Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: Christmas Invitation to Soar to Uncreated Heights

“Prayer is the ascent of the spirit to God” –Evagrius Ponticus
This Christmas season Sharon and I have been listening to the new CD Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, published by the Dominican Sisters of Mary. What a joy it is! This is the first time in some years that I’ve listened to the words of the song by the same name:
Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.

Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
What an invitation this is! Our soul’s desires are drawn to Jesus who is himself Holy Wisdom—the Logos, the Word (John 1:1-2). That Word is true light (v. 9), uncreated and pure. Then that “Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” in order to reveal God the Father to us (vv. 14, 18). Ultimately he came to lift us up to the Father, so that we might experience that glory and grace upon grace (v. 16).
Jesu is indeed Love Most Bright, come to earth. That event was not just the Incarnation over two millennia ago: it is a fresh invitation for us to soar anew in devotion to God’s Uncreated Light!
These twelve days of Christmas, especially as most of us have a few more days of leisure from work, let us set aside some of that time for unhurried devotion to the Lord. May our hearts be renewed “with the fire of life impassioned” as we prayer, worship and contemplate in silence. May we allow our souls to soar to the Throne of God and pass into his very Presence!
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Third Sunday of Advent: From Fragmentation to Holy Wholeness

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8
Advent points us to the past, present and future.
First, the four weeks leading up to the Nativity focus our attention on the event of the Incarnation some 2000 years ago. The Son of God, the Logos, came to earth and took on flesh—as a fetus in Mary’s womb, developing and growing until Mary was “great with child” as she rode the donkey en route to Bethlehem with her finance Joseph.
Advent likewise points us to the future. Christ not only came to earth as a baby those two millennia ago, he will return at the end of the age as King of kings and Lord of lords. The time-space world in which we live has a telos—a goal, fulfillment, completion—toward which the centuries run. God will roll up the heavens and earth “like a robe; like a garment they will be changed” (Hebrews 1:12). We will receive a new heavens and earth, beyond our earthly language to describe. We will join the wedding feast of the Son and be joined forever with Christ, our Bridegroom.
Between these two advents of Christ, we exist today. Just as Jesus broke into the past and will come again with surprise in the future, he wants to break into our everyday lives. He is Emmanuel—God with us—in our human existence. We must live in light of Christ’s present-day presence, else we will be consumed by the materialism of the world and cave in on ourselves in self-focused preoccupation. The secular shopping season contributes all the more to the material fixation that steals our attention from active and living presence among us.
We must resist the temptation of materialism, however, in order to find our meaning by discovering our place in the larger Story. The past anchors us in the concrete events of God’s redemptive act of salvation as we celebrate the Incarnation. The future offers us hope as we wait for the consummation of this age and the consummation of the wedding feast of Christ as we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
The present, then, is a time of both remembering and waiting. Such is the message of Advent. He is here with us, as he promised, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). The season of Advent tutors us in how to live during this time. It attunes us to God’s divine action and his desire to come into the ups and downs of our earthly existence. We embrace the here and now, discovering the divine in the midst of daily life.
This Advent season we can ask ourselves: How is Jesus breaking into our day? Where is his glory filling the earth? How is he Emmanuel right here and right now?
Such a three-fold focus is difficult to maintain; it can even be unsettling. However, we must not neglect any of the three: past, present or future. Advent instructs us as it helps us to integrate all three into a meaningful whole—not only the overview of the ages but also a personal reality for each of us existentially. By juxtaposing past and future, Advent calls us to wait in present. Advent causes us to see Salvation History as a whole, and, doing so, helps to make our lives more whole as it invites us to see how our lives fit in.
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent: From Impatience to Holy Waiting

