Why Did Jesus Use the Sycamine to Illustrate Unforgiveness?

"One day when Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends, he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, "We call it the forgiveness flower." This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives-freely, fully, richly." (Thanks to our friends at PreceptAustin.com)

http://www.renner.org/forgiveness/why-jesus-compared-unforgiveness-to-the-sycamine-tree/

I find it fascinating that the word sycamine is pronoucned Sick - a - mine.

I also find it fascinating that the Master says, …If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. — Luke 17:6 

Interesting how what we say is so integrally related to our faith--which comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  The tongue is a fire, James reminds us.  Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The parable of the soils is all about our quality of hearing and the fruit therefrom.

Rick Renner does a masterful job of pulling to the surface in the article above and video below why Jesus compares unforgiveness to the sycamine tree.  

As we forgive, our hearts become free and we enjoy the aroma of the forgiveness flowers (flow-ers) all around us.

Forgiving, we see is For Giving.

Royal We

Our Royal We

Our Royal We

A dear friend of mine found himself in a situation where he had every right to assess and point blame.

A decision had been made that potentially was going to cost some pretty serious money. 

I was so impressed by my friend, who said, "We didn't get it done but this is what We are going to do now."

Thats Noah's older two sons' approach to covering their father's drunken nakedness.  It is Daniel's approach when interceding for Israel.

Daniel 9:3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. 4 And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments." 

Who hasn't utterly blown it and really just wanted to not stand there alone?

Royal.  We.  It's easy to assess blame and point fingers:  it's royal to share the burden.

We?  Oui!
 

 

 

On context

AG selfie

AG selfie

If I say, "Hi, Jacker", to my eight year old when he comes down the stairs in the morning, it is very different than when you yell "Hijacker" on a 747 at 26,000 ft.

The above pic is my favorite and I in front of the American Gothic house in Eldon, Iowa.

If you don't know what American Gothic is, the photo is just another Meggi-selfie.

But context helps us to sagely interpret our world.

Grant Wood's. 

Grant Wood's. 

Recently, I was trying to finalize commission splits on a transaction we were working on.  

It seemed ridiculously clear to me and my broker pal repping the Buyer:  three Brokers, easy math:  1/3, 1/3, 1/3.  

We did the majority of the work, afterall.  Only fair.  

Only Seller's agent says, affectionately--pound sand, boys.

And as I was whining under my breath about greed and self-centeredness, the Holy Spirit asked me if I wanted to do a little Bible study and I said, obviously, No.

And He persisted like He does and He asked, "What is your context?"

I said, losing confidence:  the last 90 days of our work.  

I was more than a little peeved that the Seller's Rep felt HE alone ought to be entitled to half while my pal and I ought to SPLIT half.  I mean--we brought the buyer, we resurrected the deal.  Without us:  there is no deal.  A little self-righteous indignation-- when He makes you listen to yourself becomes apparent faster than the Bolt from Jamaica, mahn.

Holy Spirit said, Ok:  so, what's his context?

As soon as I got past The Who Cares portion of my response, I glanced at the other guy's perspective. 

He'd had YEARS of working on keeping the property filled.   Hundreds of phone calls, who knows how many showings.

So, HS asks in His gentle way--What is equitable from his context?

At which point I called the Sellers' broker and apologized for being myopic and self-centered--by describing the context Holy Spirit had been kind enough to give me--another's, in this case, his.

The Bible reveals whole new arenas of wisdom when context is considered.

As does walking around trying not to forget about it whenever I am tempted to feel slighted.

Re-read and re-explore your favorite passages from an historical context or a Hebrew context.   It is revolutionary!

image.jpg

What are your "secret chords"?

Sitting here in the Bahamas looking out over the sea, listening to U2's "Bad", (Live), thru new headphones, my emotions are rising with the volume.  

"If I could...I would...let it go...Surrender...dislocate..." 

"If I could...I would...let it go...Surrender...dislocate..." 

I remember the euphoria in Chicago at Soldier Field a few years ago feeling like Hilda Canes Garduno wrote, “My reaction to `Bad' was visceral.  Goose bumps. I wanted – no, needed – to know who this band was.” 

How blessed I feel to be here, gazing out at the competing blues of many waters--hearing it again.  And again.

Sheryl Crow (on my Bootlegfiend Napster account) introduced me thru crap computer speakers late at the office one night to Cohen's famous lines,

"I've heard there was a secret chord

That David Played and it pleased the Lord

But you don't really care for music, do you...?"

It was 1981.  I was 12, the age our oldest is about to not be anymore, shortly after my Mommas first bout with breast cancer.  

Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981.   And that theme music will help any boy fighting anything from any era up to this day--like Rocky's theme or Star Wars'--if he lets it all the way in.

