Thursday, March 19, 2009

Banning Jargon

A governing council in the UK has banned the use of jargon and cliches.  Interesting idea.  In light of my last post on listening prayer, Still Listening, I wonder what the typical Christian prayer time would sound like if we banned words and phrases like "we just", "dear God", "please bless", "if it's your will", etc.

What are some other jargon words that we use in prayer?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Culture and Faith in the Twitter world

I just did a Twitter Search on the words "culture" and "faith".  Interesting results. I think you can see Andy Crouch's postures come out so clearly.  Here are a few of the Tweets and, in green, my thoughts on which Posture is represented.  You can hear about these in Andy's talk at Grace Point on March 15.

4hardystarbucks northpark...absorbing culture sharing faith   Consume

jrminkel"in the U.S. the default for culture is a blind faith in science, rather than a war on science."  Condemn

AndyGroenink@jasonmitchener 6 page assignment on case study of reaching another culture, I picked the Muslim faith  Critic 

heathrAnd yes Tom u can be Jewish and gay. Maybe not the Jewish your parents get, but your faith is yours + yr culture is big enough for u!   Consume

cjcasciottawas interviewed by MTV about faith and American Idol. I hope I got the point across that the church should create culture, not copy it    Create

sumapriapusWatchmen: This is why conservatives have a tough problem today. The pop culture undermines faith, family and freedom.    Condemn/Critic

brandonrae[ HIP-HOP ] [ PANACEA ] [ STARLITE ] [ Enjoy, and have faith in theculture that I love ] ♫   Consume

I didn't see copy there although on person talked about how Christians should not copy culture.  The rest were all there.  I'd love to hear your analysis of these tweets.  Maybe you could search again and see if they all still show up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Still Listening

I'm still listening.  Listening to God during prayer and worship rather than speaking. 

I don't know that I can say that listening has come with any great breakthroughs.  Nothing obvious but a few things have come out. 

I've learned that I can always listen to God more.
      I've learned that I can listen to people more.
            I've learned that more people can listen to God more.

It's still too easy for me to tell God what I want.  Yeah, I'm not speaking out, but I still sit in want hoping that God willl give me what I want.

People are speaking to me constantly.  I don't alway hear what they say.  Listening to God is important.  Listening to people is important too.

While I'm listening I've learned that much, maybe most, of what we say is jargon.  We use the same prayer phrases over and over again. 
            "Dear God..."
                   "We just......"
               "Please bless......"
             "If it is in your will......"
  These phrase may represent those things that we most need to convey to God, but I doubt it.  These things represent the lingo that we feel free to use in public. 

I use those words too.

I hope that I continue to learn more.  More ways to listen to God.  More ways to speak with him intimately.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Every dad of a daughter, young or old, needs to read this

I remember these days.  I was in seminary studying on my couch and breaking to play Barbies, talk about squirpers (don't ask) or reading while my hair was pulled until hair clips and bows stayed put.  I'm miss these days.

White as Snow

This new U2 album is beautiful.  I can't believe how wonderful the song White As Snow is.  U2's website describes this song about the dying soldier as he reflects over his life.  It isn't at all a typical U2 song.  Bono sings differently; it's quiet and reflective; and the melody line is based on the Christmas staple Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel. I think that is significant because the Christ imagery in the song is obvious to me.

Throughout the song there is reference to the lamb that is white as snow.  There is a talk of a divine love and a need for forgiveness.  Of course, the subject has strayed form that love and found a loss of forgiveness, but there seems to be a longing to get back to that lamb.
Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow
Interestingly, it seems that the death scene is also a scene of life and baptism, all be it, an unpleasant one.
And the water, it was icy
As it washed over me
I get the feeling that the mortally wounded soldier has found the lamb and now reflects on the state of people. I feel that all people are looking for the lamb. Some to become white as snow, but most to devourer it.  This sentiment comes in the last verse where he closes the song by wishing that everyone could be white as snow.

As boys we would go hunting in the woods
To sleep the night shooting out the stars
Now the wolves are every passing stranger
Every face we cannot know
If only a heart could be as white as snow
If only a heart could be as white as snow
In many ways I think the band reveal a new discovery in this song.  They've long included anti-war sentiments in their music, and this song continues those sentiments.  Now they demonstrate the humanness of the fighting man and the burning desire of the soldier not to kill his enemy, but to see his enemy turn holy--A longing that all men and women would seek peace.

