Thursday, November 20, 2008

Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 4-6

Miller begins by laying out the 4 core yearnings that develop early on in all our lives. What are they? What have we learned about these longings--from the book and from our own experience? What happens when those yearnings are met or unmet?

It's significant that Miller describes those yearnings as longings for things that are "perfect." Because the reality is that people have responded imperfectly to our perfect desires just as we responded imperfectly to theirs. Some people--maybe even the people who mattered most--may have even gotten in the way. And maybe their voices have even gotten into our heads. We hear things like, "you're not very pretty, or smart, or lovable, or good enough." They are voices that daunt us, shame us, and limit us.

Miller calls these voices, or maybe more accurately the destructive power that begins to animate these voices, "personal evil." What Miller calls personal evil sounds a whole lot like what Paul calls "strongholds."

Read and reflect on these false arguments that can take foothold in our minds and hearts in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

What voices, if any, are we hearing? Is there a script that plays in your head? if not now, was there one that used to play in your head, or one that periodically reoccurs?

Pray together against those voices...against those strongholds.

May we become a people who are graced with truth and who quickly recognizes lies, who call them out and who give no room for them in our community.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Walking Golden Hill

We spend a lot of time walking the streets of Golden Hill. The community is geared that way. There's small markets close by, some great food joints, coffee houses, and friends close by. I can even easily walk to Hamilton's Tavern for a pint and a Charger game. A number of mornings every week, we also prayer walk. Walking and talking, to one another and to God. Listening. Seeing. Those are fast becoming some of my favorite times in our new neighborhood. There's something about getting out and walking. Seeing and hearing, even smelling the neighborhood. I get a feel and a sense of the place that, well, I just can't get any other way. And God seems to use those times in powerful ways, to connect us to Him, to this place, and to one another.

I usually bring along my camera and snap a few photos. The sky. The architecture. And the sidewalks. The sidewalks here are amazing. Many are crumpled and in disrepair. Dates are usually stamped on them, proudly by contractors from past eras. Many go back more than a hundred years, I wonder the stories these sidewalks could tell. The glory says after the turn of the 20th century, when Golden Hill was a neighborhood for affluent businessmen working downtown. The chicano era of the 60's. The gang-run days of the 70's-90's. The people and the families that have lived here and walked these streets.

— Jon

Monday, November 17, 2008

La Linea

Maybe it's just me, but it seems every time I turn around, someone in our neck of the woods is stepping outside the cultural current and bringing the worlds of Mexicans and Americans together in innovative and intriguing ways. Rob and Tim attended the first of many pastors + borders gatherings last Friday, hosted by our friends at Ecclesia Collective. Then Adapta Project has been facilitating a series of very cool art based experiences, bringing together an artist from Tijuana and one from the U.S., in their Adapta vs. Sezio events.

Love it.

deeper into colossians

As we read through Paul's letter to the Colossians, here are a few commentaries I'd highly recommend if you want to dig in...

a little deeper:
N.T. Wright's very short, very readable, and very practical commentary on Paul's letters:

N.T. Wright's classic and more thorough commentary on just Colossians and Philemon:

real deep:

Walsh and Keesmaat's intriguing look at Colossians from a unique and insightful counter-cultural perspective:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Psm 19 - from Christiana

This morning Naomi (who's 8 months now!) woke up at 6:00am. I fed her and rocked her and she fell back asleep..... but I stayed awake, lit a candle and decided to spend some time in the Psalms, listening to God. Psalm 19 is where I landed. It refreshed my soul today with its beautiful, poetic word pictures that stretched me outside of my small world. Not only does this chapter paint a picture of God's glory in creation but it speaks of His intimacy with the deepest part of our being - our SOUL, which is often hidden from others but known by God. It ends with, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

I hope this brings you encouragement as it did for me this morning. As we read through Miller's "Secret Life of the Soul", may we come to know more of the beauty of God in His creation, His word and His intimate redemption of our souls. And may we begin to experience freedom as we learn to trust each other with our souls.

PSM 19
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice [b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure,
and all of them are righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.

11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(By the way, Derek recently wrote a song based on psm 19 that we've been singing in our church!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Secret Life of the Soul - chapters 1-3

Most of us were raised to keep the deepest part of us private. It's that secret secluded place we've learned to slink into whenever we're scared, hurt, confused, or just plain embarrassed. We do it so instinctively in western culture that we usually don't even see it happening. But here we are packing up our bags (or unpacking them) and moving towards a shared life. And that means we're probably bringing our private, vulnerable, but well-guarded souls into a community. That could be scary, and it might even tempt us to begin constructing even more sophisticated retreat routes into our private souls.

I wanted to begin the formation of our community by reading Keith Miller's The Secret Life of the Soul together in hopes that we would not only understand our own souls better, (and the stuff we've surrounded them with), but so that we would understand each other's souls better. Not just so that we would know and be known, but so that we might learn how to fight for each other's souls so that we never have to retreat or fight alone. So as you read, read with that ultimate aim in mind. Here are some other questions we're asking ourselves from the 1st 3 chapters:

What has been your understanding of the soul?

What works against your soul?

What does the broken, disillusioned soul of a child instinctively begin to do very early on in life?

How does that instinct play out in your life?

How could that instinct play out in our community?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."
—C.S. Lewis

I read this quote today, which I thought was particularly fitting given the book we're now reading through, The Secret Life of the Soul, by J. Keith Miller.