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177745669-S-1DZ John H. Lasso 2003

The ‘Navajo Way of Life’ is something I believe everyone should be exposed to.  John Henderson exemplifies the idea of ‘Living Like You Mean It’ by working to share his culture with the young people of his community and to outsiders who wish to learn.

I sat down for an extensive conversation with John the last week of May 2013.  It had been almost 6 years since we’d last been in each other’s presence and so it was good to have time with he and his wife Emma.

405830-R1-16-16ADZ Dinetah John H. Explains 5 2005

For over 30 years, John & Emma have given of their time every summer to act as hosts for groups of people traveling to the four corners area of New Mexico.  The Navajo Work Camp Program is sponsored mostly through regions or individual churches affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Back sometime in the early 1980’s, John Henderson met Angie Murdock while he was teaching a cultural studies course at the Univ. of Indiana at Bloomington.  Angie was so enthralled with the what she learned that she decided to go New Mexico and she became at teacher at the tiny, Dzilth-na-o-dith-le Community School just south of the Bloomfield area of San Juan County; this was the community John & Emma lived in.  John was also a teacher at the school.  Angie and her father, John Hart began the idea of the Navajo Work Camp Program because of John Henderson’s deep-rooted commitment to education of his people and of anyone else wishing to learn about the Dineh people of the Navajo Nation.

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I first met John on a trip that my wife Kim and I participated in during the summer of 2002.  We’ve helped start groups and lead groups since our first trip 12 years ago.  In that time we’ve heard many wonderful, spiritually uplifting stories from many people who have met John over the years.  John and I have forged a great friendship for one another as we recognize each others commitment to sharing the Navajo Way of Life with others.

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As I indicated, the interview is long and unedited.  I initially planned to do it a different way, to save time, but to do that would not be in the true spirit of something called ‘Navajo Time’.  So, I divided the interview into two sections.  Part 1 is about 35 minutes in length and the Part 2 is a bit longer at approximately 42 minutes.  I concluded the interview by asking John if he would take us to the place most sacred and spiritually inspiring to him.  For that last part of our conversation I broke out the video camera.  All of this is now posted on YouTube and I have linked it here for your enjoyment.

John Henderson Audio Interview (Pt 1 & 2- Recorded May 2013)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL6ic_16d9A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jnNTXTxSBE

 

Conclusion- John Henderson Interview (Video Closing) May 2013 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M9YiAfrsSc

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from this man.  He is an inspiration to me.  John lives his life everyday like he means it.

Please take some time to listen to his words as I know they will be inspiring to you.

Peace,

Ray

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Overlooking The Shenandoah Valley; a good place to ‘worship’

Happy New Year!

Well, we’ve reached the end of our look at the ‘Spiritual Stones’ of ‘Living Like You Mean It’ with a closing discussion on ‘Worship’ with a good friend of mine, Ben Saunders.  We spoke the day after Christmas on the grounds of historic, Slash Christian Church in Hanover Co., Virginia.

Ben is a divinity student at Vanderbilt.  He is a ‘Jesus Follower’.  He has a passion for sharing his gifts.  As a young person studying to go into some formal aspect of ministry he is very committed to seeking God’s face in the people he meets and in the experiences he encounters.

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Ben Saunders

For me, talking with this friend, a young man many years younger than I, was a breath of fresh air.  Knowing already through our shared small group ministry time together and our dedication to support of men’s ministry, how intelligent and optimistic he is, it was so refreshing and encouraging to hear him speak to the subject of ‘worship’ and expand so confidently on his ideas and opinion.  I told him so as you will see when you watch our video discussion .  It’s a great discussion of approximately 20 minutes; well worth the view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39g2Eo6EQ1I

This young man is living proof that something wonderful and exciting is happening right before our eyes.  God is still speaking and working through Ben and other young people like him.  He is ‘living like he means it’.

“Worship has traditionally been boxed into a liturgically structured experience of the divine…lots of forms of liturgy…but its not limited to that…worship can happen anywhere…What sets worship apart separately is that its a community oriented experience of the divine.” 

Going further with our discussion, Ben and I talked about where worship and the ‘church’ might be headed in this 21st century?  Is the church dying?  Is the church experiencing it’s next ‘great awakening?’ People seeking connectivity through experiences where they can see God’s face in the people they meet.

Ben explained how many of his friends are interested in seeking ‘authenticity’ in liturgy minus the fluff of what’s being marketed to them.

