Daily Devotions

Know Thyself

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Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

 

I realize that the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile has been around a long time, but part of the reason for that is because it is so productive. This tool, after answering several questions, provides letters that describes your personality. For example, my personality letters are: ENFJ. The “E” tells me that I think out loud and that I am energized by people. The “N” tells me that I am a dreamer. The “F” informs me I feel before I think. And the “J” lets me know that I appreciate organization and I function better when I make a plan, rather than flying by the seat of my pants.

 

Today, I want to talk about my “N” letter. I tend to hear someone, and their words remind me of something else, which takes me in a new direction of thought. I regularly think ahead, about the future. It is just natural for me. At times it serves me well. It provides a sense of creativity and enhances my appreciation for planning ahead. But it also has its downside.

 

Being an “N” means I must work hard to remain focused in the present. Focus is a powerful spiritual tool. Thomas Sterner, in his book, The Practicing Mind, points out, “When you focus your mind on the present moment, on the process of what you are doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be. All your energy goes into what you are doing. However, when you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing. In order to focus on the present, we must give up, at least temporarily, our attachment to our desired goal.”

 

Sterner’s comment is relevant for spiritual practice. Being an “N” doesn’t mean I cannot do contemplative prayer, but it does mean I will have to work harder at it. Knowing this about myself, helps me realize were I need extra work. It also helps me know where my natural spiritual inclination resides. Today, consider your personality. Are you someone who is good at focusing in the moment, or more of a dreamer? Where do you need to work to stretch yourself beyond natural inclination? Reaching beyond the comfortable will help you meet God in a new way. New experiences with God are part of the Advent experience.

 

Not Bummed This January!

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On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

 

This is a special time of year. Sure, the weather is iffy, and it is kind of sad, taking the Christmas tree and all its ornaments down. I am also bummed, because the college football bowl season is coming to a close. Yet, there is still some joy. One, it is football playoff time! It is also a special time of year in the Christian calendar. That might surprise you. I mean, Christmas is over, and Lent and Easter are still months away. But we are still in an extraordinary time of year.

 

Yesterday we celebrated Epiphany, with the powerful impact of the three magi. The magi “from the east,” were one of the first to view the incarnate God, the infant Jesus, the Christ. Their impact may not be immediately noticed. Being “from the east,” these three were Gentiles. What a radical reality! Jesus, the infant, embraced the Gentiles, as Jesus the adult would provide opportunities for the Gentiles to be invited into the fold.

 

Epiphany alone, would make this time of year special, but no, we are not done yet. Next Sunday we will celebrate The Baptism of our Lord. In remembering our baptism, we join our baptism with that of Jesus, and all the saints who have gone before us, including the magi. This event is not just a recognition of the washing away of sins, but also a covenantal act of being incorporated into God’s kingdom and its community. It reminds us of the loving care and commitment God provides us today, tomorrow, and for all eternity.

 

You see, this is a very special week. Don’t get bummed out by the weather and the lack of Christmas decorations. Embrace the exclusive message of baptism and its invitation to all people, including Gentiles like you and me. Very few of us have generational ties reaching back to the original Israelites. Thankfully, our God decided to include the rest of us. That is a reason to keep on celebrating! Today, offer God a prayer of thanksgiving, for being willing to include you, your family, your friends, and the whole world. Thank goodness God went from being understood as a national deity, to the one true God. Thank goodness! Praise God!

 

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