Friday, August 26, 2016

'Inspiration Log"

They call it an Inspiration Log. I do not know the source but it sure has proven helpful for me. The intent is to do some reflective homework. It challenges me to filter out the most life-giving inspirational moments in a day and the most life-draining moments in a day. This exercise helped me sense God’s presence in any given day. It provoked me to assess the investments I make daily.

  • ž When did I give and receive the most love today?
  • When did I give and receive the least love today?
  • When did I feel the most alive today?
  • When did I feel life draining out of me?
  • When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?
  • When did I have the least sense of belonging?
  • When was I happiest today?
  • When was I saddest?
  • What was today’s high point?
  • What was today’s low point?

Demands some reflection, doesn’t it?  I urge you to talk about these with your spouse, children, family, friends or significant other. I dare to believe that will be an interesting conversation.


Friday, August 19, 2016

"Shifts in Our Culture"

Pastoral ministry today requires a new kind of pastoral leadership. Change is coming at us at warp speed.

Here are six shifts in our culture, courtesy of ER McManus.
  • From Christian world-view to pluralistic world views
  • From Western influence to Eastern influence
  • From secular debate to syncretistic dialogue 
  • From homogenous to multicultural
  • From suburbs/local to cities/global
  • From word/books to images/film
The context for ministry is in a state of flux. These cultural shifts demand spiritual leadership that is fresh to face our emerging challenges.

How is pastoral ministry changing?
  • From teaching to leadershipfrom
  • Education to equipping 
  •  From organization to mobilization
  • From tradition to creativity
  • From pastoral to missional
  • From called by a Church to sent to a community

In essence, new pastors need to be cross-cultural missionaries. We need futurists. Yes, we must exegete the Scriptures and exegete the culture as well. No longer can the Church in America focus on maintenance. Missional is the defining word for today’s Christian witness. Visionaries are not only welcome but also, a must!


Friday, August 12, 2016

"The Pelicano"

The Pelicano is a rusty, old, 466 foot freighter. Yes, she was seaworthy but definitely unwanted. Her list of rejections are noteworthy; New Jersey, Georgia, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Antilles, Honduras, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Why all the rejections? What’s with this unwanted ship?

The Pelicano was loaded with fifteen thousand tons, or twenty eight million pounds, of Philadelphia’s trash from the summer of 1986. The sanitation workers went on strike. Philadelphia’s waste was burned and the refuse was dumped into the ships’ four holds. Nobody wanted that cargo! Too toxic.  Too old. Too much. At last report, somewhere near Singapore, the ash was dumped into the Indian Ocean. Remember the Pelicano – the world’s unwanted ship.

Unwanted! We have all felt that from neighbors, coworkers, teachers, team members, friends, and even family. Life has a way of dumping toxic stuff on us. Loads of anger, bitterness, bigotry, deceit, guilt, jealousy, and hate, all dumped on us. That stuff contaminates our self-esteem and all of our relationships. Remember, trash ultimately stinks! Others will smell it!

The moral?  Don’t let that trash pile up. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth and said,

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
1 Corinthians 13, The Message


Friday, August 5, 2016

"Redeem the Time"

Number 169 in our new hymnal, Glory to God, is my favorite hymn. It is titled, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.”  If that sexist title is offensive, there is an alternate title, “Dear Lord, Creator Good and Kind.”

The tune for this hymn is REST (Elton). It is perfectly mated to the text. It affirms the spirit of the words.

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a long poem called The Brewing of Soma. Out of that poem came the inspiration for this hymn. Whittier does not ignore the dissonant voice of his age. In doing so, he speaks to our age. “The earthquake, wind and fire” contribute to the “strain and stress” in which we live. We need the “still, small voice of calm.”

Ephesians 5:16 calls on us to, “Redeem the time.” A more current translation would say, “Make the most of your time.” We need serenity. We need silence. Where is quietness in our lives? We need to take time to get acquainted with our true selves. Who am I?  Do I matter? Why am I here? Without silence, can we hear the counsel of God?

I hope this hymn speaks to you as it has to me.