I enjoy a good mystery. Give me a PD James novel and I can be lost for days in the unexpected twists and turning pages. Agatha Christie always keeps me enthralled with her dry British humor and bright well-developed characters, the surprise endings that I never guess. My wife actually got me started, Sharon is a voracious reader, always with at least one going, sometimes staying up half the night. Lately she has been seen reading just a part of an “Aggie”; a few pages that fell out of a thoroughly used paperback. She had read it many times but could never remember the ending!
There has been a group of men meeting in our home weekly for many years. We actually grew out of the Promise Keepers movement from the early 90’s. We call it the “Thursday Guys”. Occasionally we invite someone new to join us, but there is an expectation of long term commitment. There has been some coming and going; it is not right for everyone. There is a circle of tight friendship, camaraderie and accountability and importantly ... transparency.
Word origins and their histories are fascinating, especially the sometimes very creative stories that grow up around them. Etymology is the study of the origins and history of words. It was a fun hobby of my dad’s and he would enthusiastically regale me with some newly discovered history of a common word or phrase.
I recently read an article by John Ortberg about soul-fatigue. In the article, John explains that this kind of fatigue happens when we stay up too late and rise too early; when we try to fuel ourselves with coffee and donuts and refuse to take time to exercise; when we push unpleasant emotions under the surface and keep going as if nothing were wrong. The result is that we feel separated from God, ourselves and others.
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm hooked on Downton Abbey. I've watched all four seasons and look forward to each new episode with great anticipation. And I guess I'm not alone, as the series was awarded a Golden Globe and is one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world.
We received a report from one of our Spring 2012 attendees:
For the last 6 years I have suffered with the effects of fibromyalgia. The main issues were pain in my low back and legs and very low energy with no endurance.
Because of your faith filled prayers Jesus has healed me. I have had no pain since I woke up the Monday after ALR. I have energy to do all kinds of things. I worked in my yard for the first time in years, I can stand at the stove and cook for us. I have lost 5 pounds just from being off the couch so much.
This was not the first time I have been prayed for but this IS the time all the prayers were answered. Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow.
God is so faithful. His healing power is available to all of us who believe. When we prayed with Sue, we were simply doing what Jesus modeled for us: the prayer of faith makes the sick person well. Thank you Jesus, for your healing power in Sue's life. Thank you for all that you did in our hearts during this weekend in April. Can't wait for the Fall!
My friend Jane Hansen Hoyt wrote a wonderful little book called "The View from Above - Living Life from God's Perspective." Druci and I have been reading it as part of our devotions. This morning's passage applies directly to ALR, so I thought I'd share it with you.
Seek the Stillness
"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15). This is God's promise. The quietness of the morning is a special time for me. I love to sit silently in my favorite blue rocker with a cup of tea in my hand and the Bible open on my lap. My mind is still; my heart is open; and my spirit is expectant as I center my thoughts on the Lord. A sense of peacefulness and worship surrounds me as I sit in the stillness of my soul. It is a place in which I love to linger.
In today's fast-paced, ever-changing world with its many demands, quietness seems like a luxury we must purposefully seek. Yet, it is one of the most needful and profitable exercises of our souls.
Technology and social networking have linked us instantly to the global community. Cell phone capabilities make it possible to feed us our emails and text messages wherever we are. We are never "disconnected" from the demands for our attention. Everyone needs an answer or wants a response, even if it is only a few words. Most days, the atmosphere seems filled with the noise of these demands.
Jesus modeled something quite different for us. It is a lesson of great value. When the crowds pressed in around Him, when the demands of ministry and distraction of many voices stirred around Him, He simply took time to turn away from it all and find a place where He could be alone and quiet, a place of solitude and prayer. He talked to His Father. He was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works. This is why He said, "I can of Myself do nothing...I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 15:4).
It is in this place of quietness that we hear His voice more clearly and learn His ways.
We need silence and solitude. Take time for these luxuries today.
I have to admit, silence and solitude have been in pretty short supply in my life lately. That's one of the reasons why ALR is so special to me. It's a reminder of how important it is to set aside regular quiet time in my daily routine. And spending a weekend -- twice a year -- where the focus is on silence, is so good for my soul. Have you registered for the retreat yet? Hope to see you there!
Spring is a wonderful time to get away and spend some time with God. At ALR, our spring retreat, which will be held April 20 - 22 this year, is always well attended. You'll enjoy the beautiful setting of Fort Flagler this time of year -- the trees are blooming, the daffodils are out, and there's new life everywhere. After a long, cold, winter, it's great to be able to spend a weekend in a beautiful setting, listening to God's voice and enjoying some quiet time before the business of summer begins.
It's hard to believe that it was 25 years ago that Steve and Sharon Schell talked with my wife Druci and me about doing a "silent" retreat out at Fort Flager. We certainly had no intention at the time of making it a twice-yearly event for the next 25 years of our lives!