Saturday, October 18, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014
As I sat here looking at the mountain outside my window (not as clear today as in this photo), the question that revolved in my mind as I meditated on this was not so much Where does my help come from? but rather Where does my inspiration come from? It is a question I often get asked, and I thought it was time to share some of what motivates and inspires me.Not that there is anything wrong with this - there most definitely is not. It is vitally important to take time away to listen to God. But there are times when we must act when we are uninspired.
Of course it is not an easy question to answer. In a nutshell, my inspiration comes from an integration of contemplative practices with my observations of life and creation. Often when I sit quietly in the presence of God aware of each life giving breath and of each loving heartbeat, listening to the quiet whispers of the eternal One’s voice, I sense the energy of God surging through me. Busyness, tiredness, anxiety and just plain distractedness all quench that.
Christ himself prayed at Gethsemane, "Not my will but thine." I would guess there is no amount of withdrawal that could inspire one to go through the trial and crucifixion. Sometimes, there is only duty.
I think it is an important point in our Christian growth when we learn that we will not always be inspired, that sometimes we do simply becasue we are supposed to. The next important point is when we learn that even when we act out of duty, we must act cheerfully, patiently and energetically - that's the point when we reach maturity.
That's why I think God often withholds inspiration. It's not that He is absent, it's that He is teaching us that we are so deeply His that He cannot be absent.
duty good cheer inspiration presence
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Did you catch that last phrase? Here it is again: "as each part does its work." The original Greek of this phrase speaks of the energeia of each part, a word from which we derive our word "energy." Thus, the body of Christ will grow to be what God intends it to be only if each one of us invests our personal energy in this great work. When it comes to the growth of God's people, yes, you do matter. You are essential.I wonder if we realize how many parts there really are? We all know about arms and legs and eyes and heads, but do we know about organs and structures and cells? Do we know about those parts of our bodies that are constructively destructive - that damage us in small ways so that better things can take place?
Now, I realize that many Christians don't believe this. Perhaps they have never been taught that they are essential to the health, life, and growth of the church. Perhaps they have heard this, but simply don't believe it. Perhaps their church is structured in a way that suggests they don't really matter. It is all too easy for churches, by their very organization, to imply that the ones who really matter are the clergy and, perhaps, a few major donors. Yet this is not the church as God intended it. Rather, the church is, by its very design, something that requires the energy of each and every part
The body is not a harmonious machine all pointed and traveling in the same direction. Simply bending you knee or elbow involves flexor and tensor muscles in competition with each other. Biochemically huge parts of your body are at war with other parts. Our bodies appear to bend to our will on the surface, but underneath it is a near chaos of competing forces and reactions, deconstructions and constructions.
This is a state called "equilibrium" - think of it as a balance set just right. Problem is if one force gets to strong or one gets too weak, the whole system falls out of kilter. Therefore, the church will always have counterbalances - those who say "NO" when the everybody says "YES." It is in fact a legitimate role in the church to be a pain-in-the-neck, a fly in the ointment. Otherwise the whole system can fly out of control. In the Old Testament such people were called prophets. It is a lonely, humbling and often martyred existence. But it is necessary.
Body of Christ Role prophet
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Words and Meaning
This is where matters get more dicey. Does it make a difference that the word sin might be replaced with evil in the proposed revision? I believe it does, yes. To oppose evil does not necessarily entail recognition of its presence within myself. I can reject the evil found in oppressive systems out there or in the pettiness of my neighbour next door. But I needn’t look into my own heart. I can, if I like, but the altered rite itself seems not to require it. By contrast, if I am asked, “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”, I am compelled to look within, to weigh my own heart in the balance and actively to renounce certain destructive tendencies within myself.I find this to be an extraordinarily concise description of that problems confronting most of modern Christianity. It is as if by becoming a part of the church, we are joining the army to battle evil out there, never realizing that we are the source of the evil. The problems all seem to be "out there." We fight poverty and hunger, we go on short term missions, we sally forth in political battle, but we never sit down and look at ourselves.
This may not comport with a modern or postmodern worldview, but it nevertheless flows out of a biblical framework within which repentance from sin brings divine forgiveness and is tied inextricably to salvation in Jesus Christ. No liturgical revision should obscure this central element of the gospel message.
Christianity will "fix" the world - it promises that, but it does so by helping each of us fix ourselves, one person at a time.
evil fixing things sin
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
But, practically speaking, what does Christ actually supply so that we might grow up in him?This is, I believe, a challenge for the modern church. Because we are so interested in being attractive, we often fail to help others grow because it would present them with challenges that they might find off-putting.
that Ephesians 4 does not advocate a private "just Jesus and me" Christianity. We don't figure out the truth of Jesus on our own. Rather, the teaching and learning of truth happens in the context of the body of Christ. Thus, the church is one of the major resources Christ gives to foster our growth. You and I cannot become what God intends us to be without deep connection to the church, a connection that involves both receiving and giving. And, as we'll see tomorrow, the church will never be what God intends it to be apart from you and me.
Even in small group settings there are all these efforts to "listen, not fix." There is indeed a time to just listen, but if we are to truly play the role of the body of Christ, there is a time to challenge, correct, cajole, as well as encourage and support. It seems to be forgotten that it is loving to correct someone engaged in harmful behavior.
The body of Christ is a varied and complex thing. When we emphasize some of its functions at the expense of others, we compromise much more than we realize. IN this case we are babies raising babies. If this continues will we even know what maturity looks like?
Monday, October 13, 2014
For Why Preaching?
I guess what I feel most hesitant about is this idea of “life-change” or “life-transformation” being the goal rather than a byproduct of preaching the Word....But Paul’s goal seems even bigger than that. Giving them “the Gospel of God” to “change their lives” doesn’t adequately summarize what Paul was about. If I read the passage correctly (and please read all of 1Thess. 2 for the whole context), his goal is to represent God well by proclaiming Jesus and his kingdom while laying down his life for his listeners in personal, sacrificial love.I find the entire question an issue. What is the goal of anything we do? What is the goal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? The question assumes a centrality of importance to preaching that I am not sure it deserves. It is not the only way the gospel is proclaimed - probably not even the primary way. It's centrality and importance are derived from the Sunday morning entertainment model of church.
It used to be we gathered on Sunday's for sacrament and preaching happened. Now we gather for preaching and sometimes sacrament happens. Think about that. Preaching in service to the sacramental gathering, not gathering in order to receive preaching. The kind of preaching I think that Make is worried about should be happening "out there." The proclamation of the gospel happens in the world, we gather in church for the Lord.
This is, I believe, where church has gone so wrong in recent decades. "Many are called, few are chosen." We have taken a place for the chosen to celebrate their Lord and turned it into a calling. Sacrament is reserved for the chosen, the calling is for everyone. Both are the job of the church - don't get me wrong - but in the modern church where are we to turn for our sacrament? Where are the indications that there is more to this entire enterprise than just hearing the call, week after week?
BTW, preaching, even in calling, is still icing on the cake. It adds words and descriptions to something people need to be seeing and experiencing.
calling chosen preaching sacrament