Tag Archives: spiritual

Spiritual Jet Lag

jet lagIn an article in the September 2017 Christianity Today, singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken talks about the two spiritual time zones we live in. “On the one hand, by faith we are held secure in the love of God. On the other hand, though we have been made secure in Christ, we continue to experience uncertainty. We are sojourners, not yet home” (“Our Two Spiritual Time Zones,” Christianity Today, September 2017, p. 30).

Theologians refer to this tension between our two spiritual time zones ‘living in “the in-between” and in “the now and net yet” or in “the interim.”

McCracken relates this period to experiencing jet lag after a long flight. Things can often feel out of sync. Our bodies get weary, our minds get fuzzy about what day it is, and our thoughts get muddled about our schedules, but then we adjust, get back in sync and back on track about the business of living.

This metaphor of having spiritual jet lag is helpful to me because it acknowledges the fact that we can get weary and tired in our faith walk in the space between these two spiritual time zones. This is a natural part of being human. I think of the disciples who slept while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. They were mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted in the time leading up to the fulfillment of God’s promise to save his people by sending his Son to die for us.

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Secular Humanism and the Church

globeProbably one of the most rampant worldviews in conflict with the Church today is secular humanism. This is the belief that there is no God, no spiritual direction, no afterlife. This world and this life is all there is to the secular humanist. There is no room for or need for God. Secular humanists rely solely on human reason.

The prevalence of secular humanism leads to a kind of elevation of humanity and a quest to live life to satisfy your own personal needs to the fullest, since this is all there is.

What can the Church do in the midst of secular humanism? One way is to gently point people to the Bible’s statements of the involvement of God in the world.

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The Bible Reads Us

Bible reading

Let the Bible read you.

In the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of the Concordia Journal, Prof. Erik Herrmann says in an article on the relevance of remembering the Reformation, “There is a saying that ‘there are some books that you read, and then there are some books that read you.’ For Luther, the Bible was that second kind of book. He did not see the Scriptures primarily as the object of our interpretation, but rather we are the objects as the Scriptures interpret us” (Concordia Journal, Winter/Spring 2017, p. 24).

Letting the Bible read us instead of us reading the Bible completely changes our approach to the study of Scripture. We are not to lay our own thoughts and opinions and values onto Scripture. Instead, we need to let the messages of Scripture overlay onto us and reveal where we are at in our spiritual lives.

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Motivations

shining crossI found it interesting that both Publishers Weekly and Christianity Today mentioned the Ennegram system in their most recent issues. “Most simply, the Ennegram is a system of categorizing people with a number—one through nine—that represents a core motivation or orientation to others and the world,” the Christianity Today article reported (Christianity Today, November 2016, 56). (See also “What It Means to Be Christian,” Publishers Weekly, October 24, 2016, 21.)

At some point in our lives we have all taken a personality or spiritual gifts survey to indicate what our strongest traits are. What is making the Ennegram system different and so appealing to churches nationwide is that it gets to the heart of why people do what they do. The nine categories are as follows:

  1. I want to be good.
  2. I want to be needed.
  3. I want to achieve.
  4. I want to be unique.
  5. I want to think things through.
  6. I want to be safe.
  7. I want to have fun.
  8. I want to be in charge.
  9. I want to be a peace.

As I type each of these categories, my mind instantly goes to certain people I know and to myself. “That is so him.” “That is so her.” “That is so me.” The designers of the system grant that each one of us is a mixture of several numbers, but suggest that if you are a certain number you often become blind to the motivations of those are are another number.

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Drive-Thru Prayer

DriveThruPrayerI saw this sign that said “Drive-Thru Prayer, This Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.” in front of a church in my neighborhood and just had to blog about it.

I find it interesting that in our society today everything can be “drive thru,” even prayer. Everything we do seems to be done on the way to something else and should be done quickly.

I mean no disrespect to this idea of having an evening when this church has a drive-thru prayer event and I am sure that if people want to, they can pull to the side and have a longer prayer with a parishioner.

But the concept to me begs the larger question of how we look at our spiritual disciplines.

Are they something that we do when we have an extra minute or two?

Are they something that we see as something that is secondary to our scheduled events and activities for the day, like games and practices and lunch out and work, etc.?

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Filling the Pews

When I was home over Christmas last December, there was a beautiful moment when all the members of my entire immediate family fit into one long pew at my parents’ church. My mom and dad were celebrating their anniversary that particular day (Dec. 27) and it was especially moving for them to see all their children with their spouses and grandchildren being together in one row in the house of God. It was a wonderful picture to me of what passing on the faith means.

pewsThe love and the faith that began with my mother and father were carried on in my life and in the lives of my brother and sister and their families. The baton has been passed, and we now are called to carry on the faith to our future generations. But as we know, the pews are not as full as they once were in “our day.” Attendance at traditional worship is not as much a staple of our weekend schedule as it once was in our Christian families.

That is not to say that people are not religious. It is just that they are expressing faith in different ways: at home, through online streaming worship services, through small groups at coffee shops.

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