Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

When Children ask Uncomfortable Questions about God

My son was firing off all kinds of questions about God a couple of days ago. Children are curious and filled with a wide-eyed wonder as they look upon the intricacies and beauty of the natural world.  They can oftentimes see its little details a lot more than us adults. This same wide-eyed wonder they can also find towards the spiritual.

Courtesy of Google Images

I don't discuss God constantly with my children. We do pray together, they go to church, but they aren't inundated with religion or spirituality throughout their day. That's why it always touches me when, at spontaneous moments unprovoked, they will bring up questions or their perceived observations about God.

Here are some of the questions my three year old son asked:

Where is God?
God is in heaven, right Mommy?
Is God in rain too?
Is God like a statue or is He in sunlight?
Is God a guy or is He a girl?

Now some of these questions I don't think have necessarily simple answers. Then again I have the tendancy to sometimes overthink things! I always try to give simple responses to my children, considering their ages, yet, I don't want to water down the truth or misrepresent it for the sake of convenience or simplicity.  With these particular questions, and since my son is just three years old, I was able to pass through his line of questioning with relative ease.

 My daughter who is seven has become more challenging with her questions particularly when it comes to some events in the Old Testament. We were reading the story of Noah the other day and she stopped me abruptly and asked:

"Mommy, if Noah only took two of every animal then that would mean the rest drowned. That's awful! Why would God do that? He was mean!"

I found myself in a bit of quandary there. I'm still considering what parts of the Bible are literal and which are figurative and since I'm still figuring things out I don't want to give my children false impressions until I am convicted with an answer. I believe it's important to be honest with our children when we aren't certain or don't know an answer. I told her I'd get back to her on that but I agree, that is awful. At the same time people during that time were doing some awful things themselves and God was looking for a way He could restore peace and end violence, suffering and evil.  This was a very uncomfortable question for me to try to answer! What would have been your answer?

This question was uncomfortable not only because I didn't have an immediate reaction that seemed like it clearly answered her but also because it was so unexpected. I've taught Sunday school for years in the past. I've also been a vacation Bible school teacher and camp counselor. Not once did a child question the morality of an Old Testament story.  All the children I have taught seemed to have just accepted what they were taught without questioning much of it.

Many adults have questioned though, myself included. My wrestle with God's morality and character in the Old Testament created a huge struggle in my faith about a year ago. I had never discussed this with my child, of course, but when my daughter came out with that question I felt my heart wince a bit. Faith might  prove to be a not so easy road for her. But then again, is a genuine spiritual journey ever easy? And I couldn't help but feel a bit impressed at her ability to not just take information and beliefs verbatim but to think for herself and question.

When my children ask me questions about God my philosophy is to be open and receptive to their thoughts and questions. To answer honestly and when I don't know the answer, not to make up one, but to simply say that I don't know and suggest that we find out together. Us "finding out together" helps them learn in their lifelong journey of faith the process of seeking and finding the answers they need to help build the foundation of their faiths.

I think it's so important not to get angry or dissapointed by some of the things our children will come out with in their questions and opinions about God and the Bible, even if they are doubts or criticisms and make us feel uncomfortable.  Much more effective is to approach these questions and doubts with an open dialogue and see them as opportunities to have both our children and ourselves learn and grow more in the process.

What are some of the questions you once asked about God when you were a child? Or some of the questions your children have asked you about God? Please leave in the comments section!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Moment in Time: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Faith and Intellectualism's Precarious Tango

"Is there a theological fault in these desires, this interior activity which I cannot help, these continual ideas for books and writing, this continual grasping for intellectual satisfactions and aesthetic joys-the avidity which is my crucifixion?

That is not the question. It is all disordered. It chokes grace, dries it up. Stifles prayer. It wounds, darkens, dirties, lacerates my soul. "

                     ~ Thomas Merton, Entering the Silence, p. 70-71

                                                             Courtesy of google images

Merton was both fascinated by the lure of intellectualism theology has to offer but also consciously aware of the oftentimes bitter fruit it bore. He realized the burden of such pursuits that frequently attaches itself to one's consciousness, the dryness that tends to soak up one's spirituality like a sponge soaking up remnants of living water from the soul. 

Intellectualism can  be the death of spirituality if one pursues its many inquiries before firmly grounding themselves with a base of experiential faith through interaction and awareness of the Spirit and a clear understanding of the basic doctrine of Christianity. These variables provide an anchor that can allow the seeking mind and spirit to dive into theological questions without getting pulled free from the foundation of faith and the security a close walk with God provides.

