Microwave Spirituality

posted by Jeffrey on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 2:56 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

"Do it right, do it light; Do it wrong do it long" said my highschool football coach. What he meant was if we got the play, drill, or whatever we were working on right, we could go home sooner; but if we got it wrong, we'd be there past dinner time. A conversation today with Gary Morgan of Mosaic Nashville sparked these thoughts.

In the school of Western thought, we seem to associate success with speed, and therein quite possibly sacrifice quality for efficiency. Our definition of success seems to be the question, "Does it work?" If it works, I'm pleased, and if I'm pleased, it's successful. Hmm, sounds like our view of "success" is relative to selfish desires...

I'm afraid this very thought process has crept it's way into the church (by the way, what springs to mind when you see the word church--people or a building?). Christians have a track record of pressuring people to make a "decision" to follow Jesus, rush them through a series of "discipleship" classes, and the wam, bam, thank you ma'am, you're a full grown, totally mature, got it all together, not supposed to struggle with anything ever again, Christian--in 3 years. Last I checked with my mom, when I was 3 I was still painting by numbers, not whipping up masterful works of art with oils on canvas (not that I can do that now either! lol :o) ).

Maybe what we need is to enjoy the process of growth in Jesus and with each other. John 3:3 says that when we become a disciple of Jesus, we are born again. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that we're made a new creation. Just as God shapes and forms magnificent pearls from specks of dust and gigantic cedars from tiny seeds over the course of many years, perhaps we too can relax, breath deep, and sink our hearts deep down into the person of God and His unfailing love as He shapes us into the reality of what He already see us as...full grown and perfect (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 10:11-14).

A final thought about this longing for "microwave spirituality": Bradford Pears--blah. These are the trees you find lining the streets in little 1/18th of an acre lots of many new subdivisions. Why do they use these trees? They grow EXTREMELY quickly which up's the property value of the homes. "Wow, what a great thing!" said the new homeowner...that is until the first bad storm or tornado rolls through town and you hear that dreaded "POW!" Oh that's right, that sound was the nice and pretty Bradford Pear splitting in two as it's weak trunk gives way to the wind in the heavy branches--and then as you walk out the door, you see it, not only is your tree gone, but it's laying across your car...or worse. This is exactly the eminent result of encouraging and buying into the illusion that we can be "full grown" Christians in mere days, weeks, months, or even years...no no, it takes a lifetime journey beside Christ as He transforms us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) Again, let those of us who are young in the faith sink our roots down deep into the mysteries of God as He grows us like the cedar. And let those of us who are mature in the faith demonstrate, encourage, and invest in those saplings springing up all around--lest they topple to the belief they should be something that they're not...a top heavy pear.

A Forgotten Joy: Exercise of the Spiritual Disciplines--Study & Meditation

posted by Jeffrey on Monday, April 25, 2005 at 11:47 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Interesting how in the church we paint the picture, even it is indirectly, that the Christian life is so easy...That if we do only "a, b, and c," we'll have a dynamic and healthy relationship with the Creator. We seem to have communicated that all we must do to connect with God is read the Bible (there is a difference between study and read) and pray. Could this be true? Is this relationship really that simple? Another question: Can any of my friendships be deepened if we merely communicated via email and phone?

This God we seek to relate with is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, hence He seeks to relate with us on a plurality of levels. He longs for us to enter into community with Him that cannot be explained by any number of "spiritual disciplines" or any amount of pages in a book. No, it can only be discovered by diving into the proverbial rabbit hole to see how far it will go--as far as we'll follow it is the answer.

That being said, the Holy Scriptures are a vital element in discovering the character, personality, thoughts, and altogether person of God. John 1:1 illustrates that the Word is God--that the true Word is Jesus Himself. What if when David wrote in Psalm 1:2 that he, "meditates on the law day and night," he really meant that he meditated on and spent time with the very person of God??? What I'm saying is as we study and meditate on the ancient Scriptures we are not just learning ABOUT God, but learning God Himself...And many times, the greater our passion to know Him grows, the more He peels back the layers of His personality and invites us deeper--deeper into the mystery of who He is. Sometimes, we find understanding in those intimate places with God (1 John 5:20), and other times we find that some things are too complex and mysterious for us to comprehend. But just like with a close friend, despite our lack of understanding we are thrilled and content with the fact that God called us to come deeper into Himself (Psalm 42:7).

What a thrill to journey into the vastness and intimacy of a passionate relationship with God!

Under the Sun

posted by Jeffrey on Friday, April 22, 2005 at 10:54 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

There is truly nothing new to be discovered in this world,

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." see Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

No matter how culture changes, no matter how methods differ, no matter what knowledge is aquired, no matter, no matter, no matter--it is all meaningless. Why do some of us have such a hard time understanding this? Our pursuits of success and effectiveness and pleasure in this world are worth nothing--good people are forgotten, clever plans abolished, petty differences irrelevant--it is all meaningless in the end. If no adventure or pleasure or effective method lies therein, why our/my constant pursuit?

Perhaps what we need is something NOT "under the sun". Yes yes, what we need & seek must be beyond this world! The newness and purpose we long for must be found outside ourselves. If this be the case, if we inquire of God's will and His plan that is beyond our state of mind, I doubt very seriously that we would find a cookie cutter reality. Oh if only the church of the 21st century would realize that it is a mission, not merely on a mission perhaps we would be about the Kingdom (of God) and not our kingdoms (of selfish pride).

Ancient Oils

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, April 21, 2005 at 8:27 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

I have a friend named Gina who is a licensed massage therapist here in Mt. Juliet, TN. She is spiritually gifted in the area of healing and has acquired a certain level of skill in the use of ancient essential oils of the Eastern world. Extracted and prepared the right way, these oils are incredibly useful for the mind and body.

My wife and I were over at Gina and her husband's (Greg) house yesterday splitting some hosta (that's a garden plant! lol) when I noted that I was a little tense and having trouble focusing. Well actually, I always have trouble focusing, but it was a little worse yesterday for some reason :o). Not long after I mentioned that, Gina place a few drops of "Inspiration" in the palms of my hands and back of my neck. Inspiration is a blend of the oils: cedarwood, sandalwood, frankincense, and a few others. This blend is formulated to promote clarity of mind and calmness--so why the name inspiration?? Well because with heightened clarity of mind and calmness, it tends to be a little easier to enter into conversation with God...so it INSPIRES spiritual connection. How appropriate this is for our continued discussion on the ancient spiritual disciplines--meditation being one of them

If you recall, the Bible in 1 Kings chapter 7 says that Solomon (the wisest man to ever live, apart from Jesus) built his palace largely out of CEDAR. Not to say that his wisdom was due to the materials he used for his dwelling, but the effects of the cedar wood sap most likely heightened his clarity of mind--possibly multiplying or at least promoting the usability of the gift of wisdom God gave. Another testimony to cedar: historically, some of our great thinkers, writers, scientists, and theologians like Albert Einstein, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Winston Churchill can be seen with a pipe or a cigar between their teeth as they concoct their next great work. Why? Cedar wood is an integral part of the preparation for pipe and cigar tobacco. The best tobacco is hung in cedar buildings, prepared on cedar blocks, and shipped in cedar boxes. C.S. Lewis noted that, "there's nothing like sitting with a pipe clenched between my teeth while working on a good bit of theology." Now lets not turn this into a semi-legalistic conversation about the affects of smoking, and no, I'm not saying let's all go out and take up cigar smoking for clarity of mind, that's just what seems to have worked for certain individuals. What we DO get to do is go out and discover what uniquely works for us to clear our minds--be it massage therapy, ancient oils, taking a run, or whatever, and do that, so that we can converse and commune with God. (1 Peter 4:7)

If you'd like to contact Gina to learn more about these essential oils or massage therapy, feel free to email her or check out her website.

