Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Abi's Guide to Reading Fiction

... I wanted to continue the title to read: ...Whether the Author Thinks It's Non-Fiction or Not!

My eye caught the link to this post of the I-Monk over at Kingdom Grace, and I'm glad it did! Thank you, Grace.... :^)

And The Abbess had this to say (and I've taken the opportunity to correct my typos before posting it here):


Thank you for this well-stated response to the whirl around this thought-provoking book.

As I read the comments, I was reminded of a wonderful phrase from J.R.R. Tolkien concerning the proper reading of “story” — he suggested that one [must] set aside disbelief long enough to enter into the story and experience what the storyteller has to offer. Otherwise one gets sidetracked with those bits and pieces that are not “real” or “true” and, more often than not, [misses] the entire point of the story.

This little bit of wisdom from Tolkien has served me well over the past 20 years or so … I recommend it. It is after one has stood in the author’s shoes and looked out through his or her eyes that one must then begin the challenging work of discerning that which is helpful to ponder further and that which just falls away.

And thanks, too, for standing up for proper manners. The Abbess [appreciates] her brother Monk for this. :^)

I have included a similar disclaimer in almost all of my teachings:

  • set aside your presuppositions before we begin this journey together.
  • If a "red flag" goes up, make a note immediately, but don't get sidetracked.
  • Listen through to the end.
  • Then go back and re-read your note.
  • If you still have a flag flying, ask a clarifying question rather than making an accusation.

This is not always easy to do, but I have found it very helpful when I make the effort. It is even more necessary in the virtual world in which we find ourselves.

Be blessed....

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Abbess Is Also A Deputy

Well, The Abbess has been having entirely too much fun with the Jesus Creeders over at the One T Saloon. (They serve up a mighty tasty Sarsaparilla....)

What? You never heard of the One T?

You may remember this post last week on the discussion Scot was leading about John Stackhouse's book Finally Feminist. Well, it got even better as we went along, and at comment #109, I started fingering my Deputy badge in my virtual vest pocket. Down in #112, since my suggestion wasn't taken very kindly, I gave that badge a quick shine before I pinned it on and spun a little parable in #114. (The comment number on that post reached 142!)

Scot McKnight was kind enough to encourage me to rework comment #114, removing the specifics of that thread, and lay out this parable as a characterization of the Jesus Creed Blog culture. He wanted to post it on his blog and even went so far as to make a new post category, "Rule of JCreed," to which he (and the Deputies) might direct new folk wanting to understand what Jesus Creeders mean when they talk about comment "tone." You can read it here. ;^)

What would we do without a healthy sense of humor? My goodness ... some folks just need to get over themselves!

Rocking a spell on the One T porch with Papa.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Christian Sniglets: Sniglians

Okay, The Abbess is just rolling on the floor with this one. And even though I suggested that "someone" should do this, I'm going to go ahead and start it myself. Because I can. :^)

Before you go on, please do follow the link above to post #178 of Stuff Christians Life. Since my comment may take a while to get out of "moderated comment" purgatory, I'll include it here:

Came over from Jesus Creed... LOL, just love this!

In the spirit of one of the comments: I think it behooves us to start a compilation of Christian "Sniglets", and your three are the first ones!


I included this link for any of you who might have missed the whole sniglet revolution. We still talk in sniglets at my house ... I must have three of the books ... and "carpetuation" and "regnition" are all too common occurrences.

So, as Red Green would say: "Carpe Ductum" -- seize the tape....

First, a bit of background. Follow this link to the Wikipedia article on "Sniglet" (Wikipedia being a form of Sniglet itself!). If you can get to the library and find some of the old Sniglet books, please do it. Better yet, find them in a used book store and buy them.

But be forewarned: do not read Sniglets while drinking any beverage that would damage your sinuses, or without a stop in the powder room first. And, as my sister told me recently concerning a Dave Barry article she was forwarding: do not read them when at work or when listening to someone on the phone (unless, of course, you don't mind folks knowing that you're not doing what they think you're doing).

