“Rhythms” Round-Up

Being in sync with God is less like stringently following a playbook of do’s and don’ts and more like humming that tune that’s stuck in your head and allowing it to put a directional spring in your step. That spring leads us in the direction of sacred rhythms…rhythms of grace, awareness, surrender and peace. Conversely, modern society cultivates and infects us with its violent rhythms…rhythms of production (you’re only as valuable as what you can do) rhythms of speed and space (always moving at an insane clip, ultimately concerned with filling our space with stuff) rhythms of fear (you’re not good enough, so what are you going to do about it?)

Thankfully, the scriptures help us navigate these murky waters. This long (and slow!) obedience in the same direction reminds us of who we are and Whose we are (Genesis 1:26-27; Zephania 3:17; Jonah 4:2;Psalm 103:11-13); it sharpens our ability to recognize Jesus in the midst of everyday life (John 21); and it purposefully propels us ‘out there’ for God’s glory and for the benefit of humanity (Matthew 4:1-11).

And maybe the best part of it all? The God’s dance card isn’t full, and He invites us to invite others onto his dance floor…to be in sync, to be in rhythm, to hum the tune of redemption.

Here are a few of the thoughts and authors that influenced our learning this month:

You can read Nathan’s sermon on the spiritual disciplines and freedom here.  A chunk of the end of his message was based on Andy Crouch’s talk that you can find here.

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence… activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to its violence.” (Thomas Merton)

“The symbol H+ is the code sign used by some futurists to denote an enhanced version of humanity. The plus version of the human race would deploy a mix of advanced technologies, including stem cells, robotics, cognition-enhancing drugs, and the like, to overcome basic mental and physical limitations. The notion of enhancing mental functions by gulping down a pill that improves attention, memory and planning—the very foundations of cognition—is no longer just a fantasy shared by futurists. Obsession with cognitive enhancers is evidenced in news articles hailing the arrival of what are variously called smart drugs, neuroenhancers, nootropics or even “Viagra for the brain.”

“Today we don’t wash our bodies we worship them in tiled shrines surrounded by mirrors. With all the soaps and care products we are trying to become perfect”

“In a 24/7 world, all time is the same: we pay bills on Saturday, shop on Sunday, take the laptop to bed, work through the night, tuck into all-day breakfasts. We mock the seasons by eating imported strawberries in the middle of winter and hot cross buns, once an Easter treat, all year round. With cell phones, Blackberrys, pagers and the Internet, everyone and everything is now permanently available.” (Carl Honore)

From sleeplearning .com: “Your non waking hours – one third of your life – are now non-productive. Tap this huge potential for advancing your career, health and happiness!”

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” (Ellen Goodman)

“Above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live it as if it were a work of art.  You’re not a machine.” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel)

“Workaholics used to be the people who would work any time, anywhere. What has changed is that it has become the norm to be on call 24/7.” (Marylyn Machlowitz)

“When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth.  And before we are aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers.  That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world.  Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are liked because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable.  In short, we are worthwhile because we have success.” (Henri Nouwen)

“The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world…The Sabbath itself is a sanctuary which we build , a sanctuary in time.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

“Society was regarded by the Desert Fathers & Mothers as a shipwreck from which each single individual man had to swim for his life…These were men and women who believed that to let oneself drift along, passively accepting the tenets and values of what they knew as society, was purely and simply a disaster.” (Thomas Merton)

“Faith is not a precarious affair of chance and escape from satanic attacks. It is a solid, massive, secure experience of God, who keeps all evil from getting inside us, who guards our life, who guards us when we leave and when we return, who guards us now, who guards us always.” (Eugene Peterson)

“To love God is to love the world. To love God passionately is to love the world passionately. To hope in God is to hope for the salvation of the world.” (Louis Evely)

“It was not enough that we announce the gospel, explain it or whip up enthusiasm for it. [It must be] lived – lived in detail, lived in the streets and on the job, lived in the bedrooms and kitchens, lived through cancer and divorce, lived with children and marriage. (Eugene Peterson)

“The world is not a film which can be re-run; it is a single impromptu performance, a piece of street theater by a pickup company who never saw each other before or since, who did what they did, tossed off whatever lines came into their heads, barged into each other, punched each other, kicked and bit, or kissed and made-up as it seemed convenient at the time – and closed to rave reviews with rousing improvisation of New Jerusalem that made everyone go shivery all over.” (Robert Capon)

Bless this Mess by David Bazan

God bless the man who stumbles
God bless the man who falls
God bless the man who yields to temptation

God bless the woman who suffers
God bless the woman who weeps
God bless the children trying her patience

God bless the house divided
God bless the weeds in the wheat
God bless the lamp lit under a bushel

God bless the man at the crossroads
God bless the woman who still can’t sleep

“Every discipline has its corresponding freedom. If I have schooled myself in the art of rhetoric, I am free to deliver a moving speech when the occasion requires it…The purpose of the disciplines is freedom. Our aim is the freedom, not the discipline. The moment we make the discipline our central focus, we turn it into law and lose the corresponding freedom.”
Foster (110)

“Fasting helps us keep our balance in life. How easily we begin to allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives. How quickly we crave things we do not need until we are enslaved by them. Paul writes, “‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
(1 Cor. 6:12)

“What freedom corresponds to submission? It is the ability to lay down the terrible burden of always needing to get your own way. The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondage in human society today. People will spend weeks, months, even years in a perpetual stew because some little thing did not go as they wished…They will act as if their very life hangs on the issue…In the discipline of submission we are released to drop the matter, to forget it. Frankly, most things in life are not nearly as important as we think they are.”
Richard Foster

“As Jesus made clear in our central passage, freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God. The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Neither the greedy nor the miserly know this liberty. It has nothing to do with abundance of possessions or their lack. It is an inward spirit of trust. The sheer fact that a person is living without things is no guarantee that he or she is living in simplicity…Conversely, wealth does not bring freedom from anxiety. Kierkegaard writes, “…riches and abundance come hypocritically clad in sheep’s clothing pretending to be security against anxieties and they become then the object of anxiety…they secure a man against anxieties just about as well as the wolf which is put to tending the sheep secures them…against the wolf.”
Richard Foster

“Yes the things we choose in our freedom soon hold us as their prisoners. So much so that we choose freely what we later find ourselves trapped within. Your passions can create the exhilaration of freedom while leading you straight into a dark and merciless dungeon. Not all free acts lead to freedom. In fact if you’re not careful, the choices you freely make may cost you a life of genuine freedom. This is why the Bible talks about human experience in terms of being slaves to sin. One of the odd characteristics of sin is that it is a free act that enslaves you. Sin creates the illusion of freedom. In the end it fools us into seeking freedom from God rather than finding freedom in God.”
– Erwin McManus