Monday, October 7, 2013
Here is a video I saw at my recent Spiritual Academy Retreat. As a person of Christian faith I can hear the echoes of God's love and grace behind what Rene Brown says. It's about 20 min. and well worth the time. Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share. (Filmed at TEDxHouston.) http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html
Thursday, October 3, 2013
The following is the extended version of a Ted Talk I gave today on the impact of the four Spiritual Academy retreats I have experienced over the last eighteen months. In the fall of 2009 I did a sermon series at my church called, The Geography of Grace. It was a study of Ephesians and it focused on spiritual formation, a topic I had been living with for over a year at that point. The final message in the series was given by me on Sunday, December 12th. This was just two weeks before I went in for my annual physical and which two days after that my doctor called me to say that my PSA count was a concern, having doubled in the last year. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. I was 58 years old and in the best shape I had been for some time and suddenly the geography of my life was about to change dramatically taking me into dark and unknown territory. As it turned out my sermon series ended at the beginning of what would become the next significant steps in my own spiritual journey, steps which continue to this day. From that December to the following May I took pills and went through tests and scans and finally a biopsy determined that I had early, but aggressive prostate cancer. The doctors were optimistic, but didn't want to waste any time and I underwent surgery on May 18th. The post op lab report three days later said, “Tumor contained in the prostate, all margins clear.” Both my specialist and my surgeon phoned me the same afternoon to tell me the positive news and wish me a good weekend. My recovery went well and I was back to work in two weeks. Three months later I had my follow up PSA test and was very pleased to see a zero where before there had been a large number. I went to my follow up appointment with a smile on my face and a word of cheer for all the people at the clinic. The news was less than stellar. It turns out I wasn't out of the woods yet. Instead of a PSA reading of 0.00 my three month post op reading was 0.52.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
A prayer by Thomas Merton MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Monday, September 30, 2013
I am at the final retreat of the Spiritual Academy here at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. Here are my notes from the first session which was on God's Calling on Our Lives. We all have a void in our lives. You have to step into the void to get in touch with your deep desire for God. My calling comes from before me. From eternity past. Most recently through the prayers of my grandfather Charles Isenberg who prayed for a grandson who would become a pastor. He died 6 months before I was born. I am that grandchild. I have felt the weight of this calling since soon after my conversion at age 17. I knew almost immediately where I was called by God to be. I have run toward this calling, run with it, run ahead of it and run from it. It was the most evident to me when I ran from it after I left the ministry in 1987. Others even told me that knew I was called to ministry and was not being obedient to my calling! This when I thought my ministry life was over. It is in transitions that God wants to deepen our faith. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.” It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself? Personal Calling is balanced by three things: • It must be fitted into God’s story and God’s redemptive purposes. • There needs to be a corporate sense to it. • Personal sense of calling must be balanced by 1st order calling. First Order Calling=to love God with all that you are. (This would be my relationship with God). Second Order Calling=what we do to follow Jesus in this world. (This would be my pastoral ministry calling). These two callings must not be pitted against each other. The must be kept in the right order of priority. Second order calling must not become detached from first order calling.