Archive for June, 2021

perfect pour

June 30, 2021 6 comments

“The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which has been given us.” —Romans 5:5

To span the infinite gap between the Divine and the human, God’s agenda is to plant a little bit of God, the Holy Spirit, right inside of us! (Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 14:16ff).

This is the very meaning of the new covenant, and the replacing of the “heart of stone with a heart of flesh,” as Ezekiel promised (36:25-27). Isn’t that wonderful? It is God doing the loving, in and through us, back to God, towards our neighbor and enemy alike, and even towards the sad and broken parts of ourselves. “You will know him because God (Spirit) is with you… God (Spirit) is within you.”

+Adapted from “Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality,” p. 97

The last time I was in Ireland, I was taught by a local pub employee how to pour the “perfect” pint of Guinness. It’s a three-part procedure that requires patience, a steady hand, and an astute attention to detail.

The first pour fills the glass about three-fourths full. Then the glass sits for a couple of minutes to let the beer settle down. Next, the glass is slowly filled to about 95 percent capacity and allowed to sit for another couple of minutes. The third stage requires gently inserting the long spout below the thick foamy head, and slowly pouring beer until the head (about three-eighths of an inch) rises comfortably at—and slightly above—the rim of the glass (without spilling over the glass). It’s known as the “perfect pour,” and is pretty much the expectation and part of the overall ambiance of any noble drinking establishment in that country.

Strong’s Concordance interprets the word ekchunnō (in Romans 5:5) as to pour out… figuratively to bestow: gushed, poured, rushed headlong, shed, spilled. It seems that the Holy Spirit is excited to, eager to, even over-willing to pour love into us in super-abundance. It makes me wonder if this is what gives the Spirit chill-bumps—when we release what has been given to us by the Divine and, in turn, pour our love into whatever we encounter in this life? Maybe that’s the logical finish to the “perfect pour”—a consumable product for another’s thirsty soul. —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized

believe and/or follow?

June 23, 2021 Leave a comment

Goodness! How difficult it is to believe in the sort of Messiah that Jesus of Nazareth represents!

To Believe that we win by losing our very selves!

To believe that love is everything.

To believe that power is a great danger, wealth slavery, comfortable life a misfortune.

It is not easy.

This is why you hear [people] in the street say, “If there was a God there would not be all this suffering.”

Two thousand years have gone, and there are still Christians whose doctrinal notions belong to those ancient days when the power and existence of God was revealed by displays of strength and the victory of armies. And especially by wealth and having more possessions.

The real secret had not then been received.

Nor is it received very easily even today.

Hence the blasphemy in general circulation denying the kingdom’s visibility, given the ordeal of suffering and death.

The old teaching that we, the Church, must be strong still feeds our determination to possess the land and dominate the work!

We must make ourselves felt. We must keep our enemies down. We must scowl. We must win, and to win we need money, money, money. And to have money we need banks, we need the means, and we need clever bankers. How can we do good without means, without money? Let’s have a big meeting, and then any opposition will be shamed into silence. Well, we must defend our rights, the rights of the Church. We must defeat our enemies.

Enemies, always enemies on the Church’s horizon! Yet Jesus has told us in no uncertain terms that we no longer have any enemies, since they are the same people we are supposed to love, and love specially.

Can it be that we have not understood?

Don’t we read the Gospel in our churches?

How long shall we wait before following the teaching of Jesus?

—From “Why Oh Lord” by Carlo Carretto

Sadly, the questions are legitimate. Don’t we all wish that filling pews on Sunday morning, writing our tithe checks, attending to our bibles, and wearing the cross, all satisfy the “follow me” of Jesus? There is so much emphasis on being a “believer,” and too little mention of followship, discipleship, and living the love of the Christ. Do we not see this — or do we just choose what is most comfortable to us now?

We should spend some time in self reflection, and not assume we’re in perfect flow with Him. If we’ve reached an ease of comfort with “following,” maybe we’re not. Jesus didn’t portray a lot of soothing imagery about what it looks like to follow Him. I think there are invasive elements in that kind of commitment. Everything gets touched and measured by that kind of “followship.” Is that why we’re hesitant? —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized

be fish

June 16, 2021 2 comments

So often we are too full of what we think should be happening to us in our spiritual formation to notice what God is actually teaching us. We must be still enough, simple enough, humble enough, to let him plan the course, and use whatever opportunities there may be for our instruction.