When I think of the concept of building a sturdy foundation before entering into the realm of intellectualism I am reminded of the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:4-8:

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

In the past many have questioned my  pursuits in entering in some intellectual areas of theology, sometimes criticizing them, telling me that a life of pure devotion is the only thing necessary for the walk of a Christian and to consider matters of theology a waste of one's time. Well, I agree to some extent. An interest in theology is not a requirement for the Christian, and in fact, can indeed be a hindrance to one's faith. God calls us to have a simple faith, like that of a child.  But there are some of us that do like to explore some questions being discussed in theology circles today and find religion and spirituality a fascinating area of study. What then? For people like us? How are we to balance are love of debating and intellectual inquiry with a living and active, tangible walk with God?

I have personally discovered both the bitter and the faith-enhancing attributes of intellectualism. About a year ago I was at a crossroads in my faith where I started to voraciously pursue the many intellectual arguments that are discussed among those interested in theology today. Like the age-old discussion of whether or not the Bible is purely infallible, evolution v. creationism, or the pondering of God's sense of judgement and justice in the OT and whether or not we had a Father with some anger management issues.

I have to say that it was a very painful time spiritually for me as I felt very distant from God.  God was starting to feel more like a concept than a reality and a concept that I was starting to wonder if I really truly believed. At that point, where I was at a spiritual crossroads, my meanderings in the realm of theology were not helpful to my journey. I was most likely trying to fill a void but with not the things I needed at the time. Intellectualism was proving to be the source that, at that time, was aiding in dimming my soul's mirror more in which I was so desperately trying to see truth.

I didn't need answers to theological questions, I needed a direct and divine relationship with God. I needed to repent of my pride and cling close to the cross. What managed to get me unstuck from my spiritual stagnation and into the refreshing and living waters of our King was to return back at the foot of His throne and repent, simply offering my soul to Him, empty and willing, to fill with His presence. I was broken and needed a healer and, what is more, I was spiritually dry and didn't need theology to quench that dryness but the living water that only God provides.

I discovered contemplative prayer through the writings of Thomas Merton and others, like Richard Foster, Thomas Keating and James Finley.  When I started the practice of entering into the presence of God by shedding my attachments to self and world and clinging entirely onto the awareness of God's Divine presence within me, I found my faith completely transformed.

Since the moment I felt God's presence deep within me in a tangibly spiritual way and began recognizing vivid and poignant manifestations of His glory through Creation, my soul has been helplessly in love with God. I am truly smitten as I consider His great love, mercy, compassion. I have made daily a practice to feast upon His Word, meditate as well as experience His presence and blessings in the ordinary moments of the present moment and share my thoughts, prayers and self with Him through prayer. I'm not sure if that qualifies as practicing simple devotion but that's my version of it!

Now when I enter into some kind of theological discussion, whether it is with a friend, on a blog or in some other forum, I don't feel troubled by certain criticisms made towards the Bible, God (generally towards His character),  or ideas towards the nature of salvation that I hold important. I am able to stand on the foundation God has laid out for me that I have received through my practices and time with Him and am able to pursue intellectual inquiries with a more holistic and detached perspective, not being threatened spiritually by arrows that might be thrown my way. Arrows that might have once caused the wounds of conflict and doubt now fall beside me, harmless and ineffective. Yet, I am secure enough to explore possibilities and paths that don't contradict scripture and that can lead me into deeper depths of exploration and revelation into His Divine nature.

When I feel myself too wrapped up in a theological inquiry that interests me (or really any other pursuit in life that has my eyes focused more on myself and the world than God) I have managed to learn to discipline myself to drop that inquiry for the moment and rest in God, knowing that all peace, all answers and all true understanding come from Him and Him alone. I'm not saying I'm always effective at recognizing when my gaze is lifted from my Lord to another, it's a process, but it's one I've managed to begin cultivating and would highly recommend.

It's fun to dance the dance of debate but to truly gain new levels of understanding I feel we need to dance precariously when it comes to injecting both faith and intellectualism into our journey, allowing both to enrich the other, producing a more deep and holistic perspective to one's worldview and that of others but not allowing intellectualism to infect our faiths, producing the disease of doubt or compromise of doctrine. Intellectualism was a burden to Merton, causing his faith to be wounded at times. Let's not think ourselves any less susceptible to its trappings and  take seriously the angst in which his soul found itself in, making sure not to find ourselves in a similar situation.

