Merton’s words are ringing truer and truer!

"You are fed up with words, and I don't blame you. I am nauseated by them sometimes. I am also, to tell the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes. This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean.

It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it. And then the temptation is to yell louder than ever in order to make the meaning be there again by magic. Going through this kind of reaction helps you to guard against this. Your system is complaining of too much verbalizing, and it is right…

The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important." 

Thomas Merton wrote those words…that's why ideals and words and promises and slogans and ideologies all fall short…the only flow of history to jump into and align oneself with is the Kingdom of God.  The more words that are spoken, the more self-justification and narcissism…I'm doing my best to promote one Kingdom and one reality on earth…that is the Kingdom of Christ and the reign of God.  All else?  Just words…

OK – gotta get this off my chest – pet peeve update

This is going to be brief…otherwise, I'm going to stay stuck in frustration…don't want to be there for the day.  I've been trying to do some important emailing of late…but I'm not getting any answers to my email.  Now, that isn't that big of a surprise…it happens.  The issue I have is this – many local churches have websites and email addresses for their staff (especially pastors).  EVEN SO, many of those pastors and churches are NOT technologically savvy NOR do they intend to be.  So, the email goes unanswered and the website stays very static – all the while the local church "thinks" that they are being very progressive and "up to date". 

This is my point – there is a certain level of professionalism that is at stake here…just having email addresses and websites do not make you technologically relevant.  It is like this – in the past (back in the day of those pink message slips), I tried and worked hard at making sure that phone messages were answered and phone calls returned within the day that they were received.  Then, we went pagers…same thing…answer the page asap.  Now, we have cell phones…if it has something to do with "business" and people, respond to texts and voice mail as soon as possible.  The same is true for emails…if you have an email address, use it.  If you have one and you are trying to simply show that you are technologically "hip" but you don't intend to be prompt in answering the email, DROP THE EMAIL ADDRESS.  Tell the church, "I don't like email, don't respond to it…don't send me email".  Be honest.

If you don't like the Internet or use it on a regular basis, don't have a church website…if it is not a dynamic site…if it doesn't at least attempt to be somewhat professional, then drop it.  Stick with newsletters and bulletin inserts.  Let's all be honest, OK?  It's embarrassing what we see out there…

Now, for those of you who don't answer my email…oh, forget  it!

This input is from some of my students – reflections on Ekklesia/Church

I have the HUGE privilege of being a biblical studies professor.  When I teach my Romans/Galatians course, I have the students reflect on "ekklesia"/spiritual community/church when we cover vital chapters in the letter of Romans.  Now, this input is from my course that is primarily a Nursing co-hort…these are extension students…some of which are not even followers of Jesus.  But their input is fresh and thought-provoking.  Check it out:

From Shannon:  "The majority of churches in America minimize God. They minimize God by
constraining worship into rules, classes, guidelines and geography.
Most churches never encourage members to step out of their comfort
zones. For example, if a church exists in a rich neighborhood, it
should start there and then encourage its members to branch out.
Meaning, the members shouldn't be allowed to get comfortable in their
ritzy conditions. They should be forced to have church in areas other
than their backyards, so they understand the greatness of God.  God
is not confined to a building or space. God is boundless, existing in
all places. Therefore, to really capture God, the church must be
everywhere. I believe the church is so committed to being attractive,
that its lost the reality of the Gospel. Church is not about music,
lights, parties, social gatherings, or food. The church is people. I
mean that's really what church is right? It's a gathering of people
worshiping God and loving one another. It's a gathering where the
Golden Rule is lived out. But most churches are about numbers, figuring
out how many people attend or how many people are reached. In my
opinion, its about a relationship with God and relating to one another,
not about the number of conversions.  My ideal church would be a
gathering of people who meet in different places to worship, pray and
listen to one another. A group of people who are honest about failings,
rejoice in successes and sacrifice for one another. This group of
people would go where ever God leads. So perhaps one day they would
meet on the sidewalk of a low-income or rich neighborhood. Another day
they could meet in the prayer gardens. Another day, a recreation
center, a park, a school. Perhaps one day they could meet in a
restaurant or even a bar. I mean that's where Jesus would be right? He
didn't hang out at the local church, he hung out with tax collectors,
prostitutes, lepers and the demon-possessed. Shouldn't the church be
doing the same thing? "

From Eva:  "Nowadays,
people see ‘church’ as a building used for religious service or
worship, and made up of church body (clergy, etc). People grow fondness
of the church, on how it looks like, who attends the church, and which
organization supports it. I
believe that we are invited by God to become those who embody the
gospel at the church. It is about being involved at a community for the
works of God and to glorify His name, regardless on when and where we
go to the ‘church’. We do not need a nice building to be called as a
church for our Sunday service. We need people with the same interest or
religion, meeting in a regular place, shares our common expressions to
pray and worship God.  I
think that a church is a community. I support the theology of community
that defines us,  loves us, empowering, knowing, missional, the Holy
Spirit, and shalom. My ideal church will be a place of ministry where
people gather together, support one another, pray, and build the
ministry of God according to His purpose. Church has to be built from a
strong foundation, which is from God himself, regardless of how it
looks like."

From Sung:  "When I think of church, I usually cringe.  I believe that church has
succumbed to commercialization.  I think that a lot of churches lack
sincerity.  A lot of them are too concerned about financial matters. 
Why do you need a new building, when you already have one?  Why do you
need new vans, when you already have some?  Why do you need new chairs,
when you already have some?  I believe that a lot of churches has lost
their focus.  I think that it has partly to do with modern society and
parishioners.  Some may feel that they need to keep up with short
attention spans and modernization.  Churches that have hundreds or
thousands of members is ridiculous.  I know that not all churches are
like this.  One of my friends attends a church with less than 20
members.  It's not because she is a part of a minority religion.  She
is christian.  She said that she likes the small church. If
I created a church, there would be a focus on faith and food.  There
would be time for worship or study and lunch afterwards to encourage
community and family.  I would want the members to bond with eachother
and their leader.  I would want people to be comfortable and not
uptight.  They should want to be at church and understand why they're
there.  At the same time. I would want to encourage the members that
they can worship anywhere.  For example, in their own home, at work, at
school, at a part.  The point would is to be worship in earnest and
with steadfast motivation.  I believe that a relatioship with God is
achieved through yourself.  ultimately it's your faith alone that counts."

A slideshow from one of my favorite books! Brain Rules!

John Medina’s book, Brain Rules is a great read.  It is fascinating and provocatively challenging to our life praxis (especially those of us who have the responsibility to communicate and lead).  This is a slide show from ONE of the chapters of the book.  It is especially relevant to me because I’ve struggled with sleep issues for years…here Medina shares (bluntly) “no sleep = no thinking well”.  Good stuff!