Month: November 2014

3 Ways to Practice Spiritual Disciplines Every Day | RELEVANT Magazine

3 Ways to Practice Spiritual Disciplines Every Day | RELEVANT Magazine.

 

This might probably be one of those articles you roll your eyes at because of the title.

But I always felt that Spiritual Discipline is something we all know as head knowledge, and that we know it is super hard to act out/ practise, and we really just decide to shrug it off and use the excuse of it being too hard and just never get about trying to really discipline oneself about it. I know for sure i did that time & time again. Really thankful for reminders with great advices from such writings.

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3 Ways to Practice Spiritual Disciplines Every Day

It’s not as hard as we make it out to be.

By Nathan Foster   |   Nov. 25 2014

Being disciplined is one of those things that most of us agree is worthwhile, but lack the energy to really pursue. The “spiritual disciplines” sound like a great project for when we get the rest of our lives in order. In the mean time, our spiritual lives content themselves with a little church attendance, some vague sense of goodwill and strong beliefs.

It’s a familiar story. It’s how mine started.

But then I went looking. I needed something more. Like so many, the brand of Christianity I’d known had run its course. It had grown shallow. So I embarked on what would turn out to be a four-year journey intensely and intentionally practicing twelve ancient spiritual disciplines—practices like prayer, fasting, meditation, confession and simplicity.

What I discovered permanently changed not only my view of God, but also the way in which I engage in spiritual life. Here are three takeaways I gleaned.

Practice Responding to God’s Love

Spiritual activities work best as an active response to God’s love.

Engaging in spiritual practices as a guilt-motivated duty is just not helpful. The disciplines are an invitation to an adventurous, wild romp with a God who is absolutely crazy in love with us. They are not an obligation, and are best practiced simply as an active response to God’s love.

Serious practice of the disciplines for other reasons is potentially dangerous. For example, if we perceive failure at our spiritual exercises—and were not rooted in God’s love—then we just found a new reason as to why we don’t measure up and the disciplines become just another tool we use to self-shame.

Almost worse, if we are not grounded in God’s love for us and we become successful in practicing the disciplines, pride works its way in. We start thinking we have earned something. At that point, we’re on our way to becoming bitter and resentful—the hidden bondage of a smug and judgmental soul that only legalism can create. In other words, our spiritual exercises become Pharisee training.

We have to start where we are. If we don’t know that we are loved unconditionally right here right now—not as we should be, but as we are—then that’s where we begin. For some people, the best practice they can do is to simply sit in silence and prayerfully ask God to reveal how He sees them.

In working with the disciplines, we’re simply pursuing ways to be present before God. For some, slowing down or getting adequate sleep just might be the most helpful practice to place them in a position to be attentive. Wherever we are, it’s critical we don’t try to be heroic and overdo it. Spiritual formation is a long and slow work. Therefore, setting unattainable goals as an attempt to be super-spiritual is only a set up for failure.

Practice Creativity

The disciplines can be creative and fun.

There is much to say about suffering and how deeper movements toward God can be unsettling and painful. In fact, many of my experiences with the disciplines revealed this. However, we needn’t shy away from such things or be afraid. God is good and constantly birthing beauty into our lives.

Conversely, and even surprisingly, I found a great deal of my work with the disciplines could be creative and fun. God seemed enthusiastic to meet me in the midst of my life.

Ways to practice the disciplines specific to my individuality as a human and my personal circumstances in the ordinariness of life seemed to find me. For example, for the discipline of submission I learned to submit to God while submitting to the wind on a 100-mile bike ride.

I learned about prayer from touching the hand of a recently deceased friend and while praying for strangers in boring meetings. I did various food fasts, but also fasted from email, technology, and sex. As a way to serve others, I passed by all the good parking spaces and opted for the long check out lines. For the discipline of celebration I took my wife to a prom for adults. I even found cleaning my house could be a spiritual act.

All of this was done before God as a way to lay my will and life before him as a living sacrifice, as an active response to his love.

 

 

Practice Grace

The disciplines are about growing in Grace.

Grace is not just something that “saves” us. It’s much more than unmerited favor that determines how we spend the afterlife. Dallas Willard used to often say that what we get out of the disciplines far exceeds what we put into them. This is grace.

