Showing posts from February, 2010

A Virginia Satir Encounter

Virginia Satir, a mentor of a seminary professor and pioneer in marital and family therapy, authored many books. My favorite, Making Contact, provides an excellent "road map" for couples to grow in the quality of their communication. Too, it's applicable to any and all stages of friendships.

When I was 1-2 years out of seminary and serving a parish, I grabbed the chance to attend a weekend Family Therapy Seminar led by Satir. For the limited number allowed in the audience, the content and method of the seminar was to observe this amazingly gifted person at work leading a family of two parents and two adult children in therapy throughout the three days.

For those who attended, the event seemed a little surreal. But Satir had been doing these kind of events for years and in fact, I had seen part of one on tape in seminary. She was, it seemed, far ahead of her time. At the same time, it was the only time I ever had the opportunity to actually see psychotherapy happening bef…

Psalm 18: Of Deliverance and Resistance

Our Lord is like a good-hearted nurse whose only job is to see the safety of her charge. Julian of Norwich

Christ is the shepherd and guardian of our souls. (I Peter 25). The fact that we are here is evidence of God's shielding from enemies that seek to do us harm. (Psalm 18:17, 48) If you are survivor of trauma or domestic violence, your physical, mental, and emotional health is grace sufficient for gratitude and thanksgiving.

God is the advocate not the adversary. God promises to be our light so that we can see the path ahead- enough to take the next step. God is pure in love with no hidden agenda, even as we seek God with the one purpose of following, not controlling God. (Psalm 18:25 ff.)

God is the shield not the attacker. (Psalm 18:30). God makes our way safe (18:32). The present is where we face the true enemies of our lives and where we encounter our own self-sabotaging practices that daily threaten to throw us off the path entirely as well as the life we know in God.

But wh…

Ash Wednesdays Past & Lent 2010

There was an Ash Wednesday several years ago when much of Houston was overwhelmed with rain. No hurricane or even tropical storm, just a rain of over 8"and I was unlucky enough not only to be out in it all day, but also to have had an accident, then flooded the floorboard of the car I rented.

Thanks to the driver of a pickup who nudged and pushed my rented vehicle out of over-run bayou waters, the car's engine was not damaged. I finally made it home in time to exchange my wet shoes for dry ones, then on to church to lead a service of Holy Communion.

My first experiences of Ash Wednesday were as a child- observing parochial school children on their walk home, marked with the ashed cross. By the the time high school rolled around, many wore their ashes for the whole school day, in front of us all. But growing up Methodist, it was a foreign thing to me, the imposition of ashes for Ash Wednesday.

So I'm a latecomer today- not to Lent but Ash Wednesday. The most helpful thing I&#…

A Clergy Gateway Commandment

In the regionalism that is U.S. United Methodism, my cluelessness betrayed my rust belt roots when I first heard the phrase, "I covet your prayers." What?!? As a student pastor of a North Carolina textile mill town parish, I was a second language learner. Whenever I hear that phrase now, I realize that it's mostly southern pastor-speak for "I need and appreciate your prayers."

Still, it seems that, generally, the biblical prohibition on coveting is dangerously underrated. "You shall not covet," commandment #10, is deceptively listed last. Like so-called gateway drugs leading to deeper addictions, in our American "I want therefore I am" culture, #10 is THE gateway commandment. Or sin. As pastoral leaders, could it be that "you shall not covet" is the hinge upon which the commandments turn-- for our behavior as well as our spirituality?

Remember when Jesus talked about the Decalogue, he noted that adultery was first a spiritual state …

Weekly Moravian: The Virtue of Trying

Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Transfiguration of our Lord

Watchword for the Week -- And when they looked up,
they saw no one except Jesus alone. Matthew 17:8

Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:10

Corporate Lumburgs say, "Before we do anything, we should first ask ourselves, 'Is it good for the company?'" What about Dunder-Mifflin?

The apostle Paul directs that we first "Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord." It's the question that spiritual direction and discernment asks. This one simple movement, if practiced regularly, has the potential of transfiguring us. Like leaven, if and when added, it will change the dough of our existence.

Before you try anything else, make the effort to discover and discern what the Holy Spirit wants. Not what pleases the institution or even what makes for a good survival strategy. We miss out on spiritual aliveness because we replace seeking God's way with favorable results. The power that per…