Heartwatch – Singing the Psalms, Benedictine style

Psalms 59:16-17
But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress,
my God on whom I can rely.

One of my favourite prayer times at the Vine, our inner city prayer room, is on Wednesday morning. At 8 am, our resident Benedictine, Peter Tigchelaar, leads us in an hour of silence, Lectio Divina (a contemplative, prayerful way of reading scripture), and singing the Psalms, Benedictine style, to ancient “tones” (tunes).

Praying and singing the scriptures has always been a core value in GOHOP. Our values document states :

We value the Word of God as revealed in the Bible as an indispensable guide to prayer and the Holy Spirit as a helper and teacher.

I recall one morning when I woke up tired and cranky, and didn’t want to make the 40 minute walk to the prayer room. I was tempted to bury my head under the pillow, I sensed The Lord speaking to me,

“Submit yourself to the psalms.”

The book of Psalms was not only the hymn book of the early church, but it has also shaped the devotional life and practice of monastics through the millennia. In light of that, it makes good sense to me to build the contemplation of and prayer and singing with the psalms into my prayer life. Plus, I can totally relate to the psalmist as he ran the gamut of human emotion, and gave voice to his process with God.

Adopt a Street in Brantford

Last night at the a Transformation Hamilton meeting at the John Perkins Centre, we got an update from our friends Dave Carrol and Brian Beattie, pastors of Freedom House in Brantford. After years of sacrificially serving their city, they are experiencing a tipping point of favour, both with God and with man. Their church helps run several major city events each year. Their kindness project has been in the papers and in the public schools. Brian is co-authoring a book on city transformation with Brantford’s mayor!

“Favour comes from continual service,” said Brian. Then he quoted Matthew Barnett, founder of the Dream Centre in LA. “Whoever shows up and stays the longest wins.”

Brian and Dave and One Church, which is a collaboration of churches in Brantford, have decided to take that favour out for a test drive to see what it can do. So this Sunday they are launching “Adopt a Street Brantford”. There are 1000 streets in Brantford. 30 churches have made commitments to mobilize their congregants to adopt their own street and pray for it daily, believing God for a breaking in of His kingdom.

So keep your eyes on Brantford, and watch to see what God is going to do!

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Resources for Intentional Communities. Stephen Covey on Emotional Bank Accounts

Tonight was our Community House meeting. One of the rhythms of Greenaway House is to meet monthly to deal with any logistical and relational issues, and also to explore teachings that help us do community better. Each of us takes a turn leading, and we share different things we have learned.

Today I was teaching, and I pulled out one of my favourite teachings from Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People www.stephencovey.com, about emotional bank accounts.

Stephen says it much better than I could:

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

We’ve all experienced relationships where our emotional bank accounts are low, or overdrawn. How about when everyone is walking on eggshells around someone (hopefully not you)? Or housemates are hiding in their rooms? “I live alone together with 7 people,” I once was told by a friend.

Stephen says the most constant relationships, say for example the people we do intentional community with, require our most constant deposits.

Here are six ways Stephen says we can make deposits:

1. Understand the individual. What is their love language? I show love by serving, and I’m not so big on gifts. You may think you’re showing love to your housemate, but you’re not speaking their language at all. Find out what it is. What is important to them? What do they like to eat? What are their deepest dreams and desires? Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to step out of our own autobiographies and stop imposing them on others.

2. Attending to the little Things. Small courtesies, friendly greetings, little kindnesses, and a general demeanour of honor and respect make a biiiig difference. As an experiment, attend to how you greet the people in your house, and kick it up a notch in favour of friendliness.

3. Keeping Committments. “Yes, I’ll do my housework today…maybe.” “Oh, was it my turn to cook dinner? I forgot.” Nuff said.

4. Clarifying Expectations. This is a really important one for intentional communities. Many times we have implicit expectations that we don’t share, but do bring to the table, usually from our families of origin or other shared living experiences. We have found it critical to have a Community House Agreement in writing, which clearly outlines expectations and committments, and new housemates sign when they arrive. (Email me if you want a copy of it to see)

5. Showing Personal Integrity. Tell the truth. Covey says “A lie is any communication with intent to deceive.” Respect confidences. Be loyal to those absent. There is nothing that can degrade intentional community like people complaining about housemates to other housemates, rather than having the courage and love to address issues face on.