           “Wait for the Lord;
      be strong and take heart
     and wait for the Lord.”       
            -Psalm 27:14
Waiting. No one that I know likes to wait. Whether it is standing in a long checkout line during Christmas shopping or finding oneself stuck in a traffic jam, we usually find ourselves in a waiting situation much against our plans. If possible, we try to distract ourselves while the minutes tick away—texting being the most common method these days. If we are not able to find a suitable distraction, we simply go numb. Waiting, so often, is what we do against our will.
But what if waiting were a spiritual activity? What if waiting turned out to be God’s plan for our lives—not only for character development but for greater purposes than we are aware of at the time?
This is holy waiting. As well as cultivating patience in our lives, holy waiting molds us into God’s timing and purposes. Advent is a wonderful opportunity for such waiting. By following the church calendar we step out of the rush of our contemporary culture—with all its materialism and catering to immediate desires—and enter a holy rhythm. That rhythm of the church year begins the first Sunday of Advent, which continues for three more Sundays, preparing our hearts as we anticipate Christmas.
Instead of an instant but shallow satisfaction of singing Christmas carols on the first Sunday of Advent, we are called to again take the journey to Bethlehem, asking God to do whatever work he chooses in us in order to form us for fresh inner growth. The four-week wait of Advent stirs longing deep within us, so we appreciate the coming of Emmanuel on a whole new level.
Waiting is not easy. Our natural passions want fulfillment as soon as possible. Waiting enables us to deny those desires—at least for a time—so that our attention can move from the material to spiritual, from the outward-ness of our existence to the inner life of the soul. 
This Advent invites you and me to holy waiting. Will we embrace the discomfort to waiting in order to grow deeper in faith? Will we step away from busy distraction into a holy rhythm of anticipating Christ’s coming afresh into our lives?

© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Sunday, November 26, 2017

First Sunday of Advent: From Ordinary Time to Holy Time

Advent—the arrival of something new.
The four Sundays leading up to the feast of Christ’s birth are set aside to prepare our hearts for the arrival of the Son of God come to earth—Emmanuel, God with us. Historically this event took place some 2000 years ago, but we are invited to participate afresh in our Lord’s coming, as we join Christians around the world and over the centuries to observe Advent each year. We have the opportunity to personalize the events of holy history—Heilsgeschichte—as we prepare our hearts anew to embrace the Lord in our lives.
The first Sunday of Advent moves us from ordinary time into holy time. Two-thirds of the church year are lived in ordinary time. That is as it should be—for the majority of life is lived with daily chores, normal jobs and school, and commonplace pleasures and challenges of existence. We serve the Lord in everyday relationships and responsibilities. We love God and others through our unnoticed faithfulness to our calling in life.
With the upcoming first Sunday of Advent, however, we move into holy time—“holy days” that have often become in our culture mere “holidays.” Yet, we can reclaim their significance in the life of faith. We can regain their original purpose in this season of the church.
“Holy”—Latin “sanctus”—means to set aside or consecrate to God. Rather than simply a season for shopping, Advent is a time set aside for the Lord. These weeks are an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to lives of faith, focused on our relationship with our loving Creator. They are an invitation to prepare our hearts for a fresh encounter with Christ—the Eternal Logos, God’s Word—who condescended to come into our world, our lives, our suffering, our struggle with sin, our shame, our human situation.
As we enter Advent, we move out of mere chronological time—that simply ticks by the minutes, hours and days—and we step into kairos time. The Greek term kairos refers to the appointed time for something. As Galatians 5:6 asserts, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Advent is the appointed time for dedicating ourselves anew to the Lord. Advent is the appointed time for setting aside some special time of devotion, whether a weekend retreat, a daily devotional or some extra time of silent listening to God. Advent is the appointed time for stillness, stepping back from the bustle of buying gifts and baking cookies to still our hearts. Advent is the appointed time for attentive waiting, as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth on Christmas day.
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Surveying the Garden by Listening to Our Lives

In the stillness of the garden we are given space to take an honest look at our life. Here we observe our activities, relationships, attitudes, frustrations and inner longings. We pause to listen to our own life.
If setting aside time for solitude is difficult in contemporary culture, listening is even more so. It is much easier to keep busy and avoid looking too closely. Often we have an inner sense that we will not like all that we see. We do not really want to hear what our life, our bodies, our friendships, our hearts are telling us. Yet, listen we must, if we want to grow spiritually.

In order to listen to our lives, we must take the time to stand back and observe. Observation needs to be objective. I must be willing to look at reality, not what I would like reality to be. What do I see when I look at my life?
Where are the activities of my day life-giving? What situations or commitments are life-draining for me?
Where do I sense hope? In what areas do I feel stuck, disappointed or in despair?
Who are the friends in my life with whom I can share my hopes and dreams and disappointment? Do I feel safe and secure? Where are there lonely holes in my life?
What is our physical body saying to us? It might be a simple message of the need to take more time for exercise or sleep. Or, perhaps the weight we have gained is pointing to an inner ache that we are trying to medicate by eating too much comfort food. What does the pain tell us? Maybe we are pushing too hard, trying to find fulfillment—or approval from someone—by our accomplishments. Maybe the physical pain is a manifestation of inner grief that we have suppressed too long.
As we ask these questions, we sometimes discover that we are alienated from ourselves.
Here we listen to our own life, our own heart. If we are silent and attentive, we will begin to hear what is inside us—sometimes joyful cries of thanksgiving, other times loud cries of anger, still other times silent cries for help.
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Nurturing Stillness in our Inner Garden