His is the voice of many waters.  Timeless.

Sometimes Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs sound like Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'--

Freddie and the boys are tapping into our primal pains and lonelinesses and plaguing fears, teaching us to sing them out like exorcisms as our tears stream like Apple Music.  

Crank it up, let

it in and

let it out.  

They say the shepherd boy David hung a harp in the trees and the breeze played it at night with His invisible touch.  And David himself played the Kinnor so masterfully it made the demons flee from his afflicted King.

A girl I took to prom a thousand years ago's brother died the week before last and I remember/heard Genesis' Invisible Touch album--my life toast jam at that time--and caught a glimpse of just the kindness of her smile that quietly set a standard for the caliber of kindness and smile I held out for and will get to see here in the Bahamas in just a few minutes when she gets done with her workout.  

And so I cried for her--for her loss--which led me back to Sting's 'Why Should I Cry for You' and a whole slew of my own un-revisited lost moments from the era that song contains.

That's music--a huge part of why I treasure LaLa Land and Sing Street and Begin Again--they're odes to the power of music.

Genesis is the First Book of the Bible.  Invisible Touch is always how He moves me.  And that is Him and it was how He spoke to me, then.

I just didn't know it in the marvel and solitary confinement of my lostboy youth.  

A lot of times someone says they never hear His voice--because they didn't realize He was the one who led you to Coldplays Fix You this AM that grabbed you by the larynx and didn't let go for 4:54 

Your life has a soundtrack. 

What are your secret chords?

Take your time. listen for your music and to it--for your music has been waiting for you.  

 

Should you really be ashamed of yourself?

It is something that you used to hear a lot as sort of a throwaway line:  "you should be ashamed of yourself."

Really?

IMG_4582.JPG

Christine stumbled across this tee shirt I hope she acquires for me soon that says, "Surely they weren't ALL Kung Fu Fighting..."

I've studied shame and cage-fought it on and off throughout my time on planet earth.  I win way more than shame does these days, to be sure--but I've also found its concrete, Biblical antidote.

This morning I was doing this word study and I ended up re-discovering two words in my ZODHIATES Key Word Study Bible.

1) one Hebrew word for shame is pronounced buwsh in Zodhiates key word breakdown of the Strongs concordance #954 and it means to be/feel ashamed, to make ashamed, to be disappointed.  The word appears in the context of humiliation and shattered human emotions.  

I was arrested by this phrase:  "The opposite meaning is trusting God."

What Zodhiates says about trust--a la "trust in the Lord with all your heart" is equally delightful.  

It is Hebrew #982 and it means to attach yourself, to trust, to confide in, to feel safe, be confident, secure, to be careless.  RSV sometimes renders it "rely on".--the basic idea being firmness or solidity.

He goes on to say this type of hope is  confident expectation, not a constant anxiety.

So trust in God, literally, is the opposite of shame.

So, no, you shouldn't.  

You should trust God.

 

Quick Note on the Anxiety Surrounding My Stuff and How to Take the Loss

Me, now, with new friends from all from the Grimes Library--that's right Library of Congress, 2nd isn't that far down the line.

Me, now, with new friends from all from the Grimes Library--that's right Library of Congress, 2nd isn't that far down the line.

Our assignment over the weekend and into Icy Monday was:  office purge.  

Half-Price Bookstore needs books, too, Megs.  

Sure, I agree:  not mine, though, right?

I was putting distance to a minor anxiety attack when my wife looked at me and said, "Honey, you look like maybe you're a little paralyzed."

The emotion was closer to discovering you're driving on black ice at 23MPH.  I barely understood her because she was speaking to me while I was trying to negotiate the black ice.

My friends, I mean, books, were shuttled by me from the shelves to the desk to the floor and then I stopped and looked at them.  And then I realized I still had no idea what to do with them.   How to even begin to choose who should go when all should stay.  

I promptly mumbled something spiritual and headed up to the shower to steam it up a little in the wake of one of her great Clarifier questions:  

"Does it bring you joy or just help you feel less anxious?"

Ouch, stop it.  Black ice.

How is your relationship with your stuff?  Slippery?

Christine has been reading and sharing nuggets from this great little conviction manifesto called Present Over Perfect (why yes, Shauna Niequist, if my books were still going to be present, that would be perfect).

It's kind of hoarding.

So, Holy Spirit, what is up? 

      Just the feeling

      of avoiding this for              

      years.

Hear me:  I'm not kidding around about learning how to Walk the Talk and Hear His Voice.  

But this right here is where Brene Brown's vulnerability rubber often forgets to meet "the spiritual" road--I often forget to practice what I preached:  in my LAST POST.  

