Posts filed under ‘Spirituality’

Powerful Reading

During seminary, I read Thomas Merton’s autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, and I really enjoyed it. Last week I checked out Sue Monk Kidd’s book, Firstlight: The Early Inspirational Writings, from the local library. Apparently Merton had a big influence on her life and writing, so it inspired me to buy more of Merton’s works. I had just sold a few books on Amazon.com, so I ordered two of his books with my earnings: New Seeds of Contemplation, and Spiritual Direction & Meditation.

Wow. New Seeds of Contemplation is a book I really needed to read during this time of my life. I wouldn’t have got much out of this book if I had read it any earlier, so I’m thanking God for this providential coincidence (how’s that for a paradoxical phrase). There are times while I’ve been reading it yesterday evening and this morning that I’ve found that Merton knows me far too well! I’ll just warn you, don’t read this if you don’t have time to stop and pray.

March 7, 2008 at 8:49 am 1 comment

Eugene Peterson on Spiritual Direction

Eugene Peterson has been my spiritual director for years, so I wanted to share some of his thoughts on Spiritual Direction from an interview he did with Christian Century back in 2002.  Here it is:

…basically [spiritual direction] is not a specialized thing. It’s very much a part of the Christian life and should be very much a part of the pastor’s life. In my view, spiritual direction is a conversation in which the pastor is taking the person seriously as a soul, as a creation of God for whom prayer is the most natural language.

This kind of conversation is not problem-centered. If you have a problem — an intense, tangled, emotional problem — there are counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists to help you. That’s good and important work. But most of the time people don’t have problems — though somehow in our society we don’t give careful attention to one another unless there is a problem. If I don’t have a problem and yet I have this sense that something is going on in my life and I have questions about what God is doing — what am I to do? I should be able to call up my pastor and say, “I need to talk to you.” But usually people feel like they have to come up with “a problem.”

If they’re lucky, they have a pastor who is alert to what’s really going on — which is usually not much more than ordinary life and the yearning to live it fully, maturely, with some intensity. “Ordinary” doesn’t mean mediocre or complacent. Ordinary is capable of intensity and is worthy of attentiveness and commitment. I get worried that the popularity of spiritual direction will take it out of ordinary life and put it more in the category of problem-solving.

I have two basic definitions of spiritual direction. One is you show up and then you shut up. It’s important that people have a place they can come to and know that you’re going to be there with and for them. The other is that spiritual direction largely involves what you do when you don’t think you’re doing anything. In other words, you’re not trying to solve a problem. You’re not answering a question and it doesn’t seem like you’re doing anything. It takes a lot of restraint and discipline for a pastor not to say anything, not to do anything. But the pastoral life is an ideal school for learning how to do it.

 

 

February 29, 2008 at 7:52 am Leave a comment

From Crisis to Confession

Since John over at Come to the Waters is wrestling with Moses and the snake out in the wilderness, I thought I’d post an old sermon that I wrote on this. This one ended up in the online edition of Preaching Magazine, so it’s one that I look back on fondly. Here you go:

From Crisis to Confession: A Sermon on Numbers 21:4-9

The people of Israel were “hacked off.” It’s right there in the Bible, they were hacked off. Oh sure, the translation in your pew bible says “impatient,” but in Hebrew it doesn’t say impatient it says qatsar. Qatsar mean making something shorter, and was also used to describe the harvest. When the grain in the field is harvested – it gets qatsar – cut off – shortened. That’s exactly how the people who the wandered around following Moses through the middle of nowhere were described. They felt as if they had been cut down, their fuses were short, and they were at the end of their rope. But most of all they were simply hacked off. Being impatient is sort of a nuisance – we get impatient as we wait to pay for our gas at the convenience store while someone ahead of us leisurely scratches off their lottery tickets hoping to win a dollar or two. Being hacked off is more intense – we get hacked off when someone nearly runs us off the road as we’re driving.

The people of Israel were at the end of their rope. Moses had led them out of Egypt, but now they were in the middle of nowhere and things were more difficult than they ever expected. Along the way they had made enemies, and now they had to go hundreds of miles out of their way to travel around Edom, a country they were forbidden from crossing. A hundred mile detour makes a huge difference when you’re walking over rocks and through steep valleys – especially when you’re wearing sandals. Blisters and calluses were beginning to take their toll. God had provided manna and quail, but visions of Egyptian buffets danced in their heads. No doubt about it, they had had enough.