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
            -Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
            -Luke 5:16
Physical gardens offer us unique doorway into the secret garden of our souls—that inner sanctuary where our true relationship with God blossoms. Physical gardens offer external stillness, which in turn helps us to enter a still place within. Like any garden, however, our inner garden must be nurtured.
One way we nurture the inner garden is by cultivating stillness. Stillness seldom happens on its own. In our hyperactive world, we must give ourselves permission to pull apart from what we consider to me a more productive use of our time. We disconnect from technology of any kind. We settle our racing thoughts.
To do so, we must truly value our time alone with God and be intentional about setting such time apart in the midst of our hectic days.
Without sufficient stillness, our spiritual growth will always remain superficial. If Jesus needed regular solitude and stillness for prayer in his life and ministry, how much more do we? Only by cultivating the deep soil of stillness can our roots reach down.
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Clearing the Path to the Inner Gard

“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.”
            -Jeremiah 31:12
Literal gardens can be a doorway into the inner garden of our soul. We discover that the greenness and growth things around us lead us down the narrow path to the hidden garden within.
That narrow path, however, can easily become overgrown with the thorns and weeds of this world’s cares. When that happens, we becomes difficult to find our way back to the inner garden of our spiritual life.
Therefore, on a regular basis we need to clear the path to that hidden garden. Cutting down some of the underbrush of life’s busyness and clutter, pulling out weeds of bad attitudes that have sprung up in our hearts, we free up our footpath to the garden. Even more, as we walk that path on a daily basis, we keep it untangled and unclogged.
As we open the door to the enclosed garden, we step into a space set aside for God. In this inner garden, we find that we are content simply to “be.” We are living to the fullest right here and right now. At least for a few moments we are in a place where time and eternity have become one!
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Garden of the Soul: Entering a Different Inner Space

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
            -Isaiah 58:11
The greenness, beauty and stillness of a garden help us enter a different space within. They help us access a good place mentally and spiritually—a place where we are at peace. Here there is no rush, no hurry to produce.
In each of us is an inner space where prayer resides and poetry springs forth. This inner garden is fruitful with creativity, connected-ness, prayer and inner peace.
Creativity comes forth from our inner garden. That creativity may bubble up in the form of poetry or photography. It might be a unique idea of how we can serve someone in our life. It could take the form of arranging flowers or painting.
This inner place is a space where we are relational. Often in the stress of life we become alienated from ourselves, and we need some room to reconnect with who we truly are. The solitude of the inner garden offers us just such an opportunity.
Prayer likewise grows in our inner garden. Here we reconnect with God in this inner sanctuary of the soul. “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return,” writes Thomas Kelley. It is “a holy sanctuary of adoration and of self-oblation, where we are kept in perfect peace, if our mind be stayed on Him who has found us in the inward springs of our life.”  [1]
Finally, the place of our inner garden offers us peace. Entering the garden of our soul is so essential for each of us. When we enter that mental space, that inner place, we step away from stress and worry. Our minds stop spinning with lists of things to do and decisions to make, and we find some stillness. This hidden place within is where our true self resides. This is not the self we try to project to the world or the self of achievement and activism; rather, it is where we are free to simply be.
Thus when we step into the garden mentality—away from the pressure to produce—we ironically find that this garden is bursting with produce! That produce, however, cannot be manufactured in an efficient production line—it can only be cultivated in peace.
[1] Thomas R. Kelley, A Testament of Devotion (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1941, 1992), pp. 3-4. 
2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Taking Time for the Garden