Now, what I'm proposing is that we call them Sniglians.

I'm fairly confident that we can get a great list of Sniglians compiled. But I have only one rule: they must be in good taste, friends. Things of humor that folks will be able to relate to because they have experienced or witnessed it themselves.

Let the compilations begin!

Giggling with Papa

p.s. I won't include Prodigal Jon's three words unless he adds them here in the comments ... which I'm hoping he will do. :^)

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Time To Mourn: Weeping With Those Who Weep

In processing a bit with my virtual brother Abbots at The Abbey this morning, these words tumbled out. It seems fitting to share them with those on this journey with me....

I’m wrung out myself today. Yesterday was the memorial service for the wife of one of my former pastoral colleagues. She was 21 (he is 29) and they had been married just 20 months, when they were involved in an absolutely horrific highway accident. I will spare you the details – they are the stuff of nightmares. They were driving to Kentucky to join an inner city church plant start up in Louisville…and then flying to the Exponential conference in Florida where Alan Hirsch and Neil Cole and all the "Big Names" are speaking. Their life in ministry together was just starting…and it came screeching to a halt when they were hit by 1000 lbs of steel pipe. She was killed instantly…he just needed a few stitches.

There were around 1100 at the service yesterday – and the entire staff I worked with was reunited from across the country. His wife was the daughter of another of our former pastors, and was an absolutely amazing young woman of God in her own right. The grief was palpable…and yet it was a service of hope and celebration of an exemplary life.

Well, I cried (sobbing at times) through the whole service. From where I sat, I could see the faces of my friend and his wife’s parents…which, of course, increased my pain as I entered their grief with them. That is one of the gifts I have been given – to enter into the pain of others with them. It is truly exhausting.

Anyway, I had to leave in time to get home before the school bus (my eldest wanted to come—he knew them both…and this was the first time he lost a young person that he knew personally), but I wanted to at least look in Jonathan’s eyes so he could see that I was there. Fortunately, the line was stopped in front of him – backed up in front of his parents-in-law – Jonathan was taking those moments to stare blankly off into the void without having to focus. The person in front of him was a good friend of mine…and I gently asked him if I could squeeze through.

I called Jonathan’s name and he came wearily back to reality…and when he saw it was me, the dull mask of stoicism cracked as he called my name and his grief came alive as our eyes met and I embraced him to tell him I loved him so much. And then he snapped back behind his mask as he said “thanks for coming” … the only thing he could really say in his mercifully numb state.

This has been a time of overwhelming silence for all … there is just nothing that can be said. And so thousands of loved ones have, in their fashion, sat down in silence beside our friend to help him weep.

I, of course, had a blinding headache and could barely drive home. I went to sleep for a few hours…but the headache was still there when I awoke. And all through the night, I kept seeing his eyes and the brief expression of grief he shared with me. Mine was a very soggy pillow….

And so I’m hoping to get a hold of this today and get some more sleep…

Thanks for letting me process this some with you.

Your grief-weary Abbess….

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Abbess -- Subversive?!?

Well, now! My cHesed sister, Sonja, tagged me with a little link love meme today by nominating me as one of five bloggers that she feels are deserving to receive The Subversive Blogger Award. Recipients are described as follows:
Subversive bloggers are unsatisfied with the status quo, whether in church, politics, economics or any other power-laden institution, and they are searching for (and blogging about) what is new (or a “return to”) - even though it may be labeled as sacrilege, dangerous, or subversive.
Sonja's friend (whom I have "met" on her site, on John Frye's site and at Jesus Creed) passed on this award to her, and she's now passing it on to ME! And, yes, I do recognize that I resonate strongly with this description.

To follow the history back to the originator of this meme, please read Jake Bouma's post.

* * * * * * * *

The Abbess may be subversive, but she is seriously challenged when it comes to blog bells and whistles ... so if you want to see the logo for this award somewhere appropriate on my blog, you will have to provide technical support. ;^) This would be easier if I really knew how to do this kind of stuff ... but Brother Maynard and John La Grou will vouch for the fact that I must have the code provided that I may then cut and paste.

Pathetic, yes. But, verily and sadly, true.

Besides, no one who reads this blog needs to see the logo to acknowledge the reality. :^)

* * * * * * * *

The last part of this meme ritual requires me to "tag" five others with this honor. These are the simple rules of the game:
  1. If you are tagged, write a post with links to five subversive blogs.
  2. Link back to this post on JakeBouma.com so people can easily find the origin of the meme.
  3. Optional: Proudly display the “Subversive Blogger Award” somewhere on your blog (image above) with a link to the post that you wrote. [If, of course, you know how to do this! ;^) ]

This award is meant to be encouragement to keep blogging, so I join those behind me in the hope that this will encourage these five to keep on keepin’ on -- in whatever subversive manner they choose! Here they are:

Journeys In Between by my mate from Oz, Matt Stone

futuristguy by fellow Interpolator, Abberian and friend, Brad Sargent

microclesia by Wikiklesia editor and collaborator, John La Grou

The Forgotten Ways by my first blog mate from Oz (or anywhere else, for that matter), Alan Hirsch

Kruse Kronicle by economics blog meister and Jesus Creed friend, Michael Kruse

So, thanks to you, Sonja! And thanks to my subversive friends for their encouragement. :^)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Abbess Weighs In On Accommodation!

Oh. My. Goodness. I guess I am going to dive into the bog and lay it on the line. Scot has a good post about a new book (Finally Feminist) by John Stackhouse (I enjoy and appreciate John's ideas, but I haven't read the book under discussion.) read and discussed in his "Women, Mary and Jesus" class.

As before, I give you a bit from the original post (please do read the entire post ... and the comments, if you can spare the time) and then my comment (which is down as #33):

First, Stackhouse argues that Scripture needs to be approached through accommodation. That is, “God works with what he’s got and with what we’ve got” (39). The accommodation view of Scripture is increasingly on the rise: it helps affirm historical conditions and some things in the Bible Christians simply no longer do and some things that Scripture does affirm — like slavery — that are no longer acceptable. Anyway, when it comes to women what the Bible says is accommodated to its time.

* * * * * * * *

Scot, Ron...and everyone!

It has been striking to me to read through this thread having come from the thread on freedom in Preparing for Pentecost 22....

I think it is also important to remember that there are many of us who have begun in one came and over time moved into the other one! This does not happen glibly or on a lark. It takes years of struggling with different interpretations on Scripture that are used to hold up the varying positions. At least it did in my case -- a good 20 years!

Sometimes it seems impossible to solve because each of us comes to this discussion with a perspective -- one which we have not been (and will not be) able to fully disclose so that we might have good understanding of each other's context. This is where patience and listening are required (and all too frequently lacking in the blogosphere and in real life!).

I have come to believe that God works with us through accommodation to our situation. Some of you will have heard me comment about Hersey and Blanchard's work on "Situational Leadership" -- but bear with me. The point is not that there is not a proper understanding of God's will. God's will is that all come to accept his offer of covenant relationship through Jesus Christ -- that we are adopted into the Body of Christ so that we might be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

The problem is that each of us must be approached according to our readiness level to understand and engage willingly in God's plan. This is where, IMO, the trouble comes in. When we are functioning as God's middle management, as it were, we strive to firmly teach and implement the letter of the law. And this is all good and well. The problem, as Jesus pointed out with the pharisees, is that the spirit of the law must be recognized as well. And the spirit of the law is LOVE. And God's love DOES NOT COMPEL.

So we have to watch how God woos us: by accommodating our readiness to respond to his love and follow the Jesus Creed. The Bible is full of the stories of this process. The challenge is to discern the ways in which God has accommodated himself to the readiness of his people -- and not set them in stone. Mont Smith calls that "frozen accommodations."