Years later a more seasoned Merton would be finding himself writing a letter to the Pope, as was requested of him, for him to share his contemplative perspective with the world. He wrote:

"The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then, brother, is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons."
~ Thomas Merton, A Life in Letters, p. 121

Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section!

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Sin of Prideful Parenting

There is a phenomenon that occurs that is so obvious, yet when it is happening to us as parents we can completely be blind to the reality of it.  It has the ability to chisel down relationships between us and our children, creating barriers that only become more solidified through time and as they age, the walls they build as defense mechanisms only reinforce the distance that we create by not realizing this phenomenon when it occurs and circumventing it with the mindful compassion, love and attentiveness of Christ.

                                                             courtesy of google images

What is this phenomenon, you might be asking yourself? It occurs when we lose our objectivity, most often in a public situation, when our children might be acting out whether in defiance, anxiety, or frustration and we allow the thoughts of others that might be witnessing it and our concern for how they interpret the events so effect us that we neglect the direct and immediate emotional and spiritual needs of our children.

Most parents I come across, myself included, feel completely "on stage" in public when our children are misbehaving or having an emotional outburst. Many of us at these moments tend to feel our children are the only ones that act out in this way and that there are "expectations" on the way we are to respond. Sometimes we let those "expectations" get in the way of our objectivity, for there are instances when a child can be genuinely sad, frustrated and anxious. We see this a lot more easily and directly in other people's children and then witness their responses that seem unnecessarily harsh and cold, not realizing that we are guilty of the same thing! Certainly, when our children are genuinely emotionally effected by an event, image or other stimulus our natural reaction should be one of compassion and love towards that child, to comfort them, not to rebuke them out of frustration, anger, or yes, embarrassment.

 When we feel that "all eyes are upon us" many of us lose sight of the root of the problem, or sometimes the background of what elicited this sudden outburst (perhaps a known fear or anxiety) and begin to see it as everyone else does that doesn't know our children as well as we do: as a behavioral problem. And when our children have "behavioral problems" the fingers are now not pointing at our children in rebuke they are turned around and pointing at us, for bad parenting!  Embarrassment and sudden self-condemnation ensues and we react in a bitter manner, often wounding our children emotionally by harsh words and sudden decisions that we might haven't had made otherwise if our judgement wasn't clouded.  If you can't relate to this scenario, I applaud you! But I know many, like myself, that can and I think something that is something that's important to write about.

Embarrassment is a form of pride. It's a form of pride because when we experience being embarrassed we are steeped in "self". When embarrassment arises in a situation with our children acting out in public we are now not thinking about our children, what they are going through or the situation at all, and at that point we are rejecting the reality of our opportunity to have the mind of Christ entirely. We are instead thinking about ourselves and how we  look at that moment to others. This  causes us to lose all objectivity and plays into any insecurities and fears we might have as individuals! It hinders the parenting process and at the end of it all we tend to end up looking foolish and hot-headed to the very people whose opinions concerned us in the first place, many times mere strangers who we will never even see again!

More tragic, when we respond with anger and bitterness fed by our insecurities and pride we have wounded our children's feelings and hearts and have taught them to respond to their sinful nature of pride instead of with the grace and compassion God gives us the ability to respond with. After all, we are new creations in Christ! We don't have to respond the way we think the world wants us to, or the way our minds tell us to at that moment, we need to respond the way God calls us to!

I don't know about anybody else but I don't want to take my parenting lessons from those in the world that are filled with just as many flaws and baggage from childhood wounds as I have. I want to take my lessons from the only parent whose love endures forever, whose faithfulness never fails, whose patience endures throughout infinity. With a new and changed heart, purchased for me in the costly blood of the only man, God-incarnate, who never sinned. I don't want to care more about what people think of me than what how God calls me to respond and the person that scripture claims I am as a new Creation in Him. I want to respond to all situations, including those with my children, with love, compassion and wisdom and with Christ right at the center of my motivations.

I feel as if I could write a book on this! I don't want this post to be too long though. The Bible is filled with gems and jewels for the parent to behold in terms of wisdom and advice. May we turn to His Word to change our hearts, to have them rest in His presence and peace and to look towards Him and away from ourselves for guidance so that when these situations do occur we can respond with love and objectivity. For sure, sometimes our children do need to be rebuked and punished, but let us respond with wisdom and compassion, not out of the bitterness of being embarrassed and the fear of earthly rejection or criticism.