I take my little effort and carve out some time to pray, to study, to fast, or to submit. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t, but what really happens is far beyond what I can see and understand. God is deeply at work shaping, molding. and helping me become a person I was previously unable to be. This is grace.

The concept of the spiritual disciplines is really quite simple: We do the practices that Jesus did. Over time these practices become habitual, thus enabling us to respond to life in a way more like Jesus would if he were to live our life.

As we submit our will to spiritual practices, God’s grace brings forth character transformation. This seems to be the dominant means God uses to bring about change in our lives.

Christian spiritual formation is the process of becoming people formed into the likeness of Christ’s character. If I want to respond to life with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, I can’t just force or fake it. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I quickly learn the quality of my spiritual habits.

The disciplines are not about trying; they are about training. And, like most training it takes time, lots of time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking about the spiritual disciplines as something you only do for 40 days or even 40 months. The process of becoming people who organically love God and others well is more like 40 years.

 

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/3-ways-practice-spiritual-disciplines-every-day#YtJtRTreXLqI1aAh.99

Winning poems from 1st Migrant Workers Poetry Competition | TODAYonline

Winning poems from 1st Migrant Workers Poetry Competition | TODAYonline.

POCKET 2

Still in the same world, we belong to different spheres

You on that side and me on this:

we can do nothing but remember each other

The memories of you and me hang like posters

on the wall of the Ekushe bookfair

at the doil field, under the shade of the bakul tree at Charukala

at Hakim square, in the hoodless rickshaw

at the florists of Shahbag, at the open field of TSC

on the water of Ramana lake

in a night of shades and lights

on our bed of love

/

I remember when I returned this time

my heart dissolved in your tears

The pocket of my shirt was wet

Reaching the end of my memories

I wear that shirt every night

and write love poems to you

Do I really write poems

Or do my poems cry with me?

(Zakir Hussain Khokhon)

***

SHADES OF LIGHT AND DARK

Maybe I feel something.

A soft heart or a gentle breeze, a sensation

Maybe a night of wakefulness

Shades of light and dark floating in the moonlight

/

Maybe I am waiting for someone, and someone for me.

Maybe one evening, a garden of clouds would desire me,

only me. In a warm magpie forest,

constellations whisper.

/

Maybe I am losing myself in a dream

Maybe a generous shade lulls me to sleep in broad daylight

And the vortex of sand and water pulls me in.

/

Maybe I am waiting at the gates of a kingdom.

Perhaps a bird, a strand of grass hides in my world

The breeze from the sails of the horizon

raising the rhythm through the calm nocturnal sea.

/

Maybe I will see a kite looking for its string

A paused rain drop, a search

waiting in front of me

Magic has spread a mountain of illusions

calling us by waving discarded feathers

/

Maybe I will step into the rumblings of a forest

A leaf, a summer, surrounded by the golden sun

on a field full of harvest

A lonely elusive call losing faith and closing its fists.

/

Maybe I am waiting for a moment

An impression, a smell or an empty house

A feeling of silent tiredness

Walking down the path of prose that excites my soul.

(Rajeeb Shil Jibon)

***

LESSONS FROM CIRCUMSTANCE

   Dowry

O Firefly!

Have you also engaged

your daughter to be wed?

Does the fear of dowry

burn in your belly too as fire?

   Mother

When

I fell, not knowing how to walk,

you would pick me up

But

when you fell, unable to walk

I pushed you

away. Regards, the

modern, (un)civilized family

   Money

A peculiar disease.

The world’s deadliest afflictions

cancer, AIDS, ebola,

even love

kill by their presence.

Money alone

kills by absence.

(N Rengarajan)

Reese Witherspoon | RELEVANT Magazine

Reese Witherspoon | RELEVANT Magazine.

I thought, this might really be illegal. I really am not sure whether I could do this or not, but I love this article too much I know I just need to share it. Its available to be read on The RELEVANT website for non-subscribers, but only for a day. But I really want to remember & re-read this again & again.

Reese Witherspoon

On choosing better roles, finding a better perspective and making the world a better place

You should see my hotel room this morning,” Reese Witherspoon says.