‘People are seeking relationship…looking for something where they can see and experience God where they are’. 

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Talking ‘worship’ outside Slash Christian Church

For me as a ‘Jesus Follower’ seeking relationship, connection and seeing the goodness and love of our Creator in others is what this life is all about.  Our communities are full of people ‘living like they mean it’!  Go out and ‘listen’; hear their stories and share in the joy of having them share their experiences with you; don’t be afraid to ask.

I hope you will continue on this journey with me and continue to strive to ‘live like you mean it’.

I pray that you will take time to connect with others in the presence of the Creator in some form of …worship…a community oriented experience of the divine.” 

Peace,

Ray

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of visiting with my good friend, Derek Maul.  We got together for a round of golf at the beautiful Lake Gaston Golf Club http://www.playlggc.com/ in Gasburg, VA.  Gasburg for anyone interested, is a tiny hamlet in Brunswick County near the VA-NC border.  Derek and his wife, Rebekah just recently moved to the Raleigh, NC area where Rebekah is now the new pastor at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church in the town of Wake Forest http://www.wakeforestpres.org/index.php

Since Derek and Rebekah live so much closer the Richmond area now, I wanted to reach out and take advantage of that new close proximity by inviting him to travel to Gasburg for a visit and some golf, a favorite pastime of Derek’s.

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A nice shady fairway.

It was a great day on the links on this beautiful, tucked away course, that both Derek and I recommend you play if you’re looking for a scenic, quiet round of golf.  We had a great opportunity for conversation as we covered the 18 holes.  It’s always fun to get together with someone who shares your ideas, passions and enjoy a game that we both feel is a great way to unwind and relax.

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On his way to an impressive round of 79, Derek shows me the way!

After our round, I took time to sit and talk with Derek over lunch provided by the LGGC club house staff.  “The 19th Hole” served up an awesome couple of cheeseburgers to enjoy as we discussed our games and talked about the excitement regarding my friend’s new abode and all the many wonderful opportunities before he and Rebekah as they become part of their new church and community.

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Derek & Rebekah Maul

Back in August after a set of tennis, I talked with a good friend about the spiritual stone of ‘Ministry’ and have heard about how a man who viewed that video conversation was moved and energized in his continued growth as a committed men’s ministry leader.  So, I figured it would be great to break out the video camera again for another conversation, this time for the spiritual stone of ‘Mission’.  Since Derek is my mentor and part of the inspiration for this blog and it’s title, I felt he would be perfect to engage in a conversation about ‘Mission’ in the context of ‘Living Like You Mean It’.  Derek has great insight and an excellent communicator.  He has spoken a various men’s retreats and other events around the country.  I hope you’ll enjoy and share this video conversation linked below.3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vIRi85DK68

For Derek it’s all about the belief that ‘Mission’ and salvation are the same; ‘participating in the work that God is up to; the God initiative’ and the importance of telling and sharing our story.  So often we’re given an opportunity to share our story but all too many times we fail to engage for one reason or another.  Derek shares a great story about a recent missional encounter with a philosophy professor in the airport as an example of how easy it can be to share our story.

I highly encourage you to check out Derek’s blog, “The Life-Charged Life” at: www.derekmaul.wordpress.com and his various books that you can easily find through his publisher, ‘Upper Room’ or on Amazon.

Thanks again to my friend Derek for a great day of fun and uplifting conversation!

Soon to come, the long awaiting ‘Living Like You Mean It’ Interview with John Henderson and also, the last of the spiritual stones, a conversation on ‘Worship’.  Until then…

Peace be with you,

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Ray

 

Greetings everyone!

Good to be back with a post today.  Since my last post, ‘sequestration’ has ended early thankfully!  I have no more mandatory Monday’s off for now.  A lot of course remains unanswered concerning next fiscal year’s budgeting so for now, I am very thankful that its over. 

Also since last time the Gryder Family went on the yearly beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  This was our first year without my father being there.  He’d picked out the house before he passed away last December. 

I’ve been trying to find time to get a posting up and yesterday and today seemed the best opportunities so, I’d like to pick up where we left off.  Today I’m encouraging you to take time to view the enjoyable video discussion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yV8lp7d5yWA with my good friend, Rev. Greg Ott.

Greg is a pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  After he and I finished an evening workout on the tennis court, I asked him about the next topic in our ‘spiritual stone’ series journey: ‘ministry’.

