Showing posts from March, 2009

Willingness--Letting Go

The first of our 8 Wednesday group sessions of Beginnings- The Spiritual Life began last night at A Moveable Feast, 6:30- 8:15 p.m., 9341 Katy Freeway in Houston. Our next session is Monday, March 30 (instead of next Wed.), FYI. Guests are welcome to come and preview. The food is great (and free) and then there's a talk followed by small groups.

The goal of our group time is simply put, to begin a journey led by the Spirit, the Guide. Just as Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1), so we are invited to start a spiritual journey under the leadership of Holy Spirit.

Each part of the pilgrimage is toward God and with God. Habits, practices, movements are offered and available for the taking. The first "habit of the heart" is willingness to let go. What are the expectations of God, Holy Spirit, spiritual life, that I need to release in order to start the new that's just ahead? What of my own stuff do I need to unburden to receive this newness, the…

Really, Are We All that Different?

It's amazing how suffering can bring us together like nothing else. "Time and chance happen to us all," the Preacher writes in Ecclesiastes. But the subject of our own choosing is what's more captivating.

I mean, why do we do some of the stupid things we do? We deny what others see in us, pretending that either they've got it wrong or they don't see how unique and different and special God knows we really are. But wisdom says we're not that different!

While time and chance happen to us all, it's our denial, refusal, and inability to see the obvious. The toxic supervisor shows their underhandedness even before the potential hire is made. Future staff colleagues are put-down. Red flag! Not to worry. I'm different. A clergy leader has a clear history of sabotaging the work of others, but then, we think we're different, so we'll choose to work with them in spite of the evidence that we'd be better off without their "career help."

The Irrelevance of Yankee-dom

As a long-time Cleveland fan living in Texas, I will long remember a visit with my son to Jacobs field a few years back. The Yankees were playing the Indians, and as chance would have it, the Indians came back to soundly beat NY later in the game.

The obnoxious and out-of-place (but clueless) Yankee fans sashayed back to their daze inns, muzzled and stunned with bewilderment. It was pure delight as dozens of NY tees filed into travel lodges; they had stayed over just to see the spectacle of losing a bad one.

The Couch Slouch column of a couple of days ago, reminded me of how fun it is to see the Yankees fail AT THEIR OWN GAME whenever they do. With that in mind, I smile when I think about:

People whining about not winning another (91st?) World Series
Hundreds of millions and no playoffs? Priceless"Here come the Yankees" shrieked with every base hit
The plague of the merciless marauding midges
CC has had his best year
Go Rays- …

Arabian Sojourn (Galatians 1:11-24)

I'm in the middle of finding a new spiritual director. While I have heard that spiritual direction can take place long distance via phone conversations, I don't think that would work for me. So with my former director moving far away, I am going to take some time in finding a new one.

The thought of Paul in Arabia has come to mind. I'm living some questions that perhaps I've avoided. It's too easy to construe Paul's hermit sojourn as a rugged, individualistic American would. But I have to think that the call he received to go among the Gentiles with the Jesus Gospel required a rethinking of his life and a remaking of his person and this could only begin with a profound self emptying in the desert.

Paul's being a super-achiever is among the several continuities between his life in Judaism and being an apostle to the Gentiles. Paul is also zealous, whether as a Pharisee- teacher- persecutor, or as a Christ-believer and persecuted apostle. My interpretation- Pau…

Empires Strike Back

That empires avenge their once-conquered lands with ferocity multiplied is just one insight gained from lingering with In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance, edited by Richard A. Horsley. The book chronicles the often forgotten theme of empire from Egypt of Exodus to the Patmos of Revelation. The reference to re-conquest is not about the story line in the Star Wars epic, but rather to the treatment of Roman-subjected peoples who rebel, such as what Jerusalem suffered in the time of the Jewish Revolts of 66-70 A.D.
The volume features writing by Gottwald, Brueggemann, Crossan, and Horsley, to name a few. While I found the chapters covering the Old Testament narrative helpful, those chapters covering the New Testament were for me filled with new discoveries. From everything to demon deliverance to feeding the multitudes, there are nuances with empire that the chapter on "Jesus and Empire" uncovers.
More discoveries await the read…

Quitting Church- Review

Quitting Church is an alarming subject to congregational leaders, evangelical or not. This is the work of Julia Duin, Religion Editor of the Washington Times. And it’s the story, partly auto-biographical, of the people exodus and "spiritual brain drain" that the evangelical, charismatic, and Pentecostal communities have experienced for more then a decade. While the mainline churches are not the focus of this survey, the topic of church drop-outs warrants concern, regardless of Christian affiliation.
The first part of the book is a "big picture" look at the problem. Duin substantiates her case using ample research from the likes of George Barna, Lifeway, the WillowCreekChurch, and Charisma magazine, as well as numerous interviews from pastors. Her personal insights and observations are telling too. Some of them seem to be a wistful retelling of what was meaningful in her own faith journey now that she is somewhat disaffected from church. She is not that concerned …