Tag Archives: mental health and spirituality

Worship As Resistance

Don’t you weary of reading the news every day through its various entertainment platforms?  There are few of us who would keep a window open if a bus was running outside spewing its exhaust or a jackhammer were pounding the concrete 24/7.  That would be a form of torture. My question for so many of us is, why are you subjecting yourself to torture?  Turn OFF the “news.”  Commend 45 to Almighty God, the Just and Holy.

People wonder what they can do. We march, we advocate for policy change, we denounce and post our opinions. And that is good and even needed. But if that is all you do day in and out, don’t be surprised when you’re constantly angry, nauseous, short with those you love and then crash and burn.  Because the spirit needs the Spirit.  My hope is this:  that you will commit 10% of the time you spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the internet period toward worship. Worship as Resistance means you enter a congregation that loves others and is thus involved in creating the Beloved Community. Worship as Resistance means, you get your soul fed.  How many hours do you spend a week posting and reading online? I would say it is  a safe guess that you spend 10 hours.  That means 10% would be 1 hour in worship.  See you in worship tomorrow.  We have singers singing, deacons praying, we’re combined in worship with Westminster Presbyterian and are thus fulfilling the prayer of our Lord to be One, and we are replenishing our souls. Oh, and I’m preaching a cinnamon stick sermon.  ~See you Sunday

Budget Time: Fix Your Mind on These Things

Most of us are forced to work out a financial budget. We have only so many dollars and so, we sort out the obligations we have from food to rent to travel and medical and subtract that from what we have coming in.  My uncle used to say “so and so has a champagne taste but lives on a beer salary.”  This was his way of pointing out what is obvious: too many of us live beyond our means.

I’m writing this not in order to have a financial discussion with you but in order to have you take the discipline of your financial planning and apply it to your attention span this week and month.  And I’m doing so because what I see around me—not just in our church but in our community and country—are persons who spend nearly every dime of their time on the news, commentary and assorted media outlets.  When a person lives beyond their means long enough, they are at risk of losing everything.  When a person spends all of their time devoted to news and political information across a hundred platforms, it is little wonder that one day they wake up depressed, cynical, exhausted or all three.

Starting now, count out the time you have as change to be spent.  If you have ten hours of time away from your obligations, how will you “spend” the change?  Try not to spend all of it on the news or entertainment.  Where can you spend the hours of your life?  Here is how the Apostle Paul instructed the Philippians:  “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” [Philippians 4:8]

When you do that then the anger begins to dissipate and lessen, the bitterness is removed and in their place we receive joy and peace, wisdom and grace.  Meditate, contemplate, fix your mind on truth, honor, justice, integrity—all manner of things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

~I hope to see you Sunday clothed in our right minds.

A Hymn For the End of The Sixth Day

Hallowed is your name.  Blessed are those places so sacred because we, in our labyrinth wanderings have suddenly encountered you there. We thought we were alone and abandoned, Holy One.  We were certain all of this, all of this–was some accident without purpose. And then a bird hidden in a tree sang and the song of other birds, these were twined to stars barely visible in the dawn and somewhere human voices were interchanged within the grand landscape of it all and we awakened. To presence. To the sheer, staggering beauty of it all and the truth that it did not have to be. But it is. And I am.

Guide me through what the world calls Friday.  Help me now to be rid of things that have kept me preoccupied and unfocused so that I give up what was vitally important for what was trivial or secondary or even mediocre.  I would lay these aside like a swimmer discards the weight of clothes and objects in order to glide through the life world.  I can see the sabbath rest breaking over the horizon. Rest, restoration, healing these are near.

For the Day of Rest, Lord God, we are grateful. For the end of the sixth day, its lengthening shadows arrive not as darkness but as measured rest and reprieve.  I don’t need to work now. No more delusions about my work saving the world.  I will ponder the Creator and Sustainer and the Liberator.  To all your creatures, great and small, Lord God, bestow Sabbath rest.  An end to work for a while. A reprieve from suffering. A gate opened to candles lit and friendships kindled and family embraced. Let the day begin. Let the sixth day end.  Hallowed be your name.  Amen.

