Soul Rain ... Kelli Sorg

a little rain refreshes the soul

Upcoming Blog – Benedict’s Ladder of Humility #nccumc

soilplanthands

As Lent approaches,

as New Year’s resolutions begin to wane,

as our faithful intentions for 2015 begin to fall by the wayside,

I want to write about what’s really important and how we figure out what that is.  So, beginning next Monday, February 2, 2015, I will begin a new blog series based on a section of the Rule of Benedict.  Benedict writes about the ‘ladder of humility’, using the image of Jacob’s ladder that connected heaven and earth.

The main resource for my writing is Joan Chittister’s commentary The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century.  The reflections of this wise Sister on the rule of this wise monk point the way to gentleness, stability and peace in our time. Unabashedly Christian, Sister Joan pulls together the threads of many religious traditions (like her monastic compatriot Thomas Merton) to explore the fullness of God.

Here is where we begin:  Benedict’s Magna Carta of humility directs us to begin the spiritual life by knowing our place in the universe, our connectedness, our dependence on God for the little greatness we have…..The goals and values of the spiritual life…are just plain different from the goals and values we’ve been taught by the world around us. Winning, owning, having, consuming, and controlling are not the high posts of the spiritual life. And this is the basis for social revolution in the modern world….what is most vital to the fanning of the spiritual fire is to become aware that the God we seek is aware of us..Sanctity is a conscious relationship with the conscious but invisible God….it is not a matter..of our becoming good enough to gain the God who is somewhere outside of us. It is a matter of gaining the God within, the love of Whom impels us to good….Humility lies in knowing who we are and what our lives are meant to garner. The irony of humility is that, if we have it, we know we are made for greatness, we are made for God.  (italics mine)

I hope you will join me on this journey, make use of the ability to comment and converse here and sink more deeply into this vital understanding that can change not just our minds and hearts but can also, through the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit, change the world.

Kelli+

Being Good (it is possible)#firstthingsfirst #renovare

Even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam – he (sic) is only protecting or nourishing a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences. As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot toward repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point, it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can, to some extent repair itself. In the same way, a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is able to repent and pick himself up and begin over again with each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.

That is why the Christian is in a different position from other people who are trying to be good. They hope, by being good, to please God, if there is one; or – if they think there is not – at least they hope to deserve approval from good men. But the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him. He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us; just as the roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it – from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

 

Kelli: “He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us;”  When did we get that so horribly backward that our lives are stunted by guilt and shame and endless, useless trying #???? How much better the world would be, our lives would be, if we could get that right:  God loves us because of who we already are not for what we think we can do.  Once we know Whose we are, then we can go about the business of doing.

Breathing In – January 10, 2015 #nccumc #renovare

Psalm 46

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.

We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. 5 God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

 Attention, all! See the majesty of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. 

 

EP – There is a city of God and he lives there. Present Tense. The city of God is safe not because of unscalable walls and sophisticated security systems. It’s safe because it’s the sphere where God’s help is available . . . . .. In verse 8, the Psalmist says, “Attention, see the marvels of God!” In other words, quit rushing through the streets long enough to become aware that there is much more to life than your silly self-help enterprises.”

In a world that is falling apart all around us, it’s easy to become frantic these touch with God. But if God’s the living center of redemption its essential that we be in touch with him and responsive to him. If God has a will for this world and we want to be in on it, we must be still long enough to find out what it is.

It is then, and only then that we’ll be able to see the marvels of God that are going on around us and inside us. (Eugene Peterson, Message Bible, Ps 46, 825)

Disciplines:

  • Obedience – Jesus lived in unbroken unity with God and yet sought nothing for himself by that unity – Paul Tillich
  • Simplicity – he refused the spectacular; he spoke the language of the people; there was no pose of any kind; he kept silent when he did not know the answers.
  • Humility – ‘take my yoke  upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly of heart.’
  • Frugality – Frugal in food, he fasted long days in the wilderness. Frugal in sleep, he spent whole nights alone in prayer with God. Frugal in personal relationships, he loved people but could get along without them if his truth offended them, “will ye also go away?”
  • Generosity – he gave everything to God. His day and nights, his dreams and deeds, his labors and his life itself were God’s. He gave himself without stint to people, sharing with them his truth, ministering to their souls , healing their sickness, listening to their questions…
  • Truthfulness – even his enemies had to say, “we know you are true…”
  • Purity – He not only said ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.” He was that!
  • Charity – Every quality of life that good usage names as charity was Christ’s in abundance – gentleness, graciousness, quick forgiveness, bountifulness, courtesy, self-sacrifice, universal good will, channeling God’s love toward all people – of all this Jesus was the perfect incarnation.

…God was in him because he did what the rest of us must do – by dedication and discipline keep one’s life open to God.

 

From Discipline and Discovery  – Albert Edward Day (quoted by Job and Shawchuck)

 

Kelli: Even scanning down this list our minds switch to auto-pilot.  I could never do all that, I’m not Jesus, so forget about it. Up from the mists of memory comes another word from Jesus as he talks to his disciples, then and now:

 

Believe me. I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see —- these works.  The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it.  That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do  John 14:11-14

 

Kelli –  there are really no excuses except for our apathy and selfishness.  The world desperately needs more of the realities listed above.  Just one more quote to drive th3e point home. A work from the Apostle Paul who knew all about being tired and persecuted. More than that knew the joy and grace of knowing God and  living a life changed by that relationship:

 

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together — spirit, soul and body – and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!  I Thessalonians 5:23-24

 

 

A Future and a Hope #nccumc #umc

Thomas Merton: Judgment is really a patient, organic, long-suffering understanding of the man’s whole life, of everything in it, all in contact. November 17, 1961, Journal IV, 179.

Kelli: Merton’s view of judgment is very different from our mainline, traditional view of what our soul’s  ultimate end must be like. We usually think of our immediate after-death experience as standing at the foot of God’s throne, having to listen to a long and painful list of all the bad things we’ve ever done as if we were naughty children caught with our hands in the cookie jar.

What if the element of divine judgment that we are missing is that it is mediated through relationship? A long and deep relationship with Holy Love (God expressed in the Trinity) doesn’t mean we incur God’s wrath as a supernatural trip to a frightening principal’s office. Our lives are meant to be lives as a lifetime of discipline and discipleship, gentle nudges and closed gates that block our way into forbidden fields. In some ways, the nature of divine judgment depends on us. Our intentionality in the practice of prayer as a two-sided conversation is the place where our relationship with Holy Love happens. Those who choose to have little or no connection to Holy Love by their own choice will experience judgment according to their own fear-based assumptions. Those who learn to ‘love God and enjoy Him forever’, as the Westminster Catechism says, will have nothing to fear. Life after life after death is simply the continuation of a well-established and highly valued relationship between our souls and Holy Love.

When we assume that we fundamentally and completely know anyone and anything other than ourselves we are doomed to rely on labels and scare-mongering as paths to understanding. When we live lives based in eager anticipation of the unfolding of relationships, then even the tragedies of our existence are somehow bearable.

The question boils down to trust. Who is at the center of our lives? Are we frantically trying to look out for and preserve ourselves? Or have we intentionally put our relationship with Holy Love at the center of our lives, trusting our future and our hope to be in Someone who loves us even more than we love ourselves?

Thanks be to God for all He has done, for all He is doing and all He is just about to do.

Monday Morning Mindset – Thanksgiving, grace and creativity

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Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything takes away from it. Ecclesiastes 3:14

Kelli: A new idea for me, a creative outpouring expressed in words, music or wool is not original to me. It is the uncovering of beauty that Holy Love has already created. This beauty has been disguised by human blindness and broken-ness. Working though my intentional will and gratitude, Holy Love manifests itself and makes itself more fully known. It is in this creative partnership with Holy Love that I find myself seeing more clearly and being more clearly seen.

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. – Michelangelo

Kelli: Our connection to Holy Love helps us clear away the sin and sadness in our lives. This creative connection must be intentional so that what doesn’t belong in our lives and our efforts can be removed. We must mean to do it. We must resolve to be connected to the Divine, to speak God’s name in public, even sometimes, according to St. Francis, to use words.

Intentional gratitude is a name for this practice. Remembering to be thankful isn’t simply an American holiday that has turned into a retail nightmare. Intentional gratitude is living holy days throughout our lives, seeking the sacred in the ordinary, being grateful for grace and trusting the Creator behind the created. Being grateful for grace means just doing the next right thing – having the wisdom to know what that is and the courage to attempt it.

“I will praise you in this storm,” says the song.

“Peace, be still,” calls Jesus to the winds and the waves and our beleaguered hearts hear him and find hope.

Psalm 65: 7 – “who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of the waves and the turmoil of the nations” (NIV)
Psalm 65:7 – “muzzler of sea storm and wave crash, of mobs in noisy riot” (MSG)

The Psalmist looks around in Israel and points for ward to Jesus. We look around in 21st century culture and praise God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit as an act of spiritual obedience. In the mystery of connection, commitment and creativity, we find comfort for our souls even in the midst of the storm.

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