Showing posts from March, 2012

Jesus and money -- what every American Christian doesn't want to know

It's great to be rich... or is it? 
If you are an American, you are almost certainly rich on a global scale. If you are an American Christian (i.e., a rich Christian), are you okay with Jesus rattling your cage about money? If so, read on. I'm not the one to say I have mastered Jesus' approach to money. I am being challenged by Jesus too.
Today's Gospel reading in the Book of Common Prayer is Mark 10:17-31, the story of the rich young man. I have pasted it below. As I read the passage this morning, I was struck by how the rich young man is a reflection of Americanized Christians. 
Note, not all American Christians remain Americanized, but too many do. An Americanized Christian is one who mixes Jesus in with the American Dream. In other words, we Americanize Jesus and then tell him how much we love him, because he is exactly who we want him to be. He tells us what we want to hear.
Many people in the American church are growing restless with Americanized Christianity. We…

A childlike faith

Last Sunday in my sermon I said that if we want to experience the Holy Spirit in our lives, we need to put ourselves in the position where we really need him. It often means being uncomfortable, unsure, and undone. Sounds great, huh? Is it any wonder we shy away from such places in life? And yet not allowing ourselves to go to those places means shutting ourselves off from God. As I sit with this invitation to depend on God in my own life, I have been helped this morning by some words by Gary Haugen in Just Courage:
In different times and in different ways, our heavenly Father offers us a simple proposition: Follow me beyond what you can control, beyond where your own strength and competencies can take you, and beyond what is affirmed or risked by the crowd -- and you will experience me and my power and my wisdom and my love.  Jesus beckons me to follow him to that place of weakness where I risk the vulnerability of a child so that I might know how strong my Father is and how much he…

When you are really distracted during prayer

Just before Lent I renewed a personal discipline of listening prayer (sometimes called "centering prayer"). It is a practice of sitting still in God's presence, resting in him. The theological foundation for the practice is the belief that God indwells us by his Holy Spirit. If we have given ourselves to follow Jesus, he has baptized us in the Spirit, and God interacts us in all sorts of new ways. The theological reasoning goes like this: if God dwells within me, I should be able to merely sit in his presence, practicing a form of prayer that is listening instead of talking. It is a way of living out Psalm 62:1 -- "For God alone my soul waits in silence" (NRSV). Thomas Keating says this type of prayer is like saying to God, "Here I am" and then just waiting on him.

This type of prayer isn't supposed to take the place of verbal prayer. It is an additional form of prayer to add to what should be an ever-expanding variety of forms of prayer we use w…