“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
            -Isaiah 51:3
Gardens are so important in life. They welcome us to set aside the work-a-day world in which we live—even if only for a few minutes—in order to see life and creation and God’s goodness afresh.
However, we must be intentional about taking time for the gardens in our lives. The pervading busyness and multitasking of our everyday life militates against the nurturing of gardens. We are so preoccupied with all our activities and keeping up with all the media and information that are available to us that we fail to take time to “smell the roses.” That sad reality makes the gardens in our lives all the more important.
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes. From a vegetable patch in the back yard to a manicured rose garden, from a sprawling park in the city to a small collection of green plants in front of an apartment window, spaces set aside for growing things can constitute a garden. They offer us a place to retreat from buildings and bricks in order to refocus ourselves.
Strolling through a garden and smelling the flowers—or sitting for a while on a bench, noticing the shades of green and smelling bouquets of blossoms—slows us down and focuses our lives on the truly important. It sensitizes us to the reality of stillness, relationship and beauty. Such tangible gardens become the doorway into our own inner garden.
2017 © Glenn E. Myers
This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beauty Draws us Out and Lifts us Up

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart”
-Ecclesiastes 3:11
Beauty invites us to step out of ourselves. Much of each day, our thoughts are centered on issues in our lives, solving problems, worrying about the future, stressing about this and that. In our fallen nature we are all prone to cave in on ourselves. On an ongoing basis, we need to be freed from such self-focus. We all need to get out of ourselves.
God pours out the grace needed for our deliverance from self-absorption. One key way that God gives us that grace is through beauty. When we see the splendor of a brilliant sunrise on our drive to work in the morning, we are invited to step out of our anxious thoughts of the day. We are welcomed to lay aside our all-too-often obsession regarding the frustrations awaiting us on our job.
In that glimpse of God’s glory, we are shown a bigger picture of reality than our daily grind: the Lord is in control of the universe, and he has jammed it with magnificence!
To behold this scene on the way to work is to step out of my little world and all its petty problems and anxieties. To hold on to the scene throughout the day is to allow my mind to be transformed so that it gains God’s perspective on life. The Lord is in control, he has filled the earth with beauty, and the life that he has given me is pure gift!
After drawing us out of ourselves, beauty draws us upward toward God. Whenever we see beauty, it lifts our hearts. Even if temporarily, we are able to let go of all that weighs on us and pulls us down. It lifts our minds from the mundane, and helps us see a much greater reality.
The great spiritual writer of the early sixth century, Pseudo-Dionysius, describes how God uses beauty and light as natural aids in lifting us up toward him. “Hence, any thinking person realizes that the appearances of beauty are signs of an invisible loveliness,” says Dionysius. “Material lights are images of the outpouring of an immaterial gift of light.”[1]
Beauty is something transcendent, and it draws us toward transcendence. Because all beauty is a reflection of the Creator, when we see the loveliness of creation, it draws us toward God. Ultimately, beauty lifts our spirits to the One who is Uncreated Beauty!
2017 © Glenn E. Myers
This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

[1] Celestial Hierarchy, 121C-D, in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, translated by Colm Luibheid, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 1987), 146.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Holy Week & Triduum: Participating in Salvation History and Eternity

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
-Galatians 2:20
In Holy Week we participate in the event of our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, his Last Supper, his Passion and Resurrection. These are not simply past events to be remembered, nor are we simply “reenacting” episodes from Jesus’ life. Rather, they are spiritual realities—eternal realities—in which we are invited to participate.
As we celebrate Palm Sunday and then the three days (Latin: Triduum) from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday, we participate in—indeed, partake of—these central events in Salvation History. 
The Christian life is all about our participating in Christ. Even toward the end of his life, the Apostle Paul prays “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10, emphasis added). The New Testament calls us to such participate in—share in—the saving work of God.
During Holy Week we participate in Salvation History. On Palm Sunday we participate in Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna! Perhaps these were shouts of praise, but “Hosanna” ultimately is a prayer, a cry to God for help: “Save us!” Jesus, of course, will save them and us but in a way far different—are far more painful—than they expected.
On Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday we participate in the Lord’s Supper. On Good Friday we join Mary and the Apostle John around the cross and mystically share in Jesus’ dying. Beginning with baptism all believers participate in Jesus’ suffering, for we are “baptized into his death,” states Romans 6. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Dying to our old fallen nature and rising from the waters that buried that old self, we are called to live every day only for Christ. Along with Paul each of us is invited to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). How clear this reality becomes as we enter into that death with our Lord again each Good Friday!
Finally on Easter, we join with all the hosts of heaven as we sing, “Christ the Lord is risen today!” As we do so, we join afresh in the Resurrection. This is not simply a commemoration of the past, nor is it simply looking toward our future resurrection. It is both, but beyond that we truly share with Christ. We participate in this the central event of Salvation History. Moreover we share in eternity as, the last of Charles Wesley declares: “Ours the cross, the grave, the skies!”
© 2017 Glenn E. Myers 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lent: Inviting Us to Special Times of Prayer

