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Book of the Month: Schola Caritatis: Learning the Rhythms of God's Amazing Love

  Starting a new feature for the next several months called Book of the Month.  I will present one of my books and tell you a little of the ...

Monday, February 24, 2014

put out my eyes

Put out my eyes, and I can see you still,
Slam my ears to, and I can hear you yet;
And without any feet can go to you;
And tongueless, I can conjure you at will.
Break off my arms, I shall take hold of you
And grasp you with my heart as with a hand;
Arrest my heart, my brain will beat as true;
And if you set this brain of mine afire,
Then on my blood-stream I yet will carry you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

the beauty within

the surface ravaged
stripped bare
of it's inherent beauty
rock and dust and debris
litters a hard and barren landscape
darkness and despair
seemingly rule the day

but the truth lies
more deeply within
a beauty often covered over
hidden from view
not seen at first glance
but visible to those
willing to be present
to walk and to watch and to pray
to take a look beneath the surface
into the very heart and soul
of this rugged exterior

there is a light that shines
in this darkness
one that comes from deep within
from a heart filled with love
beating with the lifeblood
of goodness and hope
fueled by the fires of the Spirit
overflowing with kindness
and compassion
and love Divine

this is true beauty
thoughtful and genuine
rooted and determined
present and lasting
costly and precious
not fleeting or superficial
but shining forth from
the deepest places of the heart
a treasure hidden in the field
the beauty within

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

precious oil

How good and pleasant it is
     when brothers live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
     running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron's beard,
     down upon the collar of his robes.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
     were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
     even life forevermore.

                                ~Psalm 133

I must admit, I've never had oil poured on my head--much less precious oil.  So I don't really know what it feels like.  I imagine that it is an incredibly peaceful and wonderfully soothing experience, especially if the oil is rich and warm and fragrant.  It seems that it would be an experience that would engage all of your senses and bring enormous pleasure, peace, and healing to the recipient.  This Psalm indirectly uses the words good and pleasant to describe the experience.  And there's definitely something about those two words, especially together, that I really like.  Good (towb) has to do with the quality that a thing possesses or brings.  In this case, it points to the qualitative depth of a particular state of being or experience.  And then the word pleasant (na`iym) comes along and takes it up a notch.  Pleasant, in this context, literally means delightful.  So the pouring on of oil, as with the unity of God's people, is an experience of deep quality and total delight.  Pretty strong words.  I wonder if there's any way to get a Groupon for "an anointing?"  If so, sign me up.

I just returned from Haiti with a group of friends from Knoxville.  We had the privilege of spending a weekend with some of the most courageous, compassionate, extraordinary people I have ever had the pleasure of being around.  Folks that do heroic things for the Kingdom every single day, without anyone really knowing about it for the most part.  They are a group of people that give me a great picture for what the words good and pleasant really mean.  In fact, they bring them to life.  And not only that, but the team of friends from Knoxville that I went with were some of the most beautiful, gifted, loving, kind people I know.  Some used their gifts to lead us in worship.  Some used their gifts to lead us in laughter.  Some used their gifts to speak words of life and peace and encouragement to us.  Some used their gifts to set the whole trip up and make sure it went without a hitch.  Some used their gifts to make sure everyone felt welcomed and special and cared for.  And some used their gifts to be with and to sit with and to talk with anyone and everyone in their path.

And as I was in the midst of it all it struck me.  I got it!  What was happening as we were together was that precious oil was continually being poured out upon my soul.  In fact, it was being poured upon all of us.  So that's what it feels like!  How beautiful!  How delightful!  How full!  How free!  How healing!  And I have a suspicion that, at the very same time, our beloved Jesus was having precious oil poured upon his head as well.  It was simply amazing.  When we come together with the loving intent of pouring precious oil upon one another, and upon Jesus, something magical happens.  Delight is created.  The delight of our hearts, reflecting the deep delight of our God.  When we freely give to one another the things and the gifts that God has freely given to us (for his glory and delight) real community forms.  And somehow new life is created both within us and among us.  Parker Palmer said it well when he wrote: "When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself—and me—even as I give it away. Only when I give something that does not grow within me do I deplete myself and harm the other as well, for only harm can come from a gift that is forced, inorganic, unreal." 

So let us, this day, give what we have been given.  Let us pour precious oil on the heads of those that come into our path, knowing that by doing this it will bring life to our souls and deep joy to the heart of our God.