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Showing posts from May, 2010

Include Integrity on Next Resume

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If you don't get caught, then why not fudge a little on your resume. Throw in a fake title here, add a few years there, who's really going to check anyway? We like to catch the politicians in fibs about braving gunfire, or their pretended combat service in Vietnam, and well we should. But lying on a resume is not any better. Printed resumes, just like viral speeches, are difficult to undo.

When I took my first pastorate as a student in a North Carolinian mill town church, I doubt anyone in the parish really cared that much about my resume. No one indicated that they were impressed by it if they had even seen it. They were more concerned that I drove a car with Ohio plates, I had a beard and pony tail, or in the ACC culture, that I attended Duke Divinity School.

Like sermons on humility, the best resumes are concise. "Elaborating" to make your body of work look better only fractures your integrity. Even if no one notices the little extra you imagined, you're only d…

The Weekly Watchword: The Miracle of Adoption

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For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Romans 8:14

Light saber or pixie dust? Holy Spirit is neither. We don't control Holy Spirit; better to yield and surrender. Think of it not as the Spirit coming down on the church, but rather, the church offering all to Holy Spirit. As the Moravian Watchword from Romans implies, it's Spirit's work of adopting and leading us that is significant, not our claim on the Spirit.

Just as important as receiving, it's sometimes helpful to look at what we're receiving. Paul makes clear that it's the very spirit of adoption, so that when we cry out to God as our loving Abba, it is the Spirit bearing witness to us that we belong to God, now and forever. (Romans 8:16) So any other voice that refutes that affirmation is not from Holy Spirit but from the father of lies.

The wisdom in this is that we don't have to look elsewhere. Though I don't always choose the hope and freedom and healing that the Spirit offe…

I Sincerely Doubt It

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I remember there was a phase in our boyhood when my older brother would retort, "I sincerely doubt it," to almost anything I would try to state, frustratingly, as fact!

Have you ever wondered about the presence and purpose of doubt? Why do we get to have it and centipedes or toads apparently don't? Wouldn't life be easier if we could just get over it and move on?

Doubt plays an important function because it can save us from ourselves. Doubt can keep us from making bad decisions or doing harm due to run- away hubris, and thinking we're always right. Knowing we don't have all the answers is apart of honest humility. Faith without this kind of doubt can serve to strengthen, not question, all pet peeves and prejudices. Then, I no longer think I'm right, I know I am.

When it comes to the Bible, doubt means different things. One of the well-worn texts on doubt comes from the Epistle of James:
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generous…

Dormancy

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A few months ago I was asked by the retreat leader to reflect on my spiritual season. In what season am I living spiritually? I couldn't get beyond the fact that Houston, Texas was experiencing its first winter in years. Maybe partly because of the four seasons in nature, our spirits too have seasons of energy, growth, denouement, and dormancy.

Discerning spiritual seasons can serve us well as we become aware of the center from which we give and serve and offer our ministry. Acknowledgment of our inner reality is a step in first doing no harm to self or another. Especially if we're at a place of ebbing energy, then offering gentleness and compassion to ourselves is easily blown off. We're supposed to be there for others, right?

I once knew a gardener who cared for an amazing array of roses, among other foliage. The trouble with our weather, he said, was that roses never had a rest, a break, a time when they were not on. Keeping the roses going throughout the year was a stru…

The Monastic Methodists

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In Longing for Spring, co-authors Elaine Heath and Scott Kisker do more than just report on the new monastic movement within United Methodist Churches. They also present a strong case for a Wesleyan monastic rule of life. All in a very brief 104 pp.- that's with the bibliography.

Heath, the McCreless Assistant Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology, and Kisker, the James Cecil Logan Associate Professor of Evangelism and Wesley Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary, are also both leaders in the "new monasticism." Heath, a U.M. Elder, is on the leadership team of New Day, a connection of "micro-communities" of prayer and action. Kisker, also a United Methodist pastor, is apart of a band meeting at Wesley.

The reader will find the authors' experiences in intentional Wesleyan community helpful, because they too have negotiated the pitfalls of the institutional church. As a result, their wisdom is all the more valuable. Both authors share their spi…

Brain Healthy Faith

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You are what you eat. According to Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, authors of How God Changes Your Brain, your brain is only as healthy as your best spiritual practice or worst God -image. In short, the book is all about the nexus of God and science as seen in the human brain, and how that coming together can affect and transform our lives. And the research presented is a stirring case for how "God," i.e., our spiritual practices and religious faith, can affect the life and health of our brain, for good or ill.
The first part of the book is a primer of sorts. We learn the function of each part of the brain. There are certain "God" circuits where perception of God is formed. The amygdala is implicated in creating the reptilian brain and the fight or flight response. The frontal lobe's job is to logically think about God. The striatum helps to control the amygdala, allowing us to know safety and a sense of well-being in God's presence. The thala…

The Sacrament of Ministry

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"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."
John 10:18

I wonder if anyone can really claim to be a servant without the element of sacrifice. Caregivers have their "bill of rights" and if you Google "compassion fatigue," you'll find training programs dedicated to its symptoms and remedies.

I'm afraid that we've used the word sacrifice when it's convenient for us- and usually on others. We pull it out to manipulate others to give more, be more, and do more. Even if we sometimes use it intending to strengthen and liberate, others may still hear it as a judgment over what they're not.

I just don't see God as the One who extracts life from people. I once knew a father who thought that God "took" their tragically drowned son all because he- the father- was resistant to go into the ministry. Th…