It’s early in the morning, but she’s all buzzy charm, with a light bulb smile, an easy grace and, evidently, a slightly scattered hotel room.

“It’s chaos!” She laughs. “Pancakes and milk and fruit and teenagers and just—” she pauses, waving her hands over her head, “mess.”

Nothing about her seems like a mess but then, some messiness is unavoidable, given her recent schedule. After a couple of slow years, marked only by the occasional rom-com, Witherspoon appears to be attacking her career with renewed zeal and focus.

“I think, for a few years, I was a little bit lost as an artist, not being able to find what I wanted to do, making choices I wasn’t very happy with,” she says. “What started this whole string of things was just getting back to wanting to play interesting, dynamic characters.”

She has certainly done that. Starting with a small but significant role in 2012’s Mud (a film which, notably, also kickstarted the career of Matthew McConaughey), Witherspoon is easing her way back into the sort of powerhouse films that made her an Oscar winner. She brought the house down at the Toronto International Film Festival for her searing work in Wild, which she also produced. She also has work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated Inherent Vice. Next up, she’ll be starring in Wish List, director Paul Feig’s first film since he changed the comedy game with Bridesmaids.

“They all just happened to come out within three months of each other,” Witherspoon laughs. “I’m having a bit of a traffic jam.”

Walk the Line

The night before this conversation, Witherspoon had attended a party for the premiere of her newest film, The Good Lie, in Nashville, Tennessee.

It sounds strange to say, but it’s true: Reese Witherspoon is just good at being a star. She’s been at it long enough to master a tricky balance. She’s elegant, but approachable. She’s humble, but skirts any sort of fake “aw, shucks” humility. She walks into the room and the guests visibly electrify. She’s short—shorter than you would think—but she positively hums with energy. It’s infectious.

Obviously, this sort of hyperactivity is par for the course any time a star appears, but there’s something different with Witherspoon. There’s an ease to the way she turns from person to person, focusing her eyes on them just so. She has neither a hungry need for approval nor the droning plasticity of bored courtesy. She asks for each person’s name and says it back to them, with just the slightest hint of a Southern drawl that all her years in Hollywood have failed to completely scrub away. She has a knack for putting everyone around her at ease and seems to be genuinely enjoying herself.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s happening in her hometown of Nashville (that night, the governor of Tennessee called her “Nashville’s favorite daughter”). Maybe it’s the fact that her career is easing into a dynamic, hugely successful second act, replete with Oscar talk.

Or maybe it’s just that this is what Witherspoon does.

 

Reese Reignited

The Good Lie truly kicked off Witherspoon’s return to form. She plays a frazzled, unraveling immigration worker suddenly tasked with finding employment for three refugees fresh off the plane from South Sudan. It’s an unglamorous role for Witherspoon, refreshingly distant from the “white woman saves the less fortunate” genre it so easily could have turned into. In fact, that was part of what drew her to the film.

“I met with the director and the first thing he said to me was, ‘This movie isn’t about you. I want to be really clear about that.’ I’ve never had anybody say that to me before,” she says. “I was really happy, because I didn’t want to make a movie where it was just a white, American girl coming to save the African people. My character is just as emotionally distraught, she’s just as lost, she’s just as without family as they are.”

It’s just as well Witherspoon took to the script as quickly as she did. The film’s writer, Margaret Nagle (best known for her work on Boardwalk Empire) wrote the character with Witherspoon in mind.

“She’s got light and dark going on,” Nagle says. “She’s got a strong sense of the feminine, but she’s got this strong sense of the masculine. You look at her and there’s so much going on behind those eyes. I love that she surprises you when she goes on screen. There’s fierce intelligence in what she does, and yet, she’s every woman.”


Hard to Conceive

“There’s not a lot of media coverage,” Witherspoon says of the war currently raging in South Sudan. “So a lot of people are making a comparison with Hotel Rwanda. It’s not a situation a lot of people knew about, but then, when you see the movie, it makes you want to go home and look it up.”

The script alone made Witherspoon interested in knowing more. But she had no idea just how much a little research was going to revolutionize her outlook.

