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Archive for September, 2008

I decided to give old Hank a try one more time.  I made it simple, I only asked one question.  Could you define contemplative prayer?  I had to wait almost two hours to speak to Hank.  The call screener (at the top of the first hour) asked me if there was more to my question, any movement or thing in particular I was asking the question in reference to?  Nope, I said.  He then wanted to know how people around me were defining contemplative.  I said something about “Be Still” and that some camps in the area were teaching it to youth.  Okay, so I waited, and waited, and listened.  Finally, in the second hour, Hank picked up my question.  He then gave this very long definition, I wish I could have listened to it.  I just couldn’t keep up with all his terms.  At the end, I basically said, “ummmm…what?”  Then he said a bit more.  I then said, “so are you saying contemplative prayer is good or bad.”  He then said something about how meditation in a Biblical way, to study the scriptures and think about them is fine, but contemplative prayer is not this, it’s “mystical mumbo jumbo.”  Okay, I got the point there.  That really gave me a better feeling.  Up to that point, I really wasn’t sure which side he was coming down on with contemplative prayer.  This doesn’t clear everything up for me with Hank.  I have to pay attention to him and see if he’s just skipping by what is obviously controversial and getting criticism.  I know he recently had a show speaking against emergent church, but have no idea how that went since I didn’t hear it.  I did call though on that night as a friend called and let me know he was speaking on that topic and he refused to answer a question about Dallas Willard (the screener wouldn’t let me get to him).  So, not sure what to make of it all…

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Family

Shared the Lighthouse Trails article with a cousin, and she and I spoke on the phone.  When I described what has happened in my church, and the characteristics of Warrenite churches, or missional churches of late, she said it sounded just like what happened to her grandparents and aunts and uncles on the other side of the family.  They attend Nazarene churches, and they have noticed a more “seeker” friendly approach, with rock concerts and the like to draw people.  They have seen changes, tried to confront them, and have been told to like it or lump it, basically.  They have left the church and tried to start another Nazarene church in a nearby community.  They were told that the community was too near the other one and would pull members away from the changing Nazarene church (duh).  So many members have left and have no place to go.  I fear they are going to have to meet independently.  Sad.  These are salt of the earth Christians here being ignored and let go by the Nazarene church and the pastor.  They were members of this church for maaaahhhhaaaannnyyyyy years.  This means nothing to the seeker sensitive pastors.  Not sure they are actually Warrenites, but sounds like it.  I feel for these elderly people, who in the later days of their lives have been abandoned by their own church home.  They are not emerging youth, so they mean nothing.  What of their wisdom, and what of all that can be gleaned from them?

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Lighthouse Trails Research has an interesting report about changes in a midwestern Nazarene university and also at a youth camp organization in Kansas.  Link here:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/index.php?p=1220&c=1

The article discusses contemplative focuses at the university that are required in the chapel (click the links in the article) and also the influence on youth at the camps and the leadership’s teaching on prayer.

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I have the opportunity, through a local newspaper blog, to get the word out about the youth camps in our area that are involved in teaching spiritual disciplines/spiritual formation and contemplative prayer to our youth.  Actually, anyone could do it…but I am a local and have investigated enough to write it up.  So, the question is, should I?  The audience is the general population of moms in our area.  It would be read by whoever happens upon it.  It would also not be anonymous.  It might spark debate, and may get ME noticed with all this…and possibly in a bad way.  It’s a place I can speak up for truth based on what I see online, and in the blog of the man leading this set of camps (as well as training youth leaders around the country in spiritual disciplines, spiritual formation, and contemplative prayer…and more).  Huh.  Hadn’t thought to do this before, but it just occured to me (or if I thought of it I forgot).  The deal is, I wouldn’t say anything about the camp that’s not out there in print already.  The lead man proudly proclaims he teaches this stuff to kids and that the experiences are life changing and wonderful.  Therefore, all I would be doing is highlighting what he’s said, and what’s been on the camp web page and his personal blog, and posting it on a newpaper blog.  Dangerous stuff?

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Tony Blair’s faith foundation is an attempt to bring young people of different faiths together to meet certain goals.  Rick Warren is on the Advisory Council.  They have education goals, and more.

Here’s a link:

http://tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/

This foundation is partners with the Coexist Foundation which includes the “three Abrahamic faiths.” 

http://www.coexistfoundation.net

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It’s been an odd 8 months.  We didn’t know anything about contemplative prayer, and the concerted effort by a diverse group of people to shift American (and possibly world) churches toward disciplines, missional focus, and contemplative/lectio divina and other forms of prayer.  Now that we know more, we still have more to learn.  People want to make distinctions between emerging, emergent, emergence etc.  Just read Christianity Today’s blog, and saw a video by Doug Paggitt talking about these words.  The blogger said this:

“In this video, Doug Pagitt explains the relationships between the terms emerging, Emergent, and “emergence.” It strikes me as trying to decide which layer of the Incredible Gobstopper is the actual Gobstopper. But you should decide for yourself.”

