Monday, February 23, 2009

Can I pray without words?

I've been working on Eccliesiaties the last couple weeks.  This is the first time I've gone through it in a while and, again, I want to thank the people of the Bible Postcast for bringing me back to this book of great wisdom.  Today I'm awed by the wisdom of the first few verses of Chapter 5.  We forget about being silent before the Lord and I'm not sure we know how to do it well, neither in prayer or in worship.  Too often it becomes a way of seperating us from the rest of the community of God.  You know those times that a worship leader will say, "Close your eyes and imagine that it is just you and God here in this room."  I despise that.  I don't come to worship with a community in order to pretend that the community is not there.

No matter how we are to worship and pray in silence, Solomon reminds us that we are better to approach the throne silently.

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
 Clearly my dear brothers and sisters of evangelical practices don't come to listen but to speak.  Neither in worship or in prayer.  How many times have I been in a prayer group that spent 30 minutes talking about all the hopes, fears and wishes of the people and friends of people in the room, then after talking about those things everyone closes their eyes and in a "prayerful attitude" talk about those things again?  The intention is good, a desire to see God's hand moving among themselves and those that they mention.  Unfortunately, the desires of fools is also pure.  It is the fool's knowledge of reality that is lacking.

I don't know what are corporate prayer times and worship would look like if we come together to listen, but I know that I am going to make an attempt to do so.  For the next 4 weeks, in prayer times and in worship, I'm going to put my energy, my mind to listening.  Not to others, but to God.  Not to the god in my own head, but to God as he works among the people of my church.

I wonder if you will join me?  Does this make you uncomfortable?  Does it seem too mystical? It does to me in a way, but I'm not sure what else to do with this passage.

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Is busyness a Christian value?

Is busyness a Christian virtue?

How about industriousness?  

How about hard work?

Is idleness a sin? 

What make idleness idleness?  How long must one not be industrious before they are idle?

These are some questions that arose for me this morning as I listened to the Bible Podcast from the good people at .  The passage today was from Ecclesiastes 4.  I particularly keyed into verses 5 and 6.

4:5 The fool folds his hands and does no work, 
so he has nothing to eat but his own flesh. 
4:6 Better is one handful with some rest
than two hands full of toil and chasing the wind.

Obviously, doing nothing is foolish for very practical reasons.  You will run out of food.  But notice that the opposite of doing nothing (sloth) is not busyness.  Busyness is called "chasing the wind" which is also foolishness.

It is better to strive today for what you need today.  It is better to take a rest as rests are needed.  

I'm assuming that most people reading this fall into two camps.  I know some people read blogs for escape.  It's OK to escape for a period of rest from the toil of the world, but if you are deep into blogs all day and otherwise unproductive, perhaps you have are a fool with folded hands.

On the other hand, I'd bet more people that I encounter in the blog-o-sphere are like the people I have around me all day.  People striving to get one step ahead.  People networking and building toward a "better future."  People chasing their next goal or their next dream.  People seeking a greater influence or a greater profit.  People chasing after the wind.  

Being industriousness is not a sin, but busily buzzing from one opportunity to the next is foolishness.  

Seeking what good God has for you today is the only reasonable use of your day.  That means finding not the work that pays the best, but the work that you are best created to do.  It means having relationships with people with a purpose beyond what can he or she do to help me get ahead.  It means enjoying the things that God has already given you whether those things be your family, your friends, you stuff or your work.

In what ways have you been chasing after the wind?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Reflextion: God is not an introvert

In order to get to really know what an introvert is thinking, you have to work really hard, ask all the right questions and hope that the introvert is willing to open the door of their heart wide enough that you can peek in.

I think that's how I've seen God.  Maybe it is the old man on a cloud image of God that leads me to think that prayer is about me asking and saying the right things, then straining to hear a quick word or two from God, then maybe I'll understand a bit about his will.  But, now, I don't think that's true.

God is an extrovert.  He gets his enjoyment out of people, talking to them, telling them about his experience, his emotions, his burning desires. 

If you don't know what an extrovert is thinking, it could be that you've either closed your ears to them or you misunderstand them.  Perhaps you see them as too flighty or self absorbed.  But if you think this, you may be missing the fact that they really just want to communicate  and demonstrate love to everyone.

Let God be an extrovert and I think you'll understand more about his desire to show love to you.