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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Move to

To any of my random readers I am making the move to Word Press. My new blog site is I am looking forward to using the expanded features that come with Word Press. I am hoping that the new site will also inspire my writing more. I have a bunch to say, just need to get it down in print. Come back and visit later this week I promise a real cool announcement about Common Cupboard!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Morning Prayer by Brain Spahr

My friend Pastor Brian Spahr who blogs at Thinking out Loud posted this on his blog today. I wanted to share it with my friends. Fixed Hour Prayer (also known as The Daily Office) is a long standing tradition in Christianity and has its roots in Judaism. I have been on a similar journey for the past several years using fixed hour rhythm of prayer to focus my heart on the Lord through out the day.

Morning Prayer by Brian Spahr

Yesterday I shared that I am seeking to become not just a person who prays... but rather a person of prayer. One of the ways I am pursuing this has been through "fixed hour prayer" (morning and evening... although at this point I'm much better at te morning) using a "breviary" or prayer book as my guide. This may sound a little strange to some, but I am finding that for me it has been having a profound impact on my prayer life. Currently I am using a celtic prayer book called "Sounds of the Eternal" as my guide. There is a simple service of prayer for morning and night that includes brief scripture readings (although I generally go off on my own here... reading more that the few verses they have included), prayers of thanks, prayers for other people, etc. There's also space within the "form" for silence and my own words as well. I've never been too sure about praying prayers that someone else wrote with no knowledge of me or the context in which I live, but I think one of the things that I'm discovering is that prayer is more than just my words. It is more than just a conversation between me and God. Prayer is a conversation between God and the community of God's people. As always, yes, God is interested in me and what I have to say, but quite frankly there are times when I don't know what to say... when I don't know what to pray. This is where I am finding that praying these prayers is changing me. This morning is the perfect example. In a few hours, along with a team from our church community, I will be delivering groceries to families in a low income neighborhood in our area. As I was praying this morning I found my thoughts to be all over the place. My times of silence were being invaded by thoughts of my to-do list and other distractions. I was frustrated by my lack of focus, but instead of trying to force things any further I decided to move forward to the closing prayer for the morning in my book. Here's what it said:

In the many details of this day
let me be fully alive.
In the handling of food
and the sharing of drink
in the preparing of work
and the uttering of words,
in the meeting of friends
and the interminglings of relationship
let me be fully alive to each instant, O God,
let me be fully alive.

Those were not words that I could have come up with on my own this morning, but they spoke when I could not. This is the prayer I was longing to pray this morning, but could not find the focus or the words to pray on my own. We often pray that the Spirit will intercede for us when we have no words... when our groans are too deep for words to express (that's right from the Bible BTW). Maybe one of the ways the Spirit intercedes is by giving us words shared with the community of God's people across oceans and time and all that is in between through simple words on a page.

New Video about Common Cupboard

Common Cupboard, Our Story from keith adams on Vimeo.

Check it out at

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Last 24: Gethsemane to the Grave ... Station 1

1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethesemane
(Mark 14:32-42)

((Directions for use
* Indicates a change of reader.
Bold indicates said together.
Bold Italic indicates said one after another.))

* Lord, you brought along your
closest friends to a place of prayer …

"My soul
is overwhelmed
with sorrow
to the point of death,"

"Stay here.
Keep watch."

* In agony
Before the One who sent you,
Your life,
Your source,
Your only help,
Your father,
and ours.

"Abba, Father,
everything is possible for you.
Take this cup from me.
Yet not what I will,
but what you will."

* We know not fully your agony.
Knowing the father’s love,
Knowing his power,
Knowing that everything is possible,
Yet even as you say “not my will,”
In the silence …

((Long pause, for silent prayer))

* In all that we have experienced
Few have sweat great tears of blood.
Yet, at times, we have sensed
Messengers of heaven strengthening.
They strengthen you now
For this lonely way
Of our salvation.

”Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray
so that you will not
fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing,
but the body is weak."

* We like Simon are
But shifting sand.
We desire to be strong
But we are weak.
We desire to be alert
But we slumber.

* Awaken us
To the pain around us.
Awaken us
To the call of angels.
Awaken us
With strength to answer
When you call.

((After a pause for silent prayer. Then one by one pray.))

Your will be done.

* Rise we must.

* Wake us from our slumber.

* Call us to action.

