Saturday, June 28, 2008

challenging time

This is a really challenging season in life. I have four dear friends (two couples) dealing with serious marriage trouble...several friends struggling with depression...two sick boys, and a wife who isn’t sleeping much, exhausted from running our home…one of my favorite people is in the midst of of my best friends is a new dad, but both mom and baby are dealing with health issues...another close friend, moving toward marriage, recently hit a huge bump in the road...another friend whose mother is dying. 

So many people I care about are really hurting and struggling. One of my strengths is being compassionate and sympathetic…but it can also be a weakness…taking the weight of all these burdens of the people I love.

I feel heavier than I have in a long time. I am behind on several projects at work, garden full of weeds, much yard work to do; home office is covered with piles and stacks that need to be gone through. Church—more people I want to spend time with than I have time.

But I will not despair. My problems really aren't that big. And through it all, I have experienced God's presence like never before. This idea of whole-life worship we have been exploring has become very real to me. So I hold onto God, the one constant in life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

blog changes

I'm taking back my blog...I started this a couple years ago; then switched it to be a blog about Convergence...but I realize there are things I want to write about that aren't as applicable to church (like my masterful post on the greatest sports movies of all time.)

So this blog will go back to being more about me, my faith journey, my family and friends, and my observations about life, God, sports, books, movies, and music.

We will have one Convergence blog--Lisa and I will both contribute, as well as guest writers. You can find it here

thanks for hanging out here--and please give me your feedback!


I pray because...

Over the last few months we've talked a lot about prayer, and done a lot of praying. While we have just scratched the service as far as answering questions about prayer, our practice of prayer has made a great impact on our community. It has been very encouraging for me personally.

We will continue to make prayer a primary part of who we are and what we do, and look for opportunities to continue the conversation. 

The most common question discussed was "why do we pray?" Many of us have done it for years, because we were taught it was crucial for Christians. But it's also one of those things that we do without really thinking much about it. We had some great conversation about this, and while I don't know if we found any revolutionary answers, it did challenge me to think about why I pray. Here are some of my thoughts:

I pray because I know I can't make life work on my own.
I pray because I need to be connected to more than just what I can see and touch.
I pray because I need to know that I am not alone.
I pray because I have seen God work supernaturally, in my life and the lives of others.
I pray because I gain strength and insight when I do.
I pray because sometimes at midnight, God is the only one listening.
I pray because the Bible, full of wisdom and insight into God and humankind, tells me it is crucial.
I pray because it helps me feel God's presence.
I pray because I love God.
I pray because I believe God loves me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

gay marriage protester rant

Yesterday the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages. (read about it here.) Two elderly lesbians, icons of the gay-rights movement who had been together for over 50 years, were the first couple married Monday evening by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

Protesters outside the courthouse carried signs that read "Re-criminalize Sodomy" and "God Hates Lying Sinners."

One protester said, "I think God is going to destroy this nation, not just...California. Look at all our jobs, our jobs are going overseas. God is judging this nation. It's going to get worse."

Not really sure what this guy is saying...God is sending our jobs overseas because gay people get married? interesting. What is He doing because of all the straight people getting divorced?

As a Christian, I am brokenhearted by people who wave signs announcing God's hatred. How does that help anyone? Do people believe anyone is going to be drawn toward God by that? 

I also think that we get so caught up in issues that we forget behind all this are people. People with families and feelings and dreams. People with jobs and friends, and yes, even people who love God.

I'm not telling you to be in favor of gay marriage. (But I'm not telling you to be against it either). that's my rant for today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

thirsting for God

O God, you are my God,
  earnestly I seek you;
  my soul thirsts for you,
  in a dry and weary land
  where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
  and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
  my lips will glorify you.
--Psalm 63:1-3

We spent time in worship practicing some of the spiritual disciplines we've learned recently--Lectio Divina, breath prayer, Daily Examen...I spent time in Psalm 63:1-3, specifically the phrase "My soul thirsts for you."

I don't often feel that way. I want to. This past week I spent some time listening to the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar.

When I was a kid, my parents had the album. I remember listening to it over and over, there was such power in the songs.

I recently got a copy on CD and spent some time listening to it while driving--and had a very powerful sense of worship. The lyrics and the music took me into the events of the last week of Jesus' life like nothing has in a long time. Some of the songs, especially those sung by Mary Magdalene, convey a longing for Jesus that I yearn for.

Some of the songs sound very "70's," but most hold up surprisingly well 35 years later. I highly recommend taking a listen! 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Leland graduation

today was a good day, at the end of a heavy week. Please pray for my friends Josh and Shey. They had a baby Tuesday, Rowan, but Shey is having severe back problems, and has been in serious pain for over a week. Rowan is in the hospital at UVA, his lungs were weak but are getting better. Today Shey was transferred to the hospital at UVA, where the whole family is now together.

Today was graduation at Leland. Josh was supposed to graduate, but obviously couldn't be there. I was asked to stand in for Josh and receive his diploma--it was a great honor.
Congrats to Tom Lynch, who also graduated today!

Friday, June 13, 2008

sbc stuff

I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches, and am grateful for the ways I was loved and taught. I did most of my MDiv work at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. It has saddened me to have to distance myself from the Southern Baptist Convention, but we have been moving in different directions for many years now.

I often find myself explaining to people that I love the history and theology of Baptists, but that I no longer feel any connection to Southern Baptists. The SBC has such a negative image in our culture these days; in my opinion, it is deserved.

I rarely get into these discussions, but saw some stuff coming out of the SBC national meeting this week that helps explain my feelings.

In his opening address, SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman said, 
"Southern Baptists believe that the local church in New Testament times was autonomous, and thus our local churches are autonomous."

Later a proposal was referred to the executive committee that would amend the SBC's constitution to disallow affiliation by churches that have female senior pastors. So much for church autonomy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

worship Sunday--Daily Examen

The goal of our lives is to live with God forever.
  God, who loves us, gave us life.
  Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts of God,
  presented to us so that we can know God more easily
  and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we apreciate and use all of these gifts of God
  insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
  they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
  before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice 
  and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, 
  wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
  a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

St. Ignatius, from the Spiritual Exercises

We opened worship with this last night, and used several of St. Ignatius' prayers. The central piece was talking about the Daily Examen and guiding the group through the practice. I think it went well (I'd love to hear feedback from our community).

If you're not familiar with it, the Daily Examen is a way of examining or assessing one's life before God in an attitude of prayer. It involves reviewing how God has been present to us or at work with us through the day, then noting our response--reviewing our thoughts, feelings, and actions in relation to God's presence. You can find more detail here.

Doing this has been wonderful for me, really helping me connect with God, especially when life is so busy.

I had one of those great embarrassing moments tonight, when I forgot the words while we were praying the Lord's Prayer...(I forgot "kingdom" where it says "yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.") I got flustered and probably repeated "power" 2 or 3 times, which gave great ammo to a couple of my friends.

But it was a great evening of prayer and fellowship!