spiritual secret, a “technique” here.

We, in general, people, seek “peace”. “Peace of mind”, “peace of heart”, the kind of peace that lets us sleep easily and sit quietly without a thousand worries wrinkling our brow when the noise dies down on a quiet day. Paul says, “the God of peace will be with you…” That’s an extraordinary promise. The number one pharmaceuticals, the biggest money makers in the drug world in the U.S. today, are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. Astonishing, no?

So… for the “God of peace” to be “with us”… Paul says, “dwell on” and “practice” this dwelling as he’s been observed to do… Dwell on whatever is “excellence and worthy of praise”.

WHAT?

What about all the Bad Stuff? What about the occupation army? What about the Temple Guards breaking into our homes and dragging us off to be flogged or executed? What about our families turning us in? Is Paul CRAZY?

Nonetheless… Paul says for the God of peace to come to us… dwell on the excellent and worthy of praise. He even gives specific examples, whatever is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute.

Any questions? Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Let’s be even MORE clear. Here’s what NOT to dwell on… Whatever is Untrue, False, Dishonorable, Wrong, Impure and Corrupt, Ugly, and Shameful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gentle Reader, I’m not finger-pointing. This is as much confession as exhortation… But if you want to know “Peace”… DON’T let your mind revolve on all that negative, toxic, “stuff”. Just DON’T. It is poisonous, it is stress-inducing, it will rob us of peace, joy, and love. I’m not saying to ignore it, or deny it. When bad stuff happens, when toxic stuff happens, acknowledge it, embrace it, then release it and let it go. DON:T DWELL ON IT! Don’t ruminate, contemplate, meditate, and cling to it.  Minister in difficult situations as you can, embrace, affirm, encourage, acknowledge, love… and then refocus and re-sensitize to the good, the true, the lovely.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here’s the deep spiritual truth underlying this “technique”…

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5

Jesus taught:“You are the light of the world. A city set on a [hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Practical Application: Here’s the thing I’ve noticed in/for myself and my own life… When I focus on the “stuff out there”, the darkness and ash, I can lose my peace and joy, lose my center, and grow heartsick and weary. This leads me to a rather pathetic form of self-pity that takes away all my effectiveness. When the Lord gently leads me out of this spiral… when I again heed Paul’s advice… when I focus on Light instead of darkness, then two things happen.

earth beautifulOne, the God of peace joins me, feeds and nurtures me, and I focus again on the “I”… (what I can do, how I can help, how I can love), rather than on the “me” (the situation doesn’t heed me, appreciate me, acknowledge me). I get to bask in the radiance that is God, His love, His care, His glory… rather than the mud and the muck.

Two, (and this may sound a bit strange), but I “see” an entirely different world. I see a world of people doing unexpectedly kind and loving things. I see the flowers growing out of the sidewalk cracks, rather than just the concrete jungle. I see the grace, the joy, the laughter, the redemption and blessings, even in the midst of the most challenging environments and situations.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve come to realize that my Super Power, this Power of Choice and Will that God has given us, being created in His Image, allows me to “pick my planet”.

I can choose to see, focus, and dwell on that first one at the beginning of this post. I can glue myself to the “all bad news, all the time” channels on my mega-cable boob toob. OR… I can choose to get out amongst people, encouraging love, understanding, grace and embracing one another… whether for better or worse, in good times or bad, sickness or health.

That’s MY Choice! I can pick my planet! So can you. What’ll it be?

Grace to thee!

The Little Monk

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Free Pass to a Good Day

good dayDo you ever have a “Bad Day”?

You know what I mean. One of those days that doesn’t sink totally to the level of “disaster”, but where everything just feels “off”?

Imagine a dark cloud drifting overhead, casting shadows on your mood and heart. Sounds seem muted, colors seem drab, people seem unfriendly or indifferent, music seems off-key… Even prayer, even prayer just seems to float randomly into the ozone, as if drifting off to some divine “Inbox”, to be dealt with when God gets around to it.

Do you ever have such a day? Oh, not that we would ever clearly THINK such a thought… that would be “irreverent”. We have “faith”, we know what we know, we love God… always have, always will… but in that precise moment, there is no sense of the “experience”. The “feelings” of reverence, faith, devotion, piety, love… all that, is simply not there.

So the day drudges on, second by second, as we find ourselves “clock watching”, just waiting for it to end and move on to tomorrow, trying to take care not to offend anyone else with this debilitating moment of “blue funk”?

Been there? (Happens to me from time to time. Not often, but sometimes.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, here’s a gift from me to you…

If you’re willing, try this as an experiment next time that happens…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First off, I’m going to make an assumption… Since you are here reading The Postmodern Mystic in the first place (you’re patiently inflicting this on yourself), then it is your heart’s desire to draw as close as you possibly can to the heart of God. You passionately care about experiencing what I’m coming to call “skin to skin contact” with Holy God. That’s an amazing thought. That’s an incredible ambition. That would be a shocking (maybe horrifying) thing to articulate… I mean… “Me? Plain, little, sinful… ME??? And… and GOD?? Great… Big… Holy… GOD? Who do I think I AM?”

