Holding On To Your Own Pleasurable Imaginings

“Maybe we wonder if God can take all that goes on in our mind and heart. Maybe we simply want to hold on to our own pleasurable imaginings, afraid that in showing them to our Lord, we may have to give them up. Thus, we are constantly tempted to fall back… out of fear or out of greed, and to keep from our God what often is the most in need of His healing touch.”

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Creating Space for God

“Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.

Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.”

– Henri Nouwen

Where is your tree rooted? (Security)

What is the basis of our security? When we start thinking about that question, we may give many answers: success, money, friends, property, popularity, family, connections, insurance, and so on. We may not always think that any of these forms the basis of our security, but our actions or feelings may tell us otherwise. When we start losing our money, our friends, or our popularity, our anxiety often reveals how deeply our sense of security is rooted in these things.

A spiritual life is a life in which our security is based not in any created things, good as they may be, but in God, who is everlasting love. We probably will never be completely free from our attachment to the temporal world, but if we want to live in that world in a truly free way, we’d better not belong to it. “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Luke 16:13).

– Henri Nouwen


God Didn’t Call Us to Be Successful, He Called Us to Be Faithful

A few years ago, studying the book of Isaiah, I was deeply impacted by the fact that God called Isaiah, not to be successful, but to be faithful. What? Yup. In fact, God warned him that his ministry would have no converts. One could ask, “Why bother?” Our human voices ask ourselves, “What’s the point?” Yet, it’s this unconditional love of God that calls us to love unconditionally without ever expecting anything in return including results.

Today I read this quote from Henri Nouwen which rings the same tune of faithfulness over and above success. I am reminded that I must seek to be faithful in God’s ministry and leave the outcome up to God, no matter how painful it is to watch those you love refuse God’s saving love.

Remaining Faithful

“Many people live with the unconscious or conscious expectation that eventually things will get better; wars, hunger, poverty, oppression, and exploitation will vanish; and all people will live in harmony. Their lives and work are motivated by that expectation. When this does not happen in their lifetimes, they are often disillusioned and experience themselves as failures.

But Jesus doesn’t support such an optimistic outlook. He foresees not only the destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem but also a world full of cruelty, violence, and conflict. For Jesus there is no happy ending in this world. The challenge of Jesus is not to solve all the world’s problems before the end of time but to remain faithful at any cost.” – Henri Nouwen

Do I worship Creator God, or the god of successful ministry? Am I more concerned with God’s reputation and His great name, or my own reputation and my own name in ministry?

Less of me, more of Him.

The song verse runs now through my mind… “Faithfulness, faithfulness is what I long for…”

Overcoming Our Mood Swings

Such a great read today from Henri Nouwen…

Are we condemned to be passive victims of our moods? Must we simply say: “I feel great today” or “I feel awful today,” and require others to live with our moods?

Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by living a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out of our moods. We might not “feel” like getting up in the morning because we “feel” that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work is boring. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us.

– Henri Nouwen

Turn Your Worries Into Prayers

Turning your worries into prayers is a simple thing and yet one we constantly fail at. But, when we do get into the habit, the peace of God that comes is truly incredible.

As you can tell, I’ve been meditating of late on the reflections of Henri Nouwen who wonderfully wrote…

From Unceasing Thinking to Unceasing Prayer

“Our minds are always active. We analyze, reflect, daydream, or dream. There is not a moment during the day or night when we are not thinking. You might say our thinking is “unceasing.” Sometimes we wish that we could stop thinking for a while; that would save us from many worries, guilt feelings, and fears. Our ability to think is our greatest gift, but it is also the source of our greatest pain. Do we have to become victims of our unceasing thoughts? No, we can convert our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer by making our inner monologue into a continuing dialogue withour God, who is the source of all love.

Let’s break out of our isolation and realize that Someone who dwells in the center of our beings wants to listen with love to all that occupies and preoccupies our minds.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

The age old wisdom is this…

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.” – Philippians 4:6,7 CEV

Today, make a list of all that worries you and then find a quiet place, thank God that He is bigger than your worries and one by one give thanks for those worries and that God will work mightily in them. Ask Him for strength, patience and peace as you allow Him to do His work! He may simply be waiting for you to turn it all over to Him. Release control and trust Him.

And then you can, stand firm, be brave, be not afraid and watch the Lord save you! (Exodus 14:13)

Those Who Mean The Most To Us

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

What Is Perfect Love?

If we are more self-conscious than ever, with the ones we “love”, that is not love… but fear. Our ‘love’ is unmasked as a battle in manipulation and power – one person using another to make them feel good, even in a pecking order, or to simply chase away loneliness. True love is… safe,… forgiving… and unrestricted. (And I’m not jumping all the way to romantic love. Apply this to friendship too.) Perfect love is fearless. If you are afraid of someone, you don’t truly love them. And perhaps not yet anyway. It may be because of a wall you have put up, or it may be they are not truly safe to give your love to. It may be you have some questions not yet answered. So ask yourself why you fear them. The answer will help you determine the next step you will need to take. Step forward in trust or step back in self-preservation and boundaries. But, always… pray through it. Putting up walls doesn’t bring peace. Putting up walls brings about war and hostility. Jesus challenges us to break through and face our fellow person without fear and to enter with Him in the fellowship of the weak, knowing that it will not bring destruction but new life and a new world.

(My thoughts after reading Henri Nouwen.)

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIRV)

36 “Teacher,” he asked, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) 38 This is the first and most important commandment. 39 And the second is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18)

A Person Who Means The Most To Us, Grieves With Us

Henri Nouwen wrote, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”