The Second Stream

The Holiness Tradition: Discovering the Virtuous Life

I always considered “holiness” the idea of doing all the right stuff. Churches that focus on “holiness” are often apparent in there overtly modest clothing. I remember a holiness church group that had a youth camp, and they required boys and girls to swim in separate swimming pools. The idea of true holiness cannot be better described than in the words of Richard Foster:

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignleft]Holiness is not rules and regulations. Elaborate lists of dos and don’ts miss the point of a life hidden with God in Christ. No single standard of behavior is dictated by the word holy. All external legalisms fail to capture the heart of holy living and holy dying.

Holiness is sustained attention to the heart, the source of all action. It concerns itself with the core of the personality, the well-spring of behavior, the quintessence of the soul. It focuses upon the formation and transformation of this center.

Holiness is not otherworldliness. Its life is not found by developing logic-tight compartmentws of things sacred and things secular. We do not come into it by studiously avoiding contact with our manifestly evil and broken world.

[Get ready for this…]

Holiness is world-affirming. The holy life is found smack in the middle of everyday life. We discover it while being freely and joyfully in the world without ever being of the world. Holiness sees the sacred in all things. (page 83)

Christianity isn’t about getting everything just right. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He just expects us to run towards him in our everday lives. This video says it perfectly.

Shut Up

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignright]The First Stream

The Contemplative Tradition: Discovering the Prayer-Filled Life

“Put simply, the contemplative life is the steady gaze of the soul upon the God who loves us. It is an intimate sharing between friends.” (page 49).

Out of all the traditions, I stink at this one the most. I am most definitely an activist, I love to be busy, especially when the work involved is ministry. I remember a few years back when I was going to my college working towards my degree with an 18 credit hour load. I practiced the piano at least 2 hours everyday. At the same time I had night classes for Bible College 9 hours a week. At the same time I was leading a large non-churched children’s minsitry in which I needed to organize about 50 volunteers. My weekends were even blown: I had two classes on Saturday and church all day on Sunday. I actually charted out my committed time, and I discovered that I literally had two hours every week of non-committed time that I could use for personal things like take a shower. Two hours of free time a week. I never had any downtime. I was very tired. I remember I explained this “load” I was carrying to my chiropractor, and he said words that resounded in my mind for quite some time, “Well, at least you’re doing the Lord’s will.”

Was I?

Was it really God’s will that I work my self to death? Was it really God’s will that I woke up at 7 and worked hard until 2 every single night? Was it really God’s will that I took on so much work (be it of a religious nature or otherwise) that I didn’t have time to just listen to Him?

This chapter on page 57 really messed with me:

Third, undermine that perennial, everlasting human itch to get ahead with intentional times of “holy leisure.” Take a nap. Spend an hour visiting with your neighbor about nothing important. Help each other watch the sun go down. Take a walk, not for excercise or to study plant life but for the sheer joy of walking. Stop praying for a day. Listen to the birds — not to get some “message” from them but to hear them. Sit in the silence, doing nothing, having nothing, needing nothing. Take a bath instead of a shower. Waste time for God. The ideas are endless.

It’s easy for me to get too excited, even about spiritual things.

I need to shut up and listen more.

This Week’s Blogging Theme

[photopress:streamsbookpicture.jpg,full,alignleft]I am reading Richard Foster’s “Streams of Living Water” right now. I will be finishing it later this week. This book shares six historical traditions of Christianity and discusses what we can learn from them. They are the historical “Streams of Living Water.”

For both copyright reasons and as your resource (should you decide to read this book) I will provide more information here. The full title is “Streams of Living Water: celebrating the great traditions of Christian faith.” By Richard J. Foster. Published by HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. The ISBN is 0-06-066743-5.