The old saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” However, I’ve often found that when the going gets tough, the tough start complaining. That’s just what Israel did. During my time as a professor, I found the same thing to be true. When the tests scores were bad, it was rare that I heard someone say, “You know, I really should have buckled down and studied. I wasn’t ready for that test.” Generally I heard people saying, “That was too hard, can we get a big curve!?” Just like a group of unruly students, when the tests in the wilderness got hard, the Israelites started complaining about everything: What kind of leader would bring us out here in the desert to suffer? What kind of God leads his people around in the desert like this? All of a sudden, even enslavement back in Egypt started looking good. Complaints filled the air – the attitude of God’s people was as poor as it could be. In no time, people doubted God and questioned His reason for bringing them out of Egypt in the first place.

The story then takes a terrible turn, “Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died.” You know, I thought about entitling this sermon, “Complain about your leader and get killed by poisonous Snakes,” but I didn’t think that would go over too well – and all kidding aside, I don’t think that’s what this passage is talking about. Whatever the reason God sent snakes among the people, and it is likely impossible to know fully, there can be no mistaking the fact that this was a terrible crisis in the camp. Things just as mysterious and frightening happen in our lives – people who are apparently healthy just days find cancer slithering into their lives and find they only have months or weeks to live. Marriages begin to unravel. People in our families make poor choices with devastating consequences. We may not face literal snakes, but the symbolic snakes in our lives can be just as frightening and destructive. Like the Israelites, as we travel this world we’re all too familiar with crises in the camp and many times that leads us to question our faith and even to question God.

Yet somehow through the grace of God, against our own inclinations, crises can lead to confession. The Israelites took stock of what they were doing and examined their lives. When we encounter snakes in our lives – poisonous relationships, poisonous health issues, tragic losses, or seemingly insurmountable odds – it is time to take stock and see reflect on what matters most. The people of Israel very simply say to Moses, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” The crisis of the snakes led Israel to confess their failings as God’s people. Not only did they turn against the leader God sent them, but they rebelled against God as well. Is it wrong to question and be confused? No way – the only way this becomes sin is if we decide to rebel against God and call it quits – the ultimate danger is letting the crises of our lives cause us to turn our backs on our faith.

The crisis of the snakes helped God’s people realize that their very lives were in the hands of God. Even though the situation in the wilderness was one of difficulty and challenge, the very fact that they had survived this far was evidence of the ongoing presence of God in their lives. Sometimes it takes a crisis to wake us to this kind of truth. Before I answered God’s call to ministry, I worked in a research lab even though I was sick and tired of it. I had resolved to plow through and just go down the path I had planned. But in the middle of this I encountered a crisis. My father was checked into Saint Francis hospital in Tulsa. My wife Nanci and I made several frantic trips back and forth from Oklahoma City, where we lived, to Tulsa thinking he was going to die at any moment. Even though my father pulled through that difficult time, something changed within me. The crisis led to confession. I understood like never before that our lives are gifts and we never know how long or short they might be. For me, life was too short to do something other than pursue God’s call on my life. The crisis in my life led me to confess I wasn’t doing what God had planned for my life. Every single one of us will have points of crisis in our lives, just like the Israelites surrounded by snakes. Yet, God’s grace offers opportunity for growth in the midst of danger. By God’s grace we’re offered hope in the middle of hopelessness.

Moses prayed and God responded. As Israel confessed their disobedience and admitted their utter need, God responded. God told Moses to make a serpent of bronze and to lift it on a stick. Those who were bitten needed only to faithfully respond to God by looking at the snake and they would be healed. The snake wasn’t magic – it was the sheer power of God that brought salvation into a frightening and horrific situation. There is no situation that cannot be transformed by confession and trust in God’s means of salvation. Sometimes, like the Israelites looking at the bronze snake up on a pole in the wilderness in order to be rescued from their snakebites, God’s means of salvation looks a whole lot like the catastrophe we face. Sometimes, through the transforming grace of God, the darkest situations we face in our lives can actually lead to our healing and salvation.

