Thursday, January 26, 2006
I really find myself getting past the point of "feeling" silly and really trying and beginning to contemplate the words. My prayer is that the words begin to shape my heart from the inside out. The trick is to imply (wink wink Stephanie) this stuff to our lives rather than apply. We all know that walking around with a Christian t-shirt, silver cross, and never using "dirty" language doesn't automatically make us a disciple of Christ.
I'm not implying that doing the daily office is a sure fire way of becoming a disciple of Christ. Just like any ancient practice of Christianity, it is simply a tool to experience the presence and shaping of Christ in our lives.
If you have something that works for you, please don't hesitate to tell us.
Jesus taught us, saying: "The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is clear, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkened, what darkness that will be!"
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in peace. Amen.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The Daily Office
On a side note, Vespers with Dru last night was good. We waited a little too late to get started. Dru was a bit tired and had a difficult time concentrating, as did I. Perhaps this evening we will begin earlier.
I am hoping to get this down before Lent is upon us. Mitch and I would really like to hold the office for anyone who would like to join us during the Lenten season. Morning, afternoon, and evening is our goal.
I will leave you with this mornings reading:
Jesus taught the disciples, saying: "Look, I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves; so be cunning as snakes and yet innocent as doves. Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the gentiles. But when you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you."
Monday, January 23, 2006
Awkward but Beautiful Beginning
We began by opening with a time of silence. We had decided that Mitch would lead the chanting (that's right chanting) and he would signal when we would begin. Well, he forgot. In the midst of observing the silence Mitch forgot that he was leading the ritual. This lead to about 30 minutes of me quietly waiting on Mitch to begin and Mitch quietly waiting on me to begin. Don't get me wrong, it was nice and relaxing to sit in silence for thirty minutes, but it is very comical to think about as I look back. You can imagine both of us sitting side by side not wanting to disturb the other so we didn't look over and tried to stir as little as possible.
Anyway, we finally looked at each other, smiled and said, "Are you ready?" I thought that since Mitch was leading he would also lead the chanting. If you know Mitch then you know that he is not the greatest musician in the world. He can carry a tune but under pressure he gets a little flustered. Good thing chants are done on one notes. We made our way through the ritual until we got to The Gloria. Admittedly, I am not familiar with The Gloria because of my background. Mitch knows it so I was depending on him to lead the way. He did...very badly. I love Mitch, but that was horrible. I literally couldn't contain my laughter, which made me feel really bad because we were trying to establish the sense of presence with the almighty and here I am laughing my head off. I had to stop singing. That made me laugh even more because Mitch just kept going. It was bad, but I love it.
I know that when we get in the swing of things it will be better. This was our first morning and there are many more to come. I am going to hold the afternoon office on my own and Dru and I are going to do the evening Vespers together.
If you are interested in the materials we are using then go here. It really is wonderful, rich stuff. I am praying that it helps me get past the idea that the only way to grow closer to God is to have a 30 minute devotional that I never keep. We will see.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
There are typically two types of fasts. Individual and communal. In the old testament public fasts were proclaimed as a sign of national mourning. They were always accompanied by prayer and people often wore sackcloths and put ashes on their head. These were used as a sign of penance for sins.
Private fasts are held for similar reasons. Penance and sin seem to be the foremost reasons for fasting. Me, I have my own reasons.
Christ told us to, "Deny yourself and follow me." Fasting is a way to deny your physical body in hopes for spiritual gain. Unfortunately, the protestant world in which we live in does not put a whole bunch of stock in fasting. This is somewhat surprising because Calvin, Wesley, and Luther were supportive in this spiritual practice.
Marjorie Thomspson has this to say:
In a more tangible, visceral way than any other spiritual discipline, fasting reveals our excessive attachments and the assumptions that lie behind them. Food is necessary to life, but we have made it more necessary than God. How often have we neglected to remember God's presence when we would never consider neglecting to eat! Fasting brings us face to face with how we put the material world ahead of its spiritual source...Perhaps we can see, then, that the discipline of fasting has to do with the critical dynamic of accepting those limits which are life-restoring. Our culture would seduce us into believing that we can have it all, do it all, and (even more preposterous!) that we deserve it all. Yet in refusing to accept limits on our consumption or activity, we perpetuate a death-dealing dynamic in the world. That is why the discipline of fasting is so profoundly important today.
In a society filled with billboards, commercials, pop up windows, and many other forms of advertisements, we are told to spend, spend, spend and consume, consume, consume. Fasting is a way to once again deny ourselves and focus on the one who really satisfies. After all he is the "bread of life."
I don't know what exactly I will learn from this experience. This is honestly my first time ever fasting. I have chosen to only do a partial fast. Juice during the day and one meal when the sun goes down. I thought this would be a piece of cake (no pun intended), but it really hasn't. I chose to fast for clarity and discernment. Perhaps Christ is showing me more than I ever expected or intended. I certainly am curious to see what more he has to show me.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
New POD E-Card for Testify
The Kingdom at hand or distant future?
I do believe that Dallas Willard is a far better writer than speaker. Some would argue that he is much more of a philosopher than theologian. I don' t think that he would disagree with that. My thoughts on the matter would be that in it's essence, philosophy is theology. For me, they go hand in hand. Willard seemed to concentrate his three sessions primarily on the idea of the Kingdom of God and our place in that Kingdom. The entire conference was focused on small groups so Willard approached the subject from that standpoint. Our lives are realized in relationships. Often times those relationships are formed in small group settings. These may not be "formal" small groups, but they are small groups none the less.
