The real work of prayer

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‘I realise that, although I have a tendency to say many things to God, the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline. I am so afraid of being cursed, of hearing that I am no good or not good enough, that I quickly give in to the temptation to start talking and to keep talking in order to control my fears. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear a voice of blessing… that demands real effort.’

-Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

Enough

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For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack… This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life…

Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money

The Beginner’s Mind

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“Insatiable curiosity, the beginner’s mind, unending questions, and holding loosely to previous discoveries in case something better comes along were always the marks of great thinkers, explorers, and creators throughout human history.”

Ron Martoia – The Bible as Improv

Come with hunger

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We don’t come to the table to fight or defend. We don’t come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for.

[Bread & Wine – Shauna Niequist]

The Anchor & The Storm

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“The Bible is by far the most fascinating, beautiful, challenging, and frustrating work of literature I’ve ever encountered. Whenever I struggle with questions about my faith, it serves as both a comfort and an agitator, both the anchor and the storm. One day it inspires confidence, the next day doubt. For every question it answers, a new one surfaces. For every solution I think I’ve found, a new problem will emerge. The Bible has been, and probably always will be, a relentless, magnetic force that both drives me away from my faith and continuously calls me home. Nothing makes me crazier or gives me more hope than the eclectic collection of sixty-six books that begins with Genesis and finishes with Revelation. It’s difficult to read a word of it without being changed.”

[Evolving in Monkey Town]

And that is one of the reasons Rachel Held Evans is fast becoming my new favourite writer.

The Longest Book I’ve Ever Read

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Les Misérables

I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for about five years, waiting for me to get started… I finally finished it this evening. It is an utterly compelling story, but my goodness, it feels like the longest book I’ve ever read!

I plan to see it at the cinema this weekend, but I’m glad I’ve read it first.

Pursuing Christ Creating Art

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A few weeks back I read Gary Molander’s book, Pursuing Christ Creating Art, for the first time.

Stop right there. Go buy the book. Read it. Then come back.

Seriously.

That’s how deeply this book impacted me. Freed me. Challenged me.

“Do the people we have authority over feel covered, protected, and loved by us?
Or are we achieving our own dreams, all the while using them to get there?”

I first read this as meaning that other people have a responsibility to look out for me. And they do. But then God smacked me round the head and told me, I have a responsibility to others also. We all have influence in one way or another. Am I using my influence to release people into their God-given dreams, or just using it to get my own way?

“Artists pour their hearts into the art they create, so when they’re told to
go in a different direction, what they hear is: ‘Your heart is wrong.'”

Reading this freed me. You’re heart is not wrong. You’re heart is true to what God has called you to make. But that doesn’t mean your art will always be the best piece for the service, website, brochure, whatever.

“I think that question would not be ‘Am I gonna be OK?’ I think it would be a different question altogether.
Is the world gonna be okay?”

This made me think about something my pastor said recently. He was talking about how we often say, “If God’s got a calling for you, you won’t miss out.” His comment on this was that it’s probably true – you might not miss out, but others will. Your art is not just about you. It’s about what it does for the world. The world needs your art.

“These days, it’s easier than ever for any artist to create a platform for himself, for herself.
But the size of the platform doesn’t always equal the size of the character.”

May my platform never outgrow my character.

UPDATE: I had a bit of a server error, and lost a few posts/ comments. This was originally posted at the end of June.

The World Needs Your Art

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“I think that’s how it’s designed to work. God saves, redeems, and resurrects. Artists respond to that work with art. And a world of onlookers looks on. Because at the heart of it all…

Art is missional.

The point of art is to make visible the invisible God, for the world to see.

Christians don’t need to create art for God – He doesn’t need it.

Christians need to create art in response to God – Because the world needs it.”

[Gary Molander, Pursuing Christ Creating Art]

Persevere in Love

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I read a really great book recently. The kind that lingers in your mind and makes you ask questions of your opinions for weeks on end after…

Lauren Winner wrote this great memoir a few years back on her journey, Girl Meets God. I found it to be witty, intelligent and deeply moving. The book I’m referring to in this post, however, was her second (I believe) – Real Sex.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Lauren writes with scathing honesty about sex, the church, and chastity. It’s less “don’t do it” and more “here’s how it forms you…”

I’m curious as to what my married friends, and my single ones, think of the quote below…

“Marriage consists not simply or even primarily of a personal relationship. Rather, it crystallises the love of the larger church community. The couple is not just two-in-one, but two together within the whole, with specific responsibility for the whole… They must persevere in love, because the community needs to see God’s love actualised among God’s people.”

(Julie Hanlon Rubio)

We tend to view marriage as about us and our partner…

What’s our responsibility to the church community then?

Would love to hear your thoughts…

UNTITLED

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There are a few places I go consistently when I need inspiration. Blaine Hogan’s blog is one of them.

So when Blaine announces he’s writing a book? On the creative process?

BOOM! UNTITLED - Thoughts on the Creative Process

Yes please.

I read through it over the last couple of days, and loved every minute of it. I felt understood, but also, gently, kicked up the ass to get up, do the work, and keep going.

There were sections that had me close to tears; sections that pushed me towards my fears; sections that challenged some long-held assumptions.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, for everyone, and maybe especially for those who don’t think of themselves as being “creative”.

Stop by Blaine’s blog to say hi, then go buy his book.