The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. The very words I speak to you are spirit and they are life.
Oftentimes I fall over my words as I feel like a child learning to talk again.
We struggle in our faltering attempts to say what cannot be said. Our words fail us in the presence of God, as we fall to our knees in worship.
Three Floors of Consciousness
Picture if you would, your brain like a house with three stories.
On which level would you live?
We move from our first-floor survival brain into the intuitive logic and language of our second-floor brain. But as we move into our third-floor brain, our words fail us. It might feel as though the floor might evaporate into the vastness of eternity. Presence, Being, light and life flowing, dwelling center to center, wholeness, love, joy, and peace are the language of our spirit.
For Jesus says: “the words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” ~ Selah
What floor are you living on? What floor are you thinking from?
- Post note: In this image of the brain as a three-story house, we include the floors below us, but we cannot see the floors above us.
- That means we can’t see the second or third-floor from the first-floor, but from the third-floor, we are aware of the first and second-floor.
- This is also why if you are living on the second-floor talking to someone living on the first-floor, they honestly cannot understand you.
- People have to be drawn up to the third floor. We call and draw people up into a deeper life in Jesus.
- “Higher up and further in” as C.S. Lewis might say.
- My job is to tease the weeds out of the root bind with plants. And that’s what I’m trying to do here. Weeds will choke out good plants. God wants you to move up into the third-floor whole brain awareness. I submit to you that this is the mind of Christ.
If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above…
As we prepare for Good Friday and Easter, I see a whole lot of people trying to whip themselves into shape, trying to make themselves good enough for Easter.
We live an ‘in Christ’ life
Lent is a time to recover those things we have lost that should not have been forgotten.
The point of our spiritual practice is not to practice perfectly. Leave the perfection up to God. We could never do it, earn it, or become it. We can only receive it in Christ.
The point of all our spiritual practices are to open us up to God, to receive God’s perfection in Christ.
We enter into the rest of Christ’s finished work, and receive the perfection, the holiness, and the wholeness of God. In fact, we enter into our rest in Christ’s finished work and live out of that rest in Christ.
We work out what God has worked within us.
This is why the Scriptures tell us to Be Holy, not to do or achieve holiness. Holiness is a state of being, of co dwelling in Christ. Being always proceeds doing. And doing naturally flows out of being.
Light-Grown In The Garden of Our Hearts
Holiness or wholeness is like the light of God’s face we receive and reflect. We work that light out into our lives. It integrates at even a subatomic level into us.
Better yet, it is grown in the garden of God in our hearts producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
No Mere Imitation
This is no mere imitation, we radiate, as we begin to express these qualities of the character of God in our lives. Yet it is grown, as we abide in the vine, not a gift. Character is proven and grown into us, from the inside out. We receive the wholeness of God in rest, and work it out in grace.
Our spiritual and devotional practices provide us the forms and structures to begin working God’s life out into our lives.
~ Now, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you, and abide in you, forevermore. Amen.
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Putting Our Mind Into Our Heart
All good spiritual disciplines show us how to move from our heads into our hearts. Probably a better way to put it is that we put our mind into our heart. We move from our default analytical mind, which is soul-centered, into our intuitive heart. The early monks called this putting our head into our heart.
Science shows us that when we do this, the rhythm of our brain actually begins to sync with the beat of our heart.*
There is a Franciscan prayer practice where the head is lowered below our heart to remind us that it is with our heart first, and not our head, that we seek God. In fact, you might know that the Muslim’s way of praying, bowing to the earth, was adopted from the early Christians they came in contact with.
Our mind in our heart is the inward focus of our heart where through our spirit (in Christ), we enter into God’s presence. As we’ve said before, our heart is the fulcrum point of our lives. Everything resolves in our heart. As Proverbs tells us: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he...”
So it is with the eyes of our heart that we gaze upon God and enter in. We reflect, like Moses, the glory of God. We become what we worship.
You are the light of the world.
** Great Resource: The Heart Centering Prayer ~ Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice by Cynthia Bourgeault
Since we are each doing so many different types of prayer, disciplines, and fastings, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of the overlying principles of every spiritual practice, as we move in our lenten journey to the Cross and to Easter.
Transformation is an event and a process we magnify in our pilgrimage, like the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Something has to die that we might get wings. 😉
I hope you had a great Ash Wednesday.
How did your first days go? What worked and what didn’t? Be gentle with yourself, God is, “for I am gentle and humble in heart.” So learn, adjust, and reset every day. Every morning is a new day.
Lent is more like a spiritual marathon than a sprint. And we’re using disciplines like tools doing eternal work in our lives.
The Purpose of Our Spiritual Disciplines are to open us up to God.
Spiritual disciplines are ways we die to our old self, so that we might live to our new self in Christ. Again, spiritual disciplines are tools we use to open up to God.
In spiritual practice, we learn to practice our spirit and our heart is the fulcrum point of our practices, less they become a head game. Everything resolves in the heart. For good or ill, everything resolves in our heart. The heart is the rudder of our ship.
So let me leave you with a Proverb to meditate and chew on today.
Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flow the springs of life.
What is your source of life?
I never understood Lent. I never got it. I’ve always thought Lent was some superstitious season where you give up chocolate so God will bless you. Not until now. Not until this year.
We’re living in a time of deep social and spiritual upheaval. We’re off autopilot, and we’re reassessing everything. I believe that we as a people, and as a nation are in a season of Lent.
What are you going to do with it?
In your relationships with one another, have the same mind as Christ Jesus: Though he was God, he didn’t think of equality with God as something to grasp, rather, he emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant, being born a human being. And being found in the form of a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ~ Philippians 2:5
Lent is the church season we die to ourselves, lament our loss, fast, and pray, to be enabled to live a resurrected incarnational ‘Christ in us’ life. No one lives a resurrected life without dying daily.
Here are some observations I want to share with you. I hope they’ll stir your heart, and you’ll find them useful.
- Lent is a 40 day season dedicated to repentance, fasting, and prayer.
- Lent is the season of interior descent, examination, and reflection.
- Lent is forty days because Jesus was tested for forty days in the wilderness. It takes intentional time and focus to deconstruct our denial, pretense, and posturing.
- Lent is the season we die to our hopes, our dreams, and our agenda’s, to empty ourselves out that we might be filled with new life, see with new eyes, live with a whole heart, filled with God’s strength to live an abundant life.
- Lent is the season you come clean.
- Lent: It’s time to get real with God, to Fast, Pray, Weep, Morn…to let go and let God be God in our lives.
- Lent is the season where we might be laid bare to God’s grace, mercy, and light. We are naked before God.
- Lent is the church season dedicated to falling apart.
- Lent is the time we rip our clothes, throw dust into the air, and cry, Oy Vey. Seriously, we live in a culture of denial. We will die.
- Lent is dying before we die, so that we might live.
- Lent is when we lay things down, to recover those things which should never have been forgotten.
- Lent is when we die to the spirit of this world, so we can plug into the Spirit of God.
- Lent is the season for cleaning out the springs of our heart.
- Lent is the season for spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical detox.
- Lent is the season to Reboot.
- Lent is a trust fall into the arms of God.
- Lent is the divine interrupt you’ve been waiting for your whole life.
- Lent is deconstructing into wholeness.
What are you going to do?
Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us and abide in us, forevermore.
Notes: Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism.