Thursday, May 30, 2019

Pray Like Jesus

If you are like me you probably think that there is one Lord's prayer. The one that goes "Our Father who art in heaven..." This prayer in the past few years has really help shaped and formed my own prayer life. And that is the point.

Many of us pray. But we pray with no form. We just kind of do it. If we are not careful... I know this all to well... our prayer life becomes an exclusive want list for how our personal needs can be met. Or merely about our health or the health of those in our circle.

But when we begin to dive into the prayer life of Jesus it seems to push our prayer life away from ourselves and toward God and God's will for our lives and the world.

It is Jesus' prayer in John 17 prior to him being crucified. We get this crystal clear view of the prayer of life of Jesus.

The prayer was selfless (not that Jesus didn't pray for himself) it was about a yearning for unity. At the heart of Jesus prayer was for his disciples and future believers to experience this amazing bond that the Father and Son share. This same bond God doesn't hoard but extends to his followers.

Here is where this gets sticky. Many of us are not naive to think of the division that exists within our lives. The division in our families, our churches, our communities, our nation. We are well aware of it. We hear about it all the time.

Disunity is icky. And many of us have taken the prayer of Jesus and thrown it in the trash.

I don't know necessarily what to do about the disunity in our lives. But I know for sure what Jesus would do. Pray for it. Yearn for it. And be crazy enough to believe that it is possible for two people of opposing ideals and views to sit at the table together.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cooperation

These past few weeks we have talked about some of the issues that are literally killing the church. Behaviors and patterns of thinking that hold the church back from fulfilling its mission.

The last week of this series we will be talking about cooperation. This word is key for a church or any organization for that matter to thrive and succeed.

A few years ago I remember someone saying, "we use to agree on everything before we made a decision." Many of us have the expectation for our church to be healthy that translates into everyone agreeing on everything.

Anyone married for more than a day knows that this isn't true. Although we do marry people who share similarities... we also know we marry people that are oftentimes opposite of us. The old adage opposites attract is true.

When God saw Adam was lonely didn't create a clone but instead created a suitable partner. A partner that was different than him.

We sometimes misdefine the word cooperation to mean "agree to disagree" or "coexist." But it is widely different than these phrases. Cooperation is working together with a variety of disagreements and opinions and discovering a way to accomplish the same end. For the church, this is to love God and love others. How we do it varies widely... but all of us... are moving towards this end.

Yet this way is hard. It is why many of us are defensive about how we think the church ought to operate. We tend to gravitate towards the idea of uniformity way more than we do cooperation. We try to get those that think like us on our side and to push our agenda. Because cooperating with a different opinion isn't easy. And yet when the marriage fails to cooperate... divorce becomes inevitable... regardless of the issue. And the mission of Jesus Christ crumbles when people in the Church no longer work together.





Times aren't what they used to be in an age of school shootings

I don't typically write about current events in this blog but it seems appropriate. These past few weeks (and years) we have seen an upward trend of domestic and international violence in schools and religious institutions.

Particularly concerning to me in our world is the violence that is happening in our schools. All the way from elementary to college.

The other day as people were leaving church an older woman said to me, "things aren't what they used to be... we didn't have school shootings when we were growing up." Of course, this is as people are walking out the door and I had to eat the comment and leave.

And then later in the week, I was eating with some folks who are my parent's age who I felt were blaming the millennial generation for the issues that have been plaguing society. They used phrases like, "They don't raise them like they used to..."

Or during a recent sermon, I commented on how we are more connected than ever and we are also more lonely than ever. And I heard someone say, "technology." Yes, I can hear really well while I am preaching... I guess they were talking about how technology is to be at fault for our loneliness.

These comments have stayed with me especially in light of these recent weeks of violence in schools.

It has also made me think differently as a parent of two children. My parents (I don't think) sent me to school thinking that there was a good chance that someone would come in with a gun and shootout the school. I think they were fairly secure in thinking I would come home.

I remember hugging my dad as he would leave to go for months overseas for the military. I had a similar feeling and wondering if he would make it home. And now we hug our kids with a sense of awareness that this could be the day that a gunman comes to their school.

Parents now live in a scary world where security is questioned.

But here is the scarier part... is that kids know this. In these last few instances of school shooters kids have lunged at someone with a gun. And they have given their lives to save others. This is what soldiers, police offers, and firemen do... and now our kids do this. 

I was saddened this morning to see a sixth grader who recently survived a school shooting say that he is glad it is over with. And yes it is over with. The event. But his life is forever changed. Forever.

I guess if I could respond to all those people with their blowing criticism of today's generation... I would say be grateful and pray for the kids growing up. Today's generation isn't like your generation. In fact, their reality is a lot scarier than yours. Maybe instead of being critical about the generation that is growing up right now in our age... support them... love them... care for them... have hope in their future (you know they need that hope more than ever).

And also remember platitudes such as "things aren't what they used to be" doesn't change the world or make the world a better place. It is all of our responsibility to support families and children (not just our own). And to offer more than our critiques to the current rising generation but to offer them our support and our belief that their future will be better.