Of course, that peace can only come with the return of Emmanuel. Come Emmanuel!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

March listening

What beautiful weather we are having today.  As part of my listening exercise, I just spent a few minutes listening as the grill warms up.  Here is what I heard...

A kid screaming while playing about a block away.
   My daughter making some whining noise as she watched Harry Potter 20 feet through the back door.
       The sound track of Harry Potter about 10 feet from her.
     I bunch of black birds cackling as the flutter around about 15 to 30 feet up in the trees.
   A jet hundreds of feet above my head approaching the Trenton Airport.
My dog peeing two feet away.

No messages from God in that, but for the welcoming of spring and the joy of a day off.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Praying with eyes and ears wide open

Recently, I posted that I was going to experiment with praying without words.  Actually, I have now begun the experiment with the goal of making me more open to hearing and seeing God in my prayer life.  Having read in Ecclesiastes that a fool opens his mouth in worship, I began a period of keeping my mouth closed during prayer.  That means I am not speaking prayer, not actively entertaining verbal thoughts while I pray.  That doesn't mean I'm not thinking.  I am.  I mean that I'm not speaking words to God in my brain.  I'm using my mind and my ears to listen to what God has for me.

At about the same time, I did a word study in the Bible for "pray" and "eye".  I was curious, does the Bible ever tell us to close our eyes during prayer.  You know what? It doesn't.  In fact, in 7 out of 8 occurrences of "pray" and "eye" in the scriptures, the passage is actually connected with opening eyes or looking with eyes.  (In the 8th passage eyes and prayer are not directly connected.) Of course, in most of these passages the one praying was asking God to open His eyes, but at that same time, I was thinking, why do we insist on closing our eyes?

I understand that there is the practical reason that we might be distracted with our eyes open.  True, but I find that I can be distracted (or asleep) with my eyes closed.  If the pray-er is asking God to look, why wouldn't the pray-er want to be looking was well.

So, as a second part of my experiment, for the month of March, I'm trying to learn to keep my eyes open while I pray.  This month, I'm going to pray with my eyes and ears wide open for God's message through me. I believe I will experience this.  I think it may come in corporate prayer as I hear and see the hearts of others pouring out. I think it may come in private prayer as I see God's glory working in the world around me.  And really, I am prepared for it to come any way God brings his message to me.

Do I believe that people are wrong for speaking and closing their eyes while the pray? No.  I may go back to doing that again when March is over.  I just think I've gotten into a habit of speaking to God words he already knows in ways that I've never considered. I'm trying to retrain myself. That's all.

What have I learned in the first week? I've learned that it is really hard to break habits and it is awkward to do around others when my practices are so habitual.  I can't wait for God to show me something more.  And he will because God is an extrovert waiting to talk to every person.

Andy Crouch coming to Grace Point in 10 days

Andy Crouch, award winning author of Culture Making , is coming to Grace Point on March 15 at 6pm.  For more information and to register for this free discussion on Making Culture Makers visit the event page.

Grace Point is located at 592 Washington Crossing Road, Newtown, PA 18940.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The First Year Out

I just finished reading The First Year Out  by Tim Clydesdale .  Clydesdale is a sociology professor at the College of New Jersey.  This book is the result of a research project he had completed with high school graduates.  He meet the subjects while in their senior year at a New Jersey high school and followed them through the first year after graduations.

This book represents wonderful research in an important area. It tends to read a bit like a research book, I guess, since that's what it is. Not really ready for a mom or dad to pick up as they prepare for jr. to go off to college. Still, I really like the information Clydesdale presents. His implications for parents may have made the whole book worthwhile for me...(reworded)

  1. parents should partner with their children in the post-high school planning process.
  2. look beyond college. The career that follows will be a much bigger part of their life and the "best" college isn't always what is right for the right career path.
    1. many children need a year off to evaluate what is right. Give it too them. I particularly like the idea of volunteering. In the church, I could come up with a million ways to make that worthwhile.
  3. While parents are partners in the planning process, the child must make the final call. No more, "mom wants me to be a ____, so I'm going to be."

That's good advice for students. I wish Clydesdale would have given better help for the church. I'll be working on trying to apply what he deems a spiritual lockbox and how we can help students avoid setting their faith aside for a period after high school.