Tag Archives: being vs. doing

Do: Shine!

“. . . in which you shine . . . like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15).

“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

star nightMy new Flourishing Faith Bible study Shine Your Light explores service, compassion, justice, action . . . the doing side of our faith. Take time to journey through this excerpt as we wrap up our discussion on doing.

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 “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18b). Faith—believing in the good news—is intricately interconnected with action. Just as faith demonstrates itself in works, works proclaim our faith to the world. Our actions, demeanor, words, character, and way of life declare a message!

. . .  One powerful theme interwoven throughout the book of James is that what we believe ought to show itself in what we do and how we act:

• We’re to truly listen to God’s Word and respond by doing what it says (1:22-25)

• As believers in our compassionate, just, and merciful God, we’re to live the good news by caring for the poor, vulnerable, and overlooked (1:27; 2:1-13).

• Living the gospel means loving our neighbors as ourselves—and that includes seemingly “unimportant” people (2:1-13).

• Belief in the gospel demonstrates itself in our actions (2:14-26).

• Our actions and demeanor reveal that we are aligned with a new way of thinking as we live by values “from above” (3:13, 17-18).

• When God leads us to do good, it’s imperative that we respond (4:17).

• Materialism and injustice toward the poor are absolutely contrary to the gospel (5:1-6).

• Intimacy with God through prayer empowers a gospel-transformed life (5:13-20).

. . . What can you do today to proclaim the gospel through action? Continue reading

Loaded with Love

What a fabulous weekend I had serving as the speaker at Faith Church‘s women’s retreat this weekend!

This month, November, we’re diving into the idea of “doing” after a month-long reflection in October on “being.” However, since I’ve been away over the weekend (and, prior to that, was busy preparing for the retreat), we’ll start our discussion of doing with revisiting a blog post I wrote a few years ago: a short & sweet reflection on the wisdom Mother Teresa can bring to our “doing.”

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I deeply admire Mother Teresa.  I have a book that compiles many of her powerful, written words (called A Simple Path) and in getting to know her through these words, I cannot help but be convicted and inspired by her devoted obedience to Christ — whom she deeply loved and proclaimed to be Lord (Romans 10:9) — and by her compelling life of service to the poor, sick, and lowly.

blog.love heartIn  A Simple Path, Mother Teresa’s words speak this truth into my life: “[T]his is God’s wish for us — to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.”

The second part of this statement is so crucial. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. What issues can we address? Who can we serve and how, when so many need so much? But the Holy Spirit will guide us. If we are attentive to the Spirit, our task is to obey when he leads us. We are called to no more than that . . . and certainly to no less.

I also find inspiration in the words that the Missionaries of Charity have on a poster in the headquarters: “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing.”

Teach us to load our service with love, Lord. To put deep, overflowing love into the task of service your Spirit has before us — whatever it may be.

Soul Pilgrimage: Meet Phileena Heuertz

As we wrap up this month’s focus on “being” and transition to a focus on “doing” for next month, I’m excited to invite you to take part in a conversation with author and ministry leader Phileena Heuertz. Through her own faith journey, Phileena’s been carving out a compelling marriage between being & doing — between the contemplative & active parts of Christian spirituality.

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phileena2Phileena, welcome! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.  

It’s a pleasure to be a part of your blog today. I’ve spent my life in social justice work among the world’s poor. I’m a member of the New Friar movement, and for nearly 20 years my husband Chris and I co-directed Word Made Flesh (WMF). During that time we served in more than 70 countries building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children and child soldiers and war brides.

Chris and I founded Gravity in 2012. Gravity is for people who care about their spirituality and want to make the world a better place. My primary work is public speaking, teaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, facilitation of contemplative retreats, and spiritual direction.

I’m a member of the Red Letter Christians, featured on The Work of the People and Q Ideas and known for my theological narrative, Pilgrimage of a Soul (IVP 2010).

Pilgrimage of a Soul - phileenaYour book Pilgrimage of a Soul describes a bit of your own journey from working as a missionary among the world’s poor to a much-needed sabbatical that eventually revolutionized your faith. Can you tell my readers a bit of your story? 

Sure. I had spent many years serving among people in poverty—children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in India; women and girls enslaved in the commercial sex industry all over Southeast Asia and South America; children living on the streets in urban centers across the globe. And I thought I’d seen it all—the worse of poverty and injustice. But then my work took me to Freetown, Sierra Leone at the peak of the war over blood diamonds.

The human brutality I witnessed in Freetown was like nothing I’d ever seen. Young girls forced to watch the horrific amputation and murder of their parents, taken as “war brides” and subjected to every form of abuse—often gang-raped.

Boys as young as 5 and 6, forced to amputate the arm of their parents or be brutalized themselves, conscripted into the military or rebel army, given drugs and involuntarily compelled to carry weapons that were at times too heavy for them and forced to commit unspeakable crimes of massacre, murder and rape.

I returned from Freetown empty of answers for the world’s problems and questioning God’s goodness. This crisis of faith plunged me into a classic wrestling with God scenario in which I became very aware of my limitations and deep need for God. Continue reading

Cease . . . Embrace

2 long days in the car with 2 adults and 3 kids. A few traffic jams. 78 Waffle House restaurants passed. And then we arrived here. P1040015

And it was all worth it.

A much (much, much, much, much) needed break. Family time. Laughter. Adventures. Discoveries. And, aaaaaaaaaah!, basking in tremendous beauties  — both big and soaring and those hidden, miniscule, beneath my feet. The beauties of breeze and bird and sea and sky. (Oh, and alligators, too. And did I mention manatees?)

