Monday, October 31, 2005

Enough Time?

I just heard someone checking his voicemail when he was in the bathroom... I know that tend to multi-task in very creative ways but I haven't gone there yet. Do we really feel like there is not enough time so that we have to check our voicemail while going to the bathroom???

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Change in Perspective

I received a lesson on perspectives.

Daylight savings time was always welcomed. "Falling back" meant an extra hour of sleep and happiness. I received a new perspective now that I am a parent of a toddler. "Falling back" now means that a child who was waking up at 6:15 AM now wakes up 5:15 AM. That does not equal sleep and happiness... A new perspective on the same thing that I've taken for granted for over 28 years....

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blogging vs. Paper-writing

I often feel mentally paralyzed when I start to write a paper. The feeling is eerily similar to my experiences with computer programming during my undergrad time at UVa. I usually have the flow of the paper in my mind but I always have a difficult time launching into the actual writing. On the other hand, I do not feel that way when I click over to this blog and start typing away. Last year, I used this as a place to unclog my brain by writing out some initial ideas before I launced into writing an actual paper.

I am currently working on a Romans exegesis paper for Romans 12:1-2. The storyline for the paper is that rational worship is the key for renewing the people of God. These two verses come at a transition point in the letter to the Romans where the apostle Paul transitions from an exposition of the gospel of God to a section of exhortations for the newly formed one people of God. Paul began his exposition of the gospel in chapter 1 after describing it as the "it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." This gospel was everyone who has faith and opens the way for the one people of God.

Paul quickly moved to a picture of all humanity that is able to see God's invisible qualities but does not respond with thanksgiving or praise. The misplaced praise is instead funneled toward the creation as opposed to the Creator. The result of this idoltary is humanity's thinking became futile and it's minds became darkened. Paul lists the outcome of this darkened mind in the form of human behavior that degrades the body and lists of vices that result in a community marked by selfish behavior. The first 11 chapters of Romans show how all of humanity is in need of the gospel that Paul describes because, as he states in 11:32, "for God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all."

After a short doxology that affirms the riches and wisdom of the knowledge of God, the transition verses of Romans 12:1-2 are found. What does Paul accomplish with this transition? Paul asserts that rational worship, as opposed to the irrational worship found in idoltary, reverses the darkened mind and opens the way for the one people of God to discern God's will and live in a community marked by selfless behavior. This can only be accomplished by the mercies of God. These mercies are described in the righteousness of God depicted in the first 11 chapters. The one people of God, both Jews and Gentiles, who exist without the Torah and the temple cult now must offer themselves as living sacrifices in order to live as community that responds to God's grace. The following sections of exhortation (parenesis) only make sense in light of the continual renewing of the mind found in rational worship.

The key words and phrases located in Romans 12:1-2 along with their uses in other parts of Scripture provide the foundation for this assertion.

mercies of God - II Cor 1:3, Hebrews 10:8
brothers (and sisters)
present - Romans 6:13; 6:16; 6:19
your bodies - Romans 6:6; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 1:20
living sacrifices - Hebrews 13:15-16; Philippians 2:17; 4:18; 1 Peter 2:5
holy and acceptable to God
rational - 1 Peter 2:2 (spiritual milk)
worship - noun is in Romans 9:4; Hebrews 9:1; verb found in Romans 1:9; 1:25, Hebrews 8:5; participle (one who worships) found in Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:2
do not be conformed - 1 Peter 1:14
this age - 1 Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:18
changed in form - 1 Corinthians 3:18
minds - Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:17-25 (similar to Romans flow); Colossians 2:18
approve - Romans 1:28; 2:18; 14:22; Philippians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 16:3
the will of God
good, acceptable, and pleasing

Let's see what happens when I actually put this in a paper that includes my thoughts as well as input from commentaries and articles...

This may be the most dry blog entry you have ever read or it may be the a launching point for your own study of the material. Either way, this is admittedly self-serving because I needed to get something out of my thick head so that I can write this paper before my second child is born (any minute now!)...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Prayer of the Heart

I am learning more and more about the rhythms of my brain during my time at PTS. This year has proven to be a significant challenge with the combination of being a husband, a dad, a future dad of two (baby #2 is due in 2 weeks), a student, an intern, and sometimes a friend... I have been working through some energy management 'practices' with my mentor at PCNP but I am far from consistently practicing them (as I write on this blog when I should be going to sleep). One way that I have learned to relax is by a reading non-school book at night before I go to bed.