We must not think as we progress in prayer everything will necessarily become much more overtly holy. What it will become is more simple, more humble, more actual.

St. Ambrose gave his congregation some very good advice. Using the old Christian symbol, he compared them in this stormy world to fish swimming in the sea. And to them too he said: “Be a fish.” We must learn how not to be swamped by the situations that we find ourselves in. We must learn how to get through them with a minimum of damage, and a maximum of profit.

One aspect of this is simply learning to get through situations, and not always to want to take them with us. There is a story told of two monks in Japan, “traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. ‘Come on, girl,’ said Tanza at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Okito did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. ‘We monks don’t go near females,’ he told Tanzan, ‘especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’ ‘I left the girl there,’ said Tanzan. ‘Are you still carrying her?’ “

We must learn to pass through situations like a fish, rather than carrying them all with us like a snail. We should certainly emerge with a little bit more experience of life, there is no need to carry more with us than we have to—each situation carries quite enough trouble with it by itself!

—From Prayer by Simon Tugwell

Tugwell presents a beautiful concept that is not always popular with us modern-day Christians. It’s this whole idea of our being “fish” that doesn’t always sit well.  We want to believe we were designed and built to thrive and fulfill our own destinies—in our own strength—all while still conveniently living under the protection and “influence” of Christ.  But we “fish” are also suffocating under the pressures of life’s sometimes muddy or turbulent waters.

I wonder if fish panic and fret over muddy or turbulent waters?

I wonder if fish think, “something is wrong!” when they encounter any kind of threat?

I wonder if fish would rather live their existence in a sterile environment of privileged perfection (i.e. the aquarium) without stretching, challenges, or even mystery. Or would they rather brave the vast and wild uncertainty of rivers, lakes, and seas?

St. Ambrose was definitely onto something worth pondering.

“Be fish!” —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized

tendeth to peace?

June 9, 2021 2 comments

All desire peace, but they do not care for the things that pertain to true peace.

A peaceable man doth more good than he that is well learned.

Peace consisteth rather in true humility, than in self-exaltation.

A good and peaceable man turneth all things to good. He that is in peace is not suspicious of any. But he that is discontented and troubled is tossed with divers (various & questionable) suspicions: he is neither quiet himself, nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often speaketh that which he ought not to speak; and leaveth undone that which is more expedient for him to do. He considereth what others are bound to do, and neglecteth that which he is bound to do himself.

O how good is it, and how it tendeth to peace, to be silent about other men, and not to believe at random all that is said, nor eagerly to report what we have heard. How good it is to lay one’s self open to few, and always to be seeking after thee who are the searcher of the heart. Nor should we be carried about with every wind of words, but we should desire that all things both within and without, be accomplished according to the pleasure of thy will.

—Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

This last paragraph, written by Kempis, is killer! The rest of it is pretty dang good also, but those last few sentences peel back the religious facades of modern-day church people. Kempis reminds us that we preach peace, but we don’t live in peace. We don’t live in peace because of the messages we absorb, the things we do, and the ways we think. Kempis wrote these prophetic truths long ago… but, wowzah! Does it ever hit the mark now!

Are we “silent” about other people we may or may not agree with?

It’s doubtful.

Do we automatically and randomly agree with every ill-willed word towards one another, especially when that person is on the “other side” of what we think and believe?

It’s probable.

What about eagerly reporting that ill-will?

Hmmmm. Yeah… more than likely.

How far are we carried from peace by every “wind of words?”

Our favorite news (entertainment) sources, media, online personalitiesthey all keep us reeling in absolute terror and seething frustration (mostly anger and anxiety). We see the boogieman everywhere! Have you ever read of Jesus’ screaming about his freedom or rights or the loss of his own personal liberty?

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). It appears that we’ve never heard this before.

Who has your ear and your heart? The latest report from the “authoritative crowd?” Or the Spirit of peace and joy?

Are you sure about that? —MDP

Categories: Uncategorized

i’m going to wait

June 2, 2021 8 comments

Nicole (my eldest and mother of William the Warrior) sent me a link to this worship video, and said… “This has been my “go to” for the last six weeks.” Are you feeling anxious… panicky… stressed beyond measure? Try this. These kids rock these truths. Unbelievable talent. Incredible message. Let this roll over you. If it’s not your cup o’ tea, that’s okay too. It beyond refreshing to see this kind of energy from young people. Evidently not all millennials are bored with God. It’s wonderful! —MDP

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