We don’t need to look any farther than our faith in Jesus to see the truth of this belief. The cross was more deadly and humiliating than any snakebite, but it is at the cross where God’s greatest triumph takes place. The people confessed to Moses, he interceded and trusted God. The people lift up their eyes and receive healing, not from the deadly serpent, but from the very hand of God. It is through the suffering and shame of the cross that God offers transforms the entire world.

Nearly every one of us who was raised in church knows John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But how many of us remember the two verses that come before 3:16, “…just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” In what was apparently the greatest defeat of all time, God’s own Son was lifted on the cross. Yet in the providence and grace of God it is through Christ was raised from the dead and we are offered eternal, full and abundant life. Following God and trusting Jesus Christ means looking at the frightening and tragic situations of our life in a new way. Through Jesus Christ, nothing in this world is beyond being used for God’s redemptive purposes in our lives. Whether it is the sickness of our loved ones, the loss of a job, the struggles of a family member, the unraveling of a marriage, or the death of a friend – through God’s grace any of these situations offer one more opportunity for resurrection and can be transformed from the most frightening snake to the most miraculous salvation.

February 25, 2008 at 8:30 am 3 comments

Missional Methodism & Rigorous Discipleship

One of the books I recently bought is really good and thought-provoking. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. Turns out it was worth the wait. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book, but so far I’ve been mesmerized by Hirsch’s description of mDNA (missional DNA, not to be confused with mRNA – messenger RNA – sorry, science humor). I’ve really been too engaged in the book so far, even when I disagree, to underline anything so far.

However, this passage is too important for us United Methodists to leave alone.

In the opinion of Stephen Addison, a missiologist who has spent much of his professional life studying Christian movements, the key to Methodism’s success was the high level of commitment to the Methodist cause that was expected of participants. This cause declined to the degree that the movement had moved away from its original missional ethos or evangelism and disciple making and degenerated into mere religious legalism maintained by institution, rule books, and professional clergy (p. 103).

He goes on to talk about the catechesis of the early Church,

…far from being “seeker-friendly,” by AD 170 the underground Christian movement had developed what they called the catechisms. These were not merely the doctrinal confessions they later became; they involved rigorous personal examinations that required the catechumen to demonstrate why he or she was worthy of entry into the confessing community. Not only could proposed converts lose their life, because of the persecution of the time, but they had to prove why they believed they should be allowed to become part of the Christian community in the first place!

…it was this element of vigorous discipleship that characterized the early Christian movement that was blighted by the deluge of worldliness that flooded the post-Constantinian church when the bar was lowered for membership and the culture was “Christianized.” (p. 104)

To be honest, I have totally mixed reactions to this. The concept of proving oneself worthy of joining the Christian community strikes me as a little antithetical to a gracious understanding of God. However, I do think that the concept of rigorous discipleship, as shown in early Christianity and Methodism, is incredibly important. For instance, the other night my wife was watching this stupid show about becoming a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader on CMT. They kept saying how important their identity was, and several girls didn’t make the team because they either didn’t live up to the values of the team or they didn’t have a certain level of commitment. I thought to myself, how is it that the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders have more rigorous set of practices and ideals than the Church?!

But that’s the tension isn’t it? Christ died and is risen for all, right? So how do we balance inspiring committed discipleship with the message of God’s free grace? Also, do you agree with Hirsch’s comment about legalism maintained by institutions, rule books, and professional clergy? Is that what United Methodism has become or not? How could the UMC become a Church that more fully embodies full-bodied discipleship?

Hopefully these questions can initiate a conversation in the comments. What are some of your first impressions?

January 9, 2008 at 1:51 pm 5 comments

Advent with Eugene Peterson

Christ PlaysI’m re-reading Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places for Advent this year. I continue to be amazed at the pastoral wisdom that Eugene Peterson has packed into the pages of this book. As I read slowly through the pages, I’m more and more convinced that spiritual theology is one of the most important disciplines for the pastor.

