Saturday, February 2, 2019

"DO IT NOW!"

No one knows what tomorrow may bring. The good that we would do must be done while we have the strength and the presence of mind to do it. Putting it off till later can easily become forgetting it altogether.

Such procrastination not only affects our own happiness but the ones we might potentially bless. Others might be sorely needing our kind words or kind deeds, which the Lord is prompting us to say and do. Not all urges to do good things may be His leading. But if we are listening to Him as He listened to His Father, we will probably hear Him saying more often than not, “Do it now.”

Write that letter or text now, make that phone call now, plan to visit a lonely person today. Don't wait for your bedtime prayers to pray for someone. When they come to mind, it may be Jesus letting you know they need your prayer of blessing right now.

Procrastinating actually assumes too much. The reality is that time is fleeting and stops for no one. Doing things we think of now is logically informed by the words in the above cartoon: “Today is seldom too early; tomorrow is usually too late.”

The following poem from my book Poems Between Here and Beyond tries to express the need to be aware of the good we can do while we have the time. It's a good way to wrap up these few thoughts on the exhortation to "do it now."

     CARING
This world around us surges—
   duties vie
      for all our time,
      our energies,
      our care. 
But greater Duty urges,
   “Don’t pass by
      a hurting heart
      with burdens hard
      to bear!” 
Routine is not our master,
   nor is fear,
      or vanity,
      or trivia,
      or show.... 
Amid a day’s disaster,
   let’s live here
      to lighten loads
      and griefs, before
      we go. 
— David L. Hatton, 2/23/2016

"Do it now!" And the Lord bless you in it!

Friday, February 1, 2019

LIST of BLOG-ARTICLE TITLES from the start

(chronological list, with keywords and date posted - updated 2/1/2019)

INTRODUCING MY BLOG
(Incarnation, nakedness, nursing, pastor, poetry, theology, truth)
2/23/12

ART IS A TEACHER
(art, artist, creativity, Creator, God’s image, seeing, theology)
2/27/12

MY REWARDING DOUBTS ABOUT THE TRINITY
(doubt, God, Holy Spirit, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus, Trinity)
3/1/12

IS YOUR HUMANITY HUMAN-FRIENDLY?
(belief, Gnosticism, human-friendly, humanity, humanness, Incarnation, Jesus, materialism, pantheism, resurrection)
3/27/12

THE PROBLEM WITH HELL
(C. S. Lewis, free will, Hell, light, love)
4/19/12

THE VISIBLE BREAST CONTROVERSY
(Bill Sears, body acceptance, breast acceptance, breastfeeding, breasts, creation, Jamie Lynne Grumet, nursing, pornography, prudery, truth)
5/15/12

HEALTH OUTSIDE THE BOX
(alternative medicine, bra, breast cancer, Creator, earthing, grace, grounding, healing, health, healthcare, Provider, sunbathing)
6/23/12

SEX IS CENTRAL TO GOD’S SALVATION PLAN
(body acceptance, creation, Creator, gender confusion, Gnosticism, God’s image, human-friendly, humanity, humanness, Incarnation, marriage, pornography, prudery, sexuality, Trinity, truth)
7/20/12

THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT
(atonement, C. S. Lewis, Christus Victor, God, Gospel, human-friendly, Incarnation, Jesus, Narnia, the Cross, theology)
8/6/12

GOD’S INTERACTION WITH HUMAN WILLS
(belief, free will, God, God’s sovereignty, human-friendly, humanity, predestination, theology, Trinity)
8/12/12

THE SUPERSTITIOUS FAITH OF EVOLUTIONISM
(Creator, evolution, evolutionism, faith, ID, Intelligent Design, science)
10/22/12

“YOU MEAN. . .MEN ACT LIKE BABIES?”
(body acceptance, breast acceptance, breastfeeding, breasts, immodesty, modesty, morality, porn addiction, pornography)
10/26/12

GRATIFICATION, GRATITUDE AND THANKSGIVING
(Buddhism, desire, gratefulness, gratification, gratitude, thanksgiving)
11/21/12

BEYOND SAME-SEX ATTRACTION
(female, gay, gay activism, gay politics, gender, gender confusion, healing, homosexual, homosexuality, Leanne Payne, male, Mario Bergner, marriage, Ministries of Pastoral Care, same-sex attraction, sexuality, SSA)
12/2/12

WHY DO THE INNOCENT SUFFER?
(doubt, Francis Andersen, God’s love, God’s sovereignty, Job, questioning God, suffering, why the innocent suffer)
12/29/12

PRUDERY AND PORN ADDICTION
(nakedness, nudity, porn addiction, pornography, prudery)
1/10/13

LET’S FINISH THE SONG
(caring, creation, now, procrastination, sharing, time, today)
1/15/13

A HOLY HELL, NO LESS. . .
(C. S. Lewis, Calvinism, free will, George MacDonald, God’s sovereignty, grace, Hell, prevenient grace, Rob Bell)
2/2/13

BETWEEN THE WOMB AND THE TOMB….
(creation, Incarnation, poetry, resurrection)
3/12/13

GOD HAS SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU
(body shame, confession, deception, disobedience, fig leaves, forgiveness, healing., lost sheep, nakedness, questions, Satan, shepherd)
3/23/13

COLORBLIND IN A PURPLE WORLD
(atheism, faith, heaven and earth, Incarnation, magicians, materialism, the Second Adam)
3/29/13

“WILL YOU SURVIVE?”
(afterlife, ambition, Creator, death, desire, dream, evolution, survival instinct)
6/1/13

PORNOGRAPHY IN THE PULPIT
(art, artist, body acceptance, fig leaves, gender, gender confusion, God’s image, nakedness, nudity, porn addiction, pornography, prudery, Satan, sexuality)
11/27/13

THE MIRACULOUS HEALING OF ROBERT LIVINGSTONE
(faith, healing, miracle, prayer, scepticism)
3/20/14

THE LIFE LESS UNRAVELED
(God, health, love, psychology, relationship, responsibility, truth)
5/1/14

POEMS BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL - Introduction
(choice, Christ, decision, Heaven, Hell, Jesus, poems, poetry, rhyming)
11/12/14

POEMS BETWEEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT - Introduction
(Christ, darkness, God, Jesus, light, poems, poetry, rhyming)
12/8/14

POEMS BETWEEN DEATH AND LIFE - Introduction
(afterlife, Christ, death, decision, Jesus, life, poems, poetry, rhyming)
12/8/14

POEMS BETWEEN BIRTH AND RESURRECTION - Introduction
(afterlife, birth, Christ, Jesus, nakedness, poems, poetry, resurrection, rhyming)
12/9/14

WHY I’M CATHOLIC, BUT NOT ROMAN
(Apostles Creed, catholic, church, faith, Foxe’s Book, heresy, Huguenot, I will build my church, Inquisition, martyrs, Nicene Creed, on this rock, persecution, Peter’s chair, Romanism, Rome, Waldensian)
4/16/15

“OBJECTIFICATION SUSTAINED!”
(body acceptance, body shame, breast acceptance, breastfeeding, breasts, modesty, nakedness, nudity, nursing, objectification, porn addiction, pornography, sex object, sexuality)
4/25/15

STILL MY BEST POEM ON THIS ATROCITY....
(abortion, evil, Satan)
5/24/15

OUR SUPREME COURT ISN’T SUPREME
(abortion, afterlife, gay activism, gender confusion, homosexuality, marriage, same-sex attraction, sexuality)
6/29/15

DESTROYING THE LIE OF BODY SHAME
(baptism, body acceptance, body shame, nakedness, nudity, pornography, Satan)
7/19/15

CRIB-DEATH CONSOLATION
(afterlife, birth, crib death, death, hope, perinatal loss, SIDS)
9/16/15

THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE
(blessing, caring, God, gratitude, healing, healing of memories, inner healing, kindness, love)
10/1/15

SOUL AWAKE—DNA SLEEPING
(body, death, DNA, Heaven, Jehovah’s Witnesses, NDEs, near-death experiences, resurrection, Seventh-day Adventists, soul, soul sleep, spirit)
11/4/15

THE MIRACLE GOD
(agnosticism, C. S. Lewis, Creator, God, illusion, pantheism, reality)
11/14/15

EarthEarthEarthEarthEarth!
(art, body acceptance, Christ, Creator, Earth, healthcare, Holy Spirt, nakedness, nudity, Trinity)
1/22/16

WHY JUST ONE GOSPEL?
(Christ, E. Stanley Jones, Gospel, Incarnation, love, religion, resurrection, the Cross)
2/25/16

CREATIVITY AND BEING
(children, creativity, Creator, identity)
8/16/16

POEMS BETWEEN HERE AND BEYOND - Introduction
(afterlife, Christ, death, Gospel, Incarnation, life, poems, poetry, the Second Adam, theology)
9/19/16

“ANYONE ELSE? ANYONE!”
(Christ, government, media, politics)
10/14/16

IS TRUMP ‘A Dark Horse’?
(dark horse, election, government, politics, prayer, Trump)
11/9/16

