Training, Not Trying

Today is Thursday, May 18, 2017. Two days until our family reunion.

Quote of the Day

“It’s not the having, it’s the getting.” ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Word of the Day

Slacktivism ~ actions taken to bring about political or social change but requiring only minimal commitment, effort, or risk. Signing an online petition, for example.

Today is Notebook Day, which celebrates the benefits of journaling. I like journaling; some folks don’t. That’s okay. It’s not for everyone. Some people feel like they are supposed to be doing it, especially in the spiritual community, but that’s not a burden anyone should assume. If you like it, by all means do it. If you don’t, then don’t do it; don’t even try. Being miserable does not make you a better person.

In the shocking news category, I was greeted, this morning, by the news that Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has passed away at the age of 52. This is totally unexpected, according to news reports, and, as of now, no cause of death has been identified. I have a friend at work who was excited about an upcoming concert with Soundgarden, his favorite band.

More sadly, and more close to home, I report that C’s good friend and work associate, Theresa, passed away Tuesday night, after a painful battle with cancer. We are saddened, but, at the same time, glad that she no longer suffers. In addition, she was confident in her Savior’s ability to keep her, so we are confident in her ultimate destination, which is far better than even the best circumstances in our world. As Dallas Willard said, things are much better than you could ever imagine, in the kingdom of God.

For some happy news, the Rangers beat the Phillies quite soundly, last night, 9-3. At one point, it was 9-0. The starting pitcher got the win, which is always good. They now have an eight game winning streak, and one more game with the Phillies this afternoon. Hopefully, the rain will hold off until after the game. Unfortunately, the Astros won again, too, so the Rangers continue to be in second place, eight games out.

The Red Sox beat the Cardinals again, too, in thirteen innings, 5-4. They remain in third place, four games behind the Yankees. They gained a game on the second place Orioles, though. They begin a weekend series in Oakland, tonight.

All Scriptures are ESV, unless otherwise noted

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97:12
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

Psalm 86:1-2
Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
Psalm 28:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Luke 11:9-13

(From Living the Message)

“Spirituality requires context,” writes Eugene H. Peterson. “Always. Boundaries, borders, limits.”

There are people who believe that just by becoming less material, they automatically become more spiritual. This is, of course, not true. “No one becomes exalted by ascending in a gloriously colored hot-air balloon.” To become mature, spiritually, requires what Peterson calls “askesis.” What is askesis? “A training program custom-designed for each individual-in-community.” Training, not trying, as Dallas Willard would say.

The way we train is through the Spiritual Disciplines. And what makes it “custom-designed” is that no two people need the same program of disciplines in their lives. Some people may not need to practice the discipline of silence as much as I need to. And boy do I need to! We all need to determine which disciplines we need most in our lives in order to reach our potential, spiritually. Spiritual maturity cannot be “mechanically imposed from without.” I can’t become more spiritual simply by getting rid of all my stuff. While that might not hurt anything, it doesn’t, by itself, serve any purpose.

Askesis must be context sensitive.”

You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. 
True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

Psalm 23:2-3 (The Message)

Father, I am excited about where we are going in my life. I truly am. As I learn more about Spiritual Formation and the disciplines, I begin to see which ones I need to focus on. Immediately, I see the need for silence and solitude. Simplicity will probably be right on the horizon, as well. I’m sure occasional fasting would be beneficial to me, also. Teach me these things as I go. I would even pray that someone might come into my life who has a good handle on these things that could help lead me along. May your Spirit guide me in this “askesis.”
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.