Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Spiritual Practices 5 and 6: Having Spiritual Conversations with Believers and Those Not There Yet

November 16, 2016

spiritual-conversationI apologize for not getting out a post last week about our fifth spiritual practice: “Engage in Honest, Authentic Conversations with Other Believers.” Let me say something about the spiritual practices in general. The only way any of these spiritual practices can really work is if we want to do them.

For example, most days I spend a few minutes practicing scales on my guitar. (Don’t worry, that’s not one of the nine practices.) It’s something I enjoy doing because I love the sound of a guitar and because I’d like to improve my playing. What doesn’t work is comparing my guitar skills with Tim Sawicki’s, for example. Then my inevitably small signs of progress can seem like a waste of time.

Likewise, it would be completely off the mark for any of us to compare our spiritual lives with the spiritual lives of other people. Jesus is our teacher, and each of us is his very personal disciple or student. We’re all wired differently — by his design. It’s also not going to work to treat these spiritual practices as obligations or requirements. Like I said earlier, at some level, we have to want them, or at least want the life they point to. (more…)

For Love

April 14, 2014

MaryAnointingJesusBut in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:15).

Yesterday I suggested that this verse be our theme for the week, for this holy week. (The Greek word for “set apart” is the same word we translate “holy.”) I also suggested that we devote the next four days to reflecting upon and practicing the four core activities we’ve been exploring as a congregation since the first of the year – worship, discipleship, fellowship and witness.

So today some of us are focusing on worship – worship not just as a religious activity, but as a regal activity. The person who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was eventually nailed to a cross was a king; in fact, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Yesterday I suggested that whenever we pray this week, we first of all acknowledge the lordship of Christ and our allegiance to him.

That’s what we do when we worship; then there is why we do it. In the gospel reading assigned to Holy Monday (John 12:1-11), Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus’ feet with an abundance of expensive perfume. She does it because she loves him, because she is overwhelmed by his love for her. If worship is about allegiance, it is also about love. (more…)

Checking In

April 5, 2010

Wow, it’s been a while. And it will probably still be a while before I do much blogging again. You haven’t asked for an explanation, but I’d like to explain anyway, as well as give an up-date. This is an extremely busy and exciting time for me. I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking and writing for the BRC Future Task Force. I’m really pleased with the direction we’re taking and look forward to when we can can share our work with the consistory and eventually the rest of the congregation. (more…)

Out on a Limb

November 2, 2009

IdolsMade a last-ditch effort yesterday afternoon to see if Mario could stay with Sharon and me for at least the next little while. Mom wasn’t open to it, and she gave a couple of decent reasons why it would be a problem. I’m going to miss that guy. Mario is amazed at all the love you folks have been showing him. And like I keep saying to people, the story isn’t over yet. I’ll be driving Mario and his mother to the Bronx sometime today. Thanks for all your prayers.

I’m really looking forward to the first meeting of the BRC Future Task Force. It should happen in the next two or three weeks as we try to coordinate our schedules. There are times, like after yesterday’s sermon, when it feels like I’ve stepped out onto a limb that can’t possibly bear my weight, much less the weight of all the other folks I’m asking to join me. I’m also absolutely convinced that this is how it’s supposed to be when we’re following Jesus. And that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I’ve been spending some time this morning memorizing the vision of Jesus in Revelation 1 that we reflected upon yesterday. First century Christians needed such “counter-images” in order to deal with all the visual reference points to the Roman empire and culture that surrounded them. There were empire temples, statues, signs, insignias, entertainment venues and military personnel everywhere they looked. Today we are bombarded through television and computer screens, roadside billboards, newspapers and magazines with constant visual references to the idols of our age. So I appreciate John’s visualization of Jesus that contains so many powerful symbols.

May each of us provide a visual glimpse and foretaste of Jesus’ kingdom to the people around us wherever we live, work, learn and play today.

Pre-election Ruminations

November 3, 2008

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so interested in an election, though tactics used by both parties can make all this feel more like a two-ring circus or sporting event than a presidential campaign. My purpose for writing this post isn’t to weigh in on either of the candidates, but rather to articulate one reason why it’s possible and even likely that solid Jesus Followers are not going to agree about who to vote for. (more…)

Holy Indulgences

October 20, 2008

This morning I offer a few quotes to go with yesterday’s sermon, which focused on the (surprising) purpose for God’s grace and gracisms (spiritual gifts): to make us holy, to make us saints. Especially a community of saints. (more…)

Cop an Attitude

October 16, 2008

As we continue our discussion about how we’re to carry out our various kingdom roles, today I encourage us to focus on the fourth principle we talked about on Sunday: “Cop an Attitude — of Reverence, Respect and Honor.” Paul writes, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” “Children…honor your father and mother….” “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect….”

To “cop” an attitude means to adopt an attitude. In other words, we shouldn’t just slip into the the attitude that comes naturally. (more…)