Tag Archive | Jesus

A Riddle: Why is present-moment awareness so important?

Jesus was a riddler and so riddles must be important. ‘Why is present-moment awareness so important?’

As Jesus said, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow..’ (Matthew 6:34)

Getting through the tough times

Getting through the tough times

Interview with Gavin and Anne Calver, based on their new book ‘Stumbling Blocks’, posted in Baptist Times Online

rediscovering Christian contemplative practice 4

rediscovering Christian contemplative practice 4

Facing our difficulties mindfully – serialisation of day 4 of A Book of Sparks – A Study in Christian MindFullness

in Baptist Times Online

Rediscovering Christian Contemplative Practice part 3

Rediscovering Christian Contemplative Practice part 3

Serialisation of day 3 of A Book of Sparks – A Study in Christian MindFullness in the Baptist Times Online

Rediscovering Christian contemplative practice part 2

Rediscovering Christian contemplative practice part 2

second article in Baptist Times serialising A Book of Sparks – A Study in Christian MindFullness, how we are shaped in the pattern of this world, the empty self as a construct of our consumer world

mindful eating

On Tuesday someone paid for us to go to Bel Canto the restaurant in London where the waiters and waitresses sing opera as you eat. It was an opportunity to eat mindfully as the starter and main course were exquisitely presented and full of flavour. It was probably the best fish soup starter I have ever savoured.

But what does it mean to eat mindfully, and who advocates it?

I first came across the idea of eating mindfully in Carl Honore’s book In Praise of Slow, where he talks about the Slow Food movement started in Italy by culinary writer Carlo Petrini. One of the ideas in this combatting fast food is to eat much more slowly and really savour the food as you eat – really paying attention to what you put on your plate and how you eat it. As someone who lived on a tea estate and was taught how to make a pot of tea with tea leaves and who lamented the rise of tea bags this really appealed to me.

I then came across mindful eating exerices in psychology. Therapies like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) have a mindfulness exercise where you eat one raisin, really paying attention to it with all your senses. Mark Williams and Danny Penman have a similar exercise in their book Mindfulness- a practical guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World they call the Chocolate Meditation.

These mindful eating exercises are called reality-focused, that is they are not religious but neutral and can be used by anyone, even thought they have their roots in Buddhist Insight Meditation.

But should Christians eat mindfully? Of course they should, because Christians are called to be reality-focused. But also Christians should be able to add another dimension to mindful eating. One is to bring back the forgotten art of slowing down before you eat and giving thanks beforehand through what used to be called saying Grace. We can also emphasise the communal aspect of eating together in physical, emotional and spiritual attunement.

In the book of Genesis in the Bible in the first chapter God looks at all He has made and this is what it says, ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ (1:31). God looked mindfully at all that He made and declared it very good. We should look at the food on our plate in the same way, with attention, mindfully and aware of its created goodness. And then we should give thanks for the Provider of this goodness.

As Christians we are called to scrupulously honest. We have forgotten to be thankful for the food we have been given, and have been sucked in to eating mindlessly along with most of the world. We haven’t shown the way in mindful eating. We need to be honest and admit that the mindful eating exercises in MBSR and MBCT are a good thing and that others have shown the way to mindful eating. The Slow Food movement is a good thing and we should be part of such a movement especially as it challenges food production values.

Daniel ate mindfully and with awareness (Daniel 1:12) and Jesus turned water into wine. With spiritual awareness our own meals can be transformed into an encounter with God’s grace.

Engaging with culture

Engaging with culture

Evangelical Alliance Culture Footprint article

the mystery of mindfulness part 3

Sometimes we need to focus on the riddles and mysterious statements Jesus makes, staying with just the one or two verses of that riddling.

For example what does Jesus mean when he says this in Mark 4:21-24?

He said to them, ‘Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

‘Consider carefully [see] what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’

A clue is that this has to be considered in the context of the rest of Mark 4. Two key questions are: what is the lamp, and what is being measured?

 Jesus was a riddler. And wrestling with riddles sparks new neural pathways in our neuroplastic brains.

So what does Jesus mean when he says this in Mark 4:21-24?

He said to them, ‘Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

‘Consider carefully [see] what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’

In the context of Mark 4 which is about the seed and the sower, with the seed being the Word of God, the lamp is also the Word of God. The echo is of Psalm 119:105,  ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ But what is being measured? And what will be received? The clue is in what the good soil represents in the parable of the seed and the sower. And the answer is worth waiting for. The answer makes Jesus a major contemporary player in a key cultural phenomenon.

The good soil is the attentive listener the one who attentively hears the Word of God. Another aspect of Mark chapter 4 is the hidden nature of God’s revelation, which also requires us to be attentive. Jesus begins the parable of the sower, with the imperative, ‘Listen!’ He ends it with ‘He who has ears to hear let him hear.’

He repeats this with a variation in verse 23, ‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ This is followed up so that we get the point about being attentive hearers with ‘Consider carefully what you hear, in verse 24. Literally he says ‘see what you hear.’ Akouein in verse 23 is apparently a present imperative which means a continuous turning to God’s Word in attentive hearing.

What are we listening for? We are listening for God’s revelation. What Jesus is saying is that the more attentive we are the more revelation we will receive. With the measure you use (of attentiveness) it (revelation) will be measured to you (v.24).

 The sad thing is that we don’t value this attentive listening (a Christian version of mindfulness) to the Word of God in a continuous way. Of course we have to ask, ‘how do we do it?’, and that is another matter. Jesus is the master and commander of attention and we should listen attentively to him.

 

Mindful of mystery part 2

Jesus was a riddler. And wrestling with riddles sparks new neural pathways in our neuroplastic brains. I dare you to wrestle with this one.

What does Jesus mean when he says this in Mark 4:21-24?

He said to them, ‘Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

‘Consider carefully [see] what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’

In the context of Mark 4 which is about the seed and the sower, with the seed being the Word of God, the lamp is also the Word of God. The echo is of Psalm 119:105,  ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ But what is being measured? And what will be received? The clue is in what the good soil represents in the parable of the seed and the sower. And the answer is worth waiting for. The answer makes Jesus a major contemporary player in a key cultural phenomenon.

mindful of mystery

Sometimes we need to focus on the riddles and mysterious statements Jesus makes, staying with just the one or two verses of that riddling.

For example what does Jesus mean when he says this in Mark 4:21-24?

He said to them, ‘Do you bring a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”

‘Consider carefully [see] what you hear,’ he continued. ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.’

A clue is that this has to be considered in the context of the rest of Mark 4. Two key questions are: what is the lamp, and what is being measured?

I’m going to leave it as a riddle to think about, and I’ll come back to what I think Jesus is saying.