First News of Dickinson and Belfield - March 2007
"Preparing for Joy"
It is March, and we are still wandering through the wilderness of Lent. Jesus wandered the wilderness for forty days, and we are trying to follow his example. It's not an easy thing to do. There are many other things we would prefer to be doing. And, if we've given up something for Lent - such as chocolate - that item has never looked more inviting. We lose our focus easily, and the world intrudes.
The world tells us about all those things we need in order to be happy. That sexy hair style; that car that has so much more style - or power - or status - than any other car; that business aid that gives us that extra edge; that phone network that allows us to stay ahead of the competition; that prescription medicine that allows us to continue to compete. All those things that without which we cannot even think of ourselves as full, complete consumers. All these belong to a world of win-lose, to a world of owning and controlling.
Lent calls us into a different kind of world. To a world in which relationship is all-important; a world that is win-win.
If we share the love that God has given us with each other, we all win. There is no scarcity here. God's love is the one thing we possess that grows as we give it away. It is not something to be consumed that dissappears. The more of God's love that we allow to flow through our hearts and into the lives of God's other children, the more of God's love there is that lives in our own hearts. The more we focus on living in joy, rather than on possessing happiness, the greater is that taste of the resurrection that we experience here and now.
Jesus went into the wilderness in order to make the preparations necessary so that he could share with us the gift of the resurrection. Christ's journey does not end with Holy Week ; it continues through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and on to Easter - and beyond. Christ came to be among us to share with us his presence and to give us the gift of that taste of the resurrection that we call joy.
Joy comes from sharing God's love with those around us. It comes from a closer relationship with God. It comes from an improved relationship with our self. It is not something we look forward to in the "bye and bye", but it is something with us now.
Wandering through the wilderness of Lent helps us to change our focus. As we focus on following the example of Jesus, we begin to seek joy. And that changes the content of our lives.
May the joy of Christ be with you this season of Lent!
Copyright © 2007 DewSpirit Publishing
First News of Dickinson and Belfield - February 2007
The time in February, between New Year's and Ash Wednesday, tends to be without focus. In January, we spend time recovering from Christmas and wondering if we can keep even half of our New Year's resolutions. Ash Wednesday we start focusing on preparing for Easter. We travel through the wilderness of self-evaluation, and work on pruning that which no longer works in our life. Christmas and Lent, we spend our church time focusing on God; on the presence of Christ with us, on preparing for the gift of the resurrection that comes with Easter. Even New Year's resolutions focus on preparing to be the person God wants us to be.
But during this in-between time?We don't have an automatic focus. We don't need to focus on all the Christmas doing, or the New Year's resolutions. If we take Lent seriously, there is more than enough personal transformation for us to focus on in March and April.So what do we do now?
Our society is so focused on doing, that we forget to be. We have so many things competing for our attention that we don't even know where to look. Count all the advertising that you run into in the course of a day. Every hat with a logo; every shoe with the Nike emblem. The signs on the stores that we drive by. The products advertised on our TV shows, and within the shows themselves. Listen when you go shopping in a mall; how many things do you hear competing for your attention. Even the logo and slogans on the tee shirts you chose among in the morning compete for your attention for the rest of the day.
We no longer know how to just sit. But we were so created by God that we actually have a need to just sit. If we are so busy that we canít just sit, how then can we really hear for the voice of God?Two different Psalms tell us to "be still." Psalm 37 tells us "Be still before the Lord and wait Patiently for him"; Psalm 46 states, "Be still and know that I am God." A major focus in the Old Testament is keeping the Sabbath. Keeping the Lord's Day holy was considered one of the most important things people were supposed to do.
This does NOT change when we move into the New Testament. But our understanding of it changes some. When he was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus replied, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Keeping the Sabbath, taking time to BE with God, is a human NEED. Without it, all our busyness obscures God's presence in our lives. When our time of need comes, we can no longer find God as we have forgotten what God looks like .We can no longer find the light in the midst of darkness because we no longer know where to look.
Unless we take that time to just sit and be. To just sit and be in the presence of God. When we do this regularly, we learn to distinguish God's voice amid all the noise we run unto in our everyday lives. And once we've found the channel that God broadcasts on, we are ready to move into that time of transformation we call Lent. Then we know where we are going.
An in-between time with no automatic agenda attached to it is a good time to just sit and be. Take the time these next few weeks to just sit and be in the presence of God. Then when Ash Wednesday arrives on February 21, you will have found God's voice amid all the sounds that surround you. You will be able to use Lent as that time of personal transformation that it is meant to be.
NOT THE PASTOR'S LETTER - January 2007
I spent the last week in December trying to figure out just what DewSpirit Publishing is all about. Trying to figure out why I think it is a good thing for you to be coming to this website and reading what is published here. It was an interesting way to end my vacation.
Reading what is here and then buying my books is not a good reason for you to come. Not that I don't want you to do that, but I want this website to be more than just an online bookstore. I decided that DewSpirit is in the inspiration business. I came up with the following as a Mission Statement:
DewSpirit Publishing is dedicated to inspiring and assisting its audience to achieve the highest degree of personal the growth and transcendence of which they are capable. Our goal is to assist all who are traveling through that dark night of the soul to find that welcoming light at the end of the tunnel, and to encourage those who have made it through that tunnel to lend a helping hand to others.
I plan to add at least three other monthly columns to the one that Linde Grace White is currently writing for us. Spirit will continue to write her column, but Red, the dog that I am currently fostering from Oreo's Animal Rescue from here in Dickinson, ND, will also write a column. As both dogs are competitive with each other, I expect this will be entertaining. But who really knows what goes on in their dogs' minds?
I will continue my monthly Pastor's Letter/NOT the Pastor's Letter (for those months my church does NOT have a newsletter), and plan to add another column that will build into Dancing into Joy #2.
Spirit expects that DewSpirit Publishing will publish her book - after she re-writes it and fills it out, of course. Along with that, Red's book (if he persists in writing his column) and Dancing into Joy #2, we expect to publish again in the next 18-24 months. When that happens, anyone who has joined our mailing list will receive a discount coupon with the notice of publication.
As DewSpirit wishes to serve its audience, we are open to suggestions as to what would be helpful.
May this coming year bring blessings to us all.
Copyright © 2007 DewSpirit Publishing.
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