Link to the youtube…and blog here… (scroll down as the titles aren’t clickable…) It’ s the Sept.22 2008 entry

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/

I really like the gobstopper picture of it all.  Our church was maybe into layer three of the gobstopper.  The center is the focus on shift/missional (mission of god as defined by some team somewhere).  If your church has been shifting, then they are a part of this gobstopper.  I think it’s better to be in a church with Christ and the gospel as the center…with the focus on the Solas.  The layers are all part of it.  I don’ t know though if Christianity should be described as a layered thing, because it’s not like some secret society where you get higher and higher levels and deeper and deeper secret knowledge.  I think with Christianity either you are or you aren’t, either you believe or you don’t.  Anything beyond that is maturity.  But, for this emerge (merge with something out there) phemomenon, it’s a multilayered thing.  Your church may just be on the very outside, and can probably detatch pretty easily.  The closer to the center, the harder it is not to have been changed (have missional in you…be a part of it).  It’s harder to get out of the whole thing when you have been wrapped in layer upon layer of beliefs and requirements. 

As a person once on the inside of this, then on the outside, it’s an education to see what each layer is abou, and see the connectedness between them.  The outside layer appears to be the inspirational/feel good side.  You can read it and not really get hooked.  The next may be the seeker friendly movement.  Your church may do the 40 days of purpose, but not really change the whole church based upon it.  Small groups pop up, but really they are Bible studies and not just small groups.  Deeper in, your church really means 40 Days and you have small groups, Bible focus is shifted.  No Paggitt (who is he?) no Bell (what) and you still have pews or seats.  Next is the artsy thing, church is more into creativity and more and more pastors mention authors you’ve never heard of.  You have gone from popular/Christianity lite to a deeper “spirituality” with people talking about going on a journey or their story in God’s story, or God’s dream.  This is really where my church was.  We’d have preaching with Bible passages, but beyond that, the pastors used many theories of men to push a mindset about church, our mission (which someone defined for us out there), and what was valuable.  I think the youth in our church were actually on a different level.  At least one pastor was into Rob Bell and that stuff.  Youth were sent to a camp where they taught outright contemplative prayer, praying on a prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, and the like.  The leader of these camps has photos of kids in a pose where they are flat on their backs with feet and arms relaxed…eyes closed.  Supposed to have been a great moment of great closeness to God.  Okay.  We weren’t at that layer in our church, but our teens would have been exposed to it.  I believe the pastors deny our involvement with emergent or whatever it’s called, but our youth were involved.  Because it was an outside source, we weren’t a part of it.  Yeah, right.

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poem i wrote long ago…and cannot find it’s text so I’m trying to remember…and this may be the best thing as I’ll be more free to revise…

Unworthy

I come to you

a wretched case

lost in the mire

of my disgrace

for all my shame

I hide my face

I’m unworthy

unworthy

Friend of sinners

by my friend

and comfort me

I’m unworthy

unworthy

Hope of the hopeless

be my hope

and rescue me.

 

Somewhere in there I should ask forgiveness.  Work in progress, I guess…

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I do not trust my own feelings at times, and this goes for discernment.  I usually check them, and check them hard.  It’s why I get myself in trouble sometimes, because I check them with people around me.  Somewhere the Bible talks about getting Godly counsel (I remember memorizing it and didn’t practice enough to keep in in memory).  Anyway, this is what I do, check with the Bible, check in prayer, check with people I trust to some extent.  That said, I believe the feelings I’ve been having of late are right.  I feel so much like a little worm of a person.  I know I am dust, my days are numbered, and I need to be seeking after God.  I need to humbly come before God in prayer through Christ Jesus.  I am a sinner just like everyone else, and I know many things in my heart.  I have neglected to keep my life pure (especially when it comes to modern entertainment like television or radio).  I have not put God, my family, and other priorities where they belong and often wonder why I never get things done in my day.  I waste the time given, and don’t always keep the responsibilities I’ve been given where they should be.  I take my God and my blessings for granted.  I do not love as I should, do not live as I should.  I am a sinner.  I am also forgiven, and am a believer, a true Christian.  Because of God’s grace through His Son, I am forgiven and I do live better than I would have.  I am better with Jesus than I was without him (or would be).  I just often let my flesh and my heart get in the way of what I am to be doing.  God challenges me on this and I have been truly challeneged lately.  What was my church to me?  I think it was a place to hide.  There were enough people there, I could serve and fool myself a little bit.  I also think it was a place to feel good.  I also believe it was a place I could get something.  Often, when we shared a prayer request of financial need, the church stepped in and gave.  Bless them for this, but we didn’t learn to be completely financially responsible with our money.  We went out to eat when we shouldn’t have, and we spent on some frivolous things.  Yes, we may spend less than people around us, but still, we could have been better about it.  Now, it’s downright scary.  We know we don’t have the church to bail us out.  We have been more careful with our money.  See what I just wrote?  OUR money.  It’ s not our money, or our plans that matter.  It’s God’s money, God’s plans.  Sure, we like our kids to be in activities, and we enjoy Red Robin every once in a while.  But, we have to really look at our lives now and examine how much we were idolizing and holding on to when we should have been much more faithful.  I should be much more faithful.  Proverbs 31, wow, if I were 1/4th what that woman was!

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Another sign that Ravi Zacharias has gone to the contemplatives/missional/disciplines side of things…

I read an article today linking a youtube video.  In the video, Ravi refers to Henri Nouwen very positively (about 6 minutes in).  So, what are Christians to do about the leaders of the church, many loved and respected, who show themselves influenced by these contemplatives and/or downright New Age change agent authors?  I know we must pray, check ourselves to see if we are sinning.  This is for sure.  We need to also pray and ask God about our situation.  Are we to confront, speak out, or something else?  I think we need to be very wise, and rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.  Anyone have an opportunity to ask Ravi questions in a forum?  I say someone needs to ask him about prayer or something in a pointed and careful way just as Christ would.  He’s one who might see the error of what he has been promoting, maybe?  I personally want to get in to the Bible Answer Man and call with a prayer question, and ask specifically about his opinion of some of these authors while on line.  I think we should be kind and loving, but also wise…as serpents…gentle as doves (please site the verse for me and make sure I’m not misquoting or taking out of context here…). 

I truly love Ravi Zacharias though I’ve never met him.  I pray for him and his family, and his ministry.  Maybe God will put someone in his path that he can listen to on this issue.

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For about a year I met with a Jehovah’s Witness in my apartment.  My firstborn was but a fuzzy headed baby and I was learning to nurse him.  This woman, grey haired and lean, knocked at my door.  I was 26 years old, and had no clue what a Jehovah’s Witness was.  She came at first with a very proper man, who eventually stopped coming with her.  I believe, from time to time, she brought along another, but eventually, it was just Mrs. E, me, and my little baby.  Weekly, I would prepare.  I would call friends, call Hank from CRI.  I read books, and I studied my Bible.  I prayed for Mrs. E.  I learned about her life.  She was the aging mother of seven born children, her husband had died a few years back.  She was homeschooling her last born son in her tiny apartment.  He worked at a grocery store, and took classes with his mother teaching.  Mrs. E ended up with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  She traveled to Mexico for some treatments.  Then, one day, we were tranfered across the country, and I am ashamed to say I lost contact with Mrs. E.  She was a sweet woman, and I wish I had maintained my meetings with her, had written her, and kept contact.  I looked her name up when we moved back three years later but didn’t find her. 

 

What did I learn from her?  That someone can be totally devoted to a lie.  She was such a kind person, the sweetest, really.  She loved me, I believe.  She wanted me to know what she did, and wanted me to do the right thing.  She told me she had enjoyed nurturing and nursing all of her children.  You know, we have that in common.  In many ways, she and I were very much alike.  This woman was not your typical person, spending hours dedicated to witnessing to others, spending time studying her organization’s version of the bible so that she could educate me weekly.  She truly did listen to me, but with my inexperience and lack of knowledge, we both put forth some pretty circular arguments.  She had something many people don’t have.  She was dedicated to her faith.  She was willing to take risks, meet in people’s homes (and that in itself can be scary when you don’t know how safe people are).  She probably was rejected often, and had rude comments leveled her way.  I can believe she had hundreds of doors slammed in her face.  Still, she persisted.  Even in her illness, she continued on.  She had a goal, a required amount of hours to serve, a mission, a vision.  She had a passion, and had studied, she had knowledge.  So much she had.  And she did it all for the Watchtower organization.  And all my talking didn’t move her from what I could see.  Also, I didn’t become a Jehovah’s Witness, so I guess we were even.  I don’t know that anything was accomplished by me.  In fact, I know not much was accomplished.  I wonder about her now, I am guessing she’s no longer living, but I hope I am wrong.  Would love to hear that she had been convinced of the truth at a later time, and really understood that Jesus is the true Son of God and is God.  One thing is for sure, I learned from that woman.  I learned.

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