It was a Sabbath of Sabbaths for me. No, not a Sunday nor a day of rule-keeping. But a family vacation. As the Brits call it, a holiday.

These were, indeed, holy-days for us. Days of rest, of play, and of being. And they remind me anew of the Sabbath-moments we all need, outside of scheduled retreats from reality and woven within the sometimes frayed fabric of everyday normality.

In The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan urges us to live within a Sabbath-attitude: “[D]o you play enough?” Continue reading

Spiritual Cartography

From space, this planet has no lines dividing up continents, marking out where one country stops and another begins. But a good atlas shows you these boundaries. Once etched on a page by cartographers, now marked out via Computer-Aided Drafting, these boundaries identify the limits: the edge of a county, the end of a time zone, the limit of one government’s claim and the spot where another begins.

boundaryAre there lines etched out on your life? Lines that denote your limits? Boundaries that signify where your commitments, your energy, your involvement stops?

Putting limits in place – identifying boundaries – is critical to forging a life with time and energy and space for “being” with God. As a do-er who has a difficult time saying no and seems to perpetually feel tempted to take on new challenges and start new projects, I’ve learned this the hard way. In fact, I perpetually keep learning the hard way that it’s critical to draw lines that say “no.” Continue reading

Cultivating Vitality

Last week I posted about the drought here in central Indiana and the spiritual dryness we can easily fall into in the Christian life. There can be many causes of spiritual drought, but the main ones are probably spiritual neglect and difficult life circumstances. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control — stuff in life that makes our schedule crazy, happenings that break our heart. Sometimes, no matter what we do, God seems distant.

But often times, we can change the conditions that are causing spiritual drought in our lives. Often the spiritual neglect or the vitality-sapping conditions in our life are under our control — and can be quickly changed by some simple choices, habits, and mindset shifts. We can flourish.

Consider these ideas . . .

Stay rooted: Connect with God through his Word. Dig in deep. Perhaps this may mean re-cultivating a long lost habit of daily Bible study. Or maybe it means changing things up and approaching God’s Word through a different angle such as Scripture meditation; memorizing a simple passage; singing, praying, or speaking Scripture back to God; reading Scripture’s narratives imaginatively, picturing the events and the thoughts and feelings of the people involved. Long periods of immersion in the Bible are wonderful, but I also contend that even just 5 or 10 minutes spent daily rooting yourself in God’s Word WILL make a difference in your mindset and your soul’s vitality.

Refresh: The main reason my lawn is dead-looking isn’t the oppressive heat — it’s the lack of rain. It needs a cool soaking of refreshing water. And it needs it again and again and again. And so do you and I. We need to be refreshed! Continue reading

Savoring Stillness

Children can learn the value of silence and solitude at a young age; rather than associating “alone” with “lonely” or assuming that “quiet” equals “bored,” we can help them cultivate an appreciation for the joy that quietness or time alone can bring. Consider these simple, kid-friendly ideas:

* Teach your kids to “sigh.” Not the roll-your-eyes-at-Mom kind of sigh, but the “Ah . . . life is good!” kind of sigh. As you enjoy a nice desert together, kick back and “sigh” together, savoring the flavors. Or after reading a good story, lay down your heads on the bed and literally sigh, enjoying the emotions of the “happily ever after” moment. Be intentional about these times of sighing. They’re short, sweet, and all about having a quiet moment of reflection and satisfaction. Continue reading

Space for “Serenity”

I’ve been reflecting lately on the spiritual power of “doing nothing.” The importance of moments of quiet reflection — even those that don’t seem overtly spiritual at all. For example, this morning I had an unexpected moment of time alone…my kids miraculously “slept in” and I was sitting with a mug of hot tea at the kitchen table at 7 AM, stunned that I hadn’t been put to work yet with breakfast, etc. I had gotten up early to work (I usually write and edit from 5 to 7 b/c I’m a morning person), but my computer wasn’t working right and I also didn’t feel like working any more. So I just sat there with my tea and started to reflect on how tired and worn out I’ve let myself become over the past few weeks.

I’ve got a repetitive problem with over-committing myself. For me it’s work commitments. For other moms I know, it’s too many volunteer or ministry commitments. Whatever it is, it seems that despite my love for all-things-Richard-Foster/contemplative spiritually stuff, I still get myself crammed into a pattern of living without any margin. There’s no wiggle room. And there’s definitely not time to just “be.”

And I feel like it’s a sin. Not in the work-myself-up-until-I-feel-guilty sense — but more that I’ve realized this is something I’ve done repeatedly. It’s something God has spoken to me about before, many times, but yet I keep getting myself into these situations without taking responsibility for my part in choosing to live this way. I’ve bought into our hidden cultural mantras about busyness making us feel important and have let my life get way too overcrowded.

Part of this is the reality of life as a mom. Whether you work outside the home, work from home, or your work is caring for your family/home, you know how it can be — a day can easily become filled with chaos before you’ve even eaten breakfast.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the choices we make that contribute to this. The choice to say “yes” to something when we should say NO. Ultimately, the choice to put “doing” ahead of “being.”

Let me rewrite a famous prayer. God grant me some serenity — any serenity — even if its just a pinch! And while you do that, I won’t just wait for a miracle. I recognize that I need to do my part too. I’ll pare away some of the needless layers that are suffocating the many opportunities for serenity that you provide. Amen and amen.