Saturday, July 18, 2015
Friday, July 17, 2015
Are You Full?
So, it might be better to phrase the question, “How can we be filled with the Spirit?” But, if we stick with the original “How can I be filled with the Spirit?” then our answer would be, “By being meaningfully engaged with other Christians,” or “By being an active member of the body of Christ.” As we gather together for corporate worship, as we serve together as co-ministers of Christ, we will be filled together with God’s Spirit.That is extraordinarily radical stuff. In an age where the religious experience is considered highly individualized, to describe the ultimate Christian experience as corporate is radical. But it also explains a lot. That whole passage in I Corinthians where Paul goes on and on about the gifts begin for the good of the body...Think about it.
This focus can, and I believe should, change much of how we do church these days. We organize, plan and design our churches and church experiences to provide an individual experience. And yet, for genuine action of the Holy Spirit, it would appear that it is a corporate experience that is required. It's not about what I, or you, want. It is about what WE need. In thinking about that, I can see two things are necessary.
The first thing that is needed is leadership. That is to say people who are sensitive to what the group needs, and is willing to take the group there, even at the expense of some insistent individuals that do not fit the mold. The second thing is that when we are part of a group we have to subsume our own desires, to some extent, to where the group is headed. But this latter thing is tricky.
Because groups are composed of sinners and therefore groups can go in wrong directions as people often do, we cannot allow our subsuming to the group to take us to wrong places - Either as a group or as an individual standing apart from the group. We cannot go with the group to a sinful place, but we cannot allow our pride to put us in a bad relationship with the group. Much prayer and much humility is needed.
And perhaps humility is the first sign that the Holy Spirit is at work.
Group Holy Spirit Individual
Thursday, July 16, 2015
If we want to pursue God in our vocations, we need to immerse ourselves in rituals and rhythms and practices whereby the love of God seeps into our very character—is woven into, not just how we think, but who we are.There are two things I deeply love about that. One is sanctifying our work and the other is that the liturgical is the habitual and the habitual defines who we are in some very real sense.
This is one of the reasons why worship is not some escape from “the work week.” To the contrary, our worship rituals train our hearts and aim our desires toward God and his kingdom so that when we are sent from worship to take up our work, we do so with a habituated orientation toward the Lover of our souls.
This is also why we need to think about habit-shaping practices—“vocational liturgies,” we might call them—that can sustain this love throughout the week. This was John Calvin’s vision for the city of Geneva: he wanted to see the entire city governed by the rhythms of morning and evening prayer and psalms-singing, not just for monks and “religious” folk but for all of the butchers and bakers and candlestick makers whose work was equally holy.
This latter observation seems really important when it comes to how we do church. If we make it too convenient, if we make it to easy to fit into their schedule, are we building habits?
Don't we need to build habits?
habits liturgy vocation
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
And You Thought You Were Protestant
Set me to thinking about how much we protestants owe to our Catholic brethren. Seriously, we are not defined by what we are, but by the fact that we are NOT them. That's a pretty big deal. Interestingly, most of what we consider protestant theology has precedent in Catholic thought long before Luther was born. (Think Augustine and Calvin for a bit.) We reformed, we did not build anew.
What this says in large part is that the Reformation was a political, ecclesiastical event far more than it was a holy or spiritual event. Simply put, there would be no protestantism, no evangelicalism, if there were no Catholicism. Yet so many of ignore, or worse condemn, our Catholic brethren.
Look, I'll be the first to acknowledge that much of Catholicism is eclectic to say the least, perhaps even arcane, but it is vry real and it is very serious stuff. And by and large it is good. (BTW, can you honestly tell me your church doesn't have a few faults of its own?)
Maybe it's time we paid a bit more attention, and granted a bit more honor.
Catholicism ecumenism protestants
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Fixing The Place Up
Much more could be said, of course, especially about the reality that every effort at repairing the world costs us. Even with the best hopes, the truest motives, we will get hurt, because the world is very messy. Stepping in, even with responsibility born of love, is never neat-and-clean. To take up the wounds of the world will wound us, as it did God himself — which is why the heart of our vocation must be the imitation of the vocation of God. Nothing else can so form us, nothing else can so sustain us.Amazing words, and amazing post, but two quick observations.
Too often we try to "repair the world" by repairing things, when it is people that need repair.
When we think about our vocation, one of the things we have to remember is that God was a creator and a builder. Statements like "the heart of our vocation must be the imitation of the vocation of God" too often lead us to lives that are non-productive. God is, at heart productive. Our productivity, regardless towards what end, is "soulless" only if we allow it to be.
God's work vocation
Monday, July 13, 2015
How About Their Churches Fail?
They say one thing to some people, but different things to others. This is a soft way of saying they lie.Yet this list ignores the most obvious symptom - toxic leaders at best produce toxic churches, which will eventually fail.
Now, churches are funny things. Failure does not necessarily mean that they dry up and go away, although eventually that happens. Churches "fail in place" every day. Is the church cliquish? Do people come and go rapidly? Is the church producing disciples or just attenders? These are signs of failure even if the church some how manages to take in money and pay staff and therefore keep operating.
The purpose of the church is not to survive. The purpose of the church is not even to thrive. The purpose of the church is to grow, and not merely in adherents, but in maturity. Anything less is failure.
church failure success