“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
            -Matthew 6:6
Lent is an invitation to set aside some extra time for prayer. Not out of obligation, but rather receiving it as a gift, Lent bids us to put our roots deeper in the Lord through prayer and devotion.
Yet, as soon as we determine to go into our room—or church or wherever we can get alone to pray—everything breaks loose. Something needs our attention at home, or we think about the project(s) that we have wanted to do. Resistance will always confront us as soon as we purpose ourselves to pursue God afresh.
The greatest resistance almost always comes from within. We have divided hearts. Part of us truly wants solitude with the Lord. Another part of us does not want to give up the time. Indeed, time is often more limited for us than money.
Trying to set aside time for prayer—which, at least to the naked eye, produces nothing—exposes our hearts. We can be very greedy with our time. Often, by the time we fulfill all our obligations in life, we have a rather short amount of time that is our own. We either want to simply relax, or we want to get to a project that will help us “get ahead.” How reluctant we are to give up that little time we have for prayer!
Just as the practices of fasting and giving alms reveal the clinging in our hearts, so does prayer. In order to pray, we must give God some of our precious time.
Yet, what a privilege we have to focus on prayer during Lent! Perhaps it is going on a Lenten retreat. Or, if we cannot go away for a weekend retreat during this season, we can bring a bit of retreat into our own homes. Each evening we can stop everything we are doing a half hour earlier in order to read some Scripture and a Lenten devotional. Or we can get up half an hour earlier each morning for some extended time with the Lord during Lent. Maybe we can talk half of a day on Saturday or Sunday to go apart for some extended time of solitude and silence.
However it works for you, try setting aside some intentional time of prayer for the remainder of Lent. We will never regret the time we give to God in prayer!
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lent: Clinging or Giving?

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
            -2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Giving to those in need has always been a central practice of Lent. Referred to as “giving alms,” it helps to meet the need of the poor, the homeless, and those without work.
Nothing is as “worldly” as money. Materialism of today’s culture is based on a money economy. Yet, ironically, few things are as spiritual as what we do with our money.
Giving—or more precisely, our reluctance to give—exposes the clinging in our hearts. Certainly we must be wise and keep a certain reserve of finances. Yet, under the guise of wisdom, we can easily slip into hoarding. Proverbs 11:24, however, exposes the folly of hording: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (esv).
Like fasting and prayer, the Lenten discipline of giving helps us to grow spiritually by shedding light on some hidden, even dark, places within. We are all called to give to that there be greater equity for those who have less. “See that you excel in the grace of giving,” writes Paul. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:7, 13).
Jesus assumes that all his followers will be giving alms. He just commands us not to do so in order to receive recognition. Again, our inner attitudes are so often exposed by what we do with the resources that have been given us.
“When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing.” (Matthew 6:2-3, nabre)
If I am to grow deeper in God during Lent, I need to do more than pray and fast. Giving puts legs on my prayer and devotion. It exposes any clinging to material things that resides in my heart. Then—if I give with a joyful heart—it sets me free to experience joy, friendship and fresh spiritual life!
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lent: Sincere Searching of our Hearts through Fasting

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” –Colossians 3:5-8

What an opportunity! Lent is time set aside to put our roots down deeper into God. Since the early centuries of the Church, sincere Christians have recognized the importance of having a season reserved for taking an honest look at ourselves—allowing the Holy Spirit to search our hearts—in order to put off anything that hinders us from a genuine relationship with God.
Three practices that Christians focus on in Lent to help us take an honest look at our lives are fasting, giving to the needy, and prayer. These do not earn us any points. Rather, they help us grow spiritually by exposing little idols that we cling to. They uncover some of the things that Colossians 3 (above) tells us we need to “rid ourselves of” and “put to death.”
Fasting is pretty straightforward. We give up food and/or drink for a season. Fasting addresses the physical cravings in our lives. Likewise we can fast from media for a season, whether giving up texting or movies or other forms of entertainment for a day.
As soon as I fast from a meal or checking my cellphone, my flesh screams out in protest. This provides the opportunity for me to say “no” to my flesh to make sure it is not ruling me.
That “no” goes counter to my old nature, which wants what it wants when it wants it. In addition, “no” goes counter to the whole culture in which we live, a society that says if it feels good, do it.
For those very reasons, I need to set aside a season to confront the tyranny of that inner “I want!” and bring it into submission to Christ. It is not that food is bad. Indeed it is good and necessary. However, when it—or anything other appetite—controls me by its demands, it becomes an idol. Oh, how easily human nature is ruled by idols!
As I have aged, I cannot do several-day fasts as I did when I was younger. That is okay. I can still fast from deserts (which can easily get a grip on me!) and take a stand against the tyranny of my earthly nature—that inner “I want it now!”
Instead of pampering my immediate appetites, I turn my focus toward the Lord. I stir up my hunger for him. I surrender myself afresh to his rule, and I put down roots in a brand new way during this season of spiritual growth.
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent’s Message—Wake Up, O Sleeper!

