Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lent

So, there's big discussion amongst mis comrades (made up spanish word)(that's pretty much my m.o. in spanish) about what they are giving up for Lent. One friend is giving up cheese, which is a major sacrifice for her, and another is giving up bread, which I think is a big deal for her, too. So we (no-cheese-for-40-days-girl) were talking today and she really got me thinking...she does that on a fairly regular basis, and I am eternally grateful to her for this (my hope is that we all have friends in our lives whom are radically different from us in our views, but whom we love and deeply respect-- it's especially good if we have a common love for Jesus, like my friend and I have)(but I digress). At any rate. She and our other friend both come from faith backgrounds that practice Lent-- I grew up in a denomination where we really didn't even talk about Lent, so it's never been part of my faith tradition. But this season means something to my friend-- enough for her to have given up meat last year for Lent, and this year, choosing to give up something she says she eats "at least a pound and a half of a week."

So it occurred to me: why is it not occurring to me to lay something down in honor of Christ's suffering in the desert and on the cross? It has been on my mind all day, and I have to say that it's hard. I've fasted before-- total fasting, water only-- but to lay down something for 40 days...

It's a personal thing-- my friend was just telling me her story, what she's choosing to do, but I felt something stir in my spirit, so I will be participating in Lent for the first time ever. I think of Paul, who said, "I want to KNOW CHRIST and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil. 3:10). Whatever we can do to draw closer to Him, and to keep the profound mystery of His beauty and His most precious sacrifice at the front of our minds-- these are the things we should attain to, in whatever form they find themselves in our lives.

I'm posting a couple of interesting links, in case you're interested.Much love to you all--Samantha

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/lent.shtml

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09152a.htm

Sunday, February 19, 2006

thoughts from this morning

Hey all--

Awesome Sunday school class today. You have to love a class where people say things like, " I have literally never thought of this before," and then they proceed to blow everyone's mind with some cool new revelation. This, my friends, is one of my favorite things about this sunday school class: a willingness and desire for discourse. This class, this group of people, is, for me, as intellectually challenging and engaging as it is spiritually, and can rival any of the best groups of conversationalists I have found at school. It is 100% dependent on the Lord, and requires the participation of the group members, too-- and here's the thing: He would do it EVERYWHERE, like Amy K. was saying this morning. He desires to show up and blow our minds and change and reform our belief systems and understandings, but we MUST be engaged. I believe that the maker of the universe is always near, always wanting to reveal Himself to THOSE WHO WOULD SEEK HIM.

That's why (one of the reasons) I like our name. I mean, we were being funny when we (was it Kevin?) came up with it, and we recognized that there were multiple meanings there, but that deeper thing: a group of men and women who desire to be totally available to the Lord so He can radically change us and bless the lives of the people around us with His love. That we would all be like Joshua, who wasn't happy to go home after going into the Tent of Meeting, but had to hang out in the presence of the Lord, had to sleep there, had to make the Most High his very dwelling place, being available to His greatness and whatever crazy new thing He would call him to do.

Study PEACE this week (from Eph 1:2) and what the word peace actually means (look it up in the Greek if you get a minute) (it's Strongs #1515). What does it mean in John 14 when Jesus said that He came to bring peace (1515) to the world? If He's not a liar, then He did it, so what does it look like? How should it be manifested in your life and mine? And what would happen if we began to walk, truly walk, in the Peace (the "erine," spelled phonetically here) of the Lord?

I love you guys--
Bless you--
Sam

Thursday, February 16, 2006

O Chai Tea

thought this article was interesting...

Leading the 'Metrospiritual' Life
By Denise MannWebMD Feature
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Are you a Whole Foods groupie?
A Jamba Juice junkie?
Are you hooked on Starbucks' chai tea or the green tea frappachino?
Is your next vacation to the tony Ashram in the Santa Monica Mountains?
Does your dog practice doga (a.k.a. dog yoga)?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be a metrospiritual. But don't panic, it's not necessarily a bad thing. And you'll have company with other Americans who are embracing spirituality and seeking inner peace and harmony through yoga, organic foods, supplements, and other products and services rooted in ancient traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism -- and any other "ism" that stems from the Far East.

In a nutshell, metrospirituality is about being hip and holistic. It's about seeking inner peace and looking great while you do it. From Jamba Juice, Starbucks and Whole Fields to Origins and Aveda, this nouveau form of spirituality comes in easily digestible and buyable forms.

But buyer beware, says Robert Schneider, MD, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Vedic City, Iowa. Vedic City is an entire city built on principles of the ancient Vedic religion.

"Metrospirituality is all that glitters, but it doesn't glow," he says. "The media and advertising world are jumping into the spiritual world because they see the possibility of profit, but I would advise the consumer to discern all that glitters isn't going to give them the inner glow they seek," says Schneider.