Greg emphasized the importance of ‘ministry’ and how it is a word of action.  We see people performing acts of kindness and compassion (‘living like they mean it’) around us all the time.  We recognize that being our brothers keeper is, for most Christians, an act of ‘ministry’.  But what about the individual who doesn’t attend church, the non-believer, or perhaps the seeker that doesn’t get that the leaves they raked up for their neighbor without asking was an act of ‘ministry’?  And what about the Muslim, the Jew and other faiths; what do they believe about ‘ministry’? 

 Thanking someone for an act of ‘ministry’ you see them carry out, bringing it to their attention is, in itself ‘ministry’. The ‘teaching moment’ opportunity for conversation whether it be with a believer, non-believer or someone of another faith, makes it so we’re able to share our story “of the Jesus you understand”, to “make our claim in a loving way”.  

Today’s world community presents us as ‘Jesus Followers’ with a tremendous opportunity for ‘ministry’.  It is up to us as active people of faith to act and in the spirit of ministerial compassion go through the doors that are opened to us.  The spiritual stone of ‘ministry’ is truly and important key to who we are and to ‘Living Like You Mean It’.

Peace and thanks again to Greg for his participation. Until next time.

-Ray

What a ‘Fellowship’!

When I think of fellowship, I think of spiritual connection.  I think of a community coming together in the face of a natural disaster or some other tragedy.  I think of people sharing their stories and their lives in ways to bring compassion and peace to one another.   Fellowship is about weathering the storms and getting back on your feet.  Fellowship is about individuals lifting one another; living like you mean it, helping others live like they mean it.

In exploring this weeks ‘spiritual stone’ of ‘Fellowship‘ I remember August 6, 1993.  That day a tornado swept through several central Virginia communities causing a substantial amount of damage and several lost.  Today’s video posting was recorded in one of those localities, the ‘Old Towne’ area of the City of Petersburg, my hometown.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYhNgqxvnck&feature=youtu.be

As I write this post, I think too of the coming together of the many people who through their ‘fellowship’ helped in on an another far more tragic August 6th.  In 1945 the people of Hiroshima in Japan suffered the devastating effects of the worlds first nuclear bombing.  In the coming weeks, months and years, many people worked in ‘fellowship’ to heal the wounds of war suffered by so many.

I have seen ‘fellowship’ exhibited on many occasions by various men I’ve encountered over the years both as a participant and a leader at men’s retreat events.  Seeing men lift one another spiritually through their collective ‘fellowship’ and individual ‘fellowship’ is a true gift the Creator has allowed me to see.  I have witnessed more than once men praying one on one, or in deep conversation, meditating; reassuring and sharing words of love, guidance and compassion.  Men connecting as ‘Jesus Followers’ is truly a sight to behold and experience.  I remember in 2010 standing in a room of about 75 men all in small groups of 4 or 5.  The room hummed with dialogue and discussion the speaker had instructed take place, but then slowly the dialogue shifted from conversations with one another to conversations with God.  Group by group the sound of intimate prayers; bare, open requests were being lifted aloud throughout the room.  I recall the guest speaker and I sharing a joyful smile in response to the joyful noise saying,”Wow!” to one another as we looked on.

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Whether in time of despair or time of joy, the collective intimacy and human aspect of ‘fellowship’ and its ability to tap into the cosmic, mystical spirituality within the depths of our souls is a gift from God.  It connects us and makes us whole.  We need and feed on the holy connection of ‘fellowship’ and the peace it brings to ourselves and to others; safe and secure, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Have a great week!

Up next: ‘Ministry’

Peace,

Ray

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Today I visited the labyrinth on the campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA.  Last week I asked you to think about what the first ‘spiritual stone’, ‘discipleship’.  As I reflected this week I kept thinking about the labyrinth.

While I was at the labyrinth today, I took time to walk it.  It is a unique experience that takes you on a journey and as you twist and turn your way slowly and reflectively through it, you come to somehow contemplate its power.  As I methodically stepped my way around I found myself realizing that I was at times close to the center and then suddenly on the outside of the labyrinth, but all the while aware that the center was there beckoning to me.

As I walked I thought about how our relationship with the Creator is very much the journey of a labyrinth walk; we’re close and then far away, but all the while the Creator, the ever present center of spirituality, is there for us as we move close and then distant.

