In his book, “The Bible Tells Me So…Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable To Read It”, Peter Enns wrote:
“Speaking for Christians, capturing land and holding on to it by violence is not a gospel way of living. Christians today, therefore, have an obligation not to ‘follow the Bible’ here, not allow the ancient tribal description of God in the Old Testament to be the last word. These ancient writers had an adequate understanding of God for them in their time, but not for all time – and if we take that to heart, we will actually be in a better position to respect these ancient voices and see what they have to say rather than whitewashing the details and making up ‘explanation’ to ease our stress. And for Christians, the gospel has always been the lens through which Israel’s stories are read – which means, for Christians, Jesus, not the Bible, has the final word. The story of God’s people has moved on, and so must we”.
Yes, I do feel the stress as I have had many conversations with people about the violence, the genocide, and many other topics we feel unacceptable. In this book, Peter has offered many insights to help us to approach the Bible in a different perspective.
In her book, “How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season”, Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Unfortunately, communities of faith often behave as if past experiences are naturally repetitive. ‘Out attendance was much higher when we advertised in the yellow pages. We should advertise in the yellow pages again.’ In liminal seasons we need to learn new responses to changing conditions. Instead of repeating the past, we must iterate. Repetition is the recurrence of the same action or even in response to a stimulus. Repetition is static. If I do X, it will result in Y. Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t yield much learning…Iteration also involves doing something again and again. However, in iteration each new act is influenced by the previous experience and slightly adapted to learn something more. We focus on incorporating the learning from the experiment and integrating what is novel into what is known”.
In the past, my intention of visiting churches, attending seminars, and reading books is to see how much I can “repeat”. I also see churches trying very hard (I should say in their best) to “repeat” their work so that their “old glories” are able to be “repeated”. It often foreshadowed the decline of the churches.
After our intention of visiting, attending and reading is changed to “iteration”, we will learn and grow.
In the book, “Labyrinth Meditations: labyrinths for mindfulness, meditation, and centring”, Madonna Gauding’s writing deepened my understanding on medication:
“Meditation is a practice for cultivating deeper awareness, a way to gain psychological insight and, if you choose, a method of communicating with God or a higher power….is to help you overcome the limitations of ordinary awareness and expand your mind to high consciousness…Our everyday lives are like a waking dream. Rather than being truly awake and aware, we are usually preoccupied or lost in thought…We also have a habit of projecting onto others what we think they are feeling or thinking, without truly knowing whether this is so…Rather than being awake to reality as it is, and truly aware of what is going on around and inside us, it is as if we are living in a dream world – a small, confining world of our mind’s creation. Yet we are convinced that we know what is real and what isn’t…The good news is that rather than waiting for the world to shock us into awareness, we can choose to live in an awakened state all the time. Meditation is the antidote to living in a dream world…to live fully in the present moment…From this peaceful mind spring insight and awareness…”.
You are invited to follow my posts to: learn & practice meditation, and experience the power of the now and awareness.
In her book “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season” Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Anxious people tend to behave badly. And when they do, a leader’s energy is often directed at coping with the dysfunctional behavior of a few, rather than focusing on the health of the whole. An effective leader resists being drawn into the dysfunctional and remains focused on health and hope”.
I used to try my best to please, comfort, and calm the few with dysfunctional behavior. I usually end up becoming very tired and losing all my energy (and even hope) to serve and lead others. I myself so often became dysfunctional when I was drawn into the dysfunctional.
Therefore, we should not give all that we have to those with dysfunctional behavior. We have to remain focused on health & hope.
In her book, “Small Bites: Mindfulness For Everyday Use”, Annabelle Zinser wrote:
“The Buddha said that a person who refuses to recognize his or her own suffering is like a mule walking around with a heavy load, unable to get rid of it…If I am able to ask myself, ‘It is possible for me to encounter this anger, despair, or depression with compassion and embrace it with great tenderness?’ then I can guide my mind in a new direction and create the space necessary for transforming the difficult feeling. I find that using the form of a question is important. Asking a question isn’t meant to create additional stress or to suggest that I shouldn’t feel anger or fear; instead it should create openness and help me become aware that mindfulness, patience, and compassion will give me the freedom not to surrender to negative feelings. This kind of internal questioning helps me to stop repeating the story that brought up these feelings in the first place…I started to recognize the old story that had led to the painful feeling, and I was able to change the story…Becoming aware of difficult feelings in a nonjudgmental way allows you to acknowledge them when they arise without being overwhelmed by them. If you can can embrace them, just as a mother embraces her crying child, then the fear will disappear”.
In my life, I have had so many “old stories” (experiences) caused me to have negative feelings: feeling abandoned, feeling betrayed, feeling guilty, feeling powerless, feeling hurt, feeling….because of someone’s words, expression and behavior. As I started to commit myself to a regular practice of recognizing my own suffering with my Christian faith of the love of the Lord, I feel that those negative feelings have been gradually losing their strength.