Childlike Listening

The Old Testament has the following description of Moses in the presence of the Lord: And when Moses went into the tent of meeting  to speak with the  Lord , he heard  the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him. Numbers 7:89 There are a couple of things that caught my interest in this passage. Notice that Moses did not go to speak to God but to speak with God. So much of the time our prayers and our praise and our worship are uni-directional. We are talking to God.  But Moses went to meet with God. He had the expectation that he was going to speak with God.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says that for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 As we draw near to God, we too need to come in faith – faith believing that you are going to meet with someone real and faith that He will reward you in

Silence in Heaven

I was given a devotional by a woman at the church where I was doing pulpit supply. It is entitled, Holy Land Moments by a Jewish Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and a Christian professor Tremper Longman III. In one of the devotions, Rabbi Eckstein describes the Torah scrolls where the Song of Moses [Song of the Sea] is recorded [Exodus 15]. In Torah scrolls, where the Word of God is handwritten in a traditionally prescribed manner, the “Song of the Sea” is recorded in an unusual way. Its phrases are separated by vast empty spaces. Vast empty spaces? Time to reflect on the magnitude of what God has done? This caused me to think about a scene described by the Apostle John at the end of the Bible where there is silence in heaven for about a half an hour. (Revelation 8:1). Can you imagine being before the throne of God with a vast array of angels and archangels and being quiet for a half hour? What were they thinking about while sitting in silence for that half hour? I am struck by my o

Points of Presence

A number of years ago I read the classic from Brother Lawrence  The Practice of the Presence of God.  I found the concept winsome and alluring but did not see how I could adopt his practices into my life. He was a monk who spent time peeling potatoes and, well, being a monk. My life was filled with work and family that is both highly cognitive and highly relational. I tried many things to develop the habit of practicing the presence of God but failed miserably. Then about 10 years ago I came across Frank Laubach's  Game with Minutes . Here was a man who led a worldwide organization that taught millions of people to read. Clearly Frank was not living the lifestyle of a monk. Yet he claimed that through the habit of the Game with Minutes, he was able to connect with God / to be aware of His presence 24/7. He journals about the difficulty at first but that he finally achieved a breakthrough where for the rest of his life he was able to connect with God every minute of every hour

Be Gone

I was reading the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness as it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew the other day.  (Matthew 4:1-11) 4  1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.   2  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.   3  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”   4  But he answered,  “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,      but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple   6  and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ And “‘On their hands they will bear you up,      lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7  Jesus said to him,  “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”   8  Again, the devil t

Contemplative Mentors

For almost forty years t he Center for Renewal has been a place where people from all walks of life have come to be renewed and refreshed by the presence of Jesus.   I was talking with a pastor just last week who told me how, when his inner city ministry was just starting 40 years ago, he would drive out here to be quiet and sit at Jesus’ feet. Over the years, we have encouraged pastors and lay people to follow Jesus’ model of getting away from the ministry and spending time alone with their Heavenly Father.   Every gospel gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ prayer life. Matthew 14   13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; Matthew 14  23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. Mark 6  45 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd

Treasuring: A New Spiritual Discipline

Background In the fall of 2014, I was going through a book entitled Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to a Well Ordered Way by Steve Macchia.  As one of the steps to create a rule of life, Steve invited us to review the primary relationships in our life: assessing the priority we give them, the health of the relationship, any problems, etc.  I realized that there was a significant lack of whole hearted devotion to these dear friends, family members and even acquaintances. I didn’t spend much time thinking about them.  I realized that I didn’t treasure each person I met. I knew that something needed to change in the way I related to those around me. In December of 2014 I preached a sermon  entitled “But Mary…” ( For the Text ; For the Audio ) based on the text from Luke’s gospel But Mary treasured and pondered all these things in her heart. Luke 2:19 I was struck by the phrase “treasured … all these things.”  This included "How can we learn to treasure and po

Transferable Holiness

This week I was at the Center for Renewal ( ) for a half day retreat.  I do this monthly with a friend who asked me to enter into a discipleship relationship with him.  I explained to him my understanding of discipleship and that we are to become Jesus’ disciples.  If we were to enter into this, my role would be to help him become a more fully devoted follower of Jesus.  Since I believe that one of the best ways to do that is to help individuals and groups to connect personally with Jesus, I proposed that we would do a half day retreat together once a month.  We would start with an hour of Spiritual Direction and then spend the next two and half hours alone with Jesus.  We would close out the time sharing what happened during our time alone. This is one possible way of implementing the model of spiritual mentoring that I have written about on the CFR web site.  I am interested in doing this with several individuals and would love to see others following this model