Vocal Paralysis

This post is different. I want you to know that up front. It’s different.

For starters I’m writing it at about 30,000 feet in the air somewhere between Charlotte and Baltimore. Secondly this is a conversation that is by necessity – and this is not an excuse for you to stop reading – political. And if we are actually going to talk about echoing heaven on earth, at some point we have to deal with the political implications of such a creed. Let me clear…that does not mean we vote straight ticket for either party. This does not mean we confuse the “moral majority” with the Gospel. Nor do we equate all all things social justice with Jesus. It’s means we stop using our faith as a crutch for our political leanings and instead allow the Gospel to infiltrate and transform our politics….rant over and I’ll step off the soap box.

I’m writing this in route, on my second trip to Washington, DC to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with various denominational leaders and Congress people. This is a trip I never imagined and a discussion I never thought myself engaging…especially from this perspective. I stand in favor of comprehensive reform that entails a clear pathway for those living in our country without documentation, the reunification of families, and the protection of worker’s rights.

I understand the issues are complex. But I also understand the system is broken and people are being broken in the process. Every time I see news coverage some talking head is making broad sweeping, grossly negligent generalizations about people. In this discussion people have been replaced by labels and stereotypes, statistics and generalizations. If memory serves me correctly, wasn’t Jesus in the business of making sure a person was not defined by societies labels, especially as those labels came from the mouths of religious leaders?

What is our role as a church or as individual believers in this conversation? I mean that and I hope you will respond and answer and pass this along. If the church stands in a line of people who were told to remember the times when they were the immigrants, then how should be respond? I once heard a congressional staffer say their representative had a strong faith….but he also loved the law so he wasn’t sure where that might take him. I’ve heard church people say we need to keep politics and religion separate to keep the peace. Conversations like that make me realize why Jesus overturned tables…

N.T Wright said one of the churches great privileges was to help culture articulate injustice when we see it. Because once we can articulate it…then we can pray about it….then we can mobilize around it…and God willing with enough courage one say we might act. Have we lost our vocal chords or have we just chosen to systematically stop using them when it gets uncomfortable or complex?

Why wouldn’t we?!?

fire

[Author’s note:  this post is less health focused and more reflective on the life of our churches]

This past weekend was a whirl wind.  The church across the street, Walhalla Presbyterian Church, suffered extensive damage from a fire Saturday.  The fire started a little before 10:00am and took 9 fire crews to get it under control.  In any town this is a big deal, in small town Walhalla, SC…it was huge.  Here is a link to a local news agency that covered the story.  To the people in the church I serve, it was like déjà vu all over again…except this time we were on the other side of the street.  In July 2009, members of St. Luke stood across the street in the Presbyterian Church’s parking lot, watching our sanctuary and education building burn.  Here is a link to that story. Continue reading

But I’ve got to go!!!

Big_Daddy_film

Appetites grow by indulgence… The world did not turn into a sex crazed machine overnight any more than any one of us went to bed at 190lbs and woke up at 300lbs…The status quo of indulging the natural cannot continue in this direction.  Everything must change…and that starts with redefining our “instincts.”  The question is how…

This was how we ended our conversation from last week (if you missed it, HERE it is).  So where do we go from here?

First, we need to be honest and admit that we do not indulge every natural urge or instinctual thought.  For instance, have you ever suddenly been hit with the urge to use the restroom?  It is a very natural, necessary part of our life and bodily function.  And yet when the realization comes that it is time to indulge the natural part of our being, what do we do?  We wait until we can find an appropriate release point (preferably a bathroom).  Even when hit with the most intense of stomach pain or bladder stretching…we find a bathroom, albeit with a little more haste.

As odd as it feels to write, and I would imagine read, about our bathroom tendencies, this is an important first step in understanding our “natural desires.” 

Society tells us to indulge what it is natural because after all, it’s natural right?  Billions of dollars are spent marketing to our “natural urges” so that we are instinctually compelled to buy a product without fear of guilt or shame because it’s natural.  Why else would GoDaddy advertise with nudity?  What point is there in a Hardees commercial with a scantily clad woman eating a 1lbs burger if it is not to awaken the strongest of instincts in males:  sex and food?  Because there is money to be made off of people who are coerced into believing that are instincts cannot be trained!?!

A bigger lie can rarely be found.  Why?  Next time you need to use the restroom, I bet you choose to delay your natural urge in the name of social and hygienic principles.

Why then are we so afraid and unable to embrace Christian principles of chastity, moderation, and just plain health?  Because we’re fighting against the machine of marketing and money.  There are mountains of money to be had from our sex drives and appetites.  And yet we seem ok in spending it…that seems interesting considering the sociological connotations of paying for something that involves sex…

We’ve also been duped into thinking it’s impossible.  So why try?  And yet there are stories to be told about the beauty of what happens when God does the impossible.  And yet our story in the church is about watching God do the impossible through improbable people so that we might be made whole.  If this is our story, what if we actually believed that all things are possible with God?  What if we lived like it? 

What is the impossible thing in your life that you desperately need to overcome?

 

Are we still talking about practice???

Why are we so set on just talking about practice???  Practicing healthy eating or activity or living…practicing heaven on earth…Why are we still talking about practice?

Allen Iverson thought the same thing in an interview a few years ago after missing a few practices.  Here’s a brief clip from that press conference.  Try to count the number of times he says “practice.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGDBR2L5kzI Continue reading

Finding our Thin Place

thin place

We are all looking for thin places.  In one way or another, people are searching for thin places, those places where the divine and the human come as close as intimately possible.  Some people search through physical bliss and relational pleasure; others search for it in books, literature and the arts; and others search for them in relics and bastions of spirituality across the world.  Whatever your search, we are all looking for that intersection of something bigger and outside of ourselves.

Eric Weiner, an esteemed writer for the New York Times seems to fit the latter category, scouring the world for geographic places in history where the world of the divine has touched the world of humanity.  You can read his article here if you’d like to see more of his story.  In a sense he is correct.  Continue reading

Life as Citizens of the Kingdom of God

Square "PLAY" button with reflection (blue)Thoughts on Luke 12:32-40

“But among us you will find uneducated persons, sons, artisans, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of the truth: they do not rehearse speeches but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again, when robbed, they do not go to law, they give to those who ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves.” Athenagoras – 2nd Century Apologist. Continue reading

How it all began.

I think we all have one of those places. There is a place in the world, out in creation, where you go and experience a deep feeling of contentment, awe, and peace. Perhaps you don’t get to visit that place very often or maybe you get to visit it daily. Maybe that place for you has awe inspiring heights and heart pounding sights. Or maybe your place is more like mine – quite, tree covered and, as of last night, covered in a fresh 3 inches of glistening white snow. I frequent this place daily during the summer and regrettably far less during the cold New York winter months. When I am there my spirit is ever conscious, my mind calms, and I feel a sense of connectedness. As I walk down one of my favorite trails the cool morning air refreshes my lungs and ears are honed as the trees sway in the light breeze. The trail opens to a field, the vegetation growing is random and haphazard, not like the nice commercially planted rows of whichever crop was planted. As I look out on the field and turn to look at the forest I just walked through, I can’t help but quietly reflect. Was this what it was like at the beginning? Continue reading

Does Your Church Need a Gym?

 I was recently reading about a church somewhere in Texas that has a workout facility on its campus, and, to be honest, my initial reaction was cynical. I guess my generation has had some mixed feelings with church spending. We have heard railings against ornate décor in churches that could have been passed over in order to spend the money on the needs of the community and world around us.

Continue reading