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axioms add up

I've been thinking lately about how I live my life. It all began to surface when I was listening to Bill Hybels at the Leadership Summit in August. He was talking about leadership axioms. If you're looking for some ideas and insight in leadership, you might want to check out Hybels' leadership book called, axiom.

axiom (ăk'sē-əm)

a word or phrase that particular
people use in particular situations; "pardon the expression"
You know those sayings, expressions or 'isms' we all have.

Bill, my father-in-law would reply to difficult situations with two sayings... This too shall pass. and It's just a glitch. I must admit I often did NOT want to hear this Bill-ism. But we could count on him helping us gain a bit of perspective through these axioms of his. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago however his words and wisdom lives on -- not because he always said those words but more importantly because he lived those words.

On my desk is a crumpled typewritten sa…

Caution! Community may require a leap of faith.

It seems everywhere we turn we are being asked to be part of small group, serve on a team, or get involved in a worthy cause. Like most of you, I’ve seen and experienced the best and worst of community and groups. Yet, my heart and soul has been transformed in ways I would have never expected as a result stepping into community or being part of a team. Even though I love a solo challenge -- I am learning to leap (okay, lean) toward community because I know spiritual transformation takes place best in community.

In community, I've found encouragement, support and often a clearer perspective about God and myself. In community, I've given a part of myself and received so much more. In community, I've been able to be part of something larger than myself. In community, I'm becoming visible and known. In community, I've experienced connection and meaningful interaction. In community, I've been lifted up through prayer - and been honored to pray for others. In communi…

Practice makes Perfect? Not exactly.

I've been thinking about the word practice today. You see part of my story is being a high school and college athlete. As a result, I am well acquainted with practice. I played volleyball and just like in any other sport or athletic endeavor -- athletes practice in a gym or field without any spectators or fans a whole lot more than they play in a game.

Practice is part of practically everyday and is often designed around fine tuning a skill, learning a new technique or strategy, strengthening your core, and building endurance. When an athlete practices, she is either trying to maximize her greatest strengths and/or working to improve in an area of weakness. For team sports, practice includes learning to work together and play together in order to compliment each others strengths and compensate for each others weaknesses.


As an athlete you would never think of just showing up for a game. Athletes know you must prepare and practice in order play well.


I think this is true in the spi…

Looking Outward and Living It

Spiritual Practices go beyond the work of God in our own lives. Our faith requires us to follow and live our beliefs. We participate in God's work as we live in a way that is representative of God's heart and his desire for our world.

Think of it this way,expressive spiritual practices are activities or ways we express our faith, hope and love in our world.


Essence of the Practice

Here is a list of what might be included in the Expressive Spiritual Practices:



Compassion -- feeling what others feel, extending mercy and help in extravagantly practical ways.
Control of the Tongue -- turning the destructive way of words into authentic, loving, and healing words.
Humility -- becoming like Jesus in his willingness to choose the hidden way of love rather than the way of power.
Truth Telling -- living an authentically truthful life by speaking in a way that does not exaggerate, minimize, deny, rationalize or manage the truth.
Justice -- loving others by seeking their good, protection, gain…

Teachability

Consider carefully what you hear. Mark 4:24

I want to be a lifelong learner.

I want to be open to God's promptings and the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I want to listen, hear and respond. -- well,most of the time.

Let me explain.

Just yesterday one of my friends and team members in ministry left a message with regard to a meeting our team had early that day. I usually love hearing from this friend and co-laborer. The message began with words of encouragement and praise for our time together. The message continued with a word of caution and guidance. In a direct and loving way she told me to trust our team to complete the task at hand and that I needed to really listen to the team's comments and opinions.

I listened to the message rather quickly. To be totally honest -- I "skimmed" over her words hoping to capture the key points and move on. I was half listening. Oops! I was doing it again. Then when I paused and considered her words, I realized she was right.

My…

The Shack and Room of Marvels

I love to read. I enjoy hearing what others are thinking and processing.



