Flourishing in a Life of Sacred Rhythm

Years ago, I sat in a staff meeting at a church I was serving; the purpose of the meeting was to talk about how we could attract more people to join the church. At one point someone counted the requirements for church membership that were already in place and made the startling discovery that somewhere between five and nine time commitments per week were required of those who wanted to become church members! Outwardly, I tried to be supportive of the purpose for the meeting, but on the inside I was screaming, Who would want to sign up for this?  I was already becoming aware of CFS (Christian fatigue syndrome) in my own life and couldn’t imagine willingly inflicting it on someone else.
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God, Where Are You? What Are You Doing?

The practices that had been so dear to her, so life giving, were dry as dust. Those specials places of connection with God, those times of receiving consolation from God were gone—dried up—and she was left wondering in a barren wasteland, lost and alone. She felt abandoned, forsaken of God, even in danger of losing her faith. As she stood before me, her despair was palpable. Here I was, a seminary student, her adult Sunday School teacher, but I did not know what to say.
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Joy Changes Everything

Joy levels are like the temperature of an oven. We can choose our ingredients carefully, but the oven temperature will determine what our careful preparations will yield. Consider the effect of angry or joyful parents on family prayer and Bible reading. As joy increases so does the chance that transformation will go in a positive direction. Joy levels have huge effects on whether our efforts will be productive and lasting.

Why would a factor that powerful go unnoticed by most of the church?

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Meditations on Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s ‘The Wedding Dance’

Bruegel’s images of village life in sixteenth- century Holland may seem quaint, antique, and remote, but they speak eloquently of what it means to live well and flourish in a vulnerable, uncertain world. “The Wedding Dance” depicts a crowded village street where, it seems, a whole community has gathered to celebrate.

Weddings change things for everyone: Families are reorganized, property is redistributed, and the geography of old intimacies and friendships is remapped as the community makes space for a new household. Though wedding celebrations are among the most festive in our shared life, explicit moments of hope and happiness, they are also shadowed with losses remembered and impending, with awareness of fleeting time and mortality, and with sharpened loneliness for the solitary. Bruegel recognizes this ambiguous character of human celebration in figures like that of the orange-shirted watcher who stands to the right of the dancers, hands clasped behind him, gazing at a kissing couple, or the observer in black who stands in the left foreground watching from the shadows half-turned away.

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Children and Adults: Co-Pilgrims in this Life with God

We are born with open space, with the hunger to be in relationship with God. Right from the womb we search the eyes around us for connection. We cry to be held. We reach out to know that we are loved. And we are, right from the beginning. Even the fact that we came to be is proof enough that God desires for us to know him, to be loved and cared for by him. Children have a natural openness to God; Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Children arrive slippery and screaming and ready for relationship. Their interior space has not been filled with disappointment, pain, habitual sin, or any of the other junk that clogs up our ability to seek God with a pure heart. They are seeking and connecting. The toddler who sings in her bed before she goes to sleep and as soon as she wakes up is echoing the song sung to her. The boy who gently caresses the hurt family pet is echoing the gentle caresses of God. C. S. Lewis said we know God exists because we know that there is good in the world.
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Practicing God’s Presence…for the Next Ten Minutes

The d-word in “spiritual disciplines” makes it sound like spiritual formation is for those who like a well-ordered routine. The message seems to be: If you want to become Christlike, if you want your life to flourish, then you need to do these things regularly, consistently, and without fail. And certain (structured) ways are more preferred than others.
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