August 26, 2013

Walking with Awareness

Americans have been walking for exercise for decades. They walk to lose weight, to exercise their heart, to strengthen their bones and to improve their balance. Over 12,000 books are available on the subject of walking for exercise, and most of them suggest that the faster we walk the greater the benefit. 

Alexandra Horowitz’s new book, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, is not another treatise about how to walk for exercise. Instead, this is a book describing the benefits and of walking slowly with awareness.

Horowitz’s book is about human perception and small adventures that await us when we slow down and allow our senses to observe the beauty and simplicity of the world around us. “Our culture fosters inattention: we are creatures of that culture,” the author notes.
  • We see but we do not consciously observe. 
  • We hear but we do not consciously listen.
  • We touch but we do not consciously feel. 
I believe Jesus walked with awareness of the world around him, sensing the color, form and texture of simple things from everyday life like lilies, birds, weeds, wine, bread, fruit and water. These were all things that people knew well, and Jesus used them in parables to teach lessons about life and God. 

Alexandra Horowitz ends her book with this statement: “The unbelievable strata of trifling, tremendous things to observe are there for the looking. Look!”

August 19, 2013

The Gift of Peace

Our granddaughter, Jamie, recently texted to us a photo of a secret garden on Kanuga Lake, part of a 1400 acre retreat and conference center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The garden which is sculpted from the pine forest on the grounds, features a large cross, the revered symbol of Christianity.

The tranquil scene recalls to mind the gift of peace that Jesus bequethed to us in his last will and testament recorded in the Gospel of John:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The serenity of mind and soul the Prince of Peace willed to us is the peace the host of angels sang of when they joyfully announced to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

Unlike the peace the world offers which is superficial and will ultimately perish, the peace that Jesus accorded us is true, boundless and everlasting.

In the words “ peace I give to you,” Jesus promised that the tranquility of mind and soul and heart that we observe in him, can be ours if we simply believe in him and accept the gift he has freely given to us.

Without a doubt, the garden on Kanona Lake is a calm and tranquil scene that enriches our senses. Accepting Christ’s gift stimulates perfect peace within.   

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

August 12, 2013

The Devil's Workshop

Satan called a meeting of his fallen angels to ask for suggestions for demoralizing and discouraging people of faith.
“Tell them there is no God,” proposed the first fallen angel. 
“That will never work,” said Beelzebub.” All Christians know there is a God.”  
A second fallen angel suggested: “Tell those Christians that because they are evil, God will never accept them.” 
“No good,” said the Prince of Darkness impatiently. “They know they can go to God regardless of their sins. Jesus paid the price for their evil deeds.” 
A third fallen angel proposed, “Tell them there is a God, and they may approach the Father regardless of their sins, but also tell them they have plenty of time to go to him. There is no rush!” 
“Brilliant!” said Lucifer. “Now go forth and spread the word there is no hurry to follow Jesus' lessons and commands, especially that one about loving their neighbors.”
Clare De Graaf, author of The Ten-Second Rule, suggests when God prompts us to demonstrate our love for others, we have ten seconds to act before Satan and his fallen angels do their best to dissuade us by convincing us there is no need to hurry.

The next time God tugs at your heart, the clock will begin to tick. Then what will you decide?

August 5, 2013

Thus Saith the Lord

In July of 2013, members of the Bluff Point United Methodist Church visited the Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to witness the biblical epic, Noah. In this Old Testament story, God speaks at length to Noah, describing in great detail the ark he must build before a great flood destroys every living thing. 

Carolyn Ruth Chapman posted an article on the internet where she records the number of times God spoke in an audible voice to people in the Old Testament. According to Chapman, there are 898 occasions when God spoke aloud to prophets and others. 

The audible voice of God may not shepherd us as it once did, but Scriptures and the Holy Spirit guide us now, and most people of faith will get a spiritual nudge when they recognize opportunities for acts of love. 

In his book, The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests we have just 10 seconds to respond to a prompt from God. After that, we begin to think of all the reasons we are reluctant, or too busy to do a service for someone who may need or appreciate our help.

How will you respond the next time God tugs at your heart?