I go through spurts of reading fiction and honestly I don't read very much christian fiction. BUT, a few years ago I read a book called Room of Marvels and just recently picked up a copy of the book, The Shack. Both books are fiction. Both books press in on really hard subjects of pain and loss. Both books profoundly impacted my view of God, our world, and eternity.



Any readers out there? Have you read either of these books? Would love to hear your thoughts?



Growing our Picture of God

Interesting how our childhood experiences have a significant impact on our view of God and our world. After thinking about the practice of gratitude, I realized how much my upbringing has framed my thoughts and behavior.

What kind of picture of God do you recall growing up with? How has this picture impacted your faith over the years? How has this picture changed?

Gratitude

Do you see a cup as half empty or half full? Does it depend on who is holding the cup?

Many research studies and articles have been written about temperament and personality traits. They show that people have different natural inclinations. Think about it right now. I bet you can make a list of people in your life who always seem to see the positive side of things. Conversely, I bet you can make a list of people who always seem to see the negative side of things.

I remember early on in life being taught to be content and thankful regardless of the circumstances of my life. My mom and dad were masters of encouraging (sometimes demanding, that's for another post) gratefulness. Their tactics included a threefold strategy in responding to my requests (literal translation... my demands and whining):

They'd begin by rattling off a few selected phrases from Philippians chapter 4 -- "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know…

Shaking the System

Here at Grace Community Church we just finished a four week series entitled Shaking the System. If you missed any of these -- you can listen online at www.gracecc.org/sermons.html

How did this weekend series stir you?

What questions or concerns did it raise in your heart and mind?

This past week Dave Rod gave us some ideas for personal engagement -- have you or are you planning to take any steps to personally get engaged in social justice issues?

Praying as We Breathe In & Out

By offering a simple prayer with every breath, we can be reminded "for in him we live and move and exist" (Acts 17:28).

Although rather simple, this practice requires a connection between the unconscious act of breathing and a conscious expression to God.

A Bit of History
The church has practiced breath prayer or "prayer of the heart" for millennia. The Eastern Orthodox Church, in particular, has seen breath prayer as a way of living out Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing."



        Examples

Jesus Prayer
Take a moment to become aware of your breathing. It might help to find a quiet place -- close your eyes and notice your breathing.

As you breath in -- bring your thoughts to Jesus.
As you breath out -- express a word of gratitude or need.

For example, breath in -- saying "Lord, Jesus Christ" -- breath out saying "have mercy on me."

Throughout your day -- as you notice your breathing -- take note and express your grat…

Atrophy

The older I get, the more I realize atrophy is innate and apparent in my life.
at·ro·phy /ˈætrəfi/ uh-troh-fee-uh
a wasting away of the body or of an organ or part, as from defective
nutrition or nerve damagedegeneration, decline, or decrease, as from disuseto affect with or undergo atrophy -- wither, deteriorate, or waste away www.dictionary.reference.com
Think about it this way-- the natural consequence of doing nothing is atrophy. What do I mean by this?

I like to think of myself as a runner. But I must admit my thoughts and actions don't always coincide. Most weeks I jog 3 or so times for a few miles. I am not consistent. I have not followed a routine or found a rhythm I can sustain. The result of this unintentional approach is heavy breathing, tired muscles, slower pace, and overall lack of desire. Here's what I experience: when I lack attentiveness, my body pays the price.

I think atrophy affects my spiritual being similarly to my physical condition. When I choose to not be…

Welcome Friends!

Using the word friend for an online conversation sounds a bit too familiar. I stand hesitant yet hopeful that just maybe we will mature to call each other friend as we grow together.

You see, I believe that growth is best done when traveling together. So I am inviting you to travel with me as we delve into spiritual practices and experiences in this space I am affectionately calling SoulCrossTraining

My goal is pretty simple. Together, lets create a sacred space enabling us to experience God as we weave spiritual practices into our daily lives. Who knows what can happen when we quiet our mind and listen with our souls?

Those of you who love an adventure and don't like to look too far down the path -- you might want to skip the next few bullet points and just jump in. For rest of you who need to know where we are headed, read on.

Between now and September 1, 2008 (that's just 3 months away) we have the opportunity to:
explore a variety of spiritual practicescome alongside each…