Monday, March 11, 2013

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?
Things the Church doesn’t need.

  • Celebrity Christians
  • Christian Celebrities
  • Arena Worship
  • Entertainment Metaphors

“Doesn’t need” in the sense that God’s kingdom work doesn’t require them.
“Doesn’t need” in the sense that they are at least as likely to harm as to help the church.
“Doesn’t need” in the sense that they have no mooring in the biblical description of or instruction about the church.
“Doesn’t need” in the sense that they seem neither to be either growing or sanctifying the church, nor making an impact on our society.

Ken Myers said it best in All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, an exploration of the thesis: the old holiness movement's caution, “in the world but not of it,” has become evangelicalism’s “of the world but not in it.” We do well to heed his proposal, first published nearly 25 years ago: “We would do much better to make the church a living example of alternatives to the methods and messages of popular culture.” Note methods, and consider messages. In case we haven’t noticed, popular culture needs an alternative, and needs it badly.

Friday, March 8, 2013


"My soul is sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." (Matthew 26: 38)
"Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is week." (Matthew 26:41)
"Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners." (Matthew 26:45)
Teneto: hold on.

Luke 9:62 Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fir for the kingdom of God."

It's Lent: Hold on.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me,
but I have calmed and quieted my soul,
   like a weaned child with its mother;
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
   from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 131

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


There in the garden, with his followers, Jesus was sorrowful and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will." And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  (Matthew 26:38-41)

Maneo! Remain. Abide.
Vigilato! Watch. Be vigilant.
Orato! Pray.

This long excerpt from Walter Wangerin, Reliving the Passion, gives you an idea of my Lenten devotional reading this season. If you don't have time to read it all: in these few words Wangerin relates Jesus' prayer in the Garden with the prayer he taught his disciples. After the video, this post ends with The Lord's Prayer.

The Fourteenth Day 
"Lord," the disciples had asked in an earlier, easier time, "teach us to pray." And Jesus had answered by teaching them certain words: "When you pray," he said, "say . . ."
     The prayer he spoke then we call The Lord's.
      But Jesus teaches the same thing twice. And the second lesson is not words only; deeds make up the prayer as well, and passion and experience - the whole person dramatically involved.
     Words alone might be as hollow and irrelevant as ping-pong balls. But now the Lord reveals how prayer can be the expression of an event already in progress; it is human experience finding its voice - and by that voice directing itself wholly (the whole experience, action, emotion, thought, desire, body, and spirit) straight to God.
     Behold: what takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane is the Lord's Prayer actually happening, as though the earlier words were a script and this is the drama itself:
     -- Jesus cries his deepest and desperate desire: that the hour, by the power of his Father, pass away from him. This is the living substance of the sixth petition: Save us from the time of trial.
     -- Jesus pleads three times, "Remove this cup from me," the plea of the seventh petition: Deliver us from evil. 
     -- But under every request of his own, he places an attitude of faithful obedience to his Father, saying, "Yet not what I will, but what thou wilt." Here is the third petition, which prepares us properly for any answer God may give all other petitions: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
     -- Implicit, hereafter, in his entering into "the hour" of trial after all is his personal conviction that "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand."  Jesus, now more than ever in his ministry, is the living embodiment of the second petition, Thy kingdom come. Right now, his acceptance of the Father's will is the coming of that kingdom here!
     -- And he begins both prayers the same. But whereas the first might have seemed a formal address to "Our Father," this latter cry is a howl, a spontaneous, needful plea: "Abba, Father!" Here is a child who cannot survive apart from this relationship. By crying "Abba!" he hurls himself at the holy parent: he runs like a child; like a child he begs attention; but also like a perfect child he trusts his daddy to do right and well.
     When Jesus teaches us to pray, he does not teach plain recitation. Rather, he calls us to a way of being. He makes of prayer a doing. And by his own extreme example, he shows that prayer is the active relationship between ourselves, dear little children, and the dear Father. Abba.
     Who can pray The Lord's Prayer now with words and not with the heart's experience?

Walter Wangerin, Jr. Reliving the Passion
Zondervan (1992), 65-66

"Thy Will Be Done"
text and music, Craig Courtney

Let these weeks teach us to pray. Oremus - Let us pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts/trespasses, 
as we forgive our debtors/those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil/from the evil one/from the hour of trial.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

Monday, March 4, 2013


There in the garden, with his followers, Jesus was sorrowful and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." (Matthew 26:38)

"Watch with me." Vigilato!

Be vigilant.

In the days prior, Jesus spent a lot of time preparing his followers. "Watch" was something he emphasized. "Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready . . . Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Matthew 24:42-44; 25:13)

We are in a season of watchfulness, of vigilance. We know how this story will turn out. But there's so much still unknown. And it is that unknown that Jesus prepares us for, as we watch with him.

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 134)