Congratulations Class of 2009!

This past week was graduation for what we have considered our core class during our first four years at our church. They are the group that rallied around us when we came and helped us get the foundation laid for a healthy youth ministry. It was a weekend of mixed emotions for Ady and me. We were proud of the students and their accomplishment, excited for them as they venture out on their own, sad to have our connection times lessened, and amazed at how fast the years have flown by. Grace and peace be with them!

Missing Running!

It’s been 7 weeks since I tore the syndesmosis ligament in my right ankle. That very morning I ran 8 miles and was feeling great. Tonight I sit here having had no physical exercise since that day, and it’s really bugging me. I have put on ten pounds and it really sucks! I know I can get the weight off quickly when I can get working out again, but I feel really grossed out. Pray that I’ll be able to discipline my eating habits to work within the framework I am having to live with this injury, and that this thing will heal quickly. I have noticed quite clearly the vital importance of physical exercise and its affect on life as a whole – mentally, emotionally, and spirituality.

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

About an hour ago I began reading Henri Nouwen’s little book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. I just finished it. Nouwen uses the temptation of Christ in the desert to address the temptations of leadership (relevance, popularity, and power), shares reflections on the story of Peter’s call to be a shepherd, and discusses the disciplines necessary for Christ-centered, servant leadership. It was absolutely fantastic! I highly recommend it! He has quickly become one of my favorite authors!

Contemplative Prayer

I just finished reading Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton. It was an excellent little book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The intended audience is the monk, so one who is not a monk must make the necessary interpretations and adjustments to apply to their context. Here are just a few quotes to chew on:

“The practice of keeping the name of Jesus ever present in the ground of one’s being [is] … the secret of the ‘control of thoughts,’ and of victory over temptation.”
“Monastic prayer, meditative prayer and contemplative prayer, is not so much a way to find God as a way of resting in Him whom we have found.”
“The climate of this prayer is … one of awareness, gratitude and a totally obedient love which seeks nothing but to please God.”
“I cannot discover my ‘meaning’ if I try to evade the dread which comes from first experiencing my meaninglessness!”
“Serious and humble prayer, united with mature love, will unconsciously and spontaneously manifest itself in a habitual spirit of sacrifice and concern for others that is unfailingly generous, though perhaps we may not be aware of the fact.”
“As soon as we try to verify the spiritual presence as an object of exact knowledge, God eludes us.”
“Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy. And yet in a certain sense, we must truly begin to hear God when we have ceased to listen. … paradox.”
“”We should let ourselves be brought naked and defenseless into the center of that dread where we stand alone before God in our nothingness without explanation, without theories, completely dependent upon his providential care, in dire need of the gift of his grace, his mercy, and the light of faith …”
“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace. It can come to us only as a gift, and not as a result of our own clever use of spiritual techniques.”
“The purpose of the dark night, as St. John of the Cross shows, is not simply to punish and afflict the heart of man, but to liberate, to purify and to enlighten in perfect love.”
“Prayer does not blind us to the world, but it transforms our vision of the world, and makes us see it, all men, and all the history of mankind, in the light of God.”
“Religion always tends to lose its inner consistency and its supernatural truth when it lacks the fervor of contemplation.”