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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Stuff I've Used in the Past 2 Weeks 12-28-14

Admittedly, the subject line for this post could be smoother, but it's the truth. I've used every single one of these resources in a coaching, consulting, shepherding or training conversation in the past two weeks. Sometimes more than once. There are so many issues on so many fronts that each one of us faces in a regular week of care and ministry to those around us. See if any of these scratch where you (or someone you know) itch.

200 Years of African-American Prayer - OnPoint Radio. So I jokingly tell people that I listen to NPR like it's my job. Interviews like this one explain why... in the midst of tragic news like Michael Brown, Eric Garner and die-ins, this story gave me some legs to stand on in terms of how to press on in the long journey toward dignity and equality for all. Listen to it on the edge of your seat.


College for Grown-Ups - NYTimes Now that the majority of my work life is spent pursuing leadership development with college students and young adults, I try to read everything I can find on the current trends in higher education, which appear to be changing about every 3.7 seconds! Here's a fascinating article on re-thinking the trajectory of college, from gap years to bootcamps to lifelong learning to MOOCs. Get the skinny here. For the next 3.7 seconds at least.



Yeah Yeah, Another Link about Millennials. Yes, I'm hitting repeat on this topic because it just keeps. coming. up. Many of the training and coaching conversations I have with pastors revolve around how to reach younger adults (roughly ages 18-34) which is understandable, given that the average age of church worshipers in the US is 54 (as of 2009), which is 10 years older than the average American.

There is certainly no quick fix, but here is a link with a GRIP of articles. Not everything will be applicable to every church, but what I appreciate about this link is that it is built on experience and data, not just guessing, hunches, or the opinion of one or two people. In my work with our Center for Transformational Leadership interns over the past 4 years, I have found many of the conclusions from this website to ring true. Students and young adults do not just look for more upbeat music -- they are looking for authenticity, intergenerational relationships, and consistent intentionality with their age group. They want to be given a voice in every aspect of church life, and taken seriously.


Dr. Kent Brantly -- Lessons Learned from Fighting Ebola. If you told me last year that a missionary working for an organization founded by Billy Graham's son Franklin would be profiled on NPR, I would have smirked at you with a "yeah, RIGHT" look. But here it is, front and center, and friends, it is one AMAZING interview. Dr. Brantly preaches the gospel in every way, shape and form in this 8-minute interview, and his final words about loving your neighbor will bring you to tears. I have recommended this interview to two clients already as an object lesson in teaching others how to be God's person in the marketplace. Yes please.

Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll. OK, not totally, but I did just receive an email from a parent asking how to talk about sex and dating with her 16 year-old son. I let her know that was not a book out there that I really trusted -- or more importantly I guess, that a student would be willing to read with his or her parent! But I found this series recently on Fuller Youth Institute that has some solid input: http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/viamedia-x1. There are 5 discussions on this link that can get the conversation going, at least.


Healing Words: Final thoughts as we finish up the year. How I hope you (and I!) will come up for air this week and get your bearings for 2015... Shalom. Come Lord Jesus.

I have come to believe that the true mystics are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self…. If they are wise, they treasure the rare moments of solitude and silence that come their way, and use them not to escape, to distract themselves with television and the like. Instead, they listen for a sign of God’s presence and they open their hearts toward prayer. 
Kathleen Norris

Monday, December 15, 2014

Simple Resources for Ministry 12-15-14

I will assume you are "busier than a one-armed paper hanger" (to use an old family saying) these days. So I will not clutter this post with complex theological conundrums. Here are three fundamentals for ministry that I found so valuable in the past week. 

My experience over many years has been that this season has been anything but relaxing. Between Christmas concerts, parties, special services, end-of-year budgets and last-minute shopping, it has been NUTS for me. So I hope and pray that this holiday season not be so full of work that you are not able to enjoy Jesus Himself. May the Spirit be deeply present in your midst. 

Idea from a client for involving more people in worship: One of the pastors I meet with weekly for coaching told me this: "I figured out an idea of having people read scripture in their language of origin, because I want to have different voices in worship. Jesus came for the world, and the world extends far beyond our experience, to remind us who the gospel is actually for. This past weekend, I had a women from India read in her native dialect, and halfway through, most of the congregation was weeping."

That'll preach! I receive daily devotional emails from Inward/Outward. Here is a pithy thought:

This is the mystery of the Christian life, to receive a new self, which depends not on what we can achieve but on what we are willing to receive.
Esther de Waal


Building blocks of ministry: I am in the thick of an eighteen-month journey with about 20 others, where we are doing our best to build a missional community in a Latino neighborhood. Most of our friends are poor and undocumented. For as many joys as we experience, we are also facing tremendous roadblocks and outright disappointment. These words really addressed some of my anxieties and were a healing balm to my discouragement:

There are, I should say, four elements in a redemptive community. It is personal, with things happening between people as well as to and in them individually; it is compassionate, always eager to help, observant but nonjudgmental toward others, breathing out hope and concern; it is creative, with imagination about each one in the group and its work as a whole, watching for authentic new vision coming from any of them; and it is expectant, always seeking to offer to God open and believing hearts and minds through which He can work out His will, either in the sometimes startling miracles He gives or in steady purpose through long stretches where there is no special "opening." It may fairly be said that unless one enmeshes himself in this "redemptive fellowship" of the church, he lessens his chances of steady growth and effectiveness, in his Christian life and experience. 
Samuel M. Shoemaker

May your work in the kingdom seek after these four things, for they are tremendous good news for all who experience them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Peace, Prayer and Presence 11-29-14

The Thanksgiving holiday has allowed for some deep and lovely rest, but it has also provided the opportunity to catch up on world news. In the midst of heated debates over race and justice, seemingly constant news of gun violence, and horrifying reports from abroad describing civil unrest, kidnappings, menacing threats and religious strife, I seek to find peace and perspective from God and His people.

As I write this, I have just heard the report of Pope Francis standing in silent prayer today in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, aiming to show respect for Islam and clearly reaching out to build shalom wherever he goes. These words below are from past and present Christian leaders and were each poignant to me this week regarding our own call to be peacemakers and bridgebuilders like the pope. May we be people who listen, pray, love, learn, speak up, and sometimes remain silent as we "depend on him from hour to hour."


If [God] wants you to do something, he'll make it possible
for you to do it, but the grace he provides comes only with the
task and cannot be stockpiled beforehand. We are dependent on
him from hour to hour, and the greater our awareness of this
fact, the less likely we are to faint or fail in a crisis.
    Louis Cassels (1922-1974)


The grammar commonly used to refer to or ask about the
church still carries heavy baggage of being a "place where
certain things happen." We ask, for instance, "Where do you go
to church?" "Where is your church?" "Did you go to church last
Sunday?" Indeed, even when not referring to a tangible
building, we tend to relate "church" to a meeting or activity,
a set of programs, or an organizational structure. Only with
awkwardness would one talk about being "part of a church."
    In North America, this "place where" orientation manifests
itself in a particular form. Both members and those outside the
church expect the church to be a vendor of religious services
and goods.
    Darrell L. Guder, Missional Church


Powerful response from Christena Cleveland on the
Ferguson grand jury decision
http://ow.ly/EQ1pZ


What does non-violence look like for us? It is certainly not the passivity of the victim. It entails resisting rather than colluding with abusive power. It does mean, however, accepting suffering rather than passing it on. It refuses to shame, blame, threaten or demonize. In fact, non-violence requires that we befriend our own darkness and brokenness rather than projecting it onto another. This, in turn, connects us with our fundamental oneness with each other, even in conflict.
Pat Farrell OSF


An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
Victor Hugo


When faith came to be in writings rather than in hearts, contention grew hot and love grew cold. That which is forced cannot be sincere, and that which is not voluntary cannot please Christ.
Erasmus of Rotterdam, sixteenth-century priest and church reformer

Friday, November 28, 2014

Useful resources for ministry and the church 11-29-14

After 30+ years in youth ministry, I find it very natural to be drawn to college students and young adults navigating the transition to adulthood. I could talk for days on this topic, having learned a few things (and gained some battle scars in the process) especially these last 4 years as I have designed and run an internship program for the Free Methodist Church that is directed at Christian college students from Westmont College, Azusa Pacific and Seattle Pacific Universities, as they prepare to graduate. These articles, radio stories and podcasts all speak to the reality of what I'm learning as I seek to work with this new generation of young adults. Enjoy.

The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in Church. The title of this article says it all; I must admit, just when I think I "get" Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000), I don't. I spend the bulk of my work and ministry life with Millennials at three West Coast campuses, and they are an intriguing and surprising bunch. Just keep in mind that their numbers now exceed those of Baby Boomers, so we want to pay attention to them as we move forward. Here's a quote from the article: "Fortunately, if a church can get millennials through the door, and to stay for the whole service, there’s no need to try to compete with U2’s most recent stadium tour."

And if you still have interest in this elusive demographic, here is a whole series that NPR has been doing on Millennials that they've titled "The New Boom."

I may be late to the party on this one, but I just listened to a podcast this week that was an interview of Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor who founded a church in Denver called House for All Sinners and Saints. She had some very intriguing things to say about church and how to welcome in people from your neighborhood, all the while rooted in a high church tradition. This sentence stood out to me: "I really feel strongly that you have to be deeply rooted in tradition in order to innovate with integrity."

Finally, if you are looking for some ways to achieve more peace and quiet in your life, especially as the holidays approacheth, I want to send you to an unlikely source: take an hour and listen to this podcast from the TED Radio Hour titled "QUIET." I was impressed and perhaps a little humbled by the insights shared. What they have to say about the power of quiet is profound.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Under the Shadow of the Throne -- Remembering Claire

Given I have passed the half-century mark, I rejoice that I still live life to the fullest: exercising every day, trying new recipes, devouring books, traveling, taking on new work opportunities, stepping into new cultures and friendships... I feel remarkably blessed. 