* The hour has come.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Prayer Trail - The Last 24: Gethsemane to the Grave

Common Heart has created a prayer garden and trail at The Commonplace. When folks are on mission together they need a quiet place to recharge and renew. That is why this space exists. It can be used for private prayer anytime and other times groups will be invited to come together. For this season of Easter we have posted 14 pieces of art and wrote 14 meditative prayers along the trail. If you would like to join us on Good Friday a group of us will pray together at 6pm. But feel free to come anytime after 3pm and walk the trail on your own.


Friday, April 2, 2010
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Location: The Commonplace
225 Garmon Rd
Indian Trail, NC

You are invited to come and experience with us a time of prayer and meditation based around the events of the last 24 hours of Christ's life this Good Friday (April 2). We will gather at the cross and then walk a wooded trail guided by a series of pictures, meditations and prayers.

The Scriptural Way of the Cross is the focus of this first trail ...

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
Jesus is denied by Peter,
Jesus is judged by Pilate,
Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
Jesus takes up His cross,
Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross,
Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
Jesus is crucified,
Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief,
Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
Jesus dies on the cross,
Jesus is laid in the tomb

On Easter Sunday at 7:05 am you are invited also to a sunrise gathering of brothers and sisters on mission together celebrating the Lord's resurrection.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Trust by Alan Creech

I ran into this post as I was clicking links on blogs I am reading these days. I wanted to share it because I could have (should have) wrote this very blog post! - Keith

My Trust

My trust is in the Lord. As much as I am presently able to trust in Him, it is.

My trust is not in…

1.The Congress or the President.
2.Legislation, good or bad.
3.The barrel of a gun.
4.Any flag or any nation.
I will not look at these things and allow them to control my emotions, my hope or my ability to function as a son of God, a citizen of His Kingdom.

Too much – too much weight is put on these things in this day and time, and in this place. The expansion of God’s Kingdom into this realm of reality does not depend on some bill passing or not passing. It simply doesn’t.

And, for the record, I don’t say these things because I’m disheartened by the vote passed in the House of Representatives last night (Health Care Reform) . I actually think that’s mostly a good thing. Many who know me, know my anabaptist leanings in the area of politics, so I usually don’t say much about it. It was on my mind, though, so there you have it.

This post can be found at

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer of St. Patrick

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Solutions from the Desert

Abba Paul the Barber and his brother Timothy frequently argued with each other. One day, Abba Paul asked, "how long shall we continue to argue like this?'

Abba Timothy had an idea. "From now on, you take my side of the arguement, and I will take your side." They did this for the rest of their lives.

By Way of the Desert, compiled and modernized by Bernard Bangley

Friday, February 19, 2010

Confession for Lent

Thanks to Chaplain Mike writing at for sharing this. I attended Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church on Ash Wednesday. They used this form of confession from The Book of Common Prayer (or one nearly identical). It served my soul well and I will be using it regularly during my way through Lent this year. Thought I would share it here in case there are other pilgrims seeking a means of repentance this season.

Litany of Penitence

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
We have not been true to the mind of Christ.
We have grieved
your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness:
pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways,
and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration,
and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts,
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship,
and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done:
for our blindness to human need and suffering,
and our 
indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments,
for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors,
and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation,
and our lack of
 concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Way of the Cross

Last year on Good Friday was the first time I meditated on "The Stations of the Cross." It was at St Michael's Anglican Church in Charlotte. My mom, Bene' (my son) and I went and it was a good experience. They also had outdoor "Stations" set up so I went on my own on a couple other occasions last year. When I prayed those outdoor stations I used a less traditional form I found in Celtic Daily Prayer. I really found it to be a sobering and encouraging spiritual experience.

I have always wanted to weave spiritual formation opportunities in with the missional activities we promote through Common Heart. Last month we began planning and working on a prayer garden and prayer trail at The Commonplace. The first theme for the wooded trail is a "Scriptural Way of the Cross".

Several people have volunteered create artwork to focus our attention on 14 separate events startin with Gethsemane and ending with Jesus' burial. I have begun to work on the meditations for the trail. These meditations will be put together in a booklet and can be done as a private meditation or in a group. We would love to have others involved in these creative aspects of the project. There are also opportunities to help reclaim the space for the prayer garden and prepare the trail. If you would like to help in any way contact me.

As we get closer to Palm Sunday and Passion Week on March 28th, watch for a post with times to join in and walk the trail with us.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

That's Radical!