The Preparation for Pentecost threads have also talked about the love languages, and I see them very important to this discussion as well. They speak to the recognition that people respond better to their "heart" language. And God speaks all five of them fluently! So, to one whose language is quality time...we see a focus on his presence. (I believe that quality time is God's heart language -- and that is why community and perichoresis are foundational to understanding God's will.)

With others he uses words of encouragement or acts of service or physical touch or gift giving to convey his will. It is not an either / or thing ... we all need to become fluent in all five, so that we can love others in a way that they feel loved and so are able to respond and follow Christ.

Developing a number of ways to approach people allows us to lead them in such a way that they can follow. You can't delegate tasks to someone who isn't competent in the tools required. You can't delegate to someone who isn't confident in their competence. You have to teach to reach them individually, not treat everyone equally, according to the style of management that is most comfortable for you!

Sorry...too long here...but I really think this whole topic requires a paradigm shift in order to really move forward.

* * * * * * * *

The Abbess implores you to shift that paradigm, brothers and sisters!

Freedom's Just Another Word?

I'm still working on another post ... but this is Scot's thought (in a nutshell -- read the entire post, please), followed by my comment from Preparing for Pentecost 22 over at Jesus Creed:

Today we look at Paul and Paul combines two words not often combined — in fact, let’s add a third word. Here they are, and they go together:

Spirit, freedom, and love. I begin by quoting all of Galatians 5:13ff. Now here’s my question: Can you spell freedom without including Spirit and love? Can you spell Spirit without it meaning love and freedom? Can you spell love without it meaning Spirit and freedom?


This post is fabulous in the way it shows the Jesus Creed as THE foundation for Kingdom living. It is, as I have come to call it, very "simplex" -- it is simple to understand but very complex in working out.

Yes, these three words go together -- just as the Trinity does. What if I stepped out on a limb to suggest we think of Love as God (that should not be too hard), Freedom as Jesus (let it sit a bit and you can see it), and Spirit -- well that's the easiest! They are woven together -- like a braided rope. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken."

Love is God ... which we could not really understand until Freedom from the impossible burden of Torah came in Jesus ... which is the only way we can be empowered to be transformed from slaves to self to free agents of hesed (love, grace, mercy) through service, submission and humble leadership. Free agents that are bound to each other and to God by the New Covenant in Jesus Christ -- so that any time we choose not to love, we break covenant (sin) ... but even in sin we are free to humbly confess our sin and receive forgiveness and work toward reconciliation and restoration -- just as we are free to gracefully receive such confession and mercifully grand forgiveness and even initiate restoration.

Only in this context will we be free to live Kingdom Life -- freed from self-absorbed pursuits that do not satisfy (and the anxiety that comes with them when they are thwarted or threatened) -- freed from the guilt and shame from not being able to measure up to some other standard on our own strength -- freed from the deception of various entitlements and the resulting abdicating of our responsibility to love the "others" that are within our sphere of influence -- freed from the stranglehold of Chronos time so that we can live more in Kairos time -- freed from the limitations of our puny ideas so that we can embrace God's outrageous vision of an unshakable Kingdom where each one of us has a dynamic, Spirit-given (and empowered), part to play in the Body of Christ.

...I can still hear my mentor, S. Scott Bartchy, saying: "How much freedom can YOU stand?"

Blessings. I'll be back later....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Loving Others Requires Proper Restraint

Scot's post today, Preparing for Pentecost 21, inspired a significant response, which I'm coming to realize as a way of preparing posts here! ;^) So, here's my comment:


I have long come to believe that the primary attribute of God is restraint -- without his amazing restraint, we would not continue to exist. As I read today's chapter, and pondered your lists, I saw that being like Jesus is truly to be restrained! Instead of knee-jerk reactions to what is going on around us relationally, we are to stop and consider the context and the desired outcome. And then act appropriately, according to the Jesus Creed!

Along with that I have come to believe (over the past 15 years) that Hersey and Blanchard's model of "Situational Leadership" was birthed as an insight into how God leads: not according to where or how they (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) want to lead us, but according to our readiness level for following their lead.

