Book Review: Embracing Obscurity


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I received an advance reader’s edition uncorrected proof in advance of publication in exchange for an honest review.

Most people have the desire to be known and be somebody. Our society celebrates those who are able to produce an audience. The holy grail of our culture is to be known. This desire gets played out in the social media scene with the fixation on collecting friends and followers. We act like being known, or being “somebody,” will give us the significance we desire.

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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”

Driving Out Vice

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From St. Francis of Assisi

How Virtue Drives Out Vice

1. Where there is charity (love) and wisdom,

       there is neither fear nor ignorance.

2. Where there is patience and humility,

       there is neither anger nor disturbance.

3. Where there is poverty with joy,

       there is neither covetousness nor avarice (greed).

4. Where there is inner peace and meditation,

      there is neither anxiousness nor dissipation.

5. Where there is fear of the Lord to guard the house (cf. Lk 11:21),

      there the enemy cannot gain entry.

6. Where there is mercy and discernment,

     there is neither excess nor hardness of heart.

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God Alone is Enough

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Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes
God never changes
Patience obtains all
Whoever has God wants for nothing
God alone is enough.

~~ St. Teresa of Avila

 

St. Teresa was an amazing woman and Christian. Her passion for Jesus is inspiring. Someday I hope that I can truly say that God alone is enough.

Like a Plant…

Flowers at Branson “The spiritual life is like a plant growing in a garden” – Dr. Susan Muto

I’m not much of a gardener myself. My daughter wanted a garden when she was about eight years old. She wanted to use her birthday money to purchase seeds. So, as any good parents would do, we let her purchase seeds. It was then that I realized that a garden doesn’t just “happen.” A garden takes work. It takes a lot of work.

First I had to prepare the ground since we never had a garden before. This meant buying dirt (which I think is completely wrong…paying for dirt!) to add to the sandy soil we have. Then came the planting, the watering, the weeding, the watching, putting up a fence to keep our dog out…etc. To be honest, we are not real good at gardening because we want the garden to just grow. We didn’t weed that often and it was hard to remember to water it.

What was the outcome? Some plants grew and others didn’t. The corn never came up. Neither did the green peppers. We did have some beans and jalapeno peppers though. It was kind of a hit and miss garden I guess.

I think Dr. Muto is correct. Our spiritual life is like  a plant in a garden. John Wesley talked about the change that happens when we are regenerated. That is as if God is planting a seed into the soil of our soul (soil he prepared through prevenient grace). There is a good chance that the seed will grow, but there is a chance that it won’t grow.

Wesley talked about the importance of keeping the ordinances of God. He felt prayer (private and public), scripture reading (private and public), attending the Lord’s supper, community and other such acts were vital to one’s spiritual life. For me, these things are the weeding and watering of the spiritual life. Keep in mind that we don’t ’cause’ the growth because of what we do. God is the one who provides the growth all through grace. What the disciplines (ordinances) do is put us in a position where we might receive that grace. After all, Wesley called them the “means” of grace. They are avenues in which God’s grace can flow into our lives. By neglecting them, we neglect the very things that can help our spiritual garden be a beautiful garden.