I forget to talk to Him.  I forget to start my day basking in His Word and love.  I forget to ask and lean.  And I subsequently get wrapped around poles from all the black ice veering and I neglect to steer back into His heart and ways.

He was not surprised.  Knowing is sort of His jam.

Sometimes I agree with the wrong team.

So,

I just decide and actually let them go?

Y

  u

     P. 

And so I do, because once you hear, it is mostly sort of easy:  Two FULL boxes.   21, son.

But make no mistake, Prophetic Acts are spiritually violent.  My pal Becky said on my way over this AM to sell them, "Now don't you buy anything while you're there."  

Oh, my type is known.

I even took some other stuff I have an unhealthy relationship with to my pal down at Solar Pawn after some ridicu-licious chicken Ramen at Krunkwich and, dear Reader:  I'm proud to say, I took the loss.

Is there anything in your life that really needs to go but you believe for some reason you'd be better off somehow if it stayed?

Hit the ejector seat.  Miss it when it is gone:  you will never have the chance if you never let it go. Cue Frozen song.

It isn't impossible.  

It is hard.  But the game of inches battle toward genuine freedom is worth it.

Fade to Black...

How High is Your Idle?

Have you ever sat in a car when the idle was stuck too high?

It can be a little unnerving, right?

As I began to just soak in silence for a few more minutes a day than usual, it really began to occur to me that to Be Still and Know that He is God is first an invitation to Be Still.

And I hadn't been recognizing a few places where I wasn't even on the fareway to still.

How High is Your idle set?

I was reminded that our brain is between our "temples", for example, these high places of pondering.

I saw that sugar removal was a final frontier, a land no Megs had gone before and stayed, in the battle for stillness.  Less Coffee?  Are You Maaaad?

They're proving, as Simon Sinek pointed out in his millenial talk, that the same chemicals that release in our brains with booze and gambling, for example, are released when we check social media.

It "swipes" perhaps more than we think.

I can lean in for a really long time, but thanks to St Arbux and too many sweets, there is still a dull thrum of too much activity on a chemical level.

So, I'm taking steps.

And I'm recalibrating.  I learned how important breathing deeply is last year, too.  It is a journey.

I sat with one last week struggling with anxiety and I asked them:  so, when is life sweetest and the anxiety least-est?

"Let's see, I guess when I start the day off in the Word and pretty much spend the day chatting with the Lord..."

Hmm, say I, as the answer sinks into both of us.

Less than 24 hours later I was sitting with another wrestling with chronic physical pain and I asked the same question.  "Hmm, I guess when I start the day off in the Word and really just spend time with Him."

Say, I think I'd do more of that.

So a couple weeks in, ask Him if there is a recalibration you need:  More time alone, more time in silence, less sugar, more exercise, more time at the movies, for heaven's sake--but the challenge is not to go after what you think the thing He is targeting might be, but instead ask Him to show You what He is wanting to work on.  

Sometimes, there isn't grace for what you may think the problem is--but there is always grace for what He is suggesting.

Right now, with me, He is working on slowing my roll, slowing my idle to the place where I can come to peace in moments and hear clearly without all the need for speed and skittles I'm so accustomed to.

When too much is coming for our attention, we can lose our keys.  

It got so bad a few times last year, I lost my whole car. 

I pray today finds you blessed and rested and increasingly aware of where your idle lies. 
 

 

CALL TO SILENCE

It's time to slow down and zip it on purpose--at least for this guy  

It's time to slow down and zip it on purpose--at least for this guy  

The article linked below from June of this year indicates, "The average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen.  A new Nielsen Company audience report reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of this year. The report...included how much time we spend daily using our tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs."

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen/

So, tomorrow, as best I can for at least the rest of the year:  I'm going to tithe the one o'clock hour to unplugged silence.  Monday thru Friday:  No calls no texts no Internet no feed checks.   Just Him and me and whoever else feels the nudge.

My hope would be to gather some steam to spiritually reverse the above-recognized trend.

You are welcome to join me.   

Not everyone's schedule will work for the one o'clock hour, obviously.

But I'm going to go--as best I can--to Lutheran Church of Hope, my church, our West Des Moines campus and sit--with whoever is there--and really try to just engage in listening to my Abba.

I have quiet time most everyday, in the early AM.   This isn't that.

There is something about investing our productivity time and listening corporately to His heart that makes me smile.  

Plus, I feel like it was His idea.

So, wherever you are--whether it is a minute at one or an hour at midnight or longer if you have it and feel so inclined--let's lean in and listen to the heart of Our Father--more than we check Facebook or play Minecraft or Tweet or Pick-a-News source or Netflix or even work and make calls.

I'm going to start in WDM tomorrow:  12/01 at one o'clock.

I don't want to be religious about it; I do want to invest my heart in it--slowing down, on purpose.