This comes out most often these days with my three young sons. When I focus on MY plans, I tend to be disappointed that they are not all carefully following my steps. But when I work with each one of them according to [their] ability to see, understand and respond to my plans ... well, it's a whole different story.

How grateful I am that God leads me according to my ability to follow. This is another point at which "The Shack" spoke powerfully to me. I can't remember off the top of my head which "person" of God had this conversation with Mack, but the gist was: when God works with us, there is no sense of impatience when we don't quite get it right. There is only love that waits and forgives and tries again ... and again ... and again. Because that is what a good father does: not give up!


I've also embraced the "Five Love Languages" as an important filter for how we are to apply the Jesus Creed. I've processed it in connection with understanding the Hebrew concept of hesed (most often translated as love, grace, mercy) as covenant keeping -- which I have now come to realize is "living the Jesus Creed."

I have made a chart that helps me keep my brain wrapped around this. You can find it here, if you're interested:


Not only do we need to love people in their primary language, we need to become fluent in all the languages so that we all become "multi-lingual" -- recognizing that we all have the need to be loved in each of the five categories.

* * * * * * * * * * *

So, that's all for now ... but stay tuned, I've got a little book review in the works!

Desiring to always be ready to follow Papa's lead.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's All In Your Head!

I know, we've all heard this statement before ... but I have a new word with which to associate it: phantosmia.

You've never heard of phantosmia? Join the club!

Here's the simple definition: Phantosmia is the sensation of smelling something that is not present in your immediate environment. You're not really smelling what you're, well, smelling. Your brain (the temporal lobe, specifically) is causing you to remember the smell what you're smelling!


Well, I'm not exactly sure yet what my brain is up to with this, but I'll be seeing my neurologist friend to see if we can get to the bottom (top?) of it soon.

This all began two days ago when, in the middle of the afternoon, I began to get a slight headache. Now, I'm not a big headache person -- and one of the things that will give me a headache in a heartbeat is a strong fragrance. And wouldn't you know, I was smelling some fragrance that I recognized but I couldn't put my finger on what it was.

So I started sniffing. Not the smell of soap on my hands. Not the smell of laundry detergent. Not the smell of the candles. Not the smell of deodorant. Not the smell of toothpaste or hairspray...aaugh!

It didn't matter where I was ... the smell followed me! But it wasn't anywhere around me or on me. And this followed me to bed and was there when I awoke. I was beginning to think something is not normal (hmmm, Abi.... hehehe ;^) ) about this....

Fortunately, I had an appointment with my chiropractor friend today -- and she (and especially her husband, who happened to be in the office today and I'll be seeing soon) has studied the specialty called "chiropractic neurology" -- and had this same experience herself! She believes it is associated with my fatigue in general, which has centered in my eyes, specifically, over the past few years. But, here's why I'm telling you: it is often triggered by the computer screen's subtle flickering.


Especially bad are those websites and blogs that have a dark/black background and white letters. Like the ones I've read the last two days....

So here's my deal: I have to wear sunglasses while I'm using my computer and I have to turn it off at least two hours before I go to bed.

Okay, then! I guess I'll be cutting waaay back on my blog reading and web surfing. (What's cracking me up right now is that my whole screen is flickering big blips the entire time I'm composing this post. Is that a sign?)

Perhaps it is time for me to finally stop gathering more information and engaging in more conversations and get around to processing the stuff about CovenantClusters ... but not before I do the series on Perichoresis, I promise. That is an important part of CovenantClusters, so I'll be sure to get it done.

So, virtual friends, if there is something out there that you know I just have to read, send me an e-mail or post an alert on the "Contact Abi" link in the sidebar ... because I'm not ignoring you.

At least it is a pleasant fragrance! And I did finally track it down last night. It is the smell of a facial tonic I make from mixing witch hazel with rose water. Is that bizarre, or what?

I'll let you know when I know more, but that's all there is for now. If it's not one thing, it's twelve others, eh?

