Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blanket's Creek

It's been a long time since I've ridden my mountain bike, but today I was struck by how my mind goes into a very quiet place when I ride. Thoughts come and go, but the flow of the trail and of my attention to each tiny adjustment of my body and my bike, keeps me in a place that is very like a meditation the entire time. I rode for an hour and a half at Blanket's Creek trails, rode every inch of trail, and I hardly ever felt the need to come up for air. Things came into my mind, asked for my attention, and I let them go with the very next breath, the next rotation of the pedals, the next banked turn. The focus of my mind and body was so pleasant, the air so cool, the light so clear filtering through the leaves, I never wanted it to end. They've made some really nice improvements to the trail out there, built up the banks on the switchbacks on the VanMichaels loop so that you can scream around them like a BMX track. It's like a playground for big kids. So grateful for Fun!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Did You Hear Thunder?

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

I believe that we always hear the voice of God; often we ignore what we hear; sometimes we think we hear just the noise of our own thoughts,  and it doesn't make any sense to us, but He is always there, in us, faithfully speaking truth, imparting Life.

The goal of this journey I walk with people is not to fix them, it is to lead them into intimacy with Jesus. A beautiful side effect of learning to listen for his voice speaking in our hearts is that our day to day thoughts and feelings are radically changed, and so our behavior is changed as well.

When we bump into Jesus, we can’t help being changed by him. His presence, his personality, his grace, his lovingkindness, his words of reassurance, comfort and delight over us: all these are incredibly powerful if we will let go of ourselves and experience him for a moment. Each facet of who he is transforms our hearts.

When he walked the earth in flesh and blood as a man, people followed Jesus out of sheer delight. He is a pure joy to be around. Even though he was always saying impossible things like “Be Ye perfect as God is perfect”, or extreme things like, “sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me”, people still wanted to be around him all the time. He is always trying to wake us up to our true poverty and invite us to come receive from him. I’m sure people back then didn’t understand, and we don't either, but that doesn’t matter, we want this LIFE he is offering.

 Whenever people give him even the briefest of chances to speak into their hearts, we find joy bubbling up, joy even to tears, and release of emotions, and false beliefs that may have been festering for years.

Take this woman I recently met with. We have been meeting for about 9 months now, and I have seen incredible changes in her heart and mind, and in her demeanor, and it has all happened because she learned (I’d like to say I taught her, but I didn’t really) that Jesus speaks in her heart, every day, every moment, and she can be with him in her thoughts any time she wants to. Although her story is a very tough one, full of betrayal, abandonment and lies, she has learned to look at it all differently because of God's interpretation of her life.

As we sat down for a mentoring session the other day, I pulled out a Taylor Johnson personality test she took 9 months ago, and another one that she just took a week or so ago. This test is a self-report designed to show what is going on inside a person’s emotions on a deep level, sometimes even deeper than they themselves are aware. It can be quite revealing. On several key markers she has seen incredible transformation, so I thought it was time to celebrate together. Her levels of depression and anxiety, since learning to listen to Jesus, have gone from very high, to quite normal and healthy levels  Her level of emotional expressiveness has gone from extremely inhibited to much more expressive and responsive. One of the most significant markers, subjectivity (which measures the tendency to be caught up in emotion and self-absorbed) has come way down as she learns to see things from the far broader and more balanced perspective of Jesus. Finally, after walking through forgiveness, we have seen her level of hostility drop as she becomes much more tolerant and understanding of herself and others. Her view of herself is far more positive as well; she is learning to rest in the grace of God and not in her own performance. None of the circumstances of her life have changed, but her inner world has been changed by simply spending time listening and enjoying the presence of Jesus.

Now, I’m not saying that measurements like this test are the way God looks at us, or the way He wants us to look at ourselves, but it can be very encouraging to be able to see the change in the way a person feels, thinks and acts put down in paper on a graph! There is a metric of celebration present here, yet the transformation that Jesus has worked is beyond any measurement or chart. It is a change in the spirit that is ineluctably working its way out into our daily lives. Learning to tune into what He is doing, as this woman has done, is simply a wonderful catalyst to witnessing the change as it happens.

I see changes like this in people every day, even in the course of just an hour of talking, or a few minutes of prayer time with Jesus.

Before Jesus went to the cross, He stood before a crowd and asked the Father to glorify His name. The Father replied, presumably in a voice audible to all who stood by “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” But the crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

The same is true for all of us. We may be tempted to write off the miracle of Jesus speaking into our hearts as nothing but our own thoughts. Someone standing by might say something that amounts to the dismissal of “did you hear thunder?” But together with Jesus, you and I have a chance to witness and celebrate the miracle. Because we're with Jesus in this process, we can hear the voice of the Father saying to each of us “This is my beloved, on whom my favor rests” and so much more . . . as He reveals His amazing love to us.

I praise God for your participation in the message of the good news with me.


The first cold morning of fall: A Sunday Morning Bicycle Ride

Sope Creek from the Bridge
first light 55deg.
Paper Mill Loop 25miles.

The long descent on Murdoch rd
the sun glancing into my eyes through the trees,
across the stream and around
the most delightfully banked curve
rolling past the meadow where
a flock of geese wander
and two foals nibble the dewy grass.

Bishop's lake Rd is newly paved
so the rollers are a smooth black ribbon
stretched out across the dells and hollows
where mists rise and dance across the water
toward the sky in whisps caught by the morning light blinding me each time I turn my head to look,
too bright to enjoy, to beautiful to ignore.

Climbing the hill due east toward the catholic church
I ride directly into the rising sun,
the field of my vision fully obscured
by the blinding light
and I shiver to know the cars behind
cannot see my form
standing on the pedals
to propel me up the hill,
their windshields like my glasses
a complete whiteout.

Little Willeo dips and rolls and finally
climbs up the long hill to Johnsons Ferry Rd.
On an empty stretch of Woodlawn
I sit up for the first time
pedaling with no hands, like a kid again,
and eat a granola bar
out of my jersey pocket.

On the descent of Paper Mill toward sope creek
I scream in delight as I feel the bike accelerate
up over 40 mph
and then the electric shock of adrenaline
pulses through every cell of my body
on the sharp curve where I think for just a moment
"I could go down, this pavement could be wet with the dew"
but I cannot brake now already committed to the line I've chosen,
knowing the brakes will only send me careening
into or over the guard rail and the creek below.

But then the thought is reigned in
as I bring my mind back to the breath
and the body resumes it's gentle rhythmic pulse.

A brief pause on the bridge above the rocks
and then the labor of the long climb up out of the ravine.
Now I'm feeling the pain in my legs.
It's a short ride this morning but already
I'm tempted by demoralizing thoughts,
slower than usual, feeling old, just going
to get slower as the years go on,
but no, return to the breath,
enjoy this moment now, live it to the full
whether you are going full out
or holding back because you're just not there today.

Still, finish as strong as you can on the climb up Holly Springs,
not a very long ride, but still a good one, a kind of rolling meditation
that gave my mind and body a break from the mundane
making the rest of the day a little more magical
in the glow of chemicals my body happily produces
as it rebuilds muscle fibers.

My wife and children's faces look a little sweeter
after this time, the warm house inviting in the morning light
the smell of coffee brewing welcomes me in.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Flow of Life

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' John 7:38

The flow of the Holy Spirit is the Love of God poured out in us (Romans 5:5), for us, and through us. This has been my focus over the past years of family life and ministry.  

Knowing Jesus face to face 2 Cor. 3:18, in each moment of my life, this is the joyful privilege and practice I teach to those I lead in Him.  

Together we are aware of the deceptions and bankruptcy of the flesh and it's formulas for success, but we will not be distracted or displaced from our awareness of the Love of God fully revealed to us in Jesus.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63

Stop for a moment to feel yourself breathing, and listen to the words He has spoken in your heart, words of peace (John 14:26) words of life. Take the time to experience your own breathing as you rest in Jesus. Are you becoming aware that each breath is a gift of life from God to you? In His eyes we are "those who breathe because I give my gift of Life to them".  

The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6.  

Awaken to the life and peace that well up in your mind, that flow, as you allow yourself to feel gratitude for the gift of
life, of your next breath. You are being breathed by God Himself. In Him we live and move and have our being. In us He lives and moves and has His being. What a beautiful partnership, what an amazing dance.

Jesus breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit.

Release yourself into the flow of God's Spirit through you. This breath is life to your body, this spirit is living water to your soul, this awareness is clarity and truth for your mind.

His Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:16

By the waters of reflection my soul remembers who I am. Ps. 23:2-3

Who are you? You belong to God in Jesus. His life is your life now. You are fully identified in Him. Let your focus be the experience and expression of His Love.

Accept the challenge of abiding in Him moment by moment, resting in the awareness of His Presence as you live your life, pursue your dreams, do your work, love your friends and serve your family.

In Jesus you experience all the tenderness of God towards you, and from His life you may share that tenderness with all.

Receive the feedback that His word in your heart constantly provides. "You are my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased." His voice is your source of life and peace.

Allow His delight in you to guide you through your moments. Rejoice in the unending favor of His love.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guest Post: Denise Yaun

The following is a writing from Denise's pen when she simply allowed herself to listen to what Jesus was saying to her heart. It is part of an exercise that we participated in as part of our last Thursday Night Live meeting. The meditation begins with the words "Lord I know that you love me, and that you speak to me out of your love . . ." and the voice is Jesus.

His Flow In Me

I flow in your thoughts, your mind, your world, around and around you celebrating my love for you. 

I flow in your writing, baking, gardening, talking, breathing, living. 

I flow in your anger, misunderstanding, softly serenading your wounded heart. 

I flow in my rejoicing that you are mine and I am yours. 

I flow in your quietness, the stillness of morning as you sit on your sofa writing to me. 

I flow in your comings and goings, trips to the store, errands to run. 

You may lose sight of me  on your mission to do as much as you can, but it is my flow that slows you down, tires you, causes you to sit down and rest, questioning me why your energy is depleted. 

I flow when you feel stuck, dissatisfied, annoyed with the circumstances of life. 

My flow carries you forward when you feel like you’ve taken two steps back. 

My flow radiates, permeates your entire being. 

My flow keeps you with me.

Denise Yaun