Presence and Silence

May 05, 2021

Recently, I’ve restarted my daily practice of silent prayer. Like many who try this practice, I feel an immense amount of resistance arising within me against my intention. But that’s not a good reason to avoid the practice. What we truly and deeply desire is often quite different from what we prefer or feel like doing in a particular, narrow little moment.

 

What seems to work for me is to set a 25-minute timer on my smartphone and then turn it facedown so I’m not...

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The Fullness of God

Apr 28, 2021

Your first tooth . . . your first day of kindergarten . . . your first car . . . your first kiss . . . your first home. Life is full of firsts. We spend our lifetime taking first steps that lead to growing up and maturing into functioning adults.

 

Along the way, our souls are taking first steps as well. The first time we heard about God. The first time we heard the name of Jesus. The first time we saw an answer to prayer. The first time we acted...

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Focusing On Our Fallenness

Apr 21, 2021

I tend to have a scrupulous soul. I find it easy to slide into self-accusation, even self-condemnation. I’ve joked that I’m a recovering perfectionist. Sometimes my recovery isn’t going so well.

 

Are my shortcomings and offenses real? Of course. But are mercy and grace real? Even more so. I was reflecting recently on a practice that has come to have much more meaning for me as an Anglican priest than it did when I was a Baptist pastor. I’m talking about the...

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The Loving Embrace of God

Apr 14, 2021

Many years ago, on a typical summer day, Alan arrived home from work. As was his habit, he came to me for a welcome-home hug.

Our oldest son, then just three years old, came running up to us yelling, “Wait! I want to be in your love!”

He then proceeded to squeeze between us as we embraced, creating a hug sandwich with him as the filling. I will never forget that moment…or that phrase: I want to be in your love.

Over the years I have grown tired of my own inner...

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A Meaningful Prayer

Apr 07, 2021

 

I came from a faith tradition that highly valued spontaneous prayers and devalued liturgical prayers. If a prayer arose from one’s own heart and mind, that meant it was real. Praying someone else’s words didn’t seem as genuine.

 

This preference for extemporaneous prayers is based on the assumption that anything spontaneously arising from my present mindset is actually real. Except sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes what I thought was heartfelt spontaneity was...

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Be a Blessing

Mar 31, 2021

“Gem. Yes, that’s my name. G-E-M. It’s not a nickname. It’s not short for anything. My dad took one look at me when I was born and said, ‘What a Gem!’”

 

Over the course of my life, I’ve had this conversation more times than I can count. People’s usual response is something like, “Aww, how sweet!”

 

Growing up, I never fully appreciated my name or its meaning. I just knew that, when used with my maiden name of Wheat,...

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Humility and Influence

Mar 24, 2021

Years ago, when I was beginning my training in spiritual direction, I had the opportunity to spend a month in community with a group of Benedictine monks and nuns. There were many insights God gave me through their friendship, but one particular lesson was something they embodied more than taught: humility.

 

They were a humble community. They didn’t draw attention to their humility or promote it—which seems like an obvious thing to say, except I’ve seen humility put on...

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Truth in Advertising

Mar 17, 2021

I shop therefore I am. (fabric)
Remodeling is happiness. (design company)
The 5 basic necessities of life: movies, TV, video, music & books. (magazine)
Give your day a little lift. (candy)
Acquire a taste for the ultimate compliment. (appliances)
Wear it and be happy. (fragrance)
What is comfort? (shoes)

Each of these slogans is a direct quote from an advertising hook in a magazine. What follows in parentheses tells you the product being marketed.

In this list, you are promised everything from...

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God Does More Than We Can Imagine

Mar 10, 2021

Sometimes my heart and mind seem to forget the immense power and generosity of God. When facing great challenges or losses, I’m tempted to think that they are the biggest thing in my life. But God is always greater than anything happening in my life or in our world. Always.

 

Listen to how Paul captures this truth at the end of his prayer for the Ephesian church:

 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is...

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Preparing the Soil of Your Soul

Mar 03, 2021

Awhile back, during a time of journaling and prayer, I perused the notes from my first training in spiritual direction. I had packed two folders with worksheets, practices, and handwritten notes from multiple lectures.

 

My plan was to read through everything so I could recall and glean from the spiritual wisdom those pages contained. However, I made it through only half of one handwritten notebook. I barely scratched the surface. Reading through my notes in a soulful way turned out to...

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