A Forgotten Joy: Exercise of the Spiritual Disciplines--Fasting & Prayer

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 8:38 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

"Fasting?? What's that? Isn't that something Buddhist monks do or something??" Well yeah, it is actually, and perhaps we should learn a lesson from their devotion in this practice. Fasting is an incredible privilege available for anyone to partake of, but few seldom do. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those who do engage in this ancient form of communication with God may do so with wrong motives and expectations. Fasting isn't a way to manipulate or persuade God to do a certain thing (He does more than we could ever ask already), it is a humbleness of one's own soul as we deny ourselves those things (traditionally food) that give us sustenance--our vices, if you will. As we deny ourselves these comforts, we do not do so in pride or ignorance, but to understand this transcendent God and that His very Words, even His very presence is what sustains us!!

Fasting is a way for we as finite human beings living in 2005 to not only let go the reins of control, but to realize we never had control to begin with--it is the God who spoke the universe into creation who desires to commune with us and take our minds to new levels of understanding and conversation--if we would only respond to Him! This painting beautifully illustrates the distraction and difficulty sometimes involved with entering into conversation with God--perhaps a fast (maybe coupled with some solitude & silence) is just what we need to slow down and relax so that we may hear the very voice of God and see Him exalt His name among the nations!

"Prayer Focus" by Cornelis Monsama, expressionist Painter.
"Sometimes there is the struggle to enter the prayer gate. We have to fight ourselves to maintain the prayer focus needed to enter into the prayer place."

A Forgotten Joy: Exercise of the Spiritual Disciplines--Silence & Solitude

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, April 14, 2005 at 2:13 PM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Have you ever thought or heard someone say, "It's not enough to just read the Bible and pray. The Christian life requires more than that"? If not, now you have. Could this thought actually be true? Unfortunately, I don't think the answer is as concrete, pre-fabricated, or boxed up with a pretty little bow on it as some of us would like for it to be. The very statement, in and of itself, reeks of performance based undertones--and for me personally, the fastest way to get me NOT to do something is tell me I have to. Perhaps the question we ought to ask ourselves is not merely, "is it enough," but instead, "in what ways, be it mysterious or obvious, are Jesus longing to commune with us in a day-to-day relationship??" And maybe to take it one step further, "in what ways am I longing to interact with Him?!?"

As we consider what John Wesley called "acts of piety" and examine how incorporating the joy of the ancient "spiritual disciplines" into our daily lives it is beneficial to think in terms of a human relationship. My relationship with my wife, mentor, friends, family, or anyone else for that matter, would not experience growth if the only time we spent together was merely an hour one day a week and/or a regimented 15 minutes a day. Now of course, those relationships would survive, but that is quite a different animal than growth. How can we connect and interact with this mysterious and divine God who calls us His friends? Just like I share life with those who mean something to me, how can I share life with this Creator??? This is what we discussed this past Sunday night, and what we're discussing in our Sunday night gatherings for the next two weeks. If ya want more info, feel free to email me.

"What Drives Us" wrap up & Mailing Address!!

posted by Jeffrey on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 at 8:24 AM

*I've moved, and my posts have come with me! Check out my new blog at www.jeffrey-davis.net/blog/*

Well, our discussion about what drives us has come to a close, and what a great close it was. We switched things up this week and spent time in conversation, confession, and intercessory prayer at the onset of our core gathering (and to be honest, we had such a great time we thought about not even discussing what "Extreme Makeovers" are). Even though our official discussion of these values is over, they remain at the forefront of our thoughts. Everything we consider doing is filtered through these values that are centered on and driven by Scripture. Since these "values" are what drives us, we'll of course revisit them in discussion from time to time.

As of yesterday we now have a P.O. Box in Mt. Juliet!!! woo hoo!!!! You may be thinking, "What's the big deal about a P.O. Box?" The answer is every new thing that makes this community of believers more of a physical reality is truly exciting! If ya wanna send anything the address is:

the Gathering
PO Box 645
Mt. Juliet, TN 37121

...something worth noting is if you get the notion to send a monetary gift, please don't send it to this address. To ensure that your gifts are tax deductible, please send those gifts to the Nashville Baptist Association and designate the check (at the lower left corner) to "the Gathering". The NBA's address is:

Nashville Baptist Association
420 Main St.
Nashville, TN 37206

As you can see, verrrry exciting things goin on!!