Hey, I wonder if this is what purple smells like??? Hmmm....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Economies....

Well it has been quite a blogging day for The Abbess!

Over at Jesus Creed, there is a discussion going on about Why Work? This is what The Abbess had to say in the comments:

I'm still resonating with my thoughts from the Preparation for Pentecost 19 thread....

I think it is the living of the Jesus Creed -- equally in both chronos and kairos time -- that is to be valued.

In chronos time we have scheduled appointments (both with God and with our obligations -- like work of any and all kinds) through which we contribute to day to day survival (ours and others -- physical and spiritual).

In kairos time we live in the awareness that all that we have and all that we are come from God and that he will provide for our daily bread according to the riches to be found in Christ Jesus -- and so we are told not to "worry" about day to day survival.

I think the challenge we are looking at comes from not recognizing that in addition to these two kinds of time, there are two kinds of economies. Let me explain some.

I have recently heard of a thing called "Time Banking" where their theme is that there are "no more throw away people," meaning that everyone has something of value to contribute to the community. [You may remember this post about it.]

In this "time banking" concept they have identified two different economies: the monetary economy, where things are valued in a financial way: money runs everything; and the core economy, and "is not primarily driven by money. It runs on a thin stream of money - but it is primarily powered by our minds, our spirits, our hearts. It runs on psychological energy: love and kindness, caring and compassion, encouragement and moral duty. And for some, we need to add guilt, and anger and shame. But it does run - and money is not the primary fuel." Take a look at their very interesting website: http://www.timebanks.org/

When we do not recognize and understand both kinds of time and economies, we can easily get our priorities out of alignment. Then, our means do not match our ends. We err when we value people and gifts and tasks and occupations using only the money economy instead of recognizing the significance of the core economy.

It is a wonderful connection that has been made here today between the two times and the two economies.... I will be pondering this more as I continue to see the process by which the Holy Spirit is helping me synthesize all that I've been reading and writing about CovenantClusters.

There is a simplex way of Kingdom Life that God is asking me to model in CovenantClusters ... and it's starting to come into focus. In the meantime, I'm....

Hanging with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu in Kairos Time!

Living In Jesus Creed Time -- Chronos or Kairos?

My friend, MO Blogger Glenn, shared this about "keeping time" and "having time"....

The Bible describes two kinds of time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is the kind of time we keep; the time in which things are done. Like with a watch. Like, “You have to be at work ‘on time.’” Kairos is more about the moment, the right time, the strategic-window-of-opportunity time. The kairos moment is that special time when something has to be done. Kairos is about the event rather than about the clock.

I have come to the realization that I am moving toward living in kairos time. I think that cHesed is something that happens in kairos time. Living the Jesus Creed (which I have come to equate with eHesed) happens in kairos time.

Why? Because we cannot "schedule" loving God and loving others. Love is inconvenient only if you are bound up with chronos time.

This is a very important pondering moment for me because I see that this is a foundational component of the counter-cultural heartbeat of CovenantClusters: it is about living in kairos time most of the time and moving in and out of chronos time as necessary.

WOW ... I'm gonna have to let that sink in for a while.

I believe that the Eternal Community lives in kairos time -- that's one of the reasons we get so frustrated with God's "timing" -- and the Body of Christ is meant to live in kairos time, too. Actually, as the church that is always gathered in heaven does live that way. It's mainly the Western church that gets stuck in chronos ... because Western culture is driven by chronos.

The Kingdom of God is essentially one of kairos, not chronos time. Because people are more important than schedules. And when we forget that, then we begin to have trouble with our means and our ends staying in alignment. Big trouble. The kind of trouble that can turn into evil. [HT: Kingdom Grace!)

Well, this is a very big thought to process. Fortunately, it is not something that must be processed in chronos, so I'm good!

So as I process Day 19 of Living the Jesus Creed for today, I am struck by the fact that living in kairos time is essentially a spiritual discipline. Perhaps it is the foundational spiritual discipline. Because if you don't get this one right, how are you going to "make time" for the rest of them? There's the rub, isn't it?