But wait a moment. Think about this… THIS, this intimate, immediate, right here right now relationship… is what GOD HIMSELF WANTS! This is the most clear and obvious biblical revelation of God’s heart from Genesis through Revelation!

Once I saw this simple fact… that God Himself has, from the beginning of time through its end, done EVERYTHING in His power to clear the way for us, as His beloved children, to have this immediate and unfiltered experience of Him, His presence, His love… once this idea struck me, then all of the Old Testament, Gospels, Epistles, Revelation… ALL of it, just screamed this same story, this same revelation, again and again.

God’s greatest heartbreak? That the immediate presence of “sin” (which we carry with us like a stain through the Fall and our frailty), brings forth “death” in from His Person (like lightning attracted to a dynamo). It’s not what He “wants” as much as it is just inherent in the “nature” of things.

God’s solution? Though Jesus, Son of God AND sinless Son of Man, to pave the way to place the Holy Spirit, God Himself, WITHIN us… “equalizing the holiness quotient”… or (in electrical terms) eliminating the “potential difference”. There is no more “spark of death” in the presence of Holy God, because God (through the Redemption, Resurrection, Pentecost) has accomplished a means to place the fullness of Holy God Himself INSIDE of us.

[I’m so sorry, Gentle Reader. That may not have made sense. It’s just such a crucial truth in my life (and to this post), and actually quite simple. But it’s unspeakably difficult for me to wrap words around, so if that didn’t make sense, just forgive my verbal inadequacies and go on.]

Anyway, the point is simply this…

We, as human beings, are people of “will”, of “want”, and of “feel”. That is really a rather amazing distinction. Most organisms, most life on the face of the earth, are driven by feelings (sensation), that drives desire (motivating towards “good” feelings, avoiding what feels “bad”), that drives the will (decisions to take action).

Now, our being made “in the image of God” gives us this astonishing ability. We are not bound by “natural” abilities, by the abilities and processes of every other life form on earth (as far as we know). Our decisions and actions, are NOT simply dictated by either our “sensations” (feelings), or even our “desires” (likes and wants). We are SUPER-natural creatures. We actually have both the freedom and the capacity by WILL to make decisions and take actions that neither make us feel good, nor do we like.

Um… so what? What’s all this about, Little Monk?

Well, when you put these two facts together… that we (joined here on this page right now) WANT, more than anything else, that intimate relationship with God… and that we have the freedom to separate our will from our appetites or feelings… then

We have all that is necessary for an extraordinary experiment!

Required Equipment:

  • One Yucky Day
  • The Actual (not necessarily apparent) Presence of God
  • Our Human Will

Procedure:

  1. Acknowledge that this day is decidedly “gray”. (Technical spiritual-speak for this is “desolation“, as opposed to “consolation“. Simply a “mood” ranging from mildly bleak to dismal)
  2. Try to pray, and realize that all one’s typical “warm, fuzzy, faith-y feelings” are absent. Find prayer dry, dull, seemingly meaningless. Try reading Scripture and watch the words just sit there mute on the page, rather than lighting up and dancing before you as normally they do! Find yourself wondering if this is all just a grand waste of time. Acknowledge and embrace this state of nearly irreverent spiritual dearth…
  3. Notice how much “easier” it is to “experience being Christian”, or do “spiritual exercises” (pray, read Scripture, speak of God, share with grace, love others, worship) when we are feeling good with “consolation”, than it is when we are feeling blah with desolation.
  4. Ask oneself… do we want to worship God, look towards Him, speak with Him, only when… (maybe because)… it makes us “feel good”? Or is the relationship deeper than that? Is the time we pay attention to Him about Him? About Our relationship? About our need for Him and His presence? Or is it about how that time makes us “feel”?

Hypotheses Being Tested:

  1. Whether our time attending to Him is about our relationship with Him, not about how the exercise itself makes us feel?
  2. Whether we can be dissuaded from experiencing our relationship with Him, if the enemy just “dulls our perceptions” of His presence and of sensible graces?
  3. Whether God is all the more “complimented”, and whether our “faith is all the more strengthened” when we persist despite the dryness?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now, I’m not going to bias the outcome by predicting your probable results, but just try this the next time you are having a “Dry” day…

  1. Thank Him for the gift and challenge of the “dryness”, the “grayness”.
  2. Remind oneself that devotion is not an “addiction” and we are not here for the “feel-good” side effects. That’s just a “cherry on top” that God is welcome to add or not, at HIS pleasure, not our demand.
  3. Remind oneself that the enemy is deeply interested and invested in whether he can pry your focus away from God, simply by blunting the “warm fuzzies” of that.
  4. Watch what happens!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When you have the opportunity, and conduct this experiment, please feel free to drop me a comment, an email, an FB message… but let me know the results, if/when you feel so led.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All of creation around us are “natural” beings. Sensations and needs drive their decisions and actions. We are “supernatural” beings, capable of making decisions and actions contrary to our appetites and sensibilities.

We all have a “Super Power”. Free will, that can detach us from the drives of our sensations and preferences, is a unique human ability. Let me know how things go, when you exercise your Super Power in Him!

Blessings and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: