Showing posts from February, 2012

What The Voice teaches us about the Christian life

I admit it -- I can't stop watching The Voice. I have never watched American Idol, nor a previous season of The Voice. This is something new for me. Here's why I like this program:

Reason #1: It is a display of human passion. All the singers have talent, but the ones who do best are the singers who have found a way to give voice to passion and emotion. As a pastor, I pay attention to passion in my heart and the hearts of others. There is definitely overlap between music and living the Christian life.Reason #2: The drama is great. The singers come from a variety of backgrounds, from the pro who has worked on Broadway to the guy who makes sandwiches for a living. The pressure is immense for people who feel like this is their one big chance. I also love watching the reactions of family members.Reason #3: I love music. It's fun to watch performers laying it on the line. And there is a wide variety of musical styles, from pop to rock to R&B to blues. I have found performance…

Authenticity is necessary for transformation

No authenticity, no transformation. That's the way it is.

Whether you are a man or a women, I would like to recommend a recent post by my friend, Suzie Lind, leader of women's ministries at King's Harbor Church in Redondo Beach. Suzie makes the point that in women's ministries, authenticity is necessary for true transformation to happen. She's absolutely right. At one point in the post, she refers to our "church face." That's the moral and spiritual face we can easily put on when we are in churchy circles. Authenticity means setting aside the "church face" in favor of our real face. If all we give people is our church face, then church events become opportunities to dress up and display our church face. In that case, there is neither authenticity nor transformation. If we show people our real face, then we can really be transformed. It doesn't matter whether we are men or women. Authenticity is necessary for transformation.

Enjoy the po…

The critical skill of listening to God

Every day I work as a pastor, I become more convinced that developing a better ear for listening to God is one of the critical skills we Christians have to develop. Jesus indwells us through the Holy Spirit, and he wants to lead and guide us in a living relationship. We are to read the Scriptures, but we are also to listen for the real-time voice of the Spirit. The trouble is, most Christians have difficulties listening to God. I know I do. We don't spend the time to listen, and besides, we feel a lot more comfortable talking than we do listening, especially when our conversation partner (God) speaks to us on his own timetable, not ours.

At any rate, listening to God is a critical skill, and most Christians in America don't do it well. If we were getting letter grades for listening to God, what would yours be today?

This Lent I am deeply grateful to have Laura Jenkins, one of our Sanctuary family members, lay out 40 Days of Listening Prayer for us to use as a church. She set u…

Something for a weekend... Soylent Green humor!

I discovered today that there is some whacky material that has been generated from Charlton Heston's classic sci-fi thriller Soylent Green. Here is the plot in a nutshell. Heston plays a police officer who finds out that the government's answer to overcrowding and food shortages is to produce a new miracle food that is made of processed human remains. "Soylent Green... it's made out of people!"

I am a fan of cult classics and their associated humor, so here's some of the zaniest Soylent Green imagery and merchandise.

For the record, Soylent Green doesn't really exist... or does it?

A prayer from Scripture for your family or yourself

Praying Scripture is one of the ways we can add depth and vitality to our prayer life. This morning I read Psalm 122, which is a prayer over Jerusalem. It struck me that I could adapt it as a prayer over my family. This prayer could also be said over a group of friends or coworkers or anybody, really. It also makes an excellent prayer to say over yourself. I will include a couple of different adaptations and the original. Happy praying!

For my family...
Father in heaven, may all who love and support my family prosper.
May there be shalom within my family. May we be well and our relationships be whole.
May you prosper us.
For the sake of everyone my family influences, I will pray,
"May we have shalom."
Because you have made us holy, a temple for your very presence,
strengthen me to seek what is best for my family, O Father. For myself...
Father in heaven, may all who love and support me prosper.
May there be shalom within me. May I be well and my relationships be whole.
May …

The Evangelical Covenant Church, my grandfather, and the emerging church

The "immigrant experience" -- it's when you become displaced because where you have been for a while doesn't make sense or feel like home anymore, and you are compelled to leave, go somewhere else, and settle all over again. The classic example of the immigrant experience is moving from one country to another. We also have the immigrant experience when we change jobs, cities, lovers, churches, denominations, and so on. I would venture to say that most of us have the immigrant experience at least once in our lives.
Here are some reflections I was having last week on the immigrant experience as it applies to the denomination in which I serve, my grandfather, and the emerging church.

I am fairly new to the Evangelical Covenant denomination (, and I learned last week in one of my orientation classes that Covenant's identity is wrapped up in the immigrant experience. The denomination grew out of the Lutheran revival that happened in Sweden in the mid-…