Friday, January 11, 2008
I wrestled with that idea this week. For some time I have been trying to figure out why we have the pentecostal experience. It seems those involved in the Pentecostal Revivals at the turn of the last century were also grasping to understand these things.
Richard Foster suggests that William J Seymour thought the new Pentecost meant racial reconciliation. Unfortunately the work of reconciliation is left undone, but the Pentecostal experience went on.
Others thought that the gift of tongues was for missionary work and thought that they didn't need to learn a language to speak to the people in another land. So they went and many discovered that it didn't usually work that way.
In the end we settled out with the Pentecostal baptism meaning the soon return of Christ. Many churches took out mortgages with no intention of repaying them because Christ was coming back soon. Well its been 100 years and he hasn't come.
Pentecostal experience is waining in our churches and small wonder. Why should we be baptized in the Spirit? All of these reasons haven't worked out too well. We say it is an empowerment for ministry, but then we also commonly make out that ministry along with discipleship is something optional to Christianity. It then follows that the Baptism in the Spirit is not meant for everyone.
In wrestling with this I wanted to bring the mystical back into it. The full on working of the Spirit experienced in Pentecostal Baptism (total immersion in Him) is a wonderful and intimate thing. So often in Pentecostal tradition, we have seen the working of the Spirit functionally and pragmatically. I was hoping I could make the things of the Spirit about spiritual formation. But along comes Dallas Willard suggesting that those experiences do not effect formation of character to Christlikeness.
Today Dallas sat next to me at lunch, greeting me, "hey Aquaman!" (I was wearing an Aquaman t-shirt). I sat just listening to the conversation around me as I had the previous days Dallas sat near me. Perhaps the explanation of who Aquaman is and his interaction with my family emboldened me to pose the question.
Dallas suggested that the manifestations of the Spirit's working remind us that the Kingdom of Heaven is here. He also noted that the gifts of the Spirit aren't for empowerment for ministry in general but are to meet specific needs in the body. Their use by all Christians, makes the body able to minister to each other through prophesy, words of wisdom, healing and the like. While those goosebump experiences do not form the character of the one being so used, the gifts can help to build others in the body as they are ministered to. They are also not to be isolated from the fruit of the Spirit which are entirely about character formation.
In the end it is more functional and practical than even pentecostal have commonly made it, but it is also more profound and foundational.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
God be in my hands and in my making.
Holy, Holy, Holy; Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hallowed be Thy Name in the Arts:
God be in my senses and in my creating.
Hallowed be Thy Name in the Home:
God be in my heart and in my loving.
Hallowed be Thy Name in Commerce:
God be at my desk and in my trading.
Hallowed be Thy Name in Suffering:
God be in my pain and in my enduring.
Hallowed be Thy Name in Government:
God be in my plans and in my deciding.
Hallowed be Thy Name in Education:
God be in my mind and in my growing.
Hallowed be Thy Name in Recreation:
God be in my limbs and in my leisure.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
"We are not human beings having a spiritual expereince we are spiritual beings having a human experience" -T.D. Chardin
I then made my way around the way of the cross, a pathway marking Jesus' walk to Golgotha. The stations of the cross were vignettes of statues. When Jesus fell, and lay under the soldiers blows or lay across the cross beam the half driven nail in his wrist, the soldiers hammer raised, I sorrowed for him. The taste of his bread and wine returned to my senses. I caressed his suffering face. I remembered him. I took him in. He became a member of me again, or rather I was re-membered as a part of his body.
Monday, January 07, 2008
I feel so bound by fear and insecurity. They oppress me as a slaver’s irons. Break the yoke I pray. Untie me. Make me glorious. May my night be transformed to shine as noon day. May the light of righteousness go before me and your Glory have my back. May your joy in me bubble out like a fountain.
Lord spend me as the currency to bring life - to rebuild the tumble down. Call me by my true name, that I may know my identity. Spend me that my prayers may reach your ears.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
There is great joy within the sorrow and weariness.
May there arise from within you a freedom to release the joy and laughter with and to your congregation.
There is a refreshment to be released to your people - a much needed refreshment … and, a refreshment that can be released from and through you.
This isn’t anything hat must be manufactured or produced … its already in you… let it emerge and flow forth.
Not only do they need to see this in you - you desperately need to know, see and release it..
There is and will be great strength found in this place of joy.
Dallas Willard reminded us “Joy and sorrow are not inconstant for the child of God.”
My congregation doesn't often see me when I am at my liveliest. Especially breakfasts on Wednesdays, I know they see me as withdrawn, sullen and quiet. Sometimes that has been interpreted as being unfriendly. Part of this is that I am not a morning person. I spend most mornings that way. I am a little more excitable on Sunday mornings because of what is in store.
Even in the midst of missing my family and the sorrow that surrounds that, looking over the L.A. basin at night I am struck by the presence and goodness of my Jesus. I have deep joy in him. I love him so much.
I think perhaps I should start taking my kids to school on Wednesdays and use the interim time to practice celebration. I could make myself a joyful cup of coffee to take to breakfast with me. (A triple Americano always helps my joy break out!) And I can wake up by dancing before my God in celebration. That will no doubt change my demeanor at breakfast.
He this is practical stuff, but the disciplines are really transforming my life! Whoopie! I can trust God to transform the church around and through me as well!
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
A Kenyan man stands beside the burnt remains of the Kenya Assemblies of God Church in Eldoret, 01 January 2007. A mob angry at Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election burnt alive 35 people today who were sheltering in a church from tribal clashes, police and the Red Cross said. "At least 35 people were burned to death in the church, some of them beyond recognition. They included women and children," Kenya's top Red Cross official told AFP.
4:43 p.m. ET, 1/1/08updated 5:18 p.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 1, 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya - A mob torched a church where hundreds had sought refuge Tuesday, and witnesses said dozens of people — including children — were burned alive or hacked to death with machetes in ethnic violence that followed Kenya’s disputed election.
The killing of up to 50 ethnic Kikuyus in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret brought the death toll from four days of rioting to more than 275, raising fears of further unrest in what has been one of Africa’s most stable democracies.
May your justice reign in Kenya. Bring your peace and life.