I want to deal with the question that this post asks. Is the Kingdom of God at hand or a distant future? What have you been taught? According to Willard, New Testament scholars agree that the Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom the Heavens) was THE essential teachings of Jesus Christ. (Matt. 3:2, 5:3, 6:10, 33, 7:21, 11:11, 13:24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47, 16:19, 18:23, 19:24, 24:7, 14, 34; Mark 9:47, 10:14, 10:23; Luke 10:9, 12:31, 17:21; John 3:5, 18:36)
This past Sunday evening I asked my students, "What is Christ speaking about when he speaks of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven?" The majority responded with the same answer that I would have responded with 2 years ago. "Well, Christ is obviously talking about eternity or the Millenial Reign! Duh!" Is he? Is that what Christ was saying? Did Christ say that the Kingdom of God will be like a mustard seed, or did he say that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed?
Unfortunately, we have confused or substituted the real Kingdom of God with the idea of the Millenial Reign or eternity. This can't be correct. Let's try it. Matt. 6:33 and 8:12 are examples that gives us language that make little or no sense: "Seek ye first the millennial reign of God" and "the little children of the millenial reign shall be cast out." It doesn't work.
Willard tells us, "If , by contrast, we understand the kingdom of God to be simply what God is actually doing [in our lives, right here and now]...then the "kingdom" passages in the Gospels all make sense, and yet leave plenty of room to deal with future dimensions of the kingdom, including a millenial reign of a political nature." (brackets mine)
I'm going to leave the remainder of the conversation open for discussion and see where it takes us. Thank you for being patient with me. Be aware that I take no credit for any of this. I need help. I am simply a pilgrim on a journey trying to find my way.
Grace and Peace,
Monday, January 09, 2006
HA HA I WIN
Thursday, January 05, 2006
That old cliche: It's not how many times you fall down. It's how many times you get back up.
Israel finally realized that by asking for a king they were essentially turning their back on God. Samuel encourages them to continue serving. After all, God had chosen them and he wasn't giving up so why should they give up?
A lot of times it seems really easy to call it quits. It appeared that Israel had completed one of the biggest blunders they had ever committed. They just keep failing. But that's the cycle isn't it. Fall down, get up. Valleys and peaks. It's seems so cliche but it's the truth. Can we see the Forrest from the trees? Once we are on the peak do we look back to see how beautiful the valley really is?
The Israelites went on to win several major battles under the leadership of Saul. But as the story continues the inevitable happens. They fall down again, but that's life. We fall down and we get up. God has chosen us. He has called us his own. He isn't about to give up on us. Why should we give up on him?
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Smothered In Slogans
The Divine conspiracy
This is a quote from the book I have just begun reading. This weekend my senior and associate pastor and I will be attending a conference in Kansas City. Dallas Willard will be the keynote speaker. I have not read any of his books and wanted to try and get one in before we left of Friday. Since I promised to give another blog this afternoon I thought that I would share some of Dallas's thoughts. Listen to these words:
"Commercials, catch words, political slogans, and high-flying intellectual rumors clutter our mental and spiritual space. Our minds and bodies pick them up like a dark suit picks up lint. They decorate us. We willingly emblazon messages on our shirts, caps-even the seat of our pants. Sometime back we had a national campaign against highway billboards. But the billboards were nothing compared to what we now post all over our bodies. We are immersed in birth-to-death and wall-to-wall "noise"--silent and not so silent."
"In the shambles of fragmented assurances from the past, our longing for goodness and rightness and acceptance--and orientation--makes us cling to bumper slogans, body graffiti, and gift shop nostrums that in our profound upside-down-ness somehow seem deep but in fact make no sense: "Stand up for your rights" sounds so good. How about "All I ever really need to know I learned in kindergarten"? And "Practice random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty"? And so forth.
Such sayings contain a tiny element of truth. But if you actually try to plan your life using them you are immediately in deep, deep trouble...But try instead "Stand up for your responsibilities" or "I don't know what I need to know and must now devote my full attention and strength to finding out" (Consider Prov. 3:7 or 4:7) or "Practice routinely purposeful kindness and intelligent acts of beauty."
Putting these into practice immediately begins to bring truth, goodness, strength, and beauty into our lives. But you will never find them on a greeting card, plaque, or bumper sticker. They aren't thought to be smart. What is truly profound is thought to be stupid and trivial, or worse, boring, while what is actually stupid and trivial is thought to be profound."
Take note...Here is the KICKER:
"In fact, the popular sayings attract only because people are haunted by the idea from the intellectual heights that life is, in reality, absurd. Thus the only acceptable relief is to be cute or clever. In homes and in public buildings of the past, words of serious and unselfconscious exhortation, invocation, and blessing were hung or carved in stone and wood. But that world has passed. Now the law is "Be cute or die." The only sincerity bearable is clever insincerity. That is what the clothing and greeting card graffiti really scream out. The particular "message" doesn't matter.
And yet we have to act. The rocket of our life is off the pad. Action is forever. We are becoming who we will be--forever. Absurdity and cuteness are fine to chuckle over and perhaps to muse upon. But they are no place to live. They provide no shelter or direction for being human."
The Divine Conspiracy
I choose the deeper things in life.
P.S.- Want to check out the book? Go here!
AAHHH...Back to the Grind
1. The Ohio State University defeats Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
2. Thank you mom, dad, Leah and Dustin for a great Christmas.
3. Check out www.crashoften.com
4. I hope to write a new blog this afternoon.