For Thursday

For Thursday a plea for endurance, O God, for my work propels me toward Friday. And before I can get to Friday, I have many things to do and I carry special burdens. A prayer then that I might be focused and concentrate and with energy, complete my tasks.  Lord God, I call to you: help me in my weakness and strengthen me in my strengths.

The stones of Gallilee are strewn across the shore line of the sea where you called fishermen to follow you. So it is with Thursday, tasks like stones pave my pathway. Good Shepherd of Galilee, Fisher of souls, call to me over the din of my little world and hearing you, I aim my boat toward your shore and row. Sabbath is nearing, work awaits me. God have mercy.  Amen.

A Plea For Tuesday

Tuesday, Gracious God, a day of second chances, unraveling what Monday brought, dispatching messages to any whom we may have offended, awakening to the week ahead, we plead with you to grant us such courage that we would fulfill Tuesday’s gift to us. We begin again.

For those who reside too long in shadows of grief and sadness, have mercy.  For those for whom life has become bitter or tasteless, have mercy.  Salt us with your salt.  Replace our shriveled hearts with joyful and vibrant hearts, released from burdens and into the world you love.  Light of light, enlighten us.

Our leaders oppress us, Prince of Peace.  They wring our pitiless lives of power, heap shame upon those they hate, destroy comity and exploit distrust for their own greed and power.  Help us not to become like them.  Instead, through faith, hope and love transform us and if you would on this second day of the week, we plead, provide us a glimpse of your Kingdom so that seeing its shoreline, we might sail our lives resolutely to its border.

For the earth and all who inhabit it, animals as well as human beings, we plead that they  find green pastures and still waters of restoration today.  In the name of all who suffer and  by your beautiful and holy name we offer our prayers and pleadings.  Amen.

Emotions, Virtues & Spiritual Practice

This coming Sunday, July 9th, I will preach from a book in the Bible I seldom read or preach from:  The Song of Solomon.  If it were treated like other products we consume—like songs or albums from iTunes or movies—it would have an R rating.  It is a beautiful, sensual work in the bible but I digress. I’m going to preach on “The Habitation of Joy.”

The Christian psychologist and professor, Robert C. Roberts, wrote a wonderful book, Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues.  I highly recommend it for any number of reasons, but primarily for his insights as regards our emotional well-being and how we can activate what are virtues in the New Testament and what we regard as emotions in our modern way of looking at things.  Can you teach yourself or be taught to be joyful? Can you counter despair by commanding hope or gratitude? Roberts thinks so.  He writes, “I hope that through reflecting about what emotions are, how they are formed, and the nature of particular spiritual emotions such as joy, contrition, hope, gratitude, compassion, and peace, we can all become more faithful Christians and better nurturers of those whose lives we influence”  (p. 6).

One significant place where such virtues/emotions can be shaped is worship.  Not only is our entrance into worship a passing through one time (regular, mundane time) into another time (sacred time) but we are also permitting ourselves to be instructed and trained in virtues that establish sound and good character.  All of us know how important “continuing education” is for professionals. We want, for example, our doctors and nurses, our dentists, our lawyers and tax advisors etc. to be up to date on the latest information and to be trained in “best practices.”  This is a given.  Worship on any given Sunday exposes us to information, calls us out of our solitude into communion and community; instructs us on ways to navigate a world that is too often filled with cruelty; provides us a gold standard for human behavior (like justice and compassion); and above all, places us before the Holy One who loves us so we can learn to love ourselves and our world.

Pick up Robert’s book.  If you need some therapeutic intervention in your life, be sure to check out the Pastoral Counseling link under the “Ministries” tab at the top of this page.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “Again, I say to you, rejoice!”  If he could instruct us to do that then apparently we have the power within ourselves to activate joy.  In this Orwellian time in which we find ourselves, I think you will agree, that such a power and presence in our lives is something each of us could benefit by. ~See you Sunday