Kids Are Liars

98% of them at least according to this article. I would really like to meet the other 2%-- weird little kids! You really should check out the article though, it is very insightful and seems to be really good research on children and honesty.


Pastor as Spiritual Interpreter

I came across the following description of pastoring from the book Making Spiritual Sense--Christian Leaders as Spiritual Interpreters:
Everyone agrees that congregational leadership is important; few agree on exactly what it is. Some claim it has to do primarily with vision casting; others say it's about effective administration; for others, serving as a change agent is most important. Yet all of these definitions forget that leadership in the church differs from leadership in other groups and organizations in one essential aspect: The congregational leader's first calling is to help his or her parishioners see the world, and their place in it, through God's eyes. God calls Christians to live transformed lives in a world in need of grace. God calls their leaders to help them adopt a set of perspectives, attitudes, and habits that make living as a Christian possible. This book will aid those leaders as they help Christians make spiritual sense of their lives.

I really liked this description. It definitely resonates with my view of the pastoral role.


Stasis-- A Follow-up To "Christian Porn"

Many today feel that "worship" must always be ecstatic-- thus they equate this with an emotionally transcendent experience-- essentially a passionate rush. Christians often live off of these quick fixes from Sunday to Sunday. Some are so addicted that they bounce from worship service to worship service throughout the week seeking to find a place to get one more hit from this sweet drug.

"Ecstatic" and "ecstasy" come from the words "ek" (out, outside of) and "stasis" (balance, motionless, inactivity). Ecstasy is an imbalance (do not immediately consider this as negative!), it is motion, and it is activity. Essentially, it is something beyond the norm.

In some ways, worship is always outside the normal parameters. When we enter into worship (not necessarily speaking about a corporate worship service) and give our bodies as a spiritual act of service/worship, this brings us into a spiritually formative space. As such, it is outside of the average Americans daily routine.

Nevertheless, I do think worship for the Christian person and faith community is to become stasis-- the normal state of existence. To follow some prayerful rhythm throughout my day, week, and year. Prayerbooks are beginning to become popular again. I have fallen in love with using one over the past couple of years. At first, they were something very ecstatic. Now, its getting closer to stasis-- a daily rhythm that is becoming my daily rhythm and balance.

The Psalms form the "meaty" section of most ancient and contemporary prayerbooks. Being exposed to it and the often ancient prayers that accompany these Psalms has changed the way I enter and consider prayer. It makes me think about my world differently, gives me an expanded imagination for my adoration and intercessions, and challenges me to consider myself and what I speak before God differently.

A great example of this is Psalm 10 where it starts, "Why do you stand so far off, O LORD?" and in then lists off all of the things the wicked are doing in the world. In verse 12 is a call out to God, "Rise up." It is not my normal way to incite God in such a way. However, the Psalm scripts me to do so. By going down this path, I'm able to reach the destination at the end of Psalm 10: "The Lord is Sovereign.... The Lord will hear the desire of the humble." Several things happen in such a prayer. 1) A realization that I need God to do something about the evil in the world. 2) A realization of what evil looks like (things I tend to overlook on a daily basis: persecution of the poor, covetous cursing, wicked arrogance, murdering of the innocent, ambushing in the public square, etc). 3) When I get upset and want to use violent means to end the wickedness I see, I must humble myself and seek the face of God. He is the only one who is sovereign. And he hears the cry of the humble rather than the sword of the warrior.


Christian Porn

I came across a friend's blog post this morning about worship music. The following is my comment:
"An entire generation of Christians has grown up under the idea that worship is 1) music, 2) professional quality, and 3) ecstatic every time. Worship music becomes porn... immediate release, transcendence, and ecstasy. God seeks obedience (true worship) more than temple rituals. What continues to occur throughout history is that the rituals/liturgy gets substituted as the end rather than a means. Liturgy is intended to create a space. Instead it becomes our idols of wood and stone."

I love our liturgies. I think that we have a lot to learn from the ancient traditions and rituals. Finding a way to reincorporate these dusty relics is a very important task of our time. I would say that the liturgy instructs us and forms our imaginations in the Christian narrative. However, I wonder what narrative the instant gratification culture of contemporary liturgies is generating. My problem is not with change or new (you all know that I love things to always be in flux). But I do have a problem with the storytellers. Even the use of so much "I" language in worship worries me. What happened to "we" language in worship? "This is the air I breathe." I like the idea and message of the song, don't get me wrong. But I wonder why it, and most other modern songs, have such an individualist focus to them. I worry about the professionalism in the "worship department." I worry about having too much high quality, too much technology, too much stage.... I could keep going. As my friend said in his post, it is time that we get rid of the music for a season and just read the Psalms-- the ultimate worship book!