I have read many wonderful reflections during this first week of Lent. Unfortunately, I grew up in a faith tradition that largely ignored the Christian calendar, even Lent. The good news is that I have seen that changing in recent years. As for me, it has been nice to read the Lenten prayers, reflections and meditations of others. It is as if they are filling in the gaps for me left by my upbringing. And so, encouraged by these examples, I thought I would chip in my two cents worth. Here is my first ever Lenten reflection.
I grew up in a Pentecostal tradition that places a fairly strong emphasis on the belief that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Out of that emphasis has come many powerful testimonies, some head-scratching situations, and more than a few comical stories. Many of us who grew up in the tradition came to expect that when a young person was seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the altar s/he was assured a high probability of encountering more than one apparent Holy Spirit experts.
The first time that the word language shows up in Scripture is Genesis 10, where we are told that the sons and grandsons of Noah “were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations” (v. 5). Then in Genesis 11 we encounter this verse, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words” (v. 1). This is a striking statement, as it seems that we were just told a few verses earlier that the descendants of Noah were divided up according to their different languages. How can it be that now everyone speaks the same language?
My spiritual life use to look a lot like Woodstock. You know, lots of peace, love, and good music. Eventually I figured out that I have an enemy. My enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) as he roams about seeking who he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). It was like a woke up out of some sort of drug induced euphoria to realize that I was laying down in the middle of a firefight. In a panic I thought to myself, We are at war! And I am going to die!
I have a confession to make. I have always struggled with the concept of the Holy Spirit. That might not sound like a big deal, but it seems pretty significant to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have always believed in the Holy Spirit. However, I have a hard time conceptualizing the Holy Spirit. God as a Father? No problem. God as a Son? I get it. But God as a Spirit? Hmmm.
I want to say this up front. I am challenged by what follows. In fact, I don’t really like today’s post. As I contemplate it I have a lot of buts. When I look at the picture above in light of the concept below it fills me with a sense of dread. However, I am pushing through because I think that I need today’s post. I need it as bad as anyone.
The Word in the word
There are three passages in the Gospel of John that bring home a very important point:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who cam from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1,14
In my lifetime I have seen the social status of cigarette smoking change drastically. Throughout my adolescence and early adult life second hand smoke was something that we simply had to deal with, like it or not. In a somewhat astonishing way the social views on smoking have been almost completely reversed in the last ten to fifteen years. And over the course of my short thirty eight years it has gone from cool to neutral to annoyance to near universal social taboo. Occasionally I see older movies where people are smoking in offices at work or in airplanes or any other now extinct smoking practice and I think about how no one bothered to analyze the fact that society had broadly accepted cigarettes as harmless fun, seemingly without question. And that always leads me to one question, “What are today’s cigarettes?” You know, those individual practices that society has accepted as harmless fun, but will turn out to be life threatening forces of destruction. It’s an interesting question, and I’ve been thinking about a possible candidate: porn.
Yesterday I wrote on teamwork, but if you read the article you know that was just a different way of saying that everyone needs to be a part of a community of faith. Everyone needs to be part of a church, and part of the Church. Expanding on that thought consider Hebrews 10:24-25, which instructs us to spur one another to love and good deeds, “not forsaking our assembling together.”
I have spent several years working with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students. A lot of changes happen from twelve to twenty, and many of the questions that are important to a middle school student are completely irrelevant to a college student. However, there is one question that pops up in lives of sixth graders and seniors alike. It also seems to be a question that can drive a young person (and many adults too) crazier than almost any other (read more about that here). That question is: What is God’s will for my life?
I have a few friends who are currently shopping around for post-graduate programs, and all of them are at least considering a Doctorate of Ministry. Considering the fact that I’m fresh out of one myself I figured I would give a quick plug for the D.Min. program at Drew University. Here are the top five reasons that I believe I made the best choice for my doctoral work in ministry.
My alarm goes off. I don’t have extra time to hit snooze. I put an abrupt end to the melody sweetly trying without success to wake me gently.
Parallel process is a clinical term used to describe the common occurrence in therapy when the therapist’s own experience is reflected in the client’s. It is when a client comes in grieving over the loss of a loved one while the therapist has only just experienced his or her own loss as well. It is a therapist helping a client through feelings of anger and hurt that the therapist has also just recently confronted.
My mother spent the better part of her adolescence in London where she attended an all girls’ school called Rosa Bassett.