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
     -Ephesians 5:14 (ESV)
Such are Paul’s words to Christians—his wake-up call to believers like us—to lay aside things that we so easily slip into: impurity, covetousness, filthy language and foolish talk. Instead, he said, we are called to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:3-14).
Even if we do not walk in overt darkness, it is so easy for us as Christians to be lulled to sleep. The day-in and day-out responsibilities tire us. Sometimes life simply drains the life out of us. Our once vivid, vibrant pursuit of Christ starts to fade. The cares of the world exhaust us, and we go into an emotional dullness and spiritual drowsiness.
Therefore, we need some regular wake-up calls in our lives. Lent is just such a time. Forty plus days are set aside for us to be shaken awake—to become spiritually alive—in a brand new way.
In the early sixth century, Saint Benedict called Christians to abandon a life of lukewarm faith. He invited them to pursue of life of prayer, memorizing Scripture, growth in Christ-like character, and manual labor. The opening words of the Rule of Benedict still challenge us today:
Let us arise, then, at last,
for the Scripture stirs us up, saying,
"Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Romans 13:11).
Let us open our eyes to the deifying light,
let us hear with attentive ears
the warning which the divine voice cries daily to us,
"Today if you hear His voice,
harden not your hearts" (Psalm 95:8).
Every believer can resonate with these words. While many of us will not join a monastery, we can all respond to God’s wake-up call.
In order for us to walk in the light, as Ephesians 5 exhorts, we must wake up. Let us use the coming six weeks of Lent as a wake-up call to revitalize our walk with the Lord!
© 2016 Glenn E. Myers
For Lent the church has always emphasized fasting, prayer and giving alms. See Matthew 6: 2,6,17, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets . . . when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . when you fast. . . .”

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Longing for Lent: Marked by the Cross on Ash Wednesday


By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”
            -Genesis 3:19
Ash Wednesday falls on March 1 this year. It marks the beginning of Lent, that forty plus days set aside by the church for nearly two millennia as a time to dedicate ourselves afresh to God.
If you have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, it is a powerful experience. Each person goes forward to receive the sign of the cross in black ashes on his or her forehead. Young and old, men and women, clergy and lay, all receive the ashes. We all stand on level ground before the foot of the cross and the realization of our mortality.
Often the words of Genesis 3:19 are spoken as we receive the ashes. It is quite sobering! I have come from the dust and ashes of the ground, and in due time I will return.
Such a stark reality begs the question: How am I living my days here on earth? Am I telling those around me just how much I love them? Am I pursuing the Lord with my whole heart? How do I need to number my days? What needs to change in my life? Psalm 90:3, 12 states:
You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
. . .
Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Ash Wednesday is a tremendous teaching tool. As we hear those words and have ash smeared on our foreheads, it is humbling, it is instructive. It brings a renewed sobriety that sets the stage for Lent. If you have never participated in Ash Wednesday or Lent, I encourage you to do so. I welcome you to a wonderful encounter with the Almighty.
This year I am longing for Lent more than I can ever remember. I cannot wait for this season of seeking God to begin in earnest. I want the Lord to search me and try me, removing any wrong way—and lukewarm way—in my life. In the depths of my soul, I am aching for Ash Wednesday to usher in this powerful season of Lent. I am yearning for God to bring fresh transformation to my life!

© 2016 Glenn E. Myers

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cascading Light, Fountain of Life, River of Delight

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.
                        -Psalm 36:7-9

God’s light cascades down without ceasing to our physical world. God’s life showers down as a fountain from our Creator’s presence to earth! Without divine light and life, we could see nothing. However, in the Almighty’s light, we see light!