I decided to pick up a classic that I have heard about from numerous friends, mentors, and my wife - The Way of a Pilgrim. I was re-introduced to this book a few weeks ago when I led the Gathering @ PCNP in the Jesus Prayer (prayer of the heart most often associated with the Eastern Orthodox tradition). I decided to incorporate this prayer in my life, especially when I could sense that my body was being taken over by stress or anxious thoughts. The basic form of "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me" is prayed by praying the first part "Lord Jesus Christ" when inhaling and "have mercy on me" when exhaling. I started to do this as a means of the prayer of the heart. The longer version of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" was introduced to me last year in Inquiring After God (TH 291) and I have used this longer version as well.

One quote from the book resonated with me when the pilgrim said in response to his time in jail, "All that had happened seemed not to affect me; it was as if I had watched someone else being treated. And when they flogged me, the Prayer strengthened and consoled me and I was oblivous to everything."

I haven't been jailed or flogged but I have experienced this sense of watching my circumstances from afar when I have experienced the peace of Christ in my life. I haven't sensed this recently but maybe as I jump into more times of the interior prayer I may start to experience the "peace that transcends all understanding" that I have often meditated on in Philippians 4:6-7.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Water skiing and Preaching?

I thought about water-skiing today.

I haven't attempted to waterski in years. One of the first things that I wanted to do after learning to swim was to waterski. I was 5 years old then. I attempted to waterski for the first time at Young Life Camp at Saranac when I was 17 years old. I failed miserably! I remember the day clearly. I tried 3x and each time I fell over only seconds into the attempt. Unfortunately, I haven't tried since then.

Why did thinking about water skiing today? I shared my first sermon today for my preaching class and the feeling was similar to my water skiing experience. The excitement was there but it was accompanied by a lot of anxiety. My desire was for my anxiety to be translated into humility and some of that happened. At points in the sermon, I felt like I fell over in the water and wanted to give up. At other times, I felt like I was able to hang with the challenge. Overall, the ride was a humbling experience but one that I am ready to embark on again. Unlike waterskiing, I am not giving up! Maybe one day I will try to water ski again...

Anyone wanna go?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

More than an internship

I am currently leading a group of young adults at Presbyterian Church of New Providence (PCNP) for my field education internship. The opportunity goes way beyond an internship for me. I grew up in PCNP and now I find myself back at the church. The church has a completely different feel due to a new senior pastor and numerous changes to almost everything. I have been given the opportunity to lead the most challenging, in my opinion, group in the church - young adults. Young adults are overlooked and, to be frank, ignored in many churches.

Why? I think the real reason is because they are hard to "pin down." Another reason is I have seen that churches do not take them seriously because of their busy lives and lack of tithing. I definitely differ on the tithing aspect because I've seen that individuals in their 20s/30s are more willing than others to support the ministries where they see God at work.

Most churches have 'programs' for youth and for families with young children. The gap between high school graduation and the first kid is a big one. I feel called at this point to be a leader to help address this gap. I am convinced that God's upside down way of working in the church (taking the least and making them the greatest) applieis to this gap.

If anybody is actually reading this, then do you see this pattern in your church? If you don't go to church, then if you ever checked out a church, did you feel like this was true?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Postless blog?

Where are the posts?

I have heard this from some friends who have actually come to this blog. I am currently suffering from postless disease where I often know what I want to post but I rarely do it.

I have been in a valuable dialog with my senior pastor about energy management in ministry. I have been monitoring my daily energy patterns and I have noticed our posts like these definitely require energy. I believe that the energy is worth using especially since I need an outlet for the 30943049830948098 thoughts that I have every day. I can definitely say that I am "theologically drunk" again this year after having a good summer to sober up through reflection.

In that light, I will start to use my creative energy here again and this will not be the postless blog that has existed. My meditations on Romans passages, reflections on Christology, exposure to viewing the church missionally, reworking of my teaching/preaching method, and humbling experiences at Presbyterian Church at New Providence will be here soon.

I may be writing to myself but isn't that what most blogs are anyway... This is a greenhouse for ideas and my desire is that friends and others will post comments as I work through ideas.