I have been teaching pastors and leaders about Sabbath-keeping for over a decade. Why is it then that so few actually stop to receive this wonderful gift (Mark 2:27)? The root answer lies, I believe, in the place from which we have our sense of self. If our sense of self comes from our work, accomplishments, or ministry, then stopping our work to can be quite terrifying. It touches our deep anxieties about our own deaths. Many of us come carry a great deal of shame, an intensely painful feeling or experience of being flawed. It may come from a background of abuse (as was my history), or a deep well of pain and regret. We feel unworthy of the rich delights and love God offers us in Sabbath. It is easier to just keep working –even if our lives are spinning out of control. Sabbath is about letting ourselves be seen by God. Sabbath. Read more.
“Unspeakable horror” is the best phrase to capture the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. 26 people killed, 20 of whom were only 6-7 years old. There are no words to say. We pray for the victims, their families, the shooter’s family, and all those affected. We grieve with them. We join the three friends of Job as they arrive after innocent Job suffers his unspeakable horrors and longs to die. Scripture tells us that his friends “began to weep aloud…Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). God invites us to be silent before this massacre, acknowledging the severe limits of our understanding. Our God is good. He is alive on the earth hidden amidst all of history’s unspeakable horrors. Let us remember the three friends got themselves. Read more.
I spent a good part of this week reflecting on more than twenty-five years of preaching as I spoke this morning at a Preaching Rocket conference here at New Life in NYC. Others, like Andy Stanley, have done an outstanding job describing the craft around preaching. My task was to consider the unique applications of emotional healthy spirituality to the preaching/teaching task. The following are the ten questions to which I return over in preparation my own sermons and work with our NLF Preaching Team: Am I contemplatively grounded in God Am I centered in myself? Am I allowing the text to intersect deeply with my family of origin? Am I preaching out of my vulnerability and weakness? Am I allowing the text to transform my spiritual journey? Am I surrendering to the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension process? Am I taking sufficient time to think through clear and pointed applications? Am I thinking. Read more.
NLF Staff Midday Prayer Sept. 26, 2012 Stillness and Silence – 2 minutes to be still First Reading: Ps. 146 1 Praise the Lord.Praise the Lord, my soul. 2 I will praise the Lord all my life;I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God 6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever…The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down… The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord. Second Reading – Lamentations 3: 21-27 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They. Read more.