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Trying to think about life and how God makes it full

Temptation in The Garden, Part 2: Luke 22:40-46

The passage begins and ends with, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation”. So, being in prayer is another clue, weapon, defence, against falling into temptation.

Jesus spends his last night in prayer. He must be as susceptible to temptation as anyone else. Why else would he be tempted by the devil at the beginning of his ministry? And here he is at the end of his ministry talking about temptation.

Lord, help me submit my will to yours, as Jesus did in the face of temptation.

So, it seems that prayer, purpose, scripture, and submission to God are essential in overcoming temptation.

I thank you Lord that you’re teaching me about these things in life, and teaching me through these things within daily life. I still feel weak in the face of many temptations, but nevertheless, you’ve kept me Lord, on fairly solid ground. Help me to intuitively know the difference between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the devil, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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February 28, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, Temptation, wisdom | Leave a comment

Temptation in The Garden, Part 1: Mark 14:32-42

Temptation was at hand, even in the last hours of Jesus’ life. He didn’t want to go through with the Cross, but he submitted himself to God’s will. Then poor old Peter got it in the neck on behalf of the others, when Jesus found them asleep. He told them to keep awake and pray so that they don’t fall into temptation.

There’s something about being alert to temptation, and being alert and alive to God’s will, even in the face of death. I wonder if I would’ve done any better than Peter, James, and John if I had been there in the Garden with Jesus. They would’ve had a few glasses of red wine at the meal beforehand and were probably feeling the effects of it late at night. I bet they started off in an attitude of prayer, fully intending to pray in solidarity with Jesus – especially when they could see he was so distressed.

Someone else’s pain is never as close as your own. Therefore, its natural that we don’t respond to someone else’s pain in the same way as we respond to our own.

But that’s where God is different to us. He responds to the pain of the world in such a way as to make the world’s pain his own – he feels and suffers along with the world.

Jesus feels the stress of my pain. He is greatly distressed in the Garden, exceedingly sorrowful at the thought of taking upon himself the sin of the world with all its madness and corruption, and because of it, himself becoming separated from his heavenly Father.

Consequently, he has the very human response of wanting God to take it all away from him. And he also has the deeply spiritual response of submitting his will to God’s, and actually going through with it.

Jesus had a big enough sense of purpose to carry him through the temptation, submit himself to God, and complete the task.

February 27, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, Temptation, wisdom | 2 Comments

The Children’s Voice: Address to the Plenary Session, Earth Summit, Rio Centro, Brazil 1992

I remember reading this back when it first came out. I was living in New Zealand at the time. It’s a fantastic speech from a passionate girl (as she was then); she continues to be passionate and outspoken about environmental issues, as Wikipedia shows. This was the speech that moved me to become interested in the way we live, globally. When you read this, try reading it as a prayer – God knows, the world needs actions to come from words such as these. HT to Earth Mama for the post.

Hello, I’m Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O., the Environmental Children’s Organisatin. We are a group of twelve and thirteen year olds from Canada trying to make a difference: Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler and me. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agandas, I am fighting for my future.

Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come. I am here to speak for countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go. We cannot afford to be not heard.

I am afraid to go out in the sun because of the holes in the ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.

I used to go fishing in Vancouver with my Dad until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear about animals and plants going extinct everyday – vanishing forever.

In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will ever exist for my children to see.

Did you have to worry about these little things when you were my age?

All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions.

I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realise, neither do you!

You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
You don’t know how to bring salmon back up a dead stream.
You don’t know how to bring an animal now extinct.
And you can’t bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert.
If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.

Here, you may be delegates of your government, business people, organisers, reporters or politicians – but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles – and all of you are somebody’s child.

I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong; in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil – borders and governements will never change that.

I’m only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards saving our planet. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid to tell the world how I feel.

In my country, we make so much waste; we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, and yet northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to lose some of our wealth, afraid to share.

In Canada, we live the priveleged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter – we have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets.

Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with children living on the streets.

And this is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicine, shelter, love and affection.”

If a child on the street who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?