Straying From Tradition?
Many of these new approaches to yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, and other spiritual practices are a long way from the ancient, authentic versions. "That's bad because people are messing around with something that has been time tested and that interferes with effectiveness," he tells WebMD. "People who mess with herbs and take out certain ingredients and put in others mess with ancient recipes and package them in a way that is more nouveau, and that is suspect."

For example, "we don't know what everyone is offering under the name yoga," he says. "They could be ripping off the name, so make sure to look into the lineage of the teacher," he advises.

That's not to say the trend doesn't have some positive aspects, he says. "Organic whole foods are great, and I am glad to see that they are more popular," he tells WebMD."

It's like the dot-com boom," he says. In the 1990s, "everything with dot-com was glittering and now that has filtered out to those with real quality, and I think the spirituality business may be going though the same cycle now," he says.

Spirituality is not for sale and people who think it is are a long way from achieving inner bliss, says Mitchell Gaynor, MD, an oncologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City."

Spirituality is all about giving," says Gaynor, the author of Nurture Nature, Nurture Health: Your Health and the Environment."The spirituality that is rooted in giving will bring peace and joy, but everything else will bring transient happiness," he says. " Happiness is getting something you want like a vacation, but it's very, very temporary; joy is about giving from your heart," he says.

Seeking Lasting Joy
For Gaynor, spirituality came when he saw a young girl from India receive surgery for a deformed ear lobe. "In India, an ear deformity means girls can't get married," he says."

For me when I see someone like this young girl given a chance, I feel joy."

Spending money on herbal concoctions and yoga classes is OK "if you are realistic and realize that anything that you are getting won't bring lasting joy or peace," he says. "The only thing that will do that is to learn what a precious gift this life is."

"All the aromatherapy, yoga classes, and massage are a transient escape from feeling of burden," Gaynor says.

The Giving Tree
"A tree gives fruit to thousands of people, birds, and animals, while an earthworm aerates the soil and supports all the crops grown in the world," he explains. "Insects are involved with the cross- pollination responsible for plants, and birds move fish eggs affecting thousands or millions. But humans have the greatest potential and are only concerned with their spouse and children," he says.

"Our attitude is typically to hold on to everything because our kids may not have enough or to save for retirement," he says. "We never feel we have enough so we don't give back and are constantly tense and worried," he says.

But "when you are able to surrender and have a real sense of trust and in the fact that things will always be provided be to, you will be more in a giving, sharing, and compassionate state of mind," he says.

Spirituality for Sale
"Most people would pay a lot of money for inner peace," says Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, natural medicine specialist in Vedic City, Iowa. "Products and services that promise spirituality are just taking advantage of the desire Americans seem to have for developing their spirituality."

That said, "there is an authentic and a good movement to find inner peace and re-evaluate the meaning of life and prioritize," she says.

In general, "more balance is coming into lives, and we are craving it because we have gotten exhausted and stressed out and are eating bad foods because [they are] convenient, so in a sense [metrospirituality] is what our society needs."

"I like to see chai tea on menus if not for peace of mind or enlightenment then just to confirm that spirituality is becoming more accepted and valued in today's society," she tells WebMD.

Published Jan. 23, 2006.
SOURCES: Robert Schneider, MD, director, Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, Maharishi University of Management, Vedic City, Iowa. Mitchell Gaynor, MD, oncologist; clinical assistant professor of medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City. Nancy Lonsdorf, MD, natural medicine specialist, Vedic City, Iowa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What the bleep...?

Hey all!

Well, what a cool night we had last night-- Amy made phenomenal brunswick stew and we all discovered that the Kirbow's living room is PERFECT for a movie/conversation night. Plus, there was banana pudding.

So, I've been thinking about the movie and the things we talked about afterward, and I think it got us to talking about some interesting, important things. I am very interested in the scientific discussion of quantum physics (Stephen Hawking and CS Lewis address, with different vocabulary and world views, the possibilities and ramifications of other dimensions, just to name two of many), and I think that to me, this was where some of the most valuable topics seemed to attach themselves. What about the possible (probable, I say) existence of other dimensions which do not register to the naked eye, all around us? What about the possibility of many things happening in many dimensions around us at the same time???

This is a conversation we could have kept up last night, but it was late (way after midnight) when people had to drive back to Decatur and babies had to go to bed and we were sleepy but all still wanting to talk, so I'm proposing a Part Deux-- what do you think it should look like?