If you have never taken time to experience a labyrinth, I highly recommend you seek out one and take time to have the experience.

As my friend, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) says, we’re all on the journey of ‘discipleship’; different paths for us all, but all working to make our way to the center, ‘the heart of God’.

Being one of those called by Jesus, to follow him and leave everything at that moment of call is undoubtedly the most intense example of discipleship.  What would have been your answer to the call?  Could you have left everything as they did?  I don’t honestly know how I would have reacted, but thanks be to God that those 12 ordinary souls did.IMG_0582

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB5GhRh4J4Q

Next week we explore ‘Fellowship’.

Peace.

Greetings and Happy Monday!  I want to explore over the next six weeks what I am calling ‘The Spiritual Stones of ‘Living Like You Mean It”.  Each Monday we’ll explore one of the following ‘spiritual stones’ together.  I hope you will reflect on what each of these important words means for you as you strive to live your life like you mean it:

  • Discipleship
  • Fellowship
  • Ministry
  • Missions
  • Worship
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Gabe and Liam on a spring wagon ride

Here are two scriptures I’d like to share with you and ask that over the coming weeks we read and explore together:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  -Micah 6: 8

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  – Ephesians 5: 1-2

Here’s today’s video message that I hope you’ll enjoy.  It explains the story behind the ‘spiritual stones’.  I pray that I can be a good father and help explain to them the importance of each stone and be wise enough to answer the questions about them as they grow and live like they mean it.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmKz3lJ7dkU

Peace.

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Today I’m planning on more around the house projects getting done. Today’s focus will be on the garage, but I started the day by remembering to ground myself in some spiritual devotion.  Since I’m not at work today, my ritual of saying the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ as I walk in from the parking lot didn’t happen, so I took that time and pulled out a book that I’d like to recommend as a tool for meditation and spiritual connection for you to use at some point in your day whenever you connect.

The book is ‘Common Prayer- A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals’, it was put together by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro.  It’s a 2010 release that is readily available through your favorite local book seller.

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Here’s today’s inspiration from it for July 15,

Benedict of Nursia said this, “The Lord himself in the gospel teaches us the same when he says: I shall liken anyone who hears my words and carries them out in deed to one who is wise enough to build on a rock; then the floods came and the winds blew and struck that house, but it did not fall because it was built on a rock.  It is in the light of that teaching that the Lord waits for us every day to see if we will respond by our deeds, as we should, to his holy guidance…”.”

I hope that today and everyday going forward you will center yourself by taking some time to reflect and connect with the Creator.  It’s a great way to help you ‘Live Like You Mean It’.

Here’s the link to today’s video blogcast: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTiXOUjmXtc

Peace be with you!

So today is Monday, first day of the work week but it’s the first of 11 that I, along with many other hardworking, dedicated civil servants have been given as a day off w/o pay.  It’s called sequestration.
A 4-day work week will give me an opportunity to appreciate the little things in life; take care of some things around the house like cleaning the back porch.
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I’m blessed with a beautiful family and all will be ok …in the long run.   It’ll be rougher for some folk as everyone’s situation is different and for those people I pray for patience and understanding during this time. I have to remind myself that I’m still better off today than I was some 14 plus yrs ago when I didn’t have a job, a home, a wife or two beautiful boys.
So I’m taking today as this first of 11 to hopefully inspire you during this time where I’ll be visiting with you via video.  God is still creating.
So sequestration; a not very logical way to accomplish an obvious problem, but this too shall pass. Today is not just another Monday, today is another opportunity to ‘live like you mean it’, I intend to. How about you?
See you next Monday!
Peace,
Ray

Greetings and welcome!

Today I’d like to share with you a video preview of my first soon to come ‘Living Like You Mean It’ interview with my Navajo friend, John Henderson.  I met John in the summer of 2002 when my wife Kim and I participated in a community service/cultural mission work camp experience.  Since that time, John and I have developed an important relationship where we continue to work together to expose people to the Dine culture.

Preview Still in front of the Dzilt-na-o-dith-Hle mesa, near Bloomfield, New Mexico

On the Memorial Day 2013 weekend I visited John and his wife Emma.  I took this opportunity to interview John for the first installment of the LLYMI project.

Please enjoy this preview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPBScQCwwnw as I look forward to sharing the interview in podcast form with you in this space.

Peace,                                                                                                                                 Ray

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