Personal growth, faith, prayer, contemplation, love, oneness,

Second nature

Lord, live in me,
So I become like you,

For Saint Paul says:
We have the mind of Christ.

Then you, Lord, will become
My second nature,  

And I will gladly share
Your sacrifice. 

 

References

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20; NLT).

We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; NLT).

The Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT).

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16; NLT).

 

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Contemplation

Come, sit with me,
And seek my voice,

Then you will know me,
And rejoice.

Come, rest with me,
And seek my face,

Then you will share
My peace and grace.

 

References

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28; NLT).

Keep on seeking, and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NLT). 

Your own ears will hear him. (Isaiah 30:21; NLT).

The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him (Psalm 64:10; NLT).

Seek his face always (1 Chronicles 16:11; NIV).

May God give you more and more grace and peace (2 Peter 1:2; NLT).

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Contemplation

 

Introduction 
Contemplation is the practice of spending time alone with God, in stillness and silence. The aim is to become more deeply aware of our essential oneness with him. The contemplative process works by helping us to know ourselves more deeply, so we can be completely open and honest with God. Without such openness, there can be neither intimacy, nor unity. 

Information
Throughout our lives we experience a stream of information from our bodies and minds. This flow includes sensations, thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies, temptations, visions, dreams and nightmares. In the quietness of contemplation, these conscious and unconscious manifestations of the inner self continue to emerge.

Treasures
However, although these impressions may distract us, they should never be seen as intrusions into our silence. Rather, they are the raw materials through which we learn about ourselves. Only through becoming aware of these “treasures hidden in darkness” (reference below), can we know ourselves more fully, and thus be able to share ourselves more completely with God. 

A sequence of steps 
During contemplation, many of the issues emerging from our information flow will require only brief attention, whilst others may prove more challenging. It can therefore be helpful to practice using a sequence of steps for handling them.

Step 1
The most basic task during contemplation is to become aware of our sensations, thoughts and feelings as they rise into consciousness. These experiences will repeatedly distract us from a steady focus on God. However each time we realise our minds have wandered, we briefly acknowledge this before him, let the matter go, then return to the silence.

Step 2 
When we find we are unable to let an issue go, it helps to discuss it straightforwardly with God. This process generally enables us to decide on the best course of action to take. It is good to jot this decision down, so we don’t worry about forgetting it. Using this process usually makes it easier to set the issue aside until we are ready to act, later on.

Step 3
Sometimes, though, we will still be unable to let a matter go. This indicates the need to embrace and accept the unresolved concern just as it is, whilst continuing to sit with it, in silence.

Honesty 
By using these three approaches appropriately and regularly during contemplation, we gradually come face to face with many hidden (often unpalatable), truths about ourselves. This enables us to share ourselves more honestly and fully with God. Of course, God already knows everything about us, but because he delights in our freedom, he waits patiently for us to draw nearer to him. 

Oneness
However, God’s love for us is so great that he doesn’t always wait for us to complete the journey at our own pace. Instead, he runs to meet us, taking us in his arms and kissing us, as we unite in our essential oneness. After enjoying this closeness for a while, we return, a little more enlightened, to our daily lives.

Conclusion
During contemplation we use our awareness of the information emerging from our conscious and unconscious minds to share our deepest selves with God. This learning and sharing process continues until the very end of our lives. Then, still, silent and alone, we seek him for the final time, in the darkness of death. And this time, when he welcomes us, there is no need to go back, for we will remain wholly one with him, absorbed into his light, fire, peace, truth and love for all eternity.

 

References

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; NIV).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10; NIV). 

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

I will give you treasures hidden in darkness (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

The Lord must wait for you to come to him (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him (Luke 15:20; NIV).

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

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Always say, ‘Thank you’

Always say, ‘Thank you’
To others,

And always say, ‘Thank you’
To God.

Always say, ‘Sorry’
To others,

And always say, ‘Sorry’
To God.

Always say, ‘Love you’
To others,

And always say, ‘Love you’
To God.

 

References 

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God (Luke 20:25; NLT).

Thank him for all he has done (Philippians 4:6; NLT).

If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person  (Matthew 5:23-4; NLT).

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27; NLT).

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At harvest

At harvest, Lord,
You sift our thoughts, 
To separate the darnel
From the wheat,

Then burn our weeds
In your consuming fire,
But store the Spirit’s fruit 
Within your barn. 

At harvest, Lord, 
You probe our words,
To separate the cruel
From the kind,

Then burn our sins 
In your devouring fire,
But store the Spirit’s fruit 
Within your barn. 

At harvest, Lord, 
You judge our deeds,
To separate the evil
From the good,

Then burn our sins 
In your destroying fire,
But store the Spirit’s fruit 
Within your barn. 

 

References

NB Darnel means weeds.

Let both [weeds and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn (Matthew 13:30; NIV).

The Lord your God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NIV). 

From the heart come evil thoughts (Matthew 5:19; NLT). 

The mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words (Proverbs 15:28; NLT).

All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads (Obadiah 1:15; NLT).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

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Exile (Isaiah 9:1-7; NRSV).

Lord,

I spent my early years
In bondage;
My teens and twenties
Trying to escape.

My thirties in the desert
Of depression;
My anxious forties 
In a pathless waste.

My fifties brought me    
To your promised freedom,
A land where I could start
To change and grow.

My sixties came with sickness,  
Loss, restriction,
Yet love and joy at last  
Began to flow. 

How many years remain? 
I cannot guess, Lord.
At present, I have time 
And space to pray –

No longer far from you,
Condemned to exile, 
I dwell in you, and you in me,
Each day. 

 

References

We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand (Deuteronomy 6:21; NLT).

He has known your walking through this great wilderness (Deuteronomy 2:7; HNV).

He chose the Promised Land for our inheritance (Psalm 47:4; NLT).

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21; NIV).

You love him even though you have never seen him […] and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8; NLT).

All who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

The yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken (Isaiah 9:4; NRSV).

 

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I am yours, you are mine

You fashioned my body,
Established my mind;
Quickened my heart, Lord,
And furnished my soul:

For you are my Maker,
My bread and my wine;
O Giver of Life, I am yours, 
You are mine.

Restore my poor body,
And settle my mind;
Comfort my heart, Lord,
And nourish my soul:

For you are my Healer,
Through bread and through wine;
O Giver of Peace, I am yours,   
You are mine.

Then, strengthen my body;
Enlighten my mind;
Kindle my heart, Lord, 
And stir up my soul:

For you are my Saviour, 
In bread and in wine;
O Giver of Love, I am yours, 
You are mine.

 

References

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; KJV).

Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26-8; NLT).

My beloved is mine and I am his (Song of Songs 2:16; NIV).

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