Friday, June 14, 2013

New Posts and Series on Watch the Shepherd

Dear friends,

I've got a new post over on my Watch the Shepherd blog called Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us (Strength in Hymn). I waffled over whether to post it here (since it is about gentle mothering) or there (since it fits with my new Strength in Hymn series).  There won out, but I decided to link here anyway.  Be sure to check out the long list of links on articles about gentle parenting, some by me and some by Karen Campbell, Sally Clarkson and others.

The new series is about old hymns, with photographs and encouragement for those who might be struggling with the faith, especially those wounded by other Christians.

I have also added an e-mail subscription link to the sidebar of Watch the Shepherd.  Check it out!

The Divine Conspiracy   -     
        By: Dallas Willard
Sometime soon, I am going to start another series which will be reflections on the book The Divine Conspiracy by eminent Christian author Dallas Willard, who passed away last month.  My friend Gary Thomas told me over a year ago that I should read something by Dallas Willard to give me joy.  Thanks for the recommendation, Gary, and good call!  Here is the book blurb from CBD:

In The Divine Conspiracy, Willard gracefully weaves biblical teaching, popular culture, science, scholarship, and spiritual practice into a tour de force that shows the necessity of profound changes in how we view our lives and faith. Willard refutes "fire escape" mentality by exploring the true nature of the teachings of Jesus, who intended that His followers become His disciples, and taught that we have access now to the life we are only too eager to relegate to the hereafter. The author calls us into a more authentic faith and offers a practical plan by which we can become Christ-like. He encourages faith by embracing the true meaning of Christian discipleship.

I'm only two chapters in so far, and already blessed!  Why don't you join me?

If you haven't taken a peek at my other blogs lately, they are: - my main blog with a wide variety! - preschool and elementary - middle school - high school and beyond - theology and advocating for the vulnerable

Virginia Knowles

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Power: What Price and Purpose?

Just riffing off of a stream-of-consciousness journal entry from a few months ago...

I was thinking that there is a certain strength in having ordinary weaknesses.  In the movie The Amazing Spiderman, people turned into giant lizards capable of terrifying strength and power after being exposed to an airborne chemical.  But who would want to be that strong and powerful if they had to become a lizard to get that way?  That kind of brute strength is devoid of the sensitivity that being an authentic human entails.  It completely lacks aesthetic beauty.  It is only capable of destruction, not creation.  It wants to control others but cannot control itself.  I can't imagine living the limited life of a megalizard.  I'm not into city squashing.

In some ways, our true strength grows from our weaknesses: because we cannot do things alone, we must do them together.  Our resulting relationships and cooperation  leads to healthy inter-dependency.  Our weaknesses also remind us to depend on God's strength and to guard against the wrong kind of pride.  

Becoming aggressive (physically or otherwise) can result from using pride, power and position for what they can get for you, not to build devotion to God nor loving relationships.  It leads to ultimate downfall.  On the far opposite end of the spectrum,  low self-esteem keeps us passive, paralyzed and vulnerable to victimization.   A healthy self-confidence enables us to step out boldly in service and creativity. We can be assertive, claiming what is rightfully ours while helping others attain their goals, too. This is a win-win situation.

Physical weaknesses, disabilities and pain can challenge us to come up with creative accommodations, using our brains and hearts to keep accomplishing what our bodies can't do.  Work smarter, not just harder. Synergize.  Invent. Be aware of the struggles of others so you can show compassion.  Use whatever kind of power you have for the good of all.

We should still pursue physical strength and vitality, keep in shape, and get medical help for injury and disease. But we also realize that our inevitable weaknesses can paradoxically plant in us the humble seeds of true greatness.  Success is not just handed to us on a golden platter, but is an on-going process requiring effort and cooperation.  We learn and grow together as people made in God's image, and overcome the odds through perseverance,  effort, and supportive relationships.  

Jesus came among us in the limitations of human flesh, great power constrained and channeled into great sacrificial love.  He wants us to have true power, creative power, beautiful power. 
 If we want to make a difference in the lives of others, it cannot be by selfishly controlling them.  We must love them. Love is the strongest influence of all.


And finally, a little of what the Bible says about power and weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Isaiah 40:29

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Romans 15:1

Blessed are the poor in spiritfor theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meekfor they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the mercifulfor they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakersfor they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:3-9

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.  Luke 22:24-26

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength... But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Corinthians 1:25,27

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  Hebrews 12:12

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:16-21

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Ephesians 6:10-13
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