In today's reading with Scot, follow this powerful thought:

John Ortberg said this well in his book on the disciplines: “The true indicator of spiritual well-being is growth in the ability to love God and people. If we can do this without the practice of any particular spiritual disciplines, then we should by all means skip them” (The Life You’ve Always Wanted).

Did you see it? Loving God and others is the true indicator of spiritual well-being.

These two things cannot be totally scheduled. I am learning to embrace the value of the Sacred Rhythms -- the Holy Chronos, as it were. But it is in the Holy Kairos where love happens. And too often it must break into our UNholy Chronos-driven lives with names like "inconvenient" and "interruption" and "burden" and "problem" instead of cHesed -- faithfully looking out for the best interest of our covenant partners.

This was time well spent today for the Abbess. I'll be processing this in what I'm going to call Jesus Creed Time: just the right mix of chronos and kairos.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When "Enemy" Wears The Mask of "Friend"

It seemed appropriate to bring this comment I made, on Scot's Preparing for Pentecost 18 post over at Jesus Creed, back here to share and ponder a bit more.


Two things struck me as I read today's chapter:

  1. Most of the people who are at the center of wounds in my memory are supposed to be my friends, not my enemies. It is an important thing to bring "enemy" closer to home, just as it is an important thing to bring "sin" down to not choosing to love. This is where the rubber meets the road.
  2. As we look at the faces of those who have wounded us, we must recognize the image -- the cracked Eikon -- of God. I was immediately taken back to the book, The Shack, where Mack is shocked to hear that Papa is also "especially fond of" the man who murdered Mack's precious daughter. How heartbreaking it is for Papa to have an Eikon who has so forgotten his identity that he can do these despicable things. And how much Papa yearns for the day when this broken Eikon might come home.

...the road home, both for the killer and for Mack, had to begin with Mack's choice to forgive and trust Papa's justice to truly be just -- to make things right -- for everyone.

Tall order, this!

Here's to extreme love, brother! May I have the courage, first, to call the name "enemy" where, in truth, it lies ... and then to ask the Holy Spirit to do a work in my heart and memory that results in power for forgiveness of and love for and restoration of the name Eikon where Enemy once sat ... sometimes in the same pew!

Christ, have mercy.

* * * * * * * * * *

And sometimes, the name "enemy" needs to be applied to ourselves -- to our inability to see and hear what we're doing and saying that inflicts harm to our minds and hearts. And this is the enemy that we especially need to love and forgive and restore.

Lord, have mercy, indeed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What to say?

[Update: I added a link to Scot's series of Preparing for Pentecost at Jesus Creed. There aren't too many comments, so it will not be difficult to find mine, if you're interested!]

I have been struggling with setting aside time to post here on my blog ... like the long-promised one on perichoresis ... or something about what's been going on inside of me while reading Scot McKnight's books (in the midst of his 40 Days Living The Jesus Creed and commenting on it most days in his Preparing for Pentecost threads -- as well as his Praying With The Church) ... and I've ordered Scot's book, The Real Mary, as well as Anne Rice's first novel in the Christ the Lord series: Out of Egypt.

I'm feeling a bit like I'm orbiting -- but in a good way. Not stuck in a decaying orbit and wondering when I'll fall into the atmosphere and burn up. Or in an orbit that's racing around the planet at thousands of miles per second.

...yikes -- all those years in aerospace are coming back!

It's more like a geosynchronous orbit -- the kind that is so far up that you stay in the same place over the same spot and orbit at the same rate the earth rotates. Those are the kinds of orbits necessary for communication satellites and the like ... not going to get into it here. ;^)

Anyway, I guess I'm in an "uplink" mode ... collecting data that will need to be "downlinked" sometime here soon. I'm "receiving" lots of information, but it's not time to do the final synthesis yet. Not really struggling with information overload, but it's close sometimes! :^(

In the meantime, The House Fairy and I are doing great work transforming my home 15 minutes at a time. I believe that this effort in my home and with my family is the important focus for the time being. And I'm doing my best to eat right and take the supplements that will rebuild my depleted endocrine system and sleep more and exercise. God is good and I do see progress in each of these area....

