Friday, February 26, 2016

Asking Myself: What is the meaning of the Trinity?

This is the eighth installment of my series "Asking Myself," in which I weekly ponder one question posed in Teresa Blythe's rich book, 50 Ways to Pray. You can find the start of the series here and last week's post here.

Q: What is the meaning of the Trinity?

This is one of the questions that I prayed over last year, so I decided to cheat and look back at my journal entry at the time. My original response attempted to tackle some of the doctrine-- you know, God exists as three distinct but eternally coexisting and coinherent Persons. Three yet One.

But this time around I realized that the question isn't simply what is the Trinity, but what is the meaning of it? Why is God a Triune Being, and what are the implications for us?

So first, I want to paint my big picture, my "forest" vision of what the Trinity means, to me. God is three yet one, an intimate community. There's fellowship bound up in the very fibers of God. Could I say even friendship? Yes. I think I will. The Trinity means God is friendly. God is intimate. God loves conversation and cooperation and communion.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Asking Myself: What is revelation from God? When have I experienced it?

This is the seventh installment of my series "Asking Myself," in which I weekly ponder one question posed in Teresa Blythe's rich book, 50 Ways to Pray. You can find the start of the series here and last week's post here.

Q: What is Revelation from God? When have you experienced it?

So, friends, I wrote this post in a flurry of inspiration earlier in the week, and when I returned yesterday to polish and publish, it had vanished. :( This setback, combined with finally succumbing to my children's head colds, makes this blank page pretty darn aggravating.

But we'll press on, right? That's what we do. Even in the absence of a revelation, or at most, in the vague aura of revelation's distant memory.

For me, in my personal experience, what I take to be revelation has been in the little whispers. The stillness. The quiet. Dallas Willard's Hearing God gave me confirmation in this perspective. From this vantage point, my definition of revelation from God would be: A moment's pause at the glimpse of God. However when I first journaled about this question a year ago, I penned the definition: A Life-altering revealing and embracing of the Divine. After which, I quickly wrote, "I'm not sure. Maybe this definition is too dramatic. Is it still revelation if one doubts?"

Friday, February 12, 2016

Asking Myself: What do I care most about in life?

This is the sixth installment of my series "Asking Myself," in which I weekly ponder one question posed in Teresa Blythe's rich book, 50 Ways to Pray. You can find the start of the series here and last week's post here.

Q: What do you care most about in life?

Is it just me, or are these questions getting harder? I've tried to answer this in my head several ways... trying to sound a little more spiritual and a little less selfish. But when it comes down to it, I'm still pretty self-focused in my biggest care. I care most about coming into my personal, God-given talent or gifting or calling or destiny. Pick your Christianese flavor.

I can't get away from this particular longing because through becoming what God made me to be, I hope, I assume, God will be honored and glorified. And there's a pretty good chance, as He is my Abba, and those talents were part of the package deal as He knit me together in my mother's womb.

Secondly, by paying careful attention to my own work (Galations 6:4-5 MSG, Read it! It's lovely!) by pursuing a seemingly selfish aim, I hope the second half of the Greatest Commandment is also fulfilled to some extent. By being the very best Emily I can be, by ever stretching forward and pursuing God like Paul in Philippians, by moving in unison with Him in all the unique tasks He's prepared for a person like me, I believe I'll bless and love others with the blessings and love that can only come from God. So, not so selfish after all?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Marie Kondo's "Spark Joy" treats all items as worthy of gratitude and respect

Marie Kondo's new book, Spark Joy, is meant as a companion guide to her best-selling The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up with practical advice on folding clothing, filing papers, organizing hobby goods and storing kitchen gear. To this end, the book is full of hand drawn how-to illustrations. Kondo also infuses the book with philosophy and approaches these mess magnets while valuing aesthetics and emotion as well as utility.

Let me get all my reservations out of the way and end the post on the plentiful positive notes contained in Spark Joy.

I think the most striking thing to me throughout this book, besides the lovely title, is Kondo's religious or spiritual approach to non-living things. While the book is not overtly religious, an animist worldview saturates the popular Japanese tidying guru's KonMari way. Christians should be aware of this before investing themselves in the nitty gritty of Kondo's method.

For example, when discarding an item that is no longer needed or no longer "sparks joy" as it's held close to the heart, Kondo offers a moment of gratitude to the object itself and thanks it for its service. One anecdote recalls Kondo and her father bowing to a plush dog during their impromptu memorial service for the once adored but eventually allergenic stuffed animal. It sounds like the stuff of sitcoms, but Kondo relates this story sincerely.

As I get older, the lines between physical and spiritual have blurred and bled. But I draw a bright line at attributing a spirit to non-living things.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Asking Myself: What is Eternal Life?

This is week 5 of my year-long endeavor to pray through some ultimate questions, to discover my actual theology and understanding of God, myself and everything. My weekly questions are taken from the prayer exercise on page 65 of Teresa Blythe's insightful and encouraging book, 50 Ways to Pray. If you're looking to breathe new life into your prayer life, I highly recommend this one! If you've missed last week's musings, you can find it here, or start from the beginning here.

Q: What is Eternal Life?

Depending on how you look at it, this is either a heaven question or a nature of God question. I was raised in a church that emphasized the latter aspect of eternal life. In other words, I was taught "eternal" referred to the quality or kind of life promised to Jesus' followers. My church de-emphasized the forever-and-ever heaven aspect of "eternal," though not denying that eternal life was indeed everlasting. 

This interpretation that eternal life is simply God's divine life— a dynamo of abundance, a resurrecting grave stomp, an ever creating, unstoppable, unflappable, unquenchable, never-thirst again, shining-like-the-sun kind of ζωή -life— suits me just fine. 

The way I see it, eternal life has to be more than an everlasting continuation of life as I know it. I prefer not to dwell too long on the everlasting aspect of eternal because, honestly, one of the things that really freaks me out is thinking about forever. I get that feeling like I'm standing between two opposing mirrors and peering into the greenish depths of a tunnel imprisoning tinier and tinier versions of myself. I know. I'm a little crazy.