Practice Makes Perfect

Andres Segovia was one of the best classical guitarists of all times. One of his students wrote an interesting article about how Segovia practiced:

This is what he taught me and told me was his method. Practice in setsof fifteen minutes, divided into two sets of seven to eight minutes with ashort break between. At the end of each fifteen minutes, take a 3 minutebreak, stand up, get a glass of water, stretch, etc. but be sure to take amoment to focus your eyes on something far away to relax your eyes from the close work of the page and the fret board and to clear your mind. Startagain and do three fifteen minute sets, totaling 45 minutes of intensepractice. This time at the end of the third set take a real break ofabout fifteen minutes. Repeat this 3-set practice routine for a total of five times. At that point you will have spent around five and a half hours.

via Classical Guitar – Segovia’s Advice About Practicing | Eric Henderson Blog.

Five and a half hours of practice? On top of this, he would do the same routine in the afternoon, and I believe also in the evening. I wonder if the reason why I don’t play better, is because I don’t spend much time practicing. I really don’t have fifteen or so hours to practice a day. Some days, I don’t practice at all. I’m sure that if I spent even one hour a day in practice I’d play guitar much, much, better. Practice transforms me and my ability to  play. Continue reading “Practice Makes Perfect”

Barely Bearable

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So, this is what I have to carry through Walmart because I love my son. No, the bear wasn’t for him. It was for his girlfriend.  Because I was going to be in town,  I said I would pick it up not thinking about the looks and questions I would get.

Love makes you do things you wouldn’t normally.  For my son it was getting a four foot bear. For me it was being seen in public with it.

Embracing our theology

Listening to Adam Hamilton caused me to realize that as United Methodists we need to embrace our theology. It is one that connects the head and the heart. Hopefully I can post more later.

— Post From My iPhone

The Point is Love

Jesus’ command to love hasn’t escaped my notice. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus agreed that it was to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It seems so clear, yet, I find it difficult.

As I spend time with the spiritual masters (and I include John Wesley in that category) I find they keep returning to love as the goal of the spiritual life. Is that what it is really all about? Love? To be honest, that was kind of a let down. I would venture that most people would say they love, and love well. So, why spend so much time focusing on love if we already love?

Wesley has help me see that the love he was taking about, Jesus talked about and the spiritual masters talked about is of a different degree (Wesley’s word) or quality (my word) than what I usually experience or practice. Wesley believed that being perfect was being perfect in love; a love that wasn’t marred by human sin (jealousy, self-will, pride, greed, etc.). It is a pure love. The kind of love that Jesus displayed when he prayed, “Not my will but yours.” The kind of love we see on the cross. The kind of love that is characterized by grace, compassion, patience, and self-denial.

I realize, now, I love poorly. So my prayer has become, “Jesus teach me to love.” After all, that is the goal.

Loving Little….Loving Much

Right now I’m preaching a sermon series on Ephesians. Paul says that at one point we were all dead spiritually speaking (Eph 2:1). He even says we "were by nature children of wrath like everybody else." (Eph. 2:3) There’s no getting around it in Paul. We are all in the same boat. If we have not made the transition from death to life by appropriating God’s gracious gift (Eph. 2:8), then we are still dead.

This is really good news because Paul tells us that God made us alive even when we were dead! (Eph. 2:4) So even if we are dead spiritually, God is more than willing to make us alive in Christ.

In his commentary on Ephesians, N. T. Wright makes a connection between Ephesians 2:8-10 which discusses God’s gracious gift and Luke 7:36-51 which is the story of the ‘sinful woman.’ I think this is an appropriate link to the Gospel, but leaves me with a question that causes me concern.

The story is about a woman who comes in and pours perfume on Jesus’ feet while he is at the party of a Pharisee. Simon, the Pharisee, sees what is taking place and begins thinking that if Jesus was really a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this was and not let her touch him.

Well, apparently, Jesus did know what kind of woman this was and took her actions as a sign of gratitude that she had been forgiven. Jesus then puts Simon on the spot by asking him who would be more grateful (or love more), the one who was forgiven a debt of a few dollars, or of many dollars. Even Simon knew the one who was forgiven the most would be the most grateful.

Jesus then points out how Simon didn’t even show the smallest expression of graciousness or gratefulness in welcoming Jesus into his home. Yet, this woman continued to wash his feet with her tears and anoint him with her perfume. Why the difference? Simon didn’t see his need, but the woman did. Because of that Simon didn’t offer any expression of love, but the woman did.

As I reflect on being dead in my trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), and how God has made me alive even when dead, I realize how much like Simon I am. That leads me to the question that causes me concern: What kind of response do I offer? It seems like going to church once a week, praying on the run, rushing through Scripture, or any other type of spiritual ‘guilt’ appeasement doesn’t reflect the kind of depth and gratitude God’s gracious act deserves. You know what I mean…the things we do to say we did them. Our hearts might not be in the act, or we might feel that we ‘just don’t have the time’ so we do what small things we can so we can call it done. Do our practices reflect what we know about our need and God’s response?

Maybe we love little because we don’t understand or realize the depth of our need and the extent of our dilemma. When we do get a sense of that dilemma and what God has done so we might be free, then we might be able to start living lives of grateful response to God’s act in Christ. I have a feeling our lives will begin to look vastly different.