Thought? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the Comments section. Thank you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Death: A Glimpse of Divine Sorrow

"Death is something that is something that is going to happen to all of us and that is something very mysterious and very sad and yet has something of the sorrow of God about it.  It has something of God's grief over the way the world has become. God was present in my father's death. God was present at my father's funeral...And those were very precious and poignant moments; like Jesus weeping at the grave of Lazurus you have a sense of Divine Sorrow which is with you and holding on to you. It doesn't make it easier but you just know that God is in there with you..."
                            ~ NT Wright

In this short video NT Wright shares the emotions and revelations he received from the experience of losing his father to death.  He compares his conclusions of how we are to receive death to those of Dylan Thomas' in Thomas' poem " Do Not go Gentle into That Good Night", which Thomas wrote after the death of his own father.  I find Wright's interpretation very positive and based on biblical principles, as he assures listeners, "There will be a new morning.".

Do you identify with some of his feelings and conclusions? Or do you have a different interpretation of death?

Please share your thoughts in the comments sections. Thank you :)

Divine Sorrow from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Poe-A-Tree Hop

I am participating in my first  "Poe-a-tree Hop"! It is an activity where bloggers participate in writing poems based on a certain theme and then leave the links of fellow participants on their post so that those who are interested could "hop" from post to post and enjoy each blog's content regarding that theme.

Last week's theme was "rainbows" which elicited many joyful and colorful poems. This week we are looking at the antithesis of joy, sorrow and what sorrow oftentime produces: tears.  Crying can be a very cleansing process, bringing much healing to the individual who opens up the pathways to their emotions and lets their free range of expressions take form.

In my poem, below, I am trying to express that to fully appreciate joy we must come to know sorrow. We know and experience concepts fully by their contrasts.  I am not really a poet, but I thought this would be fun. I hope you enjoy and would love your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!

So drunk in wonder we become once our souls find Love’s light
For first we must stumble and crawl through sorrow’s dark night.
Oh, what wonder so bitter-sweet is joy once found,
For to have our eyes feast on the star’s bright light,
we must first take our gaze off of the ground.

What casts our heads down in doom and dismay?
Threatening us to not see the world as it is, surely so gay?
I know not your reasons but I can speak of memories both near and far
That have blurried my eyes, blocking me from seeing the most brightest of stars.

Watching those who I love be chiseled down by time,
Eventually hollow vessels of what they once were,
Knowing not me, nor reason nor rhyme.

A friend so young, just barely seventeen years,
Being taken by cancer, fulfilling all of my fears.
Another, a frail soul who understood me and was like a brother,
Overdosing on drugs one morning, dying alone,
sharing his last moments with no other.

Having to tell dreadful news to my tiny daughter
Hearing her soul cry out as, in its net, grief caught her.
Feeling my faith so far from me it didn't seem real,
Seeking God with all my might, feeling nothing as I bent down to kneel.

With life come experiences that can cause our hearts to shatter
They also can be great teachers, showing us what really matters.
Not things made of cloth or those formed from gold
But those lives that enter our own that God gives us to laugh with and to hold.

When grief catches me and I lose sight of joy and of love,
I think of the holy sacrifice God made from above,
He sent down His only son, so precious, with him at the world's first breath,
And had him be tortured and die with humility an agonizing death.

God knows our grief for he felt it through His son,
His love poured out a sacrifice for each and every one.
He promises healing to each soul laboring in pain
May our tears turn to those of joy,
As His love cleanses our heart's from sorrow's stain.

Here are the other blog participants. Feel free to visit their blogs and see what they came up with!

Bonnie Parker Gayadeen http://bongoisme.blogspot.com/
Sarah Jane Klemis http://almostthere.biz/

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Hidden Faith

" So I had to guard my growing enthusiasm...especially around my kids and many of my friends....There was this odd role reversal going on: years ago, I was worried about my parents finding out that I had lost my faith and now I worried that my children would find out that I was looking for it. One of my best friends was on this same path toward belief, but had an even greater dilemma. She was Jewish and her parents were vigorously anti religious, having had a fight of epic proportions with a Rabbi decades ago. Mara worried what her parents and her equally atheistic siblings and college-age children would say if they discovered that she was trying out different temples one by one..."I'd rather tell them about my affair with Antonio!" she said, shuddering at the memory of a disastrous fling with a married man. "
                                    ~ Stalking the Divine, p. 108-109


The above passage was written by  Kristin Ohlson. She had discovered a small cloister of nuns whom she started writing about, intrigued by their contemplative lifestyle. Something within her was both moved and perplexed at their choice of removing themselves from society and becoming entirely devoted to God. It sparked within her skeptic heart a pull towards the Divine and as she entered on her journey of discovering God she feared the reactions that her family would have towards her new found sense of faith  that was slowly unraveling a path before her towards God. I wonder how many people live hidden lives of faith, keeping the pearls of wisdom they find covered, for fear of shame, criticism, rejection or embarrassment.