6. Apologize Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawl. We all mess up, have bad hair days and cranky moments. But a good apology goes a long way. Kirk and I, when newly married, made it a game/challenge to see who could be quickest to repent, and step back into the relationship with humility. I was pretty good at it, mostly because I had to repent so often!

Covey wraps it up by saying, “when we truly love others without condition, without strings, we help them feel safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity, and integrity.“. That’s a dream we can all have for our intentional communities.

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Mark Scandrette and the Spiritual practice of Simplicity

I’ve spent the last three days sitting under the teaching of Mark Scandrette, who is in Hamilton sharing material from his latest book, “Free – Spending Time and Money on What Matters Most.”

I first stumbled across Scandrette’s teachings a couple of years ago when I read his previous book, “Practicing the Way of Jesus” and took a small group of leaders through his innovative approach to discipleship. His philosophy of spiritual formation shaped quite a bit of GOHOP’s internship.

I was excited when I heard about Mark’s new book because I have found that the spiritual practice of simplicity has been an essential and enlivening part of our journey with GOHOP. When our car died, we didn’t replace it. We share a community house with four other adults. Dates are often rented movies from the library, and $5 chips from the chip truck down the street (yum!). We shop in thrift stores, and this year, am going to make many of my Christmas presents. Setting aside patterns of mindless consumption have freed us to invest our lives in something that matters deeply to us and is a force for good in our community. Life is rich and deeply good.

So if anyone feels a disconnect between their dreams for their lives, and the actual out working of those dreams, if you feel stuck on the hamster wheel of financial obligations, if you are “caught up in the thick of thin things” (to quote Stephen Covey), I highly recommend Mark’s book. www.markscandrette.com

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Wanna See and Hear What You Missed?

24-7 international has made the main sessions of the 24-7 International Gathering in Dublin available online on YouTube, for your viewing enjoyment.

http://www.24-7prayer.com/features/2116

My favorite one is Pete Greig’s wrap up on the last day, where we met not in a church, but in the basement of a pub! “Feels like we’ve come home,”

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Unpacking the Gifts of the 24-7 International Gathering

We’ve been back at home for a few days, unpacking, letting everything that happened settle down into our spirits. I dropped something off at a friends house last night and he said, “you left us on a cliffhanger after your last blog! What happened next?”

Soooo much.

What to share? I’ll roll out a few highlights over the next few days, and link you to some of the many fantastic conference sessions that are available online.

Here’s a fun quirky confirmation that we saw at the beginning. The building right beside the conference was a company called GOHOP! How crazy is that? Here are some pics from their advertising that seemed to have some double meanings from The Lord. Could have been a coincidence, but I’m not so sure…

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Day 13 – Preparation

We’ve arrived in Dublin, and for me meetings are now in full swing. We’re at Encounter Culture, an international gathering for 24-7 Prayer. I’ve started meetings a day early with the senior leaders from 24-7 all over the world. To be honest, I’m not sure how much time I am going to have in the next few days to post, but will do what I can.

I had a interesting thing happen when we arrived in the Dublin Airport. During the pilgrimage of the two previous weeks, I had lots of time spent with God, much solitude, silence, and prayer. However, I seldom sensed the presence of The Lord in a clear, tangible way. I did once in the prayer room in Stanford, once in a garden in Iona. But for the most part, the pilgrimage time felt like more of an emptying out than a filling up.

However, as soon as my feet hit the ground in Dublin, I sensed His presence immediately. It felt like I was a bathtub being filled up inside, and by the time I hit customs, I was almost vibrating with holy electricity.

I was happy (of course) but surprised, frankly. Why here? Why now?

Preparation. The thought settled in my heart immediately.

So here I am, a-buzz in Dublin, and waiting to see what The Lord will do.

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