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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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