A passage I read a few days back has really stayed with me, and I want to share it here. In it, Peterson is discussing the ways that accepting Jesus as the definitive revelation of God makes it impossible for us to make up our own individualized spiritualities. Peterson may very well have been writing during this time of year when he wrote, “…we can’t get around him or away from him; Jesus is the incarnation of God.”

In the first words here, he goes back to the theme I’ve been hitting hard lately of the importance of “place” (a better word than context, I think). Incarnation is incredibly important for elevating the value of being a particular person in a particular place:

Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by intimidating lies and delusions that fill the air, so that we needn’t be someone else of somewhere else (p. 33).

However, it’s the expansion of this that really strikes me,

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unselfconsciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place where we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now (pp 33-34).

These are the “Christ-practices” that are essential for any good pastor. I would even suggest that the pastoral life well-lived also inculcates these practices in the group of believers they shepherd. If you’re like me you’ll probably find some who don’t do these things, but you’ll find many others who already do them, but don’t realize that they are part of the amazing good news of God! Part of our job is to help people understand how many of the simple practices of their daily lives are caught up in the narrative of God’s mission to reclaim the world.

Maybe this year, as we prepare to remember God’s Incarnate Son, we can cling to the Christ-practices of the here and now. Maybe we can embody the way Christ’s Incarnation shows us a faith is earthy and real as we become more and more like the One who came and is to come.

December 6, 2007 at 8:38 am 3 comments

Strengthened by Solitude

Fall SceneSaturday was a really good day. A few months back, my mother had a lot of bulldozer work done on her property, leaving about 5 large piles of trees behind. These piles eventually have to be burned, and so with my wife gone to Women of Faith, the kids and I went over to help burn them. There is something really great about clearing and burning brush piles. As we were working I said to my Mom, “You know, I think it’s impossible to worry or stress out when you’re burning brush.” She agreed. Right now she’s going through radiation treatments for skin cancer, so I think her words carry a little more weight than mine on that particular subject.

Once the fires were burning good, we went to the house for lunch. The afternoon was fairly uneventful, until I had to go back and pile a little more brush and check on the fires. I drove the four-wheeler out, with Dixie, Mom’s border collie, running ahead across the pasture. After seeing the fires were good and contained, I decided to ride up next to the mountain that borders my mom’s place on the back side of her property.

I got off the four-wheeler and stood watching the sun begin its evening descent into the western sky. Off to my right, I heard a loud snort and saw four white tails raised high in the air as the deer bounded off into the woods. Dixie laid down at my feet, and I began to think. Before I knew it, nearly thirty minutes of silent thought went by and I didn’t want to leave. God was truly in that place, and like Peter at the transfiguration, I was ready to build a house and move right in.

At first, I thought maybe this was a bad thing…that I was being unfaithful for imagining what it would be like to live in that spot and experience that kind of beauty and solitude every day. In fact, I’ve been thinking about that for the last few days, and I’ve only began to process what happened there.

I’ve had Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines sitting on the shelf since our vacation early this year, but I hadn’t found the time to read it. Actually, that’s not true. I tried to read it, but I guess it just wasn’t the right time. Now it is, and today I came across a passage that I believe helps explain what I experienced on Saturday.

Today, sustained withdrawal from society into solitude seems to indicate weakness, suffering, flight, or failure rather than great strength, joy, and effectiveness. Believing that, we, for instance, thoroughly misunderstand the context of Jesus’ temptations after his baptism…

Willard then suggests that the Spirit led Jesus into solitude in the wilderness, not to place Jesus in the weakest position possible, but to allow him to face Satan at the place of his strength and strengthening.

The desert was his [Jesus’] fortress, his place of power. Throughout his life he sought the solitary place as an indirect submission of his own physical body to righteousness. That is, he sought it not as an activity done for its own sake, but one done to give him power for good. All of those who followed Jesus knew of his practice of solitude, and it was greatly imitated in the centuries after his death.

I think that something similar might have been going on as I stood in God’s presence watching the sun go down into the valley. As I stood on the side of the hill, I was conscious in my silence of God’s overwhelming grace. Today, Willard helped me realize something. My time alone – mesmerized by God’s beauty – didn’t bring on the temptation to withdraw from the world. Instead, as I unknowingly imitated our merciful Savior in the wilderness, God embraced me, empowered me for good, and gave me strength to engage the world once again…even though I had no idea that was going on. Thanks be to God.