I am overcome with how radically different the gospel is from what we call normal life. I often feel deprived because I have been raised in a "Christianity" that easily said, "Well that is not what Jesus meant." Or, "That is just not realistic." One of the things I hope for in my own life is not to be so dismissive of what Jesus taught simply because it is a hard saying.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Jesus, Matthew 5:38-42.

Now that's a radical teaching. "Don't resist! If someone takes something from you, give them gifts. Give to every beggar and lend freely." That's radically insane, you might say. And I must admit I have no answers, only questions. But I dare not dismissively diminish the challenge of faith Jesus brings here.

That is one reason I love the Desert Fathers and Mothers. I want to share one of their stories that demonstrate following Jesus in these radical words.
"Once robbers came into the monastery and said to one of the elders: We have come to take away everything that is in your cell. And he said: My sons, take all you want. So they took everything they could find in the cell and started off. But they left behind a little bag that was hidden in the cell. The elder picked it up and followed after them, crying out: My sons, take this, you forgot it in the cell! Amazed at the patience of the elder, they brought everything back into his cell and did penance, saying: This one really is a man of God!" The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton, pg 59.
I love this story. The humility and kindness of the elder as he submits without resistance to the robbers, and then follows through holding back nothing surely shows a life of attentively loving Jesus way. This is radically different than the way I have been taught to spiritualize, explain away, and modify the radical teaching of love. This story also demonstrates the principle expressed by Paul in Romans 2:3-4 "So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" The lack of judgement and the radical kindness of the elder led the robbers to repentance.

I would also like to share the words of a radical prophet of the last century. Motivated by the words of the sermon on the mount, Martin Luther King, espoused a means of social change that was rooted in love. It demonstrated a key understanding of the realities that evil can not be defeated by means of hatred, fear, or retribution, but through the power of love. This is point four of five points explaining non-violent resistance. (You can read all five and more more here.)
"A fourth point that must be brought out concerning the method of nonviolence is that this method not only avoids external physical violence, but also internal violence of the spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. We have learned through the grim realities of life and history that hate and violence solve nothing. Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody." Martin Luther King, Jr .
I have not been raised in a form of Christianity that takes seriously the challenges of actually living this kind of radical love that Jesus taught, the desert fathers pursued and that Martin used to challenge the economic and political power of a nation, but I want to learn to walk in Christ's way of love. Love of God. Love of neighbor. Love even, and maybe most importantly, of our enemies and those who treat us wrongly.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Abba Zeno said,

"If you want God to hear your prayer quickly, before you pray for anything else, even your own soul, when you stretch out your hands toward God pray with all your heart for your enemies. When you do this God will respect all that you ask."

By Way of the Desert, compiled and modernized by Bernard Bangley

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Double Sabbath Rest this Week

With the winter weather here in Charlotte this week end, my schedule slowed down considerably. Saturday there were no deliveries at the cupboard due to the weather. Churches were canceled all over Charlotte on Sunday, including the one I attend. My busy-ness was able to come to a near complete stop. I just didn't feel like doing much of anything. I got to sing loud to old music I love. Got to spend some time with Deb cuddling. Took some time just to be with Kyril. Spoke on the phone to Bene for longer than I have at one sitting. I slept in till 8:30 on Sunday ... unheard of for me. Might as well been noon! Even my email seemed to have slowed down. Only one cupboard phone call .... amazing. I have enjoyed my little double sabbath rest this past week.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog More - Done!

Alright. My first of the three Pre-New Year's resolutions is now complete with this post. I have blogged more (than last year in the first 30 days of January). Still working on blogging often and regularly.

So let's renew that resolution and let's make it blog even more.

Here are a couple series that I will be working on .

1. Markers on the Road. The first was "No Longer".
2. He/She said - They will each start like this first post did "John the Dwarf said,"
3. Book reviews - The first was "The book of the Shepherd"
4. Of course there will be blogs about Common Heart like this one "The and Common Heart."

If you would like to subscribe to my blog you can do it here, and you will receive each of my notes along the way in your email box.

Friday, January 29, 2010 and Common Heart

One of the most exciting things to me about Common Heart is how we connect people who would probably never meet. Rich & poor, black & white, Latino & Anglo, church folks and folks that have given up on church, meet and develop relationships that benefit each other spiritually. It’s