Saturday, February 13, 2010
Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Friday, February 12, 2010
Living With The Mess
Sage advice from United Methodist bishop William Willimon to his flock in northern Alabama. But it's good for all to know: Being a Christian doesn't exempt us from the messiness of life. Christ never claimed that it would. Sometimes faithfulness is a sure predictor of trouble. In fact, Jesus does promise that faith in Him will bring us trouble in this world. But He also promises to be with us always...and to give us life with God forever.I grow increasingly weary of the "perfect life" versions of Christianity that seem so prevalent these days. This is something deeper than the prosperity gospel and more insidious than the cheap grace of much of mega church Evangelicalism. It's the idea that with Jesus life will be the Norman Rockwell picture postcard version of life.
It's like we forget that Jesus and the majority of the apostles died violently, and not in car wrecks either. We are to "run the race," "not be conformed," and "consider it all joy." This is the language of struggle and strife, not suburban bliss.
A true disciple of Jesus joins the struggle with joy for it is a struggle to the rewards beyond imagining.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Church, Kids, Social Networks
Well, as the "leader" (that term applies loosely with this age group) of a small group that fits precisely in the "Facebook" demographic, I thought I'd throw in some comments.
Frankly, it's just like anything else, good people use this tool wisely and troubled people have problems with it.
Facebook can be a marvelous communication tool. During last fall's horrendous wildfires in our neighborhood, it was the means by which the church pulled together - to a point. Eventually evacuees had to go somewhere - there had to be personal face-to-face interaction.
The problems arise when it becomes a substitute for genuine human contact, or when it becomes an idol. (Look how many "friends" I have!)
The bottom line is simple here. Relationship with Christ is about intimacy. Facebook and its ilk can either be an aid to intimacy or it can prevent it. We need to train our kinds how to use it to build intimacy.
But that will require us to learn intimacy ourselves, and that is intimidating. Just another thing to lay at God's feet.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Be A Priest
- A priest, first of all has a purpose.
- A second thing that makes a priest a priest is sympathy.
- A third thing that makes a priest a priest is call.
Mark is right on all accounts, but I prefer to look at it in much bolder terms. A priest is an agent of the Almighty, and traditionally for a specific purpose - to offer sacrifice. Says the Bible Dictionary:
The Heb. kohen, Gr. hierus, Lat. sacerdos, always denote one who offers sacrifices.The priestly office which Christ has given to us all is a sacrificial office.
So what do we sacrifice? Why ourselves, of course. What we are to do is to lay ourselves at Christ's feet and allow Him to use us in whatever way He sees fit.
Have you ever thought about what it takes for the Creator and Sustainer of the universe to do all that has to be done? He chooses to use us as His tools in that effort. Whether it be to help another enter into His presence, or to maintain the gardens in front of the palace, it is a priestly office becasue we sacrifice ourselves to His will.
Consider Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.In this passage, Paul calls us to a priestly act, and points out that such is an act of worship.
We are indeed a "royal priesthood," and such is s bold thing to be a part of. Making sacrifices is not for the timid.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
iMonk wrote on how tired he was in ministry complete with a discussion of spiritual warfare, and he used the poster at left here to illustrate. I am annoyed. Not because Spencer should not be tired or upset, but because we all should be.
Spiritual warfare is quite different than the earthly analog. We are all in the army and we all should be fighting equally as hard for the victory.
Not all of us are infantry with a rifle, but we are all soldiers. When we give and they go, well, we are denying our role as soldiers. God has called us to more.
Monday, February 08, 2010
The Heart Of The Matter
The quest for a contemplative life can actually be self-absorbed, focused on my quiet and me. If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love . . . and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure.As I read that I was very much attracted to the idea of being selfish about our "quiet time." Regular readers will know that the idea hits on two themes I discuss here over and over - selflessness, and the idea of church/spiritual practice becoming expressions of selfishness. But when I reread the quote a few more times; another impression hit me.
I found myself wondering about the difference between meditation and prayer. This quote discusses prayer more as a time of meditation than a time of conversation. Consider the quote, "we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us." What if God is talking to us about something He is doing in someone else's life? What if He wants to tell us purely about Himself?
I talk constantly here about how God has to make a difference in our lives, but focusing too much on that is, like everything else done to excess, a form of idolatry. Even if I seek to allow God to make me better, constant monitoring, constant focus on what progress God has made in my life, is as self-involved as any other pursuit.
I think this. more than most things, speaks to the need for the beautiful and the sacred space in our lives. I know that personally, nothing can "pull me out of myself" more than scenery, or a painting, or a building that just, by virtue of its overwhelming beauty has "GOD MADE THIS" written all over it.
We are tyrants over ourselves, God is a benevolent and merciful King that can take us and make us what we were meant to be. All we need do is let Him.