November 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm 6 comments

Jesus’ Model of Pastoral Care??

I wonder what this passage might teach us about how we do pastoral care (h/t A commenter named jfreeham at the Theolog).

“…after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:6, 17-21

Read Willimon’s words from his book, Pastor (h/t relevintage):

The pastor is [often] reduced to the level of the soother of anxieties brought on by the dilemmas of affluence, rather than the caller of persons to salvation. My colleague Stanley Hauerwas has accused the contemporary pastor of being little more than “a quivering mass of availability [emphasis mine].” Practicing what I call “promiscuous ministry”- ministry with no internal, critical judgment about what care is worth giving- we become victims of a culture of insatiable need. We live in a capitalist, consumptive culture where there is no purpose to our society other than “meeting our needs.” The culture gives us the maximum amount of room and encouragement to “meet our needs” without appearing to pass judgment on which needs are worth meeting… In this vast supermarket of desire, we pastors must do more than simply “meet people’s needs.” The church is also about giving people the critical means of assessing which needs give our lives meaning, about giving us needs we would not have had if we had not met Jesus.

Are you a pastoral vending machine or are you practicing the holy art of saying no? Is there middle ground somewhere in between? What are we called to be? Can pastors abuse this theological approach to pastoral care in order to feed their own laziness? And to ask a question that is becoming increasingly popular, how would life as a Bishop change the way Willimon thinks about this? What do you think?

October 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm 5 comments

Jonny Baker Coming to Oklahoma

Check this out, it is really exciting. November 6-8, 2008 the Oklahoma United Methodist Young Adult Council will be bringing Jonny Baker to Oklahoma to lead a worship workshop. He will lead those who attend in workshops, conversation, and the hands-on creation of an alternative worship experience. Even more exciting, this experience will be opened to the public in Bricktown in Oklahoma City on that Friday night. This is terrific news, and I expect this to be a huge event. So, mark your calendars, and I’ll try to get more information out as it comes.

October 17, 2007 at 6:35 pm Leave a comment

Morgenthaler on Worship Evangelism

Sally Morgenthaler, who has a terrific article on leadership in a “flattened” world in An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, has been a pioneer in the world of worship. Her book Worship Evangelism set the tone for a large cultural shift within evangelicalism back in the late nineties.

Lately, she’s been rethinking some of the ideas presented in that work. In a new article from earlier this month, she reflects on the successes and failures of this movement (h/t Jonny Baker). Two years ago she taught her last seminar on worship, a year later she abandoned her worship resource website. This article is an explanation of the disappointment Morgenthaler feels over the way “worship evangelism” became an excuse for not being involved with those outside the Church. Instead of holding worship and mission together, some took her work as an excuse to believe that quality worship is a substitute for missional involvement.

Instead of attracting the unchurched, many found that their emphasis on evangelistic worship was not living up to that intention. Morgenthaler writes,

Were these worship-driven churches really attracting the unchurched? Most of their pastors truly believed they were. And in a few cases, they were right. The worship in their congregations was inclusive, and their people were working hard to meet the needs of the neighborhood. Yet those churches whose emphasis was dual—celebrated worship inside, lived worship outside—were the minority. In 2001 a worship-driven congregation in my area finally did a survey as to who they were really reaching, and they were shocked. They’d thought their congregation was at least 50 percent unchurched. The real number was 3 percent.

She later describes the movie Saved as an example of the true attitudes of many secular folks to the evangelical movement, and goes on to cite a journalist who observed worship in one of the congregations that has invested heavily in high-production worship for non-Christians,

“The [worship team] was young and pretty, dressed in the kind of quality-cotton-punk clothing one buys at the Gap. ‘Lift up your hands, open the door,’ crooned the lead singer, an inoffensive tenor. Male singers at [this] and other megachurches are almost always tenors, their voices clean and indistinguishable, R&B-inflected one moment, New Country the next, with a little bit of early ’90s grunge at the beginning and the end.