But at the same time, I reflect daily on the many people I have known, the sadness I have seen and experienced, the lessons learned. Today provides that in spades as I remember my dear friend Claire Carey, who would have been 40 years old today. Wow.


I have posted this photo of Claire here before, but I never tire of looking at it. It captures her perfectly. The way she threw her head back for a hearty laugh, the huge and welcoming smile, the radiant red hair, the perfectly composed outfit... all of those things were so uniquely HER. Her presence drew others in, and so many -- students, family, colleagues, church members, medical personnel, friends -- considered her an important person in their lives.

Make no mistake, Claire had her faults. She was remarkably stubborn; one of my favorite phrases with her was "Now don't go redhead on me." She was ALWAYS late, in part because she was a perfectionist. Though those things frustrated me at the time, I now look back on such things fondly, as core aspects of who she was. Isn't that interesting.

About two weeks ago I went to a book release party by Anne Lamott, a favorite author of mine. I'm sure I would have asked Claire to go with me. One of the reasons I love reading Lamott's writing is that she has walked me through grief in a way no other author has. In the opening essay of her newest book, Small Victories, she does it again as she describes a friend Barbara who has ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease:

First of all, friends like this may not even think of themselves as dying, although they
clearly are, according to recent scans and gentle doctors' reports. But no, they see themselves as fully alive. They are living and doing as much as they can, as well as they can, for as long as they can.

The entire essay describes much of what I learned in walking through life with someone like Claire dying more quickly than they should. Granted, her stubbornness maddened me at times, but that redheadedness is part of what kept her alive for 10 years after her initial diagnosis. I appreciated, and still do, appreciate life far more deeply from knowing her in and through her death. Lamott says this:

When you are on the knife's edge -- when nobody knows exactly what is going
to happen next, only that it will be worse -- you take in today.

Exactly. Claire taught me, more than anyone else, how to take in today. And some four years after losing her, I still do that. And for that, though I still ache at the memory of her and blink twice to keep from tearing up, I am so grateful. I am changed.

I read this hymn this morning, and thought of Claire:

    Our God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come;
    Our shelter from the stormy blast,
    And our eternal home.

    Under the shadow of thy throne,
    Thy saints have dwelt secure;
    Sufficient is thine arm alone,
    And our defence is sure.

    Before the hills in order stood,
    Or earth receiv'd her frame;
    From everlasting thou art God;
    To endless years the same.

    A thousand ages, in thy sight,
    Are like an evening gone;
    Short as the watch that ends the night,
    Before the rising sun.

    Our God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Be thou our guard while troubles last,
    And our eternal home.
    ... Isaac Watts

I look forward to being "under the shadow of God's throne" with our dear Claire, and am so grateful she awaits us there. I am blessed that part of the amazing equation of God's care in my life was in allowing me to know Claire. And I pray that I may honor her memory every day by stubbornly pressing on as she did. You are remembered Claire, and missed as much as the day we lost you. God, thank you for being our help in ages past, and we lean on you again today as we think of the Redhead.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Community, Communication & Compassion 11-22-14

I am intrigued at how so many of the things I read this week, coming from a wide variety of sources, all seem to point to the intricate dynamics of relationship, community and getting along with one another.

Our world is fraught with discord, war, hatred and strife. How I wish as Christians that we could be models of unity, forgiveness, peace and unconditional love. May we look to Jesus as our role model and source for such profound transformation and witness.


If we are as busy as we pretend to be, then we are too busy to allow ourselves to be affected by the pain and suffering of our world. We are too busy to be addressed personally by the social, political or ecological disasters occurring in our relationships. We are too busy to listen to our own feelings or those of others. Our busyness insulates us from care and from compassion.
Sr. Janet Ruffing


My recent Westmont chapel message on compassion for our community
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4t79DJdxkY


Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17


Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.  But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.  It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for.  We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.  We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory.  We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert - yes, joyful - waiting.  As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.
Henri Nouwen


It may be that when we no longer know what to do, 
we have come to our real work 
and when we no longer know which way to go, 
we have begun our real journey. 

The mind that is not baffled is not employed. 
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Wendell Berry


Powerful blog post about racism, Ferguson and where things are... 
This Is What We Mean When We Say It’s About Race — Theology of Ferguson — ow.ly/EzIvV


I am thankful that the Free Methodist Church - USA (@fmchurchusa) is getting it right on the love and hospitality of God http://ow.ly/EFMct


Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me,
but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of
Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have
chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for
our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out.
It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties
of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a
thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them.
They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a
good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship
itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as
for revealing. At this feast it is He who spreads the board and
it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare hope,
who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not
reckon without our Host.
    ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Four Loves


Life in community is no less than a necessity for us — ​it is an inescapable ‘must’ that determines everything we do and think. Yet it is not our good intentions or efforts that have been decisive in our choosing this way of life. Rather, we have been overwhelmed by a certainty — ​a certainty that has its origin and power in the Source of everything that exists. We acknowledge God as this Source. We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order and works toward community.
EberhardArnold

Monday, November 17, 2014

Useful resources for ministry and church life 11-17-14

I do not want to inundate you with content, but these articles are stirring the pot for me as I think about and pray for the various projects and ministries I am partnering with... use or lose!

The Rise of the "Dones." Perhaps you've heard of the "rise of the 'Nones,'" those Millennials who are claiming no religious affiliation according to new 2010 census stats. Here is a fascinating article on new research arising out of work with the newly named "Dones," who are those we are now calling "dechurched." Make sure to scroll down a bit through the comments as well, at least up to the point where the author of the article chimes in. Interesting stuff, though a little discouraging at points.

Technology and Rate of Usage in American Congregations. Do not be daunted by the title. I strongly suggest that you download this 12-page PDF. It's loaded with charts and it is not overly wonky and technical. More importantly, it's produced by Scott Thumma, a respected scholar on the dynamics of church growth in the US whom I've appreciated greatly. This article will help you in figuring out where to put attention and time regarding social media, your website, blogging, podcasts, maybe even Yelp reviews.

Making great decisions. I have received a strong recommendation from one of my clients to read Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, but if you're like me, I've already got a teetering stack of books I need to read, so adding one more freaks me out a teeny bit. However, this much more manageable article, which is an interview between two experts (one of whom authored Switch) on "change management" (who knew?) gave me a TON of things to think about. I especially liked their thoughts on how coming up with at least two alternatives when making a big decision improves your efficacy dramatically.

Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood by Mark Lau Branson and Nick Warnes. (Full disclosure, I know and love Mark Lau Branson, one of the authors.) So I'm going to contradict myself in the space of a few sentences... On one hand I am saying I have too many books to read, and on the other I'm going to suggest you can't miss this book! I read this a few weeks ago on a short vacation to Yosemite, and frankly could not put it down. It's a perfect combination of theological substance and real-life application. It's warm and engaging to read the several case studies contained within the pages; I enjoyed the many voices that contributed to the conversation in this book. These were pastors I want to get to know and work with. But the meat of this book is sandwiched well at the beginning and end with solid missiological content that motivated and encouraged me. If you do have the bandwidth for one more book, pick this one.

I end with this, a glorious reminder from this morning's reading:

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 
(James 1:17)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Selflessness, Soul Care & Simplicity 11-16-14

Since 2009, I have tried, in large and small ways, to simplify my life. Examples:
  • I try to eat locally, organically and sustainably, seeking to eat more according to what God has provided to me in my context, rather than what I "want." 
  • I sold my car in 2010, and rely on my bike and scooter for all local transportation (with an occasional bus ride, and car rentals for out of town). This has taught me a lot about the luxury we have as First World people to be everywhere we want to be on our own terms. 
  • Whenever I purchase something, I do my best to get rid of something. If I buy a pair of shoes, I give away a pair of shoes. If I buy a new coat, I give away an old one. And if I find it too unbearable to part with something, that indicates to me that what I have is just-fine-thank-you-very-much, and I do not need that other "thing."
  • I seek after Sabbath weekly in order to STOP, slow down, reflect, rest and reboot. Life can get going so fast that I can quickly forget my priorities and even my core identity. 
I have found that in simplifying even a little bit, and slowing down, that I can cultivate more discipline in my life. In other words, if I seek after ways to respond more carefully and according to what I truly need rather than what I want, I find that I am that less self-absorbed and more aware of those around me. This in turn also deepens my appetite for God: as I grow in self-control (not trying to meet my every whim), I am able to respond to still, small voice of God, who speaks truth and peace and love into my life in so many ways. Yes.

The quotes that struck me this week all tended to speak to this pursuit of simplicity. Hope you enjoy them.


Fifth-century monk Nilus of Ancyra wrote, “We should remain within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasures of life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary.”


"This [1 John 4:19] is the sum of all religion, the genuine
model of Christianity. None can say more: why should any one
say less? or less intelligibly?"
(John Wesley, 1703-1791)


We love because he first loved us. 
1John 4:19


Check out this powerful blog by the former president of InterVarsity and Columbia Theological Seminary, Steve Hayner, on his battle with cancer and what he's learning about
faith, God and calling.


Twentieth-century peace activist A. J. Muste often said, 
“There is no way to peace, peace itself being the way.”


There is a manifest want of spiritual influence on the
ministry of the present day. I feel it in my own case, and I
see it in that of others. I am afraid that there is too much of
a low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among
us. We are laying ourselves out, more than is expedient, to
meet one man's taste, and another man's prejudices. The
ministry is a grand and holy affair; and it should find in us a
simple habit of spirit, and a holy but humble indifference to
all consequences... The leading defect in Christian ministers is want of a
devotional habit.
    Richard Cecil (1748-1810)

Desert father John Cassian wrote, “If we go into the desert with our faults still hidden within us, they no longer hurt others, but our love of them remains. Of every sin not eradicated, the root is still growing secretly within. If we compare our own strict discipline with the lax practices of another and feel the slightest temptation to puff ourselves up, it proves that the terrible plague of pride is still infecting us. If we still see these signs within, we know that it is not the desire to sin but the opportunity to sin which has vanished.”


If you want to know who you are, watch your feet. 
Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.
Frederick Buechner


We will not doubt that that kingdom has existed from the
moment of creation and will never end. It cannot be "shaken"
and it is totally good. It has never been in trouble and never
will be. It is not something that human beings produce or,
ultimately, can hinder. We do have an invitation to be a part
of it, but if we refuse we only hurt ourselves.
    Dallas Willard (1935-2013), The Divine Conspiracy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Comfort Food 101

I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver in 2009, and I was sold! I dove head first into eating seasonally and locally, and have not looked back. Admittedly, given that I started in the spring AND I live in Southern California, I got off to a rollicking good start, eating myself silly with smug joy as I chowed through avocados, citrus, berries, tomatoes, corn, loads of spring mix lettuce, tomatillos and so on.

I was so proud as I pushed myself, learning to love kale (before it was the superfood that it is now), collard greens and beets. Everything clipped along smoothly until January, when my CSA basket started containing the same ingredients every week: broccoli, radishes, turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, cauliflower. These were fine the first week, and maybe even the second, but it started feeling like a really hard slog by the end of the month, and February wasn't much better. They were all rather colorless and bland, chunky and a lot of work...

Thankfully, all was well again once some early season strawberries started showing up. But I'm sad to say that the phrase "winter vegetables" left a bad taste in my mouth, and I still have to rev up the ol' yes-I-want-to-eat-seasonally-and-locally attitude when days start getting shorter and my beloved berries become off limits because now they're starting to arrive from South America rather than nearby.

HOWEVER... not all is lost. I have learned that it just requires a little more planning to realize that winter vegetables are just as delicious as the rest of the year. Tonight's meal was a perfect example. I wish you could have seen the look on my face after the first bite, the third bite, the last bite, the wipe-the-bowl-with-my-finger bite... This recipe is FANTASTIC. Take it slow and savor every morsel because every bit of it, from the melted cheese to the crunch of the breadcrumb topping to the satisfaction of each cauliflower mouthful, is not to be rushed. Thank you Vegetarian Times -- you did it once again!

Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower
Serves 8

Get all the creamy, cheesy goodness of mac and cheese—without the high starch content of macaroni. To make your own breadcrumbs, tear firm, fresh bread into pieces and whirl in a food processor or blender until crumbs form.

(Should I admit I made a half batch, but split it between 2 people?!)

Ingredients
1 large head cauliflower (1 ½ lb.), cut into medium florets (8 cups) (I added 4 brussels sprouts too!)
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup nutritional yeast (I added just a half tsp or so of yeast from one of those foil packets of yeast...)
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 egg yolks
1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (gluten free of course)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets, and boil 5 to 7 minutes, or until just tender. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid, and set aside.

2. Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk, garlic, and reserved cooking liquid, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until sauce is thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, nutritional yeast, cayenne pepper, and egg yolks until cheese is melted. Fold in cauliflower.

3. Coat 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower mixture in baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Spray breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until casserole is hot and bubbly and breadcrumbs are crisp and brown.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 11-8-14

The older I get, the more complex and multi-layered my life becomes. No surprise there. But my desire to live with my eyes focused on the prize, Jesus, rather than on the circumstances in front of me, feels more idealistic and less realistic as times goes by. 

The deadly pull to live in crisis, in the "have-to's" has so much weight and gravity to it. To fight against that, to live with heavenly-mindedness, must be a daily discipline, though it seems very elusive and misty sometimes. The quotes from this week compelled me to press on in this daily tug-of-war. Set aside a few minutes to sit on these wise passages, and let them take you to where you want to live.

Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center. Each one of us can live such a life of amazing power and peace and serenity, of integration and confidence and simplified multiplicity, on one condition—that is, if we really want to. There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy Infinite Center, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world.
Thomas Kelly


Christ did not come into the world to provide a bastion against suffering, disappointment and death. In his earthly life he experienced the full gamut of the world’s pain and suffering, and was not miraculously delivered from any of them…. The spiritual life is one of active participation in all aspects of earthly existence, vibrant yet terrifying in its glory and agony minute by minute.
Martin Israel



Such a follower of Christ lives in reverence of him and does not take the credit for a good life but, believing that all the good we do comes from the Lord, gives him the credit and thanksgiving for what his gift brings about in our hearts.
Benedict of Nursia, in his Rule for monastic communities



Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace. 
Henri Nouwen


When people attempt to live a double life spiritually, that is, to appear pure on the outside but are not pure in the heart, they are anything but blessed. Their conflicting loyalties make them wretched, confused, tense. Having to keep their eyes on two masters at once makes them cross-eyed, and their vision is so blurred that neither image is clear. But the eyes of the inwardly and outwardly pure are single, that is, focused upon one object, and their sight is not impaired. That’s why Jesus said, “For they shall see God."
Clarence Jordan


Do not think that saintliness comes from occupation; it depends rather on what one is. The kind of work we do does not make us holy, but we may make it holy.
Meister Eckhart, fourteenth-century mystic


Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-26-14

I suggest you take the time to look over some of the lives of some of these people who are quoted. They are astounding saints and worthy role models.

Praying in faith comes from an abiding faith in the Person
prayed to -- the confidence is in Him. It is based on a knowledge of who He is, and on a trusted conviction that He is worthy tobe trusted. Praying in faith is the act of a simple-hearted child of God.



The only Christian way to treat a slave is to set him free.



Never again are we to look at the stars, as we did when we 
were children, 
and wonder how far it is to God. A being outside our world
would be a spectator, looking on but taking no part
in this life where we try to be brave 
despite all the bafflement. A God who created, 
and withdrew, could be mighty,
but he could not be love. 
Who could love a God remote, when
suffering is our lot? 
Our God is closer than our problems, for
they are out there, to be faced; 
He is here, beside us, Emmanuel.
Joseph E. McCabe


Often we hear the remark that we have to live in the world without being of the world.  But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church.   Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus.  The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to  what we came to hear.   Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love. Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.
Henri Nouwen


If prayer is not a play of the religious fantasy, or a
routine task, it must be the application of faith to a concrete
actual and urgent situation. Only remember that prayer does not
work by magic, and that stormy desire is not fervent, effectual
prayer. You may be but exploiting a mighty power; whereas you
must be in real contact with the real God. It is the man that
most really has God that most really seeks God.
    ... P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921)


Andre Trocmé, who pastored the remarkable Le Chambon community during World War II, said, “Nonviolence was not a theory superimposed upon reality; it was an itinerary that we explored day after day in communal prayer and in obedience to the commands of the Spirit.”


We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key
of the treasure chamber into our hand, and bids us take all
that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a
bank, and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent,
whose fault is it that he is poor? Whose fault is it that
Christian people generally have such scanty portions of the
free riches of God?
    Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)


Let our whole body, then, be preserved in Christ Jesus; and let everyone be subject to his neighbor. Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect to the strong. Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because he has given him a community that can provide for his needs.
Clement of Rome



The Church often wounds us deeply.  People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands.  Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily.   Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let's keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.
Henri Nouwen


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-18-14

Faith, in the religious sense, is not simply belief; it is
inseparable from the sister virtues of hope and love.
    William R. Inge (1860-1954)


We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual, even on the religious plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest, forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in the fundamental verb, to Be, and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of the spiritual life.
Evelyn Underhill


If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.
American abolitionist Frederick Douglass


Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
Teresa of Avila


I want to beg you as much as you can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it—but take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your innermost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.
Rainer Maria Rilke


Change of one sort or another is the essence of life, so there will always be the loneliness and insecurity that come with change. When we refuse to accept that loneliness and insecurity are part of life, when we refuse to accept that they are the price of change, we close the door on many possibilities for ourselves; our lives become lessened…. Life evolves; change is constant.
Jean Vanier


The delights of this world and all its kingdoms will not profit me. I would prefer to die in Jesus Christ than to rule over all the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. I am in the throes of being born again. Bear with me, my brothers and sisters. Let me see the pure light; when I am there, I shall be truly a human being at last. Let me imitate the sufferings of my God.
Ignatius of Antioch

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-11-14

Each one of these items -- quotes, Bible passages or links -- are worthy of separate posts in and of themselves. How impossibly grateful I am for the wealth of thought-provoking words that pass through my life each week. If you have some spare moments, linger over each one and allow them to penetrate your soul.


Indeed, obedience must be given with genuine good will, because God loves a cheerful giver. If obedience is given with a bad will and with murmuring not only in words but even in bitterness of heart, then even though the command may be externally fulfilled it will not be accepted by God, for he can see the resistance in the heart of a murmurer. One who behaves in such a way not only fails to receive the reward of grace but actually incurs the punishment deserved by murmurers. Only repentance and reparation can save such a one from this punishment.
Benedict of Nursia, in his Rule for monastic communities

Childlikeness is lost in life and recovered in holiness.
    ... Alexander Yelchaninov (1881-1934)

I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57:15

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Isaiah 58:6-9

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 
Philippians 1:28-29

It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the
importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to
take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology.
It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters
enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity
is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist
that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the
universe.
    Dorothy Sayers

Incredible NYTimes interview of Marilynne Robinson, a gifted author whose
"novels are in conversation with -- at times tacitly, at times explicitly -- the stories of the Bible."

Yes, I'm a shameless cat lover. But this story should warm anyone's heart:
http://www.boredpanda.com/thula-therapy-cat-autistic-artist-iris-grace/

(The painting posted at the top of this post was made by Iris...
I'm still swooning over the artwork and the story behind it all)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Part Deux

I bought a 3 lb spaghetti squash this week at Trader Joe's, so I ended up using the first half of the squash on this delicious recipe earlier this week, and used the second half tonight for this new recipe. Oh my stars -- I thought the first recipe was REALLY tasty, but this one approached perfection. I'm not kidding. Not only was it crazy easy (and fast) to make, but the textures and layers of flavor were fantastic. The mixture of spaghetti squash with the pasta noodles made the dish really hearty, the smokiness of the walnuts paired perfectly with the cheese, and the combination of breadcrumbs sauteed with garlic and rosemary coated the squash and pasta throughout with a light but tasty sauce. Best of all, the whole dish was very filling, yet was incredibly low in calories. So maybe I had two helpings...

I take no credit for either recipe -- both came from Vegetarian Times.

Seriously... do not skip this one.

ROSEMARY-PARMESAN PASTA and SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Serves 4

1 small spaghetti squash (1½–2 lb.)
4 oz. multi-grain thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta (or gluten-free spaghetti)
⅓ cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
¼ cup plain dry breadcrumbs (yep, I used GF breadcrumbs here)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.  Pierce squash in several places with knife. Microwave 3 minutes on high power to soften. Slice off stem and blossom ends, and stand squash upright. Cut straight down length of squash. Remove seeds with spoon. Place squash halves cut side down on rimmed baking sheet, and add 1 1/2 cups water to cover baking sheet surface. Bake 30 minutes, or until squash yields when pressed.

3. Cool squash 10 minutes cut side up. Scrape with fork to release strands. Transfer strands to bowl.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and add to squash strands, mixing with two forks.

5. Toast walnuts in small skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. Transfer to plate, and set aside.

6. Wipe out skillet, then heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and cook 1 minute. Add garlic and rosemary, and sauté 2 minutes, or until fragrant, and breadcrumbs are toasted. Add breadcrumbs to squash mixture, and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with walnuts and cheese.

Vegetarian Times, October 2014 p.67

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shpaghetti Shquash and Shpinach Shpecialties...

OK, maybe the title for this post is lame, but the RECIPE IS DEEEE-LICIOUS! I had bookmarked this when I saw it in my latest issue of Vegetarian Times, and I made it tonight.

Can't say I would have predicted that I'd be putting "spaghetti squash," "spinach" and "fritter" in the same sentence, but I'm a believer now. These little flying saucers of goodness melted in our mouths and were totally satisfying. Give 'em a try!

My only caveat: the recipe says the recipe will make 16 2-inch fritters; I made 8. I don't think I did anything wrong, but...

SPINACH AND SPAGHETTI SQUASH FRITTERS
serves 4

A lightly spicy combination of spinach and spaghetti squash is shaped into 
crisp oven-baked fritters.

Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash (1½–2 lb.)
2 cups packed baby spinach
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs (I used some gluten free breadcrumbs I have stored in my freezer)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (again, GF)
¼ tsp. ground chipotle chile powder


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Pierce squash in several places with knife. Microwave 3 minutes on high power to soften. Slice off ends, and stand squash upright. Cut straight down length of squash. Remove seeds with spoon. Place halves cut side down on rimmed baking sheet, and add 11/2 cups water to cover surface. Bake 30 minutes, or until squash yields when pressed. (OK, this method of prepping the squash to be cut is PURE genius. SO. Much. Easier.)

3. Cool squash cut side up 10 minutes. Scrape halves with fork to release strands. Measure out 21/2 cups strands.

4. Meanwhile, spread spinach on baking sheet. Bake 2 minutes, or until just wilted. Cool. Squeeze dry, and chop.

5. Stir together spaghetti squash, bell pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, flour, chipotle powder, and spinach in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

6. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, and increase oven temperature to 425°F.


7. Divide squash mixture into 16 2-inch disks; place on baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, turning once.

from Vegetarian Times, Oct 2014, p. 69

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Quips, Quotes, & Questions 9-27-14

I suppose I should not try to look for a theme in the words that came my way this week. Nevertheless, there does seem to be several different streams that touch on how to shed the distractions that keep us from focusing primarily on Christ. Take some time to let these rattle around inside your head and heart.

God insists that He set up His throne in the heart, and reign in it, without a rival. If we keep Him from His right, it will not matter by what competitor.
William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

The cross for the first time revealed God in terms of
weakness and lowliness and suffering; even, humanly speaking,
of absurdity. He was seen thenceforth in the image of the most
timid, most gentle and most vulnerable of all living
creatures--a lamb. Agnus Dei! [The Lamb of God!]
    ... Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)

Prayer is the act by which we divest ourselves of all false
belongings and become free to belong to God and God alone.
    ... Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

We all want to turn away from anything that reveals the failure, pain, sickness and death beneath the brightly painted surface of our ordered lives. Civilization is, at least in part, about pretending that things are better than they are. We all want to be in a happy place, where everyone is nice and good and can fend for themselves. We shun our own weakness and the weakness of others. We refuse to listen to the cry of the needy. How easy it is to fall into the illusion of a beautiful world when we have lost trust in our capacity to make of our broken world a place that can become more beautiful.
Jean Vanier

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

Really excellent essay on our tendency to want to leave, rather than remain and build a community of stability where we are.

