Tag Archives: Jubilee

Slowing Down the Jubilee Writing

Ah jubilee… my companion project for two years.  I set out to do a jubilee year at 48 going on 49, and I’ve just rounded the corner on a second lap, ending at 50.  And it’s been fun.  In the way that conviction is fun….  Fun as in cleansing and challenging and interesting and transformative.

The most important thing I learned in these two years of reflecting on Biblical principles of how to let the land lie fallow, how to forgive debts, how to make restitution, how to return the land to its original owners (and many possible metaphorical manifestations of this in my middle-class American lifestyle)… the most important thing I learned is this:

When we rely on the Holy Spirit for change, we really do care about the things that God reveals to us in Scripture as His concerns: the poor, justice, love.  And when we are living our normal, selfish lives (yours may not be; mine is), we don’t care so much.

I learned this from day one in the project.  I’m still learning it after two years.

There really is a mind of Christ, a new creation… and these are ours if we ask.  But apart from God’s infusion of His power and spirit, we live in our old minds and as the old creations we are… and in that mindset, I’d just as soon not share, not forgive, not love, not lean into God and let some things be.

Yet I think I’m changed as a result of this project in mindfulness.  I know the difference between when I’m me, and when I’m touched by God’s spirit.  And it shows in behavior.

I don’t know if Dallas Willard said this, or someone else, but it’s true: “If you want to change your life, ask for the grace to change your behavior.”  We are what we do.  Regardless of what we intend.

So thanks for reading.  And I’ll be interspersing some thoughts on this topic into my “other” (main) blog: www.holyvernacular.wordpress.com insofar as that one is about seeing God in the commonplace of life, in everything.  So just about anything fits over there.   And I think I’ve explored jubilee as much in writing as I should… it’s time to act, abide, act some more.

I’ll see you over at Holy Vernacular!

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Questions to Ask God

I ran across a website, Eternal Perspective Ministries, that has a great list: “Generous Giving: 40 Questions to Ask God.” I’m going to peruse it and reflect on the various questions, a few at a time, as a jubilee discipline.  Check out the work there of Randy Alcorn, who is a wise guide on this topic of how we use our God-given resources.

These are the questions I’m thinking about today:

“What am I holding onto that’s robbing me of present joy and future reward? What am I keeping that’s preventing me from having to depend on You? What am I clinging to that makes me feel like I don’t have to depend on You to provide, like I used to before I had so much? What do You want me to release that could restore me to a walk of faith?”

I wrote about this a couple of days ago, in a piece called Excess and Deprivation Mentality, as I was thinking about insurance and how we often use it as an excuse not to trust God, and other excesses we hold onto “just in case.”

Yet Alcorn’s question takes me a little deeper.  Does material abundance rob me of present joy?  Does my bank account balance make me feel safe (when it hasn’t just been depleted to pay college tuition)?  What do I depend on?

This question can surely go beyond the material to anything we grab at and cling to to insure (supposedly) that we are safe. It’s a good question.

… And Mourning Jubilee

I found a lovely op-ed piece in the New York Times about a jubilee tide in Mobile Bay.  Here’s a snippet from author Ravi Howard:

“On a few nights each summer — no one knows precisely when — the waters of Mobile Bay push thousands of fish and crabs onto the shores around Daphne. Decaying leaves and sediment from the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta flow into the bay, lowering the water’s oxygen level. The fish stop swimming and float to the surface. Most of them end up on the beach, stunned but alive and ready to be harvested.”

Howard goes on to reflect on nature’s gift of free seafood: “The jubilee tide is communal: there’s more than enough for everyone. It’s what some French speakers on the Gulf might call a ‘lagniappe,’ something extra or unexpected, or in the case of the jubilee, pounds and pounds of something extra, free of charge, a reprieve from the cost of living.”

I should have given God credit for natural jubilee.  It’s not all up to us, is it?

Yet we all are grieving the fact that even nature’s laws and lagniappe are thwarted by our habits and addictions, by our greed and hubris.

Even as we live in the hope of the eventual new heavens and new earth.  Come Lord Jesus.

Jubilee– You Can’t Force It

A blog reporting on an online magazine article, which references the blog.  Just the thought of it made me start singing, “All around the Mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.”  Actually I’m not sure why, but a chorus of it made for an entertaining 30 seconds or so.

