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Showing posts from October, 2018

A Prayer for Honest Asking

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based on Mark 10:46-52

Faithful God, we sometimes have trouble saying what we mean. For fear of being a burden to others or of coming off as too needy or dependent, we avoid asking for help or dance around what we want hoping that others will pick up on what we need. We've become conditioned to think that, given enough time and enough chances, we'll be able to fix our problems on our own. Either out of stubbornness or felt expectations, we go along with what we think we must do, attempting to ignore how this approach often only does more harm.

Through Jesus, you ask us point blank: "What do you want me to do for you?" You invite us to speak our concerns plainly; to share the deepest desires of our hearts without reservation or hedging or worry of rejection. You repeatedly remind us that you love us too much to avoid the hardest questions and most desperate circumstances that we are facing. Rather, you enter into our lives to enact healing or forgiveness or renewal o…

Vintage CC: St. Francis and Doctor Who

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This post comes from February 2015. With the premiere of the newest season (and the newest lead) of Doctor Who earlier this month, it seemed like a good time to revisit these thoughts on the TARDIS and the church.

"Wherever we are, wherever we go, we bring our cell with us. Our brother body is our cell and our soul is the hermit living in the cell. If our soul does not live in peace and solitude within this cell, of what avail is it to live in a man-made cell?" - Francis of Assisi

I've been thinking about this quote from Francis quite a bit lately. Part of the reason he's remembered so much for his connection to nature is that he was always out in it, out wanting to commune with the world rather than spend all his time in a monastery room. We don't need a cell in a special building, he said. Our own bodies are our cells. They go places, as they're meant to do. They interact and connect and bump into others. We ourselves are a sacred room in God's great bi…

Holy Creativity

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Whenever we take one of the kids to a doctor appointment, I'm always fascinated by one feature of the rooms in which patients are invited to sit. Each room--as well as the waiting room, hallways, and elsewhere--has a piece of art much like the one to the left, made by an elementary-age child.

Whether painted or drawn, these pictures always have a small paper next to them noting the artist's name, age, school, grade, and the year that it was made. So, for instance, this cat picture was made by an 11-year-old in 5th grade in the year 2000.

The point of fascination for me is that somewhere in the world there is now an almost 30-year-old person who may or may not realize that something they drew in elementary school is still hanging in a doctor's office, seen by dozens of people every week.

Aside from that, this picture hangs in this room for another purpose: to bring comfort to scared patients. Visiting the doctor can be frightening for adults, but perhaps moreso for childre…

Making More Space

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I have a new post at the Shalem Institute blog, entitled Making More Space.

An excerpt:

A few years ago, our trusted MacBook of a couple years finally refused to turn on again. At that time we didn’t immediately have the resources available to purchase another one, but each of us—my wife and I—needed a working computer to get our work done. So we settled on a temporary solution: we each bought cheap PC laptops from Target, reasoning that we could make do with them until such time as we could get something of better quality.
Read the rest at the Shalem Institute blog.

But First, Breathe

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I've contributed a guest post at the blog Defy the Trend for a series on "Drishti," a concept of focusing on one point in order to deal better with the bigger picture.

My entry is titled But First, Breathe.

An excerpt:

Shorter, faster breaths signal a certain loss of control of the moment, in turn depriving my body and mind of the oxygen that it needs to function. From there, the cycle only worsens: the more I forget my breathing, the more my mental and physical states work against each other, and the more my reactions to the moment are based on stress rather than a true sense of what is happening.

Read the whole thing at Defy the Trend.

An Order of Healing for One with Mental Illness

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Greeting
Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, Jesus our Healer, and the Holy Spirit our Comforter.
Sentences
God invites us to bring forward our need for healing, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, as God is concerned with the well-being of our whole selves. Through Jesus we encounter a God seeking to redeem our dis-ease for greater peace of mind, body, and spirit for this life and the life to come.
Personal Sharing
[The one seeking healing is invited to speak their need. This may include a time of silence, prayer, or sharing their experience. In turn, the need may include relief from illness, mending of relationships, or a better understanding of God’s presence, among other possibilities.]
Assurance of God’s Presence
With sighs too deep for words, the Holy Spirit prays with us, knowing our deepest longing and pain. Though at times our condition may make it too dark for us to see, God is with us both in times of rejoicing and in times of despair, bringing consolation and love to…

Practical Help for Church Members with Mental Illness

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In recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 7-13), I'm pleased to share this guest post from Aaron J. Smith, blogger at Cultural Savage and author of the new book Cultural Savage: The Intersection of Christianity and Mental Illness

How do you help someone with mental illness?

How do you reach out when they withdraw due to depression? How do you deal with the hyper-anxious mind that can become paranoid? How do you love the people in the pews and pulpit that live with mental illness?

Mental illness is a reality in the world, and that reality includes the church. There isn’t some magic shield that keeps people who trust in Christ safe from this illness of the mind. Mental illness is the reality for one in five Americans. So, count out five people in your church registry. One of them is likely to live with mental illness.

So, back to my original question: how do you help someone with mental illness? If our church has so many people who live with mental illness, what are…

Book Review: Anti-Social Media by Siva Vaidhyanathan

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I have a new book review up at the Englewood Review of Books. This time around I reviewed Anti-Social Media by Siva Vaidhyanathan. An excerpt:

“The problem with Facebook is Facebook.” That is the title of the introduction to Siva Vaidhyanathan’s extensive writing on the effects that social media has had on the world, on individual cultures, and on individual people. And yet, positioning Facebook as a problem rather than an aid or benefit to social interaction, personal connection, gathering around mutual interests, and political activism might be a hard sell for the millions of people who use it around the world every day. As you might imagine, Vaidyanathan is up to that task, and presents his case in methodical fashion.

Read the rest at the Englewood Review of Books.

Film Review: The Road to Edmond

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Whenever a novel, movie, or TV show sets out to tell a story related to faith, these works tend to fall into one of two categories.

The first category is the one that is very up front with the audience about what it wants to do. This tends to include explicit dialogue where two or more characters have a bald theological discussion, usually with a lot of insider language involved. Sometimes the story justifies this by one of the people happening to have a seminary background (think Mack in The Shack), or they just luck into it because the writers just want them to say certain things (pretty much all the main characters in Left Behind). Whatever faith-related point the people in charge want to make is usually at the expense of the story, and the result is an inferior and pedantic piece of art.

The second category allows the story to lead the way, where the spiritual side of things becomes more embodied in what the characters do. The recent Martin Scorsese film Silence, as well as the c…

The Spiritual Practice of Shutting Up

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Many people have a certain idea of what prayer is. Call and response. Prayers of unison. Joys and concerns. The Lord’s Prayer recited. Words spoken aloud, usually to petition God for a certain sense of presence or activity on behalf of God’s people. Maybe there are a few token beats of silence, but most faith communities this side of the Quakers speak much, ask for much, state much about what they believe in prayer. We tell God what we hope for; we share with God our deepest longings for parts of the world, for loved ones, and for ourselves. Fortunately, more and more praying people are discovering listening as the other important element of prayer. We can’t always be doing all the talking. After all, even though the pinnacle of the campaign has long passed, some people still like to say that God is still speaking. The writer of Ecclesiastes claimed there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. But when we bring our anxious selves with urgent needs to God, it can take quite a lot of effo…

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