|The Millennials are Leaving the Church!
|Friday, April 12, 2013|
The Millennials are leaving the church!
|Thursday, April 04, 2013|
You've heard the expression, “there was an awkward silence.” Or... “There was an uncomfortable pause in the conversation.” Increasingly, I'm noticing that ANY silence is awkward for most people.
Imagine eating out a restaurant...without music blaring in the background. Heaven forbid we should actually be able to hear each other converse without straining. (By the way—exactly what IS the advantage to it being so loud that you have to yell to be heard?).
Or try to imagine shopping in a store without a pulsing pounding musical background that's really in the foreground.
But the assault on solitude has likewise infiltrated the church. Take communion service for example. I've probably taken part in communion in 50 different churches. And almost every single one of them features music as the bread and juice are shared. This is supposed to be the time when we follow the exhortation of 1 Corinthians 11:28 to “examine ourselves” lest we fail to discern “the Lord's body.”
I'm not suggesting that music in the background at communion is wrong. But I am suggesting it's a problem when we can't NOT have it. When we can’t just have silence....and pray.
The reality is, we're so used to getting into our cars and turning on the radio...so used to hitting the health club with our ear buds and smart phone or mp3 player...calm is no longer calming. We have so jammed and crammed our lives full of iTunes and iPhones and iPads, there's no room left for “I pause. I ponder.” And silence—valued as “golden” in previous generations--is seen today as a rusted relic. Just plain awkward.
But how can we expect to “Be Still and know that God is God” if the soundtrack of our lives is always pumping? How can we learn to meditate on the Word of God...when we've already allowed other background sounds to compete for part of our meditative focus?
We need a return to quiet. Planned pauses. Sacred solitude.
|Thursday, March 28, 2013|
In all the world, it is doubtful that any single spot recollects more agony per acre than Israel's Yad Vashem--the Holocaust museum in downtown Jerusalem.
Within its cement walkways, there is more sadness per square inch than any place I have ever visited.
In addition to what you might expect--photos, letters, artifacts--there was something I had NOT expected: video testimonials. Large monitors by the dozens recounted the personal agonies of holocaust survivors.
Behind glass display cases, I saw things I wish I had not: a collection of shoes taken from people entering death camps....faces of men who would be shot just seconds later...photos of rabbis who had just been hung...
In one display there were gallon sized cans of pellets used in gas chambers.
To me what is most disturbing is that in many instances, these were neighbors committing atrocities against former neighbors. The difference? One set of neighbors had so dehumanized the other that any proper sense of evil had vanished.
When a neighbor is transformed into a nameless, faceless, worthless lump, the road from greeting them to gassing them is very short indeed.
In many ways, evangelical Christians today are undergoing a similar kind of dehumanization that the Jews experienced in World War II.
It begins with unkind stereotypes--"Bible thumpers", "Jesus freaks". It progresses toward increasingly vicious labels, as Christians are now often said to be as dangerous as terrorists or the Taliban.
Once dehumanization is achieved, the step toward outright persecution is both natural and easy.
Christians, beware: Israel's Yad Vashem is more than a cross section of cruelty past. It is a faithful mirror of an evil alive and well.
|The Lady Behind the Curtain
|Thursday, March 21, 2013|
As I write this, I am sitting in a hospital where my wife is recovering from surgery. A mere curtain separates me from a conversation between the lady in bed #2 and those trying to give her the care she needs.
The lady moans constantly and cries out violently in her dreams (or are they withdrawal tremors?). She is nauseous and calls over to my wife, who is on the other side of the curtain, recovering from kidney surgery.
A friend's text suggests that Christ would have us show this woman His love. But how do you love someone on the other side of a curtain? What would Jesus think or say or do?
The woman throws up, and I assure her I will summon a nurse. She thanks me. Maybe that's the first step.
Twenty minutes pass and the lady mentions an AA Bible on her chair. I get up the boldness to read to her from John 3, explaining and extending Jesus' invitation to be born again. Her answer is confusing and morphs back into her drinking problems.
Honestly, I am grateful I am not her. Yet even as pride seeps in, I am reminded that this woman's ultimate problem—and mine—are both spelled the same: S-I-N.
I’m still wondering—as should we all—how do I reach out to the person behind the curtain?
|Lost in Wonder
|Thursday, March 14, 2013|
It is a strange moment.
As I write this, my wife and I are on our way to meet a new family member. Our grandson.
He has been alive for eight hours. But we have not met him. Do not know him. We’re desperate to see him, grab him, love him. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Strange. His fingerprints bear my DNA...there is something of ME in him...somewhere. Yet I really don't know him.
Lord willing, we will look back years from now and talk—together--about “when he was a teeny tiny baby.” There will be shared experiences and funny sayings and laughable moments. That is all before us. But right now, I've never held him, never touched him. Never heard his voice. Never even laid eyes on him...other than the two photos our daughter texted. Like I say, it is a strange moment.
I am drawn to the mystery captured in David's prayer in Psalms 139:
Psa 139:13 You are the one who put me together inside my mother's body,
There are times in life when writers like me are unable to write. Unable to find words that paint the pictures in my heart. I can only see them. Sense them. Ponder them.
As I say...it is a strange moment.
I am thoroughly…totally…lost in wonder.
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