I had an article published recently on Burnside Writers Collective (a favorite of mine).  It is the promised reporting-in on this, my jubilee year project, more than a year after starting it.  Check it out: http://burnsidewriters.com/2010/03/27/jubilee-you-can’t-force-it/

I wish that I saw my article there and thought, “Oh I pray that I will become more Christ-like.”  Instead my eyes fell on the accompanying photo, and I thought, “I wish I had her body.”

Ah reality.  You never let us hide.

A dresser drawer. Blankets. Diapers.

Somebody's always selling something. Apologies to the ad campaign.

Those are the basics when it comes to outfitting a baby.  Yet when do we ever stick to the basics in gimme America?  More importantly, when do I?

Thinking about parenting and consumption, I ran across this article today:

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0901&article=buy-buy-baby

Valerie Weaver-Zercher has written an interesting piece in Sojourners about the implications of our purchasing habits. Here’s a teaser line (quoting Katherine Turpin, theology professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver):

Christian faith may help us reframe the question, Turpin suggests. “That responsibility is not only to my children but to all children,” she says. “As people of faith, we want all children to have what they need.” This idea might help parents retain a global perspective on what can become a rather insular, privileged problem: shopping for baby. “It’s important to remember that our ability to get cheap toys rests on the labor of other people’s children,” Turpin says. “Getting new toys for our kids is not morally neutral.”

“Shopping for baby” is just the beginning of it.  This is a theme I’ve written about often and one I’m researching further for other projects.  Because it’s my greatest struggle in trying to live jubilee principles… my desire to do everything for my children that I can do (balanced with wanting to raise responsible, non-entitled adults).  On this subject, I’m usually preaching to myself.

Knowing Prosperity when It’s Here

I love Jeremiah 17:5-9.  Let me start by sharing it with you:

This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

 

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

 

I don’t know why I say I LOVE it; it’s hard and convicting and — as it says — I don’t even know my own heart enough to know when I’m judging myself aright as to my motives and motivations.  Like that verse where Paul says, “I have a clear conscience but that doesn’t make me innocent” (1 Corinthians 4:4).

But I do love truth.  And it does set us free.  And the truth is that a jubilee mindset isn’t possible when we think that we are the ones suffering and in need of a hand-out instead of knowing that prosperity is here, right now, and not missing it, and living as a prosperous one.

Heard a John Piper sermon yesterday in which he said that our spiritual gifts are the means by which we deliver grace to others, translating the vertical experience of receiving from God into the horizontal experience of administering grace in its various forms, or being a branch that serves as conduit for the power from the Vine, or loving with the love first given to us.
Jubilee implies bounty shared, debts forgiven, abundance acknowledged and enjoyed.  Jeremiah makes me think that that’s impossible without trusting God more than trusting man.   Parched bush… drought-free, leafy green tree.  Two different realities.  Two different mindsets.  Jubilee demands trust in God.

“We’ve Got the Power, We’re Hot, We Can’t Be Stopped”

That was a cheer I did in high school, when I was the school mascot.  I didn’t really know the rules of football, so this was a good all-purpose cheer that didn’t belie the fact that I couldn’t tell offense from defense.  And it was before “hot” had sexual connotations.  It was supposed to put our opponents on notice!

It comes to mind today because it’s the opposite of reality.  I can’t do ANYTHING in my own power.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” the apostle Paul says.  All or nothing.  Him and power or me and no power.  That’s it.

Vine… branches… abiding.  Jesus-followers know this intellectually if not experientially.  I know it both ways because I’ve spent the last few months severely detached (is that like being severely pregnant?).  Detached is detached, right?  And I’ve been detached from the power source, waddling around in the muck and mire of my own intentions and plans.

And my plans and inspirations, apart from the Holy Spirit, really don’t include or involve much jubilee thinking.  Redistribution, rest, debts forgiven… these have fallen by the wayside.

I’m feeling a bit of reconnection creeping in, a Holy Spirit longing is bubbling, a return to where I wanted to be this year is on the horizon.  But without that, sister, we are just impotent mini-me’s.  No power, no heat, no effectiveness.  Just empty cheerleaders that stir up nobody.