“I came from a place of not knowing, other than a random newspaper article,” Witherspoon admits. “I knew very little about the story.”

Her interest was further piqued by talking to her co-stars, Emmanuel Jal and Ger Duany, both of whom fled their villages in South Sudan and made the long, perilous journey to the refugee camps on foot.

“A lot of things I know were from talking to Emmanuel and talking to Ger. I’d say, ‘Did that really happen?’ And Ger would tell us stories about walking all that way,” Witherspoon says. “It’s hard to even conceive.

“I didn’t want to just do the part in Atlanta and be done and go home to my life,” she continues. “I really wanted to see what the experience was like.”

So, in an attempt to wrap her mind around it, Witherspoon and her 14-year-old daughter, Ava, took a trip to Kenya, where they visited the Kakuma Refugee Camp—home to some 138,000 refugees.

“Just consciousness,” she says, when asked why she wanted to bring her daughter along. “Awareness. A feeling of wanting to give back. Travel is the antidote to any kind of selfish behavior. Kids nowadays, we give them access to all these technologies and things that disconnect them. The more you can show them of the world is great.

“[Ava] is a wonderful, socially conscious girl. But even a kid who reads a million books on the situation, you don’t understand until you see it yourself. It was very emotional, seeing people displaced, and sleeping on concrete slabs. Just the sprawl. Twelve different languages being spoken. Very little health care. Very little food. It brought it all home for me.”

At first, Witherspoon notes, the plan may have worked a little too well.

“[Ava] didn’t say a word the whole day. She really didn’t talk about it till a few days later. We saw women giving birth on metal tables with their infant just sitting there with no clothes on. And kids that were sick,” she says.

“There are so many times you think you appreciate your life until you see someone else’s perspectives on our privileges and the opportunities we have, whether it’s education or health care or just food or running water.”

 

Sweet Home

The danger in such trips is to see refugees as a one-dimensional mass of suffering. Witherspoon recounts a conversation she’d had with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, whom she calls “amazing.”

“He said, ‘Sometimes we assume that if people are poor they’re not intelligent. Or they don’t have anything to offer to society,’” she says. “But these are people who were at the top of their field. They’re doctors. They’re educators. They’re community leaders. And essentially, they’ve been displaced. It’s been really amazing through this process. Even two days ago in D.C.—All these wonderful men and women from Sudan are there, and they’re doing incredible things in America. One is a war veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan. One is a community leader. It’s been so educational for me to learn about refugees and their contributions to societies.”

And, according to Witherspoon, it wasn’t just those who had made it out of the camps that changed her view on refugees. The people in the camp were far different than she expected, as well.

“A really remarkable thing about it is the joy and the determination of these people to rise above, their determination for them to have a better life for their children,” she says. “Their spirit is just incredible. They greet you with joy and laughter and hugs and dancing.”

When asked how this journey—this knowledge—affected her, Witherspoon doesn’t hesitate to answer. It’s something she’s clearly considered.

“You don’t have to be a perfect person to do something great for somebody else,” she says. “The imperfections in your life might be helped by the process of meeting and helping and creating community for people who are displaced. It’s not just for the saints of the world. We can all do something.”

 

That Person

Ger Duany—one of the so-called “Lost Boys of Sudan” who ended up playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself—was cast in the early days of the film’s pre-production, before Witherspoon came on board. The filmmakers wanted to cast people with connections to the actual events depicted in the movie, and it doesn’t get much more connected than Duany, who continues to travel back to Africa whenever he can in an attempt to find his siblings—who remain scattered across various refugee camps in the area. His passion for the project is palpable.

“When [casting director] Mindy Marin called me and said, ‘Hey Ger! There’s a lady named Reese. She’s going to be in the movie with you.’ I said, ‘Who’s Reese?’”

He chuckles at himself now.

“She sent me a link and I was like, ‘Yes, of course! I know this lady! I’ve watched all her movies since I came to America! I learned English from watching these movies!’

“When I knew it was Reese who I’d been watching for many years, I was very excited because she can turn things into something that brought all of us together. We couldn’t find another person who could tell the story of the South Sudanese people who have been suffering for decades. But Reese was that person.”