I keep thinking about George Washington Carver and how he would just wander outside and say, "Lord, the world is too big for me--tell me about the peanut."

And what the Lord showed him, literally, helped to save a soon-failing economy no one at that time saw coming.

Hope this finds you blessed and rested!

Megs

A tension? Attention!!!

I can't remember where I parked but it doesn't matter because I can't remember where I left my keys.  Oh, they're in my hand.

I can't remember where I parked but it doesn't matter because I can't remember where I left my keys.  Oh, they're in my hand.

Christine asked me to look for her sunglasses and I reported that they were not in her purse.

Now, in fairness, her purse I've nicknamed the Panamanian Mangrove and ordinarily refuse to go in there for fear of being trapped-to-drown when tide rolls in.  

But this time, there were only like five items total in it.

Including her sunglasses.

This is not my first rodeo.

But like so many times:  I sincerely didn't see them.

Because--as I've learned in some of my readings lately--I wasn't looking for her sunglass Case:  I was looking for her sunglasses.

Plus, I have a lot on my mind, I'm discovering.

Today?  Today was not heavy lifting: get the fab five to girls on the run 5K, find Uncle Nate, don't lose Jack, ooper, walk back to get goTessgo posters from van, walk back, wait; take cam back to van, we forgot SIM card at home, walk back, see them off, find a portapotty because WDM had closed down the restrooms for the season and a thousand people descended after I made and consumed coffee, bought donuts and heavy Duty Vitamin C as it is cold and flu season and the oldest was fighting off something night before last, talk to Jorgie and retired Marine, try to block oldest hearing old retired marine Wow-he-just-said-that, double time it back to the finish line in double double time because our middle was crushing her time and texted my friend about a deal we are chasing, then the other one and then we take the phone pics, pile in, get home, make and eat lunch, get our ladies out the door for a play back downtown for them and remember to get the gift for the youngest bday party tonight but don't forget your oops need to turn around forgot the things you pay with and the chip is fine but slow and no no, let's order CASEYS pizza because the littlest also has a basketball game tonight and we are out of homemade dough makings.

And I managed to pull off a nap and a couple hours of foursquare with the boysies before letting this stream of Saturday out along with some dishes and sweeping and a couple other texts and phone calls and emails and iPhone pics. 

But the nap was for sure cut short because we have a doorbell and our favorite wee visitor loves to use it when our youngest isn't using it, himself.   Usually when you guessed it:  

Im napping.   

There is a classic study on the subject of this attention tension described in Daniel Levitin's THE ORGANIZED MIND.

There is a video that comes from the psychological study on attention by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.   Because of the processing limits of your attentional system, they essentially prove over and over that we don't see what we are not looking for--at one point in the video where folks have been encouraged to count how may times the players wearing the white tee shirts pass the basketball while ignoring the players in the black tee shirts--a man in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the action bangs his chest and walks off.  

And most in the study don't see him.  I didn't the first time I saw it.

Because their attentional system is overloaded.

Like mine and like us, here in America, almost every minute of every hour of every day when we are not aware or on the lookout.  And it is stressful and subconsciously, we feel like we are missing something--because we are.

A lot of instances of losing and misplacing and not remembering or finding things, Levitin suggests, is nothing more than our attentional systems being over-taxed.

Which brings me to Brenna Manning, who reminded me in ABBAS CHILD the other night that "the agnosticism of inattention"--the lack of personal discipline over media bombardment, shallow reading, sterile conversation, perfunctory prayer and subjugation of the senses--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim."

Whoa, wait:  "--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim.."

We struggle with our a where-ness?   I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten where I parked while I was on the phone heading in for a stroll at Jordan Creek.  Thank goodness I can still hear when I set off the alarm to find it!  Gang, we are becoming painfully distracted.  

It s attention's tension.

Brennan continues, "Just as the failure to be attentive undermines love, confidence, and communion in a human relationship,  so inattention to my true self hidden with christ in God obscures awareness of the Divine relationship."

There is a tension, though, isn't there?  We have a lot on our minds--as I alluded to in a previous post, something like 35,000 decisions a day.  

My attention is often divided between this and that and that and that's this and this' that before we talk about attention deficit disorder, which is sometimes I'm simply not paying enough attention to my own because I have't enough attention left.

In the realm of the Center for Relational Care, attention is all about entering another's world. And we are so often, anymore, if we are not careful to just purposefully slow down:  just barely in the present of our own world.

The danger of not slowing down our minds on purpose is reaching epidemic proportion.  Even just a few minutes an hour to breathe in where we are:  and Whose.

Breatjing deeply, being filled with His inspiration and praying something like "Lord, I'm slowing down right now just to be with You," ever-helps--if I can focus long enough and remember in this land of forgetfulness to just do it.