Foster indicates in Celebration of Discipline that the difference between Christian meditation and other eastern meditation techniques is that the emphasis of Christian meditation is filling oneself UP rather than emptying oneself. The fullness of the Holy Spirit and listening to the voice of God (and obedience to His voice) is the aim rather than ridding ourselves of everything and finding a place of "nothingness."
Richard Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline that the moment we put too much stock in our own abilities to counteract and control the plague of sin, is the very same moment that we begin worshiping our own efforts.
I love this rhetorical question he raises about Paul's letter to the Colossians (specifically 2:20-23): "Isn't it ironic that Paul looks at our most strenuous efforts in the spiritual walk and calls them idolatry, "will worship"?"
Daniel (of the bible) was captured by Babylon and through a series of interesting events was eventually is set in a place of authority over all the wise men of the nation.
Later, wise men from the east (presumably Babylon) saw signs that indicated the birth of a foretold king and traveled far to meet and pay homage to him.
The other night at Northland Church, Dr. Joel Hunter wondered aloud if there were any connection between the two- a strong Hebrew with a gift for prophecy who was charged with the smartest men of another nation may have influenced the others with his own stories, legends, and predictions. As the years went by, the source of these myths may have been forgotten, but the signs to look for were not.
This may not be true, but if it were- it would make me very happy. I love little connections like this.
As the national debt debate rages on with opinions on both sides as to how we should resolve matters, I’m wondering what ordinary citizens are doing about the debt crisis in their own homes? It’s easy to throw stones at politicians and posture what we'd be doing in their stead-- so let’s take a look at how we are actually handling our own borrowing, spending, and income!
Speaking with my friend Jonathan Sutherland about leadership and manhood made me recall a post I wrote a few years ago when I was on Livejournal. I've taken the liberty of revising it a bit, but here it is for your reading enjoyment:
You're probably familiar with the story of Joseph. In the Bible, he's one of the major players toward the end of Genesis and well-known for a few things: prophetic dreams and dream interpretation, a coat of many colors (Technicolor Dream Coat, anyone?), being sold into slavery by his brothers, and saving his family from starvation.
What you may not have noticed is that Joseph is also quite the crier. In fact, he's an emotional wreck throughout much of his story. Now, I'd probably understand it a little more if he was sobbing after his brothers threw him in a well or after Potiphar threw him in prison (for NOT sleeping with his wife). But the most significant amount of weeping in this story is actually during the parts where he is in a position of power and authority only second to the King. Within the span of ten chapters, Joseph goes into a crying fit more often than any other character in the Bible.
Here are some examples:
"He turned away from them and began to weep... "
"Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there."
"He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it."
"Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping."
"And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him."
"He threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time."
"Joseph threw himself upon his father and wept over him and kissed him."
"When their message came to him, Joseph wept."
But, it's not just him.
Many of men in the scriptures weep.
And this puts me in good company because there have been many times in my own life when I'm overcome with emotion and I want to weep, as well. So, whoever came up with the lie that "real men don't cry" was just plain wrong. Either that or they have a much different view of manliness than I do.
1. We're ruthless to people we don't like
I'm literally shocked at some of the comments I've heard from people on Facebook and Twitter. These are decent people who are speaking as if they work for the mob:"I hope she gets hit in the head by a brick." / "Don't worry, someone will right this wrong...” It's made me realize that we're just as close to murder as we think Casey is.
2. We're willing to break the law if we don't like the way the law works
Areas of the law that were meant to protect the innocent (proof beyond a reasonable doubt, for example) are easily traded in when we don't like the verdict. I've heard plenty of discussions this week about changing the requirements for the death penalty and convictions. I am glad that it takes a while to pass legislation, because I'd hate for a decision like that to be made in a moment of passion and regretted later.
3. We think we know more than anyone who doesn't agree with us
If you weren't actually on the jury, don't assume that you could have made a better decision than they did. We got to see the sound byte version of this trial with commentators and professional analysts giving us their assessments. The jury only had the evidence that was presented to them in court. If we had been sequestered as they were, we might be making the same decision they did.
4. Juries are very unpredictable
You just never know, do you? Sometimes juries make a decision that's expected and sometimes they don't. That's the beauty of humanity; you never can predict with certainty exactly how each decision will turn out.
5. CSI and Bones are not good examples of how the justice system works
There aren't really teams of people out there who can dig up a body that's been buried for months (or years) and be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly what happened, when it happened, and who did it- all in the span of 44 minutes (or 22 minutes for shorter shows). Real science isn't always exact and can be interpreted different ways.
The Casey Anthony trail that's going on here in Orlando got me thinking about my own internet search history.
Did you know that I spent the other night searching about honey, honey bees, beeswax, bumble bee queens, and sue bee honey? And it wasn't because I wanted to become a beekeeper. I just had some honey earlier in the evening and was suddenly interested in where it came from.
