Archive for December 12, 2007

Advent with Eugene Peterson, No. 2

I’m still hanging out with Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places during Advent. It has been a great, albeit slow, read. To get Peterson, sometimes you really have to slow down and absorb what he’s trying to say.

In the following passage, I didn’t have to slow down. In fact, I wanted to speed up and fly right by!! In this passage, Peterson is talking about the idolatry of trying to live our faith disconnected from the places where we find ourselves, especially the workplace. Rather than risking everything and trying to find creative ways to live faithfully within our jobs we instead, “fantasize about jobs in which we can wholeheartedly work, in the wonderful phrase, ‘to the glory of God.'” He also argues that we look to the Christian marketplace to fulfill our need for a deeper faith.

“…what we do is look around for ways to affirm and cultivate our new life in Christ outside our workplace. And we soon find, quite to our delight, that there is a lot to choose from. A huge religious marketplace has been set up in North America to meet the needs and fantasies of people just like us. There are conferences and gatherings custom-designed to give us the lift we need. Books and videos and seminars promise to let us in on the Christian “secret” of whatever we feel is lacking in our life: financial security, well-behaved children, weight-loss, exotic sex, travel to holy sites, exciting worship, celebrity teachers. The people who promote these goods and services all smile a lot and are good-looking…(p. 125).”

Peterson then suggests that when we get caught up in this discipleship via consumerism, “we have become consumers of packaged spiritualities.”

“This also is idolatry. We never think of using this term for it since everything we are buying or paying for is defined by the adjective “Christian.” But idolatry it is nevertheless: God packaged as a product; God depersonalized and made available as a technique or a program. The Christian market in idols has never been more brisk or lucrative (p. 125).”

Well…ouch. I’ve asked my family to buy me Amazon giftcards this year so I could buy tons of great “Christian” stuff to read. Hey, a new prayerbook would deepen my prayer life. A new commentary would certainly spark a renewed interest in Scripture. Doggone-it, my faith in Christ will be deeper and stronger in the new year because of these purchases…

Idolatry, huh? I suppose at times, God as a technique or a program is much more attractive than a living and active God.  Maybe this Christmas when I’m opening my new commentaries, prayer books, and emergent manifestos on leadership (w/apologies to Tim Keel, whose new book I can’t wait to read), I’ll remember that God doesn’t fit in a package. Maybe I’ll look up long enough from my new cache of books and catch a glimpse of the manger. Maybe then I’ll remember what I really need is an ongoing relationship with the living, active, Creator God, who is too big for words and much too big to wrap.

December 12, 2007 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

My Future Assistant

The other day, we were in the mall shopping and saw a little boy in a wheelchair. My five year old Emma pointed at him and asked me what was wrong. I told her I didn’t know and that it was rude to point. She asked why. I said, “Would you like to be in a wheelchair and have little girls pointing at you and whispering?” With no hesitation she said, “Yes!” She has no problem being the center of attention and couldn’t imagine that anyone else would.

So it is without concern for her privacy (and with permission – yes even from a 5 year old) that I share this conversation we had today on the way to the doctor. She has been home from school for two days, and it turns out she has a throat infection. We’ll give her a round of antibiotics, and she’ll be fine. On the way to the doctor, we had a really fun conversation.

  • Me: “What are you going to do when you grow up?”
  • EJ: “I’m going to work with you and Mommy.”
  • M: “That’s great. You know, you could probably work as my assistant. Or, you could be my youth minister.”
  • E: “I think I’ll just do children’s church (Our kids come down for a very brief object lesson or story).”
  • M: “That’d be great, you could do them all for me. What would your first one be on.”
  • E: “I’d bring a bunch of seashells…no…maybe a crab shell.”
  • M: “Great! What would the lesson be?”
  • E: “I’d teach the kids about health.”
  • M:”Oh, OK. What would you teach them?”
  • E: “Dad…just wait until I’m grown up and you’ll hear it then!”
  • M:*laughter*

I am waiting on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to find out the connection between a crab shell and health in her first Children’s message. I’m sure it will be a fascinating connection. 🙂

December 12, 2007 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

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December 2007

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