Waiting on the Holy Spirit ... isn't is an interesting time?

So, I'm working hard on living The Jesus Creed in preparation for Pentecost. I'm not even interested in peeking around the corner to see what will happen when Pentecost arrives ... but I do hope to be ready and willing to hoist my sails to catch The Wind and turn the wheel over to The Captain.

Maybe we'll blast out of orbit and get going wherever it is that we're going!

Orbiting with Papa!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One more stop on Abi's trail....

One other trail you might want to follow is this one, also at Jesus Creed, where a new pastor is talking about how to initiate change in the congregation. He has made significant progressions himself, but isn't sure how to bring the folks along.

Lots of good ideas and thoughts in the comments, with The Abbess jumping in here, near the end. I would add, for your benefit here, that the change agent is the Holy Spirit. None of us can change anything or anyone toward better Kingdom alignment...we can only follow where the Spirit is leading and do what we are asked to do -- responding to whatever God puts in our path.

I am definitely looking forward to engaging small groups in Scot's books. I have another one of his to read, which I should begin soon: Praying With The Church. We'll see when I start....

On the trail with Papa.

Following Abi's Trail

Well, it has been a while since I last posted...I find that my interests have been in some other areas following my recent experience of being "mostly dead" for the better part of a month! If I have been absent from you, I have been more present in my home -- and I know you'll understand. :^)

I have been in a bit of a different place, reading a few books, even, and have been participating a bit more on other blogs than I have since I build my own little Virtual Abbey here in the blogosphere.

So, I decided that I would just give you some links to the conversations I've been involved in, so you'd know what I've been up to!

As you know, I spent Lent reading and blogging through Scot McKnight's fabulously powerful yet wonderfully simple book, The Jesus Creed. I posted on my experience reading through this book 31 times during Lent with Abi.

And I am currently engaged with Scot in his Preparing for Pentecost series, where we are learning to feed like hummingbirds -- frequent but small meals from Scot's new book: 40 Days Living The Jesus Creed. You will find a comment from me for most days -- today was day 9.

I also contributed my two cents to a thread at Jesus Creed asking: what is community? You can read my comment here, but the rest of the comments might be interesting as well !

And I chimed in near the end of a "discussion" about how seminaries decide what to do with professors who push the envelope a bit too far for their comfort zone.

I read John W. Frye's little novel called Out of Print -- and found it very thought provoking! I'll have to process my notes about that book another time...but the Abbess is very much in favor of the Word of God being spoken much more, and in much bigger chunks, than most are accustomed to. What would you do if all the words disappeared out of all your copies of the Bible? Hmmm....

I've been keeping up with my friend Brad's amazing series on Spiritual Abuse. A must read, in my opinion. This kind of deep thinking is required if we are going to attempt to regain healthy relationships among all the members of the Body of Christ.

Just last night I finished reading Anne Rice's second book in her Christ the Lord series: The Road to Cana. I picked up a copy at Costco (I looked for the first one, Out of Egypt, but it wasn't there any more...I'll have to try WalMart ;^) )

I must say it was a lovely book. So well written. So compelling in its portrayal of village life in Nazareth. You can view a number of YouTube interviews here. And here is Jamie's blog interview with Anne Rice.

And, of course, our Tuesday night missional learning community processed Time Banking a bit more this week...and my brain is still swirling around this awesome tool! Since my last post was on this, you can see that it has lots of my mental resources occupied!

On top of it all, this is spring break -- and, gratefully, we have had lovely weather. The boys have been outside riding bikes, playing basketball in the driveway, roller blading, playing at the park down the street. What a wonderful respite this has been, after a wet winter and SNOW last week!

Blessings to you all...I'll check back soon!