I did not intend my creatures to make themselves servants and slaves to the world’s pleasures. They owe their first love to me. Everything else they should love and possess, as I told you, not as if they owned it but as something lent them.
Catherine of Siena

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

Two years later, do not relent in praying for our brother in prison, Pastor Saeed Abedini, in Iran.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 9-20-14

“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community, the better for both.” 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(These words are especially poignant as we seek to build missional community on Santa Barbara's Westside, since Spring 2013)

To thee, O God, we turn for peace; but grant us, too, the blessed assurance that nothing shall deprive us of that peace, neither ourselves, nor our foolish, earthly desires, nor my wild longings, nor the anxious cravings of my heart. 
Søren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855

“When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in totally nonviolent struggle for justice.”
Cesar Chavez

“We can do not great things, only small things with great love. What is important is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.”
Mother Teresa

You hollow us out, God, so that we may carry you, and you endlessly fill us only to be emptied again. Make smooth our inward spaces and sturdy, that we may hold you with less resistance and bear you with deeper grace.
Jan Richardson

Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silent concerning other men's matters and take full heed to thyself.
Thomas a Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ, 1380-1471

“The Good News of the resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with him, but that he is risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner brothers with him.”
Clarence Jordan

And from the sublime to the ridiculous. My friend Nancy sent me this:

"From a non-cat person.  This is good.  Turn the sound off so you don't have to hear the giggling in the background and it's even better."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quMsDiGd0Ho

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Quips, Questions and Quotes 9-6-14

Words from the week...


If ye keep watch over your hearts, and listen for the Voice
of God and learn of Him, in one short hour ye can learn more
from Him than ye could learn from Man in a thousand years.
    ... Johannes Tauler (ca. 1300-1361)

Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, not to those who serve the poor! 
I think we can only truly experience the presence of God, meet Jesus, 
receive the good news, in and through our own poverty, 
because the kingdom of God belongs to the poor, 
the poor in spirit, the poor who are crying out for love.
Jean Vanier

Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love
It seems easier to be God than to love God, 
easier to control people than to love people, 
easier to own life than to love life.
Henri J. M. Nouwen

Not one of us yet knows how to pray. All we have done has only been pottering and guessing and experimenting... God cares not for the length of our prayers, or the number of our prayers, or the beauty of our prayers, or the place of our prayers; but it is the faith in them that tells -- believing that prayer soars higher than the lark ever sang, plunges deeper than diving-bell ever sank, darts quicker than lightning ever flashed. Though we have used only the back of this weapon instead of the edge, what marvels have been wrought! If saved, we are all the captives of some earnest prayer.
    ... Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832-1902)

Fascinating article on Asian-American ethnic identity in the Christian church (or lack thereof)


Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this. Your sermon ... lasts but an hour or two -- your life preaches all week. If Satan can only make you a covetous minister, or a lover of pleasure, or a lover of praise, or a lover of good eating, he has ruined your ministry for ever. Give yourself to prayer, ... and get your texts, your thoughts, your words, from God.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne, 1813-1843

Humility is not thinking less of ourselves; it is thinking of ourselves less. 
C. S. Lewis

Christ seeks from us deeds not words. Devotion to him is in the first place not sentimental but practical. If the Christian faith has no power to restore or recreate the human will, leading one to deeds of unselfish service, then it stands self-condemned.
C.F. Andrews

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 8/30/14

Things that I am reading and thinking about -- from this week...

Excellent post by my good friend Nancy on the events in Ferguson: 
http://www.therustylife.com/2014/08/misplaced-imagining/

"Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, or giving generously in the service of others. Our spirit should long for God and call him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of God’s love, and so make a pleasing offering to the Lord of the universe." John Chrysostom (4th century church father)


By committing themselves to meet regularly together, Christians become aware of those who are not gathering together—those who are absent. This is how the community develops the practice of pastoral care and evangelism, the skill of memory for those missing, the virtue of love for the lost, and the notion of the communion of saints. 
Samuel Wells


Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 
Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord. 
(Psalm 40:1-3)

Outstanding call to the American church in light of the events in Ferguson:
https://time.com/3173810/multi-ethnic-churches-lament-americas-racial-injustice/

The renewal of the Church will be in progress when it is seen as a fellowship of consciously inadequate persons who gather because they are weak, and scatter to serve because their unity with one another and with Christ has made them bold.
Elton Trueblood

"The heavenly city, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages. In its pilgrim state the heavenly city possesses peace by faith; and by this faith it lives." 
Augustine of Hippo


Happy are those who consider the poor;
the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
they are called happy in the land.
You do not give them up to the will of their enemies. 
(Psalm 41:1-2)



"Let us leave a little room for reflection in our lives, room too for silence. Let us look within ourselves and see whether there is some delightful hidden place inside where we can be free of noise and argument. Let us hear the Word of God in stillness and perhaps we will then come to understand it." 
Augustine of Hippo




Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image. 
A. W. Tozer