Have you ever kept your beliefs secret from others for those reasons? Your journey towards God, a path covered and hidden from those most close to you?
There has definitely been a major shift in our culture where many circles that some of us find ourselves in consider a choice towards religion a step away from the rational and away from the logic of science. While there are many of us that feel religion and science can be compatible and don't necessarily contradict one another when perspective and context is maintained, many others feel one has to either choose one or the other and, for fear of other people's thoughts towards them, keep their choice to themselves and develop a faith that is hidden.

I can relate to this. When I first began on my journey towards discovering God I embarked on my quest  on my own. I was a junior in high school and raised never having gone to church. My parents were highly critical of "church-goers" and cynical towards missionaries and evangelists.  When, after having explored many other philosophies and religions, my heart started opening up to the gospel, I decided it was best to keep it to myself. Faith is such a personal decision and choice and, especially at its conception, criticism  can have a profound effect on the person who is beginning to open up to it. 

Well, my faith wasn't meant to be a secret for very long. Really, none of our faiths are meant to be. Biblically speaking we are called to openly profess and declare our faith with a boldness that is ripe with confidence. I'd like to say that that's how those closest around me found out about mine. But it wasn't. My mother actually discovered my new found beliefs by reading my journal! Oh yes, that's another blog entry entirely! She confronted me that very day and it initially did not go very well.  But God is faithful, because after that point, even though my parents weren't thrilled, I was able to practice my faith in a purely open manner, no longer keeping it to myself. Yes, I experienced criticism but it wasn't as bad as I feared. It was like a wind began to take form beneath the wings of my heart, lifting it higher, allowing me to experience more of God as I began to profess Him more and more to those around me.

The most beautiful thing that happened after my faith was revealed was that a couple of years later my parents and sister came to know and trust in Christ. I can't help but think that if I continued on keeping my faith to myself and didn't go through that initial path of discomfort, that they might never have considered the gospel.  God doesn't call us to be comfortable but to be confident. In fact, He promises us in His Word that sometimes our road won't be easy but we must still press onward and be true to ourselves, to Him and to others as well.

So, dear reader, if you find yourself identifying with this article and perhaps have been keeping your beliefs hidden from those closest to you, I'd like to encourage you to step out in the boldness of Christ. You might feel like you don't have the strength or the confidence but the amazing reality of it all is that we have everything we need within us to reveal the gospel to those in our lives. We have the Spirit to provide us with the strength and discernment that is necessary. His Spirit is within us and can be experienced as a very real presence that will help prompt us with the words that are necessary.

Know that many times the rejection that we sometimes fear from those who might seem hostile towards our beliefs oftentimes doesn't take full form as those that are close to us realize the positive impact God has in our lives. May God use all of us as lamps, shining His light and love to those around us. And if we are rejected by some, though that is tragic, may our words echo Paul's when he said in Philippians 3:8 "  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus...", for surely the greatest treasure we can ever experience is knowing the God who breathed out Creation and sustains the world through His love, living in each one of us.

Thoughts? I would love to hear them in the comments section! Thank you! :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment
"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."
“This Moment” is a ritual found on Life inspired by theWee Man adopted from SouleMama which was introduced to me by Sarah-Jane. If you find yourself touched by a Moment and would like to participate, post your picture on a Friday and leave your link in the comments section.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reflections on Aging as I Approach 30

As I soon approach the age of thirty I am provoked to reflect on the concept of aging. After all, thirty is kind of a bench mark in the aging process. It hurdles me tirelessly into what is generally considered  the "middle age" zone of life. 

google images

Society does everything in its power to sway us from embracing the concept of aging. Look at all the "anti-aging" products out there. We have everything from wrinkle cream, hair dye, surgical procedures aimed at nipping, tucking and zapping away those stubborn pieces that  remind us and others of our dissipating youth.  Images that flash across screens, billboards, pages of magazines do not reflect the images we regularly see walking down the street, entering the library or strolling down the aisles of grocery stores perusing the latest "100 calorie only" products. Instead they are airbrushed illusions that beckon to our subconscious to partake in the endless race for youth. But are we meant to run backward, struggling to hold on to the past and make it the present? Or should we rather embrace the present and with a discerning acceptance look forward to what our lives have shaped for us in terms of the course of our futures?