Catching Glimpses of God's Glory
For the past number of years I have practiced catching glimpses of God's glory throughout the day. Perhaps the morning sky displays God's splendor as I drive to work in the morning, or maybe a glint of sunshine on the pond outside my office reflects the Lord's glory. Such glimmerings of light are but a refraction of divine light and resplendence. They offer us a window through which I may see--if I am attentive--a peek of uncreated Light and Glory that cascades down through creation. 

To catch such a glimpse of God's glory can turn our whole day around. 

Not only do we catch a glimpse of divine glory, we must respond. Like a cosmic game of "pitch and catch" with our Heavenly Father, he sends us glory and we send back praise. 

2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Light and the Glory

“God is light, and in him is no darkness.”
   -1 John 1:5 

Light is one of the most powerful images of God. God is light. Light of the Divinity is brilliant, blinding all who try to look directly into it. 

Ultimately God is beyond our comprehension. Standing outside the time-space continuum in which we live, God is above anything our created minds could grasp. The image of physical light gives us but a tiny glimpse, a hint, as to God's brilliance. Who and what God is surpasses human understanding. 

God's light displays God's glory.
The term "glory" has been all but lost in our contemporary culture. About the only place we use the term is in sports, describing the short-lived honor of winning an athletic contest. While such recognition is worthy, it falls far short of genuine glory.

True glory is the splendor of the skies, bursting with color and new life at dawn or blazing across the whole horizon at sunset. Glory is displayed in brilliance of light and breath-taking grandeur. Beyond human accomplishment, true glory lifts our eyes toward the heavens and transports us into the transcendent. 

Such cosmic glory, in turn, points beyond the material world. Glory that we see with our physical eyes is but a window to the uncreated glory of the Divine. God, enthroned in eternity, flashes light and splendor and majesty. Whenever people in Scripture had opportunity to peer into the spiritual realm, the eternities of heaven, they stumbled for words to describe the resplendence of God's glory. (Rev 4)

That glory, then, cascades down into creation. The physical heavens declare God's glory, as Psalm 19 tells us. As we see light and splendor across the skies, we get a taste of the divine glory flowing from God's throne!

2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Sunday, January 22, 2017

God’s Glory All Around Us: Opening our Spiritual Eyes

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
-Ephesians 1:18-19

Last Sunday morning on the way to church the sun saw shining beautifully in the crisp, cold air. As the rays of light glimmered on the snow, I caught a glimpse of the glory of God.

God’s divine splendor beams down from his throne into our world. The light we see here is a reflection of the Almighty’s uncreated brilliance. Sunlight is a manifestation of God’s resplendence. Indeed the brightness I see is a theophany—a glimpse of God’s self-revelation.

Often we miss God’s glory. Instead of seeing with spiritual eyes, we simply look on with natural sight. In Ephesians 1:18-19, however, Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be opened up to see the invisible realities of the spiritual world. In particular, he prays that our eyes would be able to see God’s incomprehensible riches, power and hope poured out toward us. In the same way, the Lord can open our eyes to see God’s glory declared in the heavens (Psalm 19:1).

This year I pray that the eyes of my heart would indeed be opened to see spiritual realities manifest all around me. In particular, I want to behold God’s glory overflowing into the physical world all around me!

2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Light Shining from Heaven: Epiphany

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . . The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
-John 1:4-5, 9

During these dark days of December and January, we crave light. We need the sun’s warmth when nighttime temperatures plunge below zero. We need the sun’s light to give us energy and cheer. We need the sun’s rays to offer us hope of springtime just a few months away.

Although barely two weeks into winter, the days are already becoming longer. I find myself peering out the window each morning, watching for the sun to rise. Then, especially in late afternoon I can see how much longer the light lingers in the evening sky.

Jesus came into the world as light. When light shines forth, the source is not changed or diminished. That source keeps shining as if nothing had departed from it. So our Lord’s light shines in our lives and in the whole world.

Our God is pure light. God shines forth without ever being diminished or changed. God shines forth in creation. Every beam of light from the sun and the stars is but a reflection of God’s light beyond our seeing.

As we watch the sun get stronger week after week this winter, let us catch a glimpse of God’s invisible light. Let us see God’s light shining in the darkness, transforming us with his brightness and warmth!

2017 © Glenn E. Myers

This series is Creation Proclaiming God’s Divine Nature, as Romans 1:20 declares, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”