I can’t stop thinking that these children are my age; that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born; that I could be one of those children living in the favellas of Rio; I could be a child starving in Somalia, a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.

I’m only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environemental answers, what a wonderful place the earth would be!

At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us:

not to fight with others;
to work things out;
to respect others;
to clean up our mess;
not to hurt other creatures;
to share – not be greedy.

Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?

Do not forget- why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for – we are your own children.

You are deciding what kind of world we will grow up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying “Everything’s going to be all right.We’re doing the best we can. It’s not the end of the world.”

But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My father always says “You are what you do, not what you say.”

Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown-ups say you love us. I challenge you, please make your actions reflect your words.

February 26, 2007 Posted by | culture, Environment, wisdom | 1 Comment

Famous Faces

On the London Underground the other day, and snapped a picture of a famous couple (I think….)

What do you think? Was it really Pete Doherty and Kate Moss…..??

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February 24, 2007 Posted by | blogging, culture, music | Leave a comment

The Wilderness, Part 4, Luke 4:1-13

As I think on all this stuff, I keep being reminded of someone’s words to me a few years ago: “You’re a very powerful person”. That surprised me, because I don’t consider myself as such. And I don’t try to be. But as I reflected on those words, perhaps I am – more than I think.

I know that I have a sense of ambition about me that wants to get on and do things, to see things change. I also know that I keep finding my way into influential circles, with some powerful people. So, do I like power? Am I manipulative? Am I destructive to others?

On the positive side, I do try to be pastoral with the people I work with and serve. I do take notice of their feelings, and take time to encourage them as they deal with the changes I may be bringing in their lives. I am keen to see change happen where its necessary, am willing to work hard for it, to argue for it, and to bring it about. I do try to treat with respect those with whom I don’t see eye to eye. Lord, please keep me clean and humble. At least I recognise my tendencies…

I know that I need to keep scripture and the example of Jesus always before me, and to ask the Holy Spirit to keep my ear open to him, and to be about to recognise the voice and tactics of the devil.

I’ve just been reading some of Thomas Merton’s ‘Thoughts in Solitude’. He was talking about the desert being created as a place of no use to mankind, and so it was a place supremely valuable in the eyes of God. That’s what the Desert Fathers thought. The desert offered mankind nothing, and so it could not be wasted or exploited. It was just to be itself.

It was a place, where to go, would be to become totally dependent on God.

But it was also a place of madness, and refuge of the devil.

And now the deserts of today are not immune to the encroachments of technological mankind who seeks to uncreate what God has blessed. The cities that spring up in them are full of corruption, vice, death, and madness – just like being in the house of the devil.

Merton says that the desert is no longer a place to go and fight the devil as Christ did; but the cities in the desert are the smiles of the devil, and the desert itself moves everywhere.

Interesting thought that: mankind used to go out to the desert, but now the desert comes to mankind. The despair of the desert fills mankind.

The Christian task, says Merton, is to live facing despair, but not to consent. To trample it down under the hope of the Cross. And in our fighting, we will find Christ at our side.

Solitude then, it seems to me, is like a place of desert where one can go, be dependent upon and sustained by, God. A place where some perspective can be sought and found.

When I go on Retreat, I go to my desert.

I also wonder whether there is some truth in the thought that the madness of the desert is also in the city where I live and work; hence, I am a continual wanderer in the desert.

I can see why Merton talks about the reality of despair, and why he says that the Christian must not succumb to despair. Christ has defeated despair, as he defeated the devil and his temptations in the desert.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, liminality, merton, religion | 2 Comments

Ash Wednesday

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For quite some years now, I’ve dipped into the Sacred Space website to help me pray. I don’t use it all the time, in fact, I don’t think I’ve used it at all for the past year. But today, being Ash Wednesday, I did use it again. I find it can be a really good way to stop and be still in front of my computer, and notice God again in my place of work. Below is printed the thought they suggest we think about for the day, and chew on for the rest of the week.