After exploring honey for a while, I wanted to learn more about honey bees which lead to an article on regular bees. This made me interested in queen bees and I thought- wow- I bet a bumblebee queen must be enormous! So, of course, I had to search for a *picture of a queen bumble bee.
*Don't do that without Google's safe search on, by the way.
Anyhow, all this made me think that there's gotta be someone really smart at Google or some research institute that is actually tracking search histories to see if there are common threads that most people explore whenever they get interested in a particular topic. This has a lot to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but I think there is a much more important philosophical/psychological element as well.
Tracking what we search for and the way we look for new information may open a lot of doors in our understanding of how the human mind works and why we think in certain ways. So, someone get on that so that I can understand my fascination with random trivia in Wikipedia and the like.
It's been about two years since I began work here at Liberty Mutual. The first day I came to work I noticed our company's creed on the wall:
"...we are engaged in a great mutual enterprise. It is great because it seeks to prevent crippling injuries and death by removing the causes of home, highway, and work accidents. It is great because it deals in the relief of pain and sorrow and fear and loss. It is great because it works to preserve and protect the things people earn and build and own and cherish. Its true greatness will be measured by our power to help people live safer, more secure lives."
Today, I read that creed again and I was reminded of why I like working here.
This is a HUGE company and it would be easy for an entity this size to become a corporate monster interested in profits at the expense of anyone it could sieze them from. But I've always felt, from the first day onward, that I work for a company that really does endeavor to help its clients and employees to live safer, more secure lives. That makes me feel good about working here and it makes me glad when I tell other people who I work for and what I do.
I made a challenge for myself to re-brand what I do for a living.
Some call me a trainer. I've also been known as facilitator, performance coach, mentor, learning guide, instructional designer, writer and all sorts of other titles that all fall within corporate learning and development. Well, I decided that I needed to create something new and different that really spoke to what I think about my own role and my abilities.
I came up with the title, Learning Architect.
I think this speaks to what I do. I create spaces where learning happens. I perform this role in the classroom, on the computer, in small and large groups. I do this at work and at church. I think it pretty much summarizes how I think of myself. So, that's how I'll secretly refer to myself- even when my job title says something different.
It's been too long since the President's State of the Union Address for this to be considered very relevant (it's certainly not timely), but I wanted to briefly admit that I actually agree with the President on some areas he feels the country needs to improve upon in order for us to remain competitive in the global community.
Innovation: I agree. I think we've always been a country that has enabled those who want to dream BIG do so. We've enjoyed a few hundred years of some of the most innovative ideas known to mankind and I think that our national, state, and local policies should be structured so that they encourage, rather than discourage, ideas and innovation.
Where we disagree is how to encourage and invigorate innovation. I don't think that nationally funded government research projects are the answer. President Obama seems to think that the private sector doesn't see R&D as important. I disagree. I think they'd spend a lot more time on R&D if we'd keep them out of the wings of Congress (aka, get rid of the Lobbyists) and force them to be productive and competitive again. Instead, they lay about in the halls of Congress steering policy instead of productivity.
I'm anti-business. NO! I'm very keen on the free market. I just don't think you can call it a free market if Big Business has the ability to hold our country hostage to the idea that they are "Too Big to Fail...". I disagree with big businesses being allowed to gain the ear of Congress and manipulate them into laws that make innovation and competitiveness more difficult for everyone (except big business). The repeal of a lot of regulation and restriction would encourage smaller businesses- local businesses- to become more innovative. The repeal of some regulations would actually devastate some of these "too big to fail" businesses and remove the stranglehold that they've created over our National Policy.
Education: I agree with the President here, as well. I think we've got a terrible situation on our hands in the United States. We need to improve our education system. This is one reason why my wife and I aren't interested in sending our children to public school.
But, I'm not certain the the Federal government needs to be in the education business. I think the businesses of America (and the world) should have more to say about what they need and how they think we can get it. I think we need to look into encouraging businesses to invest in the workforce (not taxed into it). When the baby-boomers are gone from the workforce in a few years, I think businesses across the country are going to be struggling to find the talent they need and very quickly there will be an incentive in creating a more talented pool to choose from.
Infrastructure: Oddly enough, most people think that Libertarians are anti-roads and law enforcement? I'm not. I agree that the infrasturcture of our country needs to be improved. Our airports are awful. Our roads stink. So do our rails.
But I also don't think that we need to push the country further into debt in order to fill in potholes. Again, I think there are more creative ways where businesses and other private investors help pick up the tab (of their own will) rather than creating national spending projects.
So, all in all- I actually enjoyed the vision that the President cast. I think these three areas of innovation, education, and infrastucture are very profitable and beneficial paths that we should pursue. I'm just not on board with the implemenation methods that he's suggesting to accomplish these tasks.