“They sound like they’re singing in beer commercials, and perhaps this is not coincidental. The worship style is a kind of musical correlate to (their pastor’s) free market theology: designed for total accessibility, with the illusion of choice between strikingly similar brands. (He prefers the term flavors, and often uses Baskin-Robbins as a metaphor when explaining his views.) The drummers all stick to soft cymbals and beats anyone can handle; the guitarists deploy effects like artillery but condense them, so the highs and lows never stretch too wide. Lyrics tend to be rhythmic and pronunciation perfect, the better to sing along with when the words are projected onto movie screens. Breathy or wailing, vocalists drench their lines with emotion, but only within strict confines. There are no sad songs in a megachurch, and there are no angry songs. There are songs about desperation, but none about despair; songs convey longing only if it has already been fulfilled.”

Morgenthaler’s response is direct, “ No sad songs. No angry songs. Songs about desperation, but none about despair. Worship for the perfect. The already arrived. The good-looking, inoffensive, and nice. No wonder the unchurched aren’t interested.”

I’m not capturing all of the nuances of the article here, but these are some of the high points that stood out to me. I would encourage you to read the whole article to get a sense of Morgenthaler living through the shift from modernity to “whatever it is that we’re now experiencing” (post-modernity, hyper-modernity, post-Christendom, whatever). In closing, she describes the uncomfortable call she is currently experiencing,

I am currently headed further outside my comfort zones than I ever thought I could go. I am taking time for the preacher to heal herself. As I exit the world of corporate worship, I want to offer this hope and prayer. May you, as leader of your congregation, have the courage to leave the “if we build it, they will come” world of the last two decades behind. May you and the Christ-followers you serve become worshipers who can raise the bar of authenticity, as well as your hands. And may you be reminiscent of Isaiah, who, having glimpsed the hem of God’s garment and felt the cleansing fire of grace on his lips, cried, “Here am I, send me.”

May we all be so uncomfortable.

September 19, 2007 at 6:22 am 2 comments

Church of Nature

Buffalo MountainI was reading an article yesterday in Ladies’ Home Journal (yeah, yeah, don’t ask) about the “Church of Nature.” In this article, a concerned mother saw her downcast son on a Sunday morning very upset about having to go to Church. She asked him why and he said, “I’d rather be watching our tadpoles.” Immediately she had a revelation and decided that every now and then they’d play hooky from Church and take the kids down to a nearby river to explore the “Church of Nature.”

I don’t really have much to say about the article. I’m not going to spend any time speculating on the underlying theological and philosophical commitments of the author. Instead, I want to think about the Church. Is your Church so boring for kids that they’d rather watch tadpoles? Do kids beg their parents not to come to Church?

More than anything, this reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in a little Southern Baptist Church in rural Oklahoma. As soon as I read this article, I was reminded of how we weren’t forced to make a decision between being outside and going to Church. Many times I can remember our Sunday School teachers, far wiser than many church education experts, deciding it was too beautiful to stay in our classroom. Instead, they would say it was time for a nature walk, and we’d take off down the little country road behind our church. The teacher would say something like, “When we get back we’ll talk about all the things we see that God made,” and during our trip we’d throw rocks off the bridge, catch crawdads, and play in the water.

After worship, during church dinners, we kids would barely stay inside before going out to play in the little branch running through our property. We’d catch crawdads again, try to splash each other with rocks, and build dams with rocks and pine needles. Of course, these miniature Corps of Engineer projects would often undergo forced dismantling at the request of our wiser elders after a brief lesson on erosion!

I can also remember leaving worship after a particularly vivid sermon on having the faith of a mustard seed, the kind that could move mountains. None of us had ever heard of Tom Wright, and so we didn’t “know” that this was referring to the temple mount. Instead, we’d all stand in the parking lot talking as we’d look across the road at Buffalo Mountain and marvel. Someone would inevitably say, “Wow, can you believe that if we had enough faith we could move that mountain?” We’d be astounded by God’s power, really astounded, and then go home. Who wouldn’t want to go to Church and experience that?

I’m not sure where the person who wrote that article went to church, but it sure wasn’t where I grew up. Maybe she went somewhere too sophisticated and busy talking about God’s care for the environment to really get out and love it like God does. Too bad.

August 17, 2007 at 8:42 am 2 comments

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