We are at the start of Lent, the time of the year when the church invites us to test our freedom, and to question the notion: I can take it or leave it alone. Try that with grumbling, drunkenness, talking about yourself, stealing, gambling, or other habits that diminish our freedom. What habits make you hard to live with? Lent is about regaining control of our own lives, especially in those areas that damage other people. We don’t admire those whose appetites or habits lead them by the nose. Nearly all of us have habits, or even addictions, that keep us from God, and harm both ourselves and others. These seven weeks before Easter help us to focus our energy on improving.

February 21, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, wisdom | Leave a comment

More Precious than Gold

More Precious The Gold

Good to see Robbie Williams promoting the protest against people-trafficking.
Why not show this to your friends, youth group, church, men’s club…?

February 20, 2007 Posted by | culture, people trafficking | 3 Comments

Merton and the Interconnectedness of humanity

I think this thought from Thomas Merton is counter-culturally radical in the context of our isolationism and fractured relationships with each other and our neighbourhoods. But it also rings true when you consider how connected the world is through globalisation. To understand what he’s trying to say (I think) requires a degree of humility and the ability to be self-critical – and then, for it to be really meaningful, means acting upon it.

Only when we see ourselves in our true human context, as members of a race which is intended to be one organism and “one body,” will we begin to understand the positive importance not only of the successes but of the failures and accidents in our lives. My successes are not my own. The way to them was prepared by others. The fruit of my labors is not my own: for I am preparing the way for the achievements of another. Nor are my failures my own. They may spring from the failure of another, but they are also compensated for by another’s achievement. Therefore the meaning of my life is not to be looked for merely in the sum total of my achievements. It is seen only in the complete integration of my achievements and failures with the achievements and failures of my own generation, and society, and time. It is seen, above all, in my integration in the mystery of Christ.

From: No Man Is An Island. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 16

February 19, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, culture, merton, religion, wisdom | 7 Comments

The Wilderness, Part 3, Luke 4:1-13

Of the 3 temptations, the devil only wants to be worshiped in 1 of them. I’ve not noticed this before. Of the other 2, one would be done in private, and the other would be done in full view of Israel’s religious leadership; and Rome would hear of it, too.

The one the devil wants to be worshiped for is the middle one, where Jesus would rule the whole world. With that one, the devil doesn’t challenge Jesus with, “If you are the Son of God…”. Why is this?

How did Jesus know the difference between the Holy Spirit and the devil?

It would be interesting to go back through the bible to see the nature of the questions God asked Israel, and how he spoke to the prophets and other heroes of the faith.

Was the devil mimicking God’s voice to Jesus? Jesus used the words of scripture to reply. Why? How do I respond to the temptations of the devil, and to the testings of the Holy Spirit? Could it be argued that the Spirit was testing Jesus and those testings were interpreted as temptations of the devil? Doesn’t being in the wilderness do strange things to the mind anyway, let alone being alone and fasting for 40 days? Couldn’t Jesus’ lack of action be seen as theological dithering? After all, he had a chance to make a huge theological, symbolic, and very real messianic difference to the life of the whole world in an instant.

How did/could he tell the difference between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the devil?

The passage begins with the statement that he was full of the Holy Spirit. So, he would have known that feeling; he would recognise that voice. The voice of the devil would be different. Jesus spoke about knowing the shepherd’s voice in the ‘shepherd sayings’ (John 10). The trouble with humans is, there are loads of people throughout history who have been convinced they’ve known the voice of the Holy Spirit, been full of the Holy Spirit, and gone on to do hideous things in God’s Name.

Jesus kept referring back to scripture and the story of God’s dealings with his people. This must be a very strong clue in knowing how to tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and the devil.

Please Lord, keep me close to you through your word.

February 18, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, liminality, religion | 1 Comment

Original artist

Check out this site. Click on his name, and take a few minutes to watch what happens. Then take a few more minutes to check out his other stuff by clicking through his site.

I like these kinds of interesting young artists who use their talents in these ways that aren’t afraid to engage with the general public and give of themselves in the process. And the beauty of art is that it finds portholes in our imaginations that help us to see the world in a different way, even for a moment.

Thanks to my son, Josiah, for the tip. He’s now at Dented Records.

February 15, 2007 Posted by | Art, blogging, culture, music | Leave a comment