Much of the "anti-aging" propaganda that exists centers around our inherent fear of death. Death is that looming dark mysterious end that takes no prisoners but engulfs us all into its abyss. It cares not whether you are rich or poor, black or white. Everyone succumbs to the reality of our bodies simply getting too tired to go on, our hearts no longer strong enough to pump and circulate life throughout our fragile forms. Everyone dies. But few want to.

The glorious thing about being a Christian is that I don't fear death. No, I'm not running towards it with open arms, but I don't have the fear I once had. There's a terror that can invade one's innermost thoughts of the unknown. But when one knows God that all changes. We can be assured that when our time comes we will finally be at union with our Maker. The peace and love that we experience from the Spirit within us during our lifetimes is just a fraction of what we will experience when we finally break through to the other side and, spirit to Spirit, meet our Father. I know all will be well with my soul. I have experienced enough...not just read or learned, but experienced spiritually enough of God, to know there is nothing to fear.

So death aside, what is my personal take on aging? Personally, I wouldn't trade the knowledge and wisdom I've acquired as the years have passed by. God, by His Grace, has opened me up to truths and experiences that in my youth I would have never have considered nor sought. We all go through that immature period of ego, where Self reigns and eternal truths go out the window as we seek not spiritual things but that which gratifies our five senses. At least I did! As time has passed I have acquired less of a taste for the carnal things of life and more of a deep thirst for the things of God. For His presence, His truths. I wouldn't trade that journey for an immortal life steeped in a shallow existence of materialism. I feel, if we are wise, aging brings much enlightenment and embracing change, not trying to prevent it, brings a satisfaction and growth like no other.

So as I find myself aging am I running for the bottle of hair dye whose color most appeals to me? Do I scurry down the isles feverishly looking for moisturizer and other skin products that will keep my appearance akin to what I looked like when I was 20? Well, honestly, yes, I've dyed my hair and yes, I am not an extremely vain person but I try not to fry my skin in the sun. Let's not bring on age prematurely! But I don't fear the wrinkles when they do come, and the gray hair, well, though I'm not keen on it I am reminded of a verse I came across recently in proverbs:

Proverbs 16:21  Gray hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life.

My study Bible didn't elaborate more on that verse but I'd like to think gray hair is a symbol of aging. And when, as we grow older, we do it to God's glory, our age indeed symbolizes a life of righteousness. In my next thirty years, I plan on continuing on the amazing journey I have not too long ago begun. A journey that leads me to lose the attachments in life my first 30 years have acquired, baggage that weighs me down spiritually, and live progressively more free in Christ seeking more opportunities to bring Him glory and serve those among me in His name.

My prayer is that for whatever time God has left for me here on earth, every beat of my heart, every breath that I take, shall be devoted to Him. It took me nearly 30 years to awaken to God's Spirit within my heart. When I finally did, it was truly a transforming process as I was bathed in His love, grace and His peace that is, indeed, beyond anything that can be obtained on earth. I will waste no more time, as I did in my youth, clinging to that which is fleeting and temporary but instead, seeking to know that which is eternal. May we all slowly free ourselves from the clutches of commercialism, materialism and culture and set our eyes on God.

What are your thoughts on aging? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Not Your Typical Church

Have you ever felt like you can't relate to the atmosphere and structure of a given church? Like you just don't fit in to some of the themes and traditions expressed during a service? Some churches are getting creative in their attempts of reaching out to populations of Christians and seekers that have turned away from  attending church for just those reasons. They are offering a refreshing change to the stereotypical image of a church and, while maintaining the integrity of doctrine, offering alternative-style services that bring both a modern twist and back some ancient practices that have long been forgotten from many denominations.

Take a look at the video below and tell me what you think! This video highlights the approaches that a church, "House for all Sinners and Saints" in Colorodo is using to reach groups of people that have been missing from most of our churches. It is led by Reverend  Nadia Bolz-Weber.  You can visit their website here: http://www.houseforall.org/ 

Their website higlights the various groups they offer and I was impressed to see they have a contemplative prayer group! I wish a church near me had one of those!

Please leave your thoughts and comments in the comments section! Would you attend a church like? Why or why not?

Breaking Bread with Sinners and Saints from Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA on Vimeo.