THE FIRST ADVENT: THE INCARNATION
(Adam, Advent, body, Christ, embodiment, human, humanity, humanness, Incarnation, redemption, salvation, Trinity, Virgin Birth)
12/9/16

PANDORA’S BOX & THE EMPTY TOMB
(Easter, empty tomb, faith, hope, Jesus Christ, resurrection)
4/4/17

ARTIFICIAL BEAUTIFICATION
(beauty, body acceptance, body image, body shame, cosmetics, makeup)
8/1/17

THE CRÈCHE AND THE CROSS
(Advent, atonement, death, God’s love, Incarnation, the Cross)
12/17/17

UNION LIFE’S INCARNATIONAL SPIRITUALITY
(humanity, humanness, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, spirituality, the Cross, the Second Adam)
1/28/18

TWO “MEANS OF GRACE” FOR HEALING
(baptism, Eucharist, foot washing, healing, Holy Communion, means of grace, the Lord’s Table)
3/9/18

THE CYCLE OF REPENTANCE
(change, Christ, complacency, confession, contrition, conversion, conviction, Holy Spirit, repentance, spiritual growth, union life)
4/13/18

WHEN THE MIND STRAYS IN PRAYER...
(guidance, prayer, spirituality)
1/23/19

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

WHEN THE MIND STRAYS IN PRAYER...

Spiritual disciplines can be valuable sheepdogs effectively nipping at the feet of our straying souls. At times, special periods of devotional activity—prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, confession, meditation, spiritual reading, self-denying service—may assist us in staying on the narrow path of spiritual health. Yet, it’s always better to have the Shepherd in sight, or at least in hearing distance, so we can hear His call, “Follow Me.” He is not only the true Lord of our Christian life but its primary Spiritual Director.

Christ’s presence in practicing these disciplines is essential, if they’re to remain a source of nurturing our spirituality. In fact, our whole life in Christ is best understood and lived in the same way Jesus Himself lived His earthly life: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” (John 14:10).

For me, learning to acknowledge this pattern—myself in “in Christ” and “Christ in me”—is itself a new spiritual discipline, and not one easily mastered. Yet, as I described in a previous blog article, “Union Life’s Incarnational Spirituality,” this isn’t only the real secret of Christian living but the ultimate purpose of the Incarnation. God’s Son became human to purchase and wed a human Bride. He was after an eternally intimate union with us, but this intimacy already began the moment we were “born again” into His Body, the Church.

How does this fact of personal union with Christ relate to this article’s title? If Christ is present in us, living through us, even living as us, which is the bold proclamation of Gal 2:20, we ought to acknowledge this spiritual reality practically, especially in our conscious prayer life. Therefore, we need to explore the direction of our straying minds, which are in union with “the mind of Christ,” (1 Cor 2:16). Straying thoughts that seem to interrupt our intercessions and supplications may actually be a divine source of refocusing our attention. God has certain concerns related specifically to our unique individuality. There isn’t an aspect of our lives in which He is not interested and involved.

We know that God uses lists. He listed many laws in the Old Testament for His people to follow. But when Jesus reduced the Old Testament Law into two commandments—loving God and loving our neighbor (Mat 22:37-40)—He was expressing the ever-expanding motive within His very nature. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are eternally a Triune Family of Love (1 John 4:8). That divine love cannot be packaged in a list of rules, nor can its reach be limited to our usually useful prayer lists.

So, how does this play out in experience? We try to make sure we get through our mental or written prayer list, but God already heard these requests when we listed them. Now we’re suddenly thinking about the gas dryer that needs to be replaced, or the fence that needs to be repaired, or the bill that needs to be paid, or the bad news in this morning’s paper or news report. Thoughts may be scurrying around all over the place. Why do we let them distract us, when they can be immediately, one-by-one, invited into our prayers? God may be so pleased that we’re finally paying attention to His direction for our prayers that He extends His guidance to deeper areas in our hearts, as long as we keep listening.

Speaking of deeper issues... how do we handle thoughts easily recognized as personal temptations? We may be thinking of an injustice recently done to us, or of a sale we missed or the latest gadget we wish we owned, or of a nagging worry about a situation we have no control over. What if even darker possibilities enter our minds? What do we do?

I believe this is where the discipline of acknowledging our union with Christ’s mind is an essential practice in prayer. In the presence of especially troublesome thoughts, Jesus is still Lord. He knows exactly where these straying thoughts come from. He may be leading us to include their source in our hearts as a prayer target. He may want us to intercede in special ways for the individuals involved in or connected to these thoughts. After these seemingly distractive thoughts are thoroughly bathed in prayer, He may say, “Now, go back to your prayer list. I'm also interested in those things, even more than you are.”