Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Take Time for Fun

For those of us who maintain heavy teaching or ministry schedules from September to June, summer provides the opportunity to "catch up" on all those things we set aside during the academic year. House projects, filing, crafts, gardens, reading, letter writing, and other tasks eat up our discretionary time, and before we know it September is here again.

This summer, don't forget to guard time for relaxation and play. God did, after all, create a weekly day of rest and recreation; he also provided a year of Jubilee. We weren't created to carry continual, on-going stressors or demands without reprieve; and when we do, our health and functioning suffer.

What one thing can you do for "play" this summer? What one thing can you participate in just for fun?

Take time to giggle and laugh and enjoy the life you've been given, no matter what your circumstances. Your soul will thank you for it; you'll be glad you did.

'Til next time,

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hymns On-Line

Another way to encourage your soul this summer might be to reflect on the words (or listen to) various hymns, both classic and contemporary. Here are a few web sites that provide lyrics (and in some cases the ability to hear) hymns from various ages. Enjoy!

(When found in quotations, the descriptions of these sites are taken right from their websites. Otherwise the descriptions are my summaries.):

The Cyber Hymnal:. "Thou­sands of Christ­ian hymns & Gos­pel songs from ma­ny de­nom­in­a­tions—lyr­ics, MI­DI files, scores, pic­tures, his­to­ry & more. Search­a­ble, ad­vanced Au­to­play fea­ture, free down­loads. New en­tries ev­ery week. Us­er friend­ly. Big­gest site of its kind on the In­ternet."

HymnSite.com: "The hymns and psalm tunes posted at this site are in the public domain. You are encouraged to download, use, and enjoy any of the music that you find. Other than what you see in The United Methodist Hymnal or in The Standard Psalm Tune Book, none of it is arranged or voiced."

The Lutheran Hymnal: "These are the traditional songs of worship and praise from Lutheran Hymnals presented in midi, in mp3, in lyrics and in sheet music."

New Song On-Line: "The mission of NewSong OnLine.org is to make people aware that there is Christian music with a good beat. MIDI, MP3, Video, Music Comparisons, Articles, Awards, and Family Safe stuff."

John Wesley's Methodist Hymnal: Found at Christian Classics Ethereal Library entitled A Collection of Hymns, for Use of the People called Methodists.

A private list of hymns to enjoy provided by Lassen Technologies

Name That Hymn: A great place to search out hymn lyrics.

HymnLyrics.Org: a completely searchable data base of over 11,000 hymns (printed lyrics and audio provided)

That's enough to get you started.

Happy hymn hunting!

'Til next time,

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Task of Christian Scholarship

Something to think about from John Piper:

"The task of all Christian scholarship—not just biblical studies—is to study reality as a manifestation of God's glory, to speak and write about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it. It is a massive abdication of scholarship that so many Christians do academic work with so little reference to God." (John Piper, The Pleasures of God, p. 298)

Either Christ in all, through all, and Lord of all, or He isn't. Hmmm...a challenging thought.

'Til next time,

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Five Ways to Nurture Your Soul This Summer

By now, most of us who were leading spring Bible studies or classes have wrapped up our semesters and are looking forward to a few weeks or months off from regular lesson preparation.

Downtime, recreation, junk reads, lazy beach days--these are some of the things we equate with our summers off. But don't forget to feed your soul.

Here are five things you can do this summer to foster some soul time:

1. Take a personal mini-retreat. By that I mean, take a day, or a block of six hours, or a two-hour chunk of time, and set it aside for prayer, reflection, stillness, and meditation on God's word. You don't have to have a big agenda, nor do you have to go away, to experience an effective mini-retreat. Try going to your local library or coffee shop. Or, better yet, go to the home of a vacationing friend or to a local park where you can find alone time. Then commit to spending the time you alotted in prayer and in God's word.

2. Try recording your thoughts on faith, God, the Bible, prayer--just some aspect of your spiritual life (in a journal or notebook or on tape). Set aside an hour each Sunday for processing your thoughts.

3. Read a short, classic Christian work. Try Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, or A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy, or Ole Hallesby's Prayer, or Andrew Murray's The Deeper Christian Life. Try journaling about what you read. (For free classics, check out the Christian Classics Ethereal Library on-line.)

4. Write a psalm or hymn.

5. Watch a sunrise from a hilltop and worship our Creator God.

Summers can be busy times filled with fun, travel, and activity, but if plan for it we can include "still" time for our souls.

'Til next time,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

How Big is Your God?

I stumbled upon this quote by A. W. Tozer this morning. It's something to think about.

"History will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history positively demonstrates that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. For this reason the most portentous fact about any person is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like...." (from The Knowledge of the Holy)

I suppose this would be especially true for those of us who teach.

Just how big is our God?

'Til next time,

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Motivational Quote

From Henri Nouwen's Mornings with Henri J.M. Nouwen:

"Listen to the book. By that I mean read the Bible; read books about the Bible, about the spiritual life, and the lives of "great" saints. I know you read a good deal, but a lot of what you read distracts you from the way that Jesus is showing you...

Your thirst for knowledge and information often makes you desire to own the word, instead of letting the word own you. Even so, you will learn the most by listening carefully to the Word that seeks admission to your heart."

So, fellow teachers and leaders, does the Word own us?

'Til next time,