I wanted to add that I did a little research on the movie today and most of the contributors (chiropractors and all) were members of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment with JZ Knight. Finding that info shed some light on why I was feeling there was something manipulative going on, but i couldn't put my finger on it (the fact that they are all members of the same "faith"). Basically, I'm with Ashley on some major points, and one of them is this: I'll take the science if you'll make it smart and worth researching, and let's pull that apart for further study. But as for the stuff that began to feel religious...hm. So, some questions I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on, and maybe we can kick around over coffee: Do you feel like there was any sort of New Age proselytizing for this Ramtha "prophet" (the source of the "observer" idea)? Or do you think it matters? If not, why not-- if so, why? What makes it relevant to us as believers? Is it relevant? Or, if it's not relevant, is it still important? Do you think this is a reflection of the current religious/spiritual world-view (western)? Will knowledge of this world view help to inform our discussions with those who are seeking answers to live and living and all that? Do you think this is current with seekers today?

I'll post a couple of the sites for you guys to check out, one of which is the official movie website. I look forward to hearing back.

http://skepdic.com/channel.html
http://www.whatthebleep.com/

love love love!
Sam

Saturday, February 4, 2006

should be studying...

I'm reading Bronte's Villette and getting ready to study for the Praxis I (taking it Monday...pray for me!!), so of course I need to think of a thousand other things to do :). Don's not here to keep me in line (soccer stuff at Lovett), so here I am, thinking about Bishop Earl Paulk and how crummy the whole thing is.

I'm sure you guys have heard about it: mega church in Dekalb (off Wesley Chapel), been around a long time-- those of us in our 30's might remember the Alpha stickers that high schoolers plastered everywhere...for me, as a little kid, I was so fortunate to have, as the people I wanted to be like, kids who were in high school and totally sold out to the Lord. MAN, I wanted to be like Candace, who was a homecoming queen at Heritage and played softball and had a cool room in the basement of her house, and she drove me to covenant community meetings (our cell groups) and took me to lock-ins and really showed me that THAT was the kind of high schooler I wanted to be. Their big plans were getting as many people crammed into cars on the weekend to go to Alpha, where the music was great, the leader was charismatic, there were skits and tons of other teenagers.... I only went a few times without my folks, who were young believers, too-- I was in elementary school-- but the impression it made on me...cool people were Christians. It was cool to be crazy about Jesus. Today, the opposite seems to battle for the affections of our youth-- you guys have been up against it, the kids in the youth group, the colleges we go to...

But last night, I looked around at the first of what could be some really fun times to make a habit out of. House church. My heart keeps coming back to it-- don't get me wrong: I love our church. It's important that these relationships are strong and the accountability and agelessness of regular churches stay fresh (or get fresh, depending on where you're "at"), but house church...little kids singing, modeling worship-- Cameron feeling the freedom to dance with her little horse in the middle of the room while Matt and Justin taught us some really great songs...Then Keith Keller breaking out the FLUGLE (WHY did I not get a picture of that????)....community. That's what my young heart loved about going to Chapel Hill. Our family found it other places later, and God is good, but my heart is heavy today over the fact that sin such as that could run so rampant, so freely, among leaders who professed to understand the fear of the Lord.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's basically this: the main pastor and his brother (and likely other members of the staff) had ongoing sexual relationships with other younger members in leadership (notably, the girls were often in performance ministry, or some other subservient position administratively...hm...we could break that down, couldn't we?) and manipulated them by telling them that they were serving the Lord. I don't feel like going much further into it-- you can look it up in AJC from this past week if you want, but know that it's not as simplistic as I just made it sound. Because that part's not my point.

If we as believers are not actively pursuing Christ for ourselves and critically analyzing the scriptures and seeking Him for Himself, we cannot hold each other accountable to the extent that we must. Back in the Dark Ages, people were manipulated by church leaders because they could not read the text for themselves--- if the vicar says it's this way, then it must be. Such power. Today, we have the ability, the right and the responsibility to read it for ourselves. You cannot support sex outside of marriage, you cannot support adultery, you cannot support any kind of manipulation with scripture. But combine a charismatic, attractive leader who is not in right relationship with the Lord (and how can you know for sure without discernment?) with a believer with little knowledge of the word looking for a mentor and you have a recipe for trouble. Any day of the week.

So we will study TO SHOW OURSELVES APPROVED. These kinds of things are contributing not only to the excuses of nonbelievers to steer clear of the church, but chasing current believers away. That is not the tragedy-- the tragedy is the fact that there are millions who do not know that Jesus is GOOD and pure and holy and that these things have no place in Him.

Our faith will be shaken by personal difficulties (a sickness, a particularly ugly break-up, problems within significant relationships, a leader who sins, etc.), but we will not be overcome if we are grounded in His very word. Because it should be IN HIM that we live and move and have our being. He will never fail or be exposed as a con. Even if every man on earth should be false, He will always be proven true. So bring your swords tomorrow, prepared to dive head first into Ephesians. I've been studying and am excited!!

PS--- chili cook off (Don is a major contender, but the Elliotts are strong competetors) and wings cook off tomorrow afternoon. Joey and the boys have dragged the couches down to the fellowship hall for the last couple of years, so that might be happening again. It's going to be FUN!!! Hope to see you guys there--Love,Sam