November 16, 2017

GPS: God's Positioning System

"Christian" does not mean one who merely prayed the sinner's prayer when they encountered Christ but one who continues to follow Christ every day. And that's not easy. Because he took the way less traveled. The Way of Christ is a narrow road and our nature-habit-default is to hop on the freeway instead (Matthew 7).

The only way I know to stay on the straight and narrow, to use a different metaphor, is to "eat the word of God" (Jeremiah 15) as part of my daily diet. For "man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."

So the Bible is sort of like a Christian GPS. Because every day I get that voice navigation that is so radically course-altering that I have to decide once again whether or not I really want to continue down this Jesus path. I mean crazy-sounding stuff like this from today's readings:

"The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous are gracious and continue to give."--Psalm 37

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."--Luke 6

This Christian Way may be the death of me yet; and that just may be the point (Matthew 16)!

July 15, 2017

Let Us Pray!

Somebody asked me this week, "How is the prayer ministry going?" "What prayer ministry?" I gulped. Yes I had big plans. But the truth is I'd forgotten. But before that I'd given up. I'd been warned that nobody is really serious about prayer today. But I didn't believe it. I was wrong.
The primary calling of Benedictines is prayer. And I'm a professed Benedictine. Not because I'm good at prayer but because I'm bad at it. And, more importantly, because I believe in it. I'm absolutely convinced that prayer is the only hope for the mess that is America today and for the bigger mess that is the American church today.
Jesus said the church of God shall be known as a house of prayer for all people. At one time in our history that was true. And every revival in history was sparked by the fervent prayers of God's people for their neighbors at home and around the world. Even as a kid growing up--not that long ago--prayer meetings were the heart and soul of congregational life together. No longer. Tragically, the only place that's still true today is...your local mosque.
Most churches can't get three people together for a prayer meeting. (Though I did once manage to get half a dozen together for a prayer conference!) What about your church? Is it known in the community as a house of prayer for all people? What is it known for? What does it strive to be known for?
Seventeenth-century bishop Francis Turner was spot on: Morning and Evening Prayer together, every day of the week, if by any means in the world you can prevail with at least a few of your parishioners, is the best and most public good they can ever do in the places where they live, and the ministers should labour at it with as much application and zeal as the thing itself mightily deserves” (Martin Thornton, English Spirituality).
Let us pray!

July 12, 2017

Gen. 24: How Can I Find The Will Of God For My Life?

Are you lost on the road of life? You need a new GPS!

G Godly Goals
P Prayerful Planning
S Spiritual Submission

Please share this sermon with others who might need to hear it!

May 27, 2017

John 14: When God Breaks Your Heart

Where Jesus makes the most controversial statement in the history of humanity!

March 31, 2017

The Dismal State Of Church Education

Just airing a grievance here. And I come at this from two perspectives: biblical theology (the study of God and his revelation) and pedagogy-andragogy (the art and science of learning).

At one time I was a serious student of the Proverbs. (I’d love to teach through the Proverbs if the Lord ever provides an opportunity.) And I have two sermons online from the Proverbs, which provide background and context for the point I want to make here:

Educating Ourselves To Death
Living Wise Among The Foolish

The Proverbs teach us Simpletons that there are two highways through life—and many crossroads between. The Broad Road leads progressively through Sin, Scoffing, and Folly, before reaching its final destination, Destruction. The Narrow Road leads progressively through Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom, before reaching its final destination, Salvation.

This pattern of growth from knowledge to understanding to wisdom is found everywhere: purgation, illumination, union; grammar, logic, rhetoric; apprentice, journeyman, master; shu ha ri; etc.

From the world of pedagogy-andragogy we know that people learn in many different ways, and that these ways vary not only by age but by stage of learning. (So, yes, this gets complicated.) Without getting into details here, suffice it to say the least effective method of education is simple lecture, or sermonizing, unless the Holy Spirit sets it ablaze. Just consider how Christ discipled—more of a Montessori approach—vs. how churches disciple today. And that difference is a significant part of our problem!

How much of all of this do church educators, disciplers, and catechists seem to know? You guessed it: nearly nothing. And the worst of it is that nobody is talking about it. Go ahead and Google it; you’ll come up with nothing. The only thing I can find is a reference to an unpublished doctoral dissertation on the topic by a PCA pastor, David Wallover, in Ohio. I contacted him and he says they’re working on this at their church and we may see a book someday; drop him a line of encouragement 😊 Maybe there are, in fact, other churches and ministries out there working on this too—a couple that come to mind are Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the CS Lewis Institute.

Maybe I should be developing discipleship curricula instead of management training curricula? 

March 27, 2017

Psalm 23: Teach Us To Number Our Days

My homily from St. Francis yesterday, which was not recorded:

You want to hear something crazy? There are studies out there claiming we Christians are—you ready for this?—afraid of death! Can you believe it? “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now!” Especially, they say, Christians. The only people more afraid of death are Muslims; that I understand: they don’t have a Savior, they don’t have a Good Shepherd. But Christians, if we fear death we’ve missed something very important—like the gospel!

Death is on my mind this week because I attended a funeral on Monday. And death on our minds is good for us. I’m a third-order, meaning married and living in the world, Benedictine, and the Rule of St. Benedict exhorts us to “keep death daily before your eyes.” That’s pretty morbid sounding, huh? Why in the world would we do that? Psalm 90 answers that question: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So this morning I want to talk about how meditating on death, numbering our days, teaches us two things: how to live well and how to die well.

March 16, 2017

UPDATED: The Shack

UPDATE: We saw The Shack last night. In spite of the fact that I dozed off, which tells you something, I give it 4 of 5 stars. Yes there's plenty to be concerned about theologically, and I think MovieGuide hits the nail on the head.  But I give it 4 stars because it creatively engages the big apologetic questions most people are wrestling with and, agree or disagree with the film's responses, it gives us much to think and talk about. It would make for a great small group discussion, and I'm sure there are already study guides out there. How many films can you think of that raise so many important questions? So go see it with your friends and neighbors and pray that the Holy Spirit uses it to open many hearts and minds.

ORIGINAL: I haven't read the book or seen the movie, yet. I plan to see it and will let you know my thoughts. In the meantime, here are a few thoughts from my favorite blog, Jesus Creed:

Baffled by the Criticisms of The Shack?
The Shack: A Review

Have you read or seen it? What did you think?

March 13, 2017

Thy Word Have I Hidden In My Heart

"Do you miss social media?" someone asked me, because I've given it up for Lent. No, to my surprise, and I might just give it up for good! "So what are you doing instead?" was the follow-up question. Two things: reading more and memorizing scripture.

I've talked about this scripture memory app before but want to recommend it again: I LOVE Remember Me, and I can even share the list of verses I'm working on, which means you can just read through it or even import it to jump-start your own Scripture memory discipline.

So what are you waiting for? How about a little less time on social media and a little more time in God's word?

March 01, 2017

Lent Resources

Hopefully by now you're a subscriber to the Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts's Advent and Lenten devotional series. If not, this is a great time to get started here. And I recommend you sign up by clicking the "Send Me Daily Devotionals" button at the bottom.

I use a variety of resources for daily prayer, depending on a number of factors, including how much time I have. During the season of Lent I try to make more time for prayer and sometimes use all the prayer resources linked at the bottom right of my blog's home page. But if I only have time for one, during Lent I make it The Daily Office from Mission St. Clare.

Finally, check out my Lenten meditation Remember You Are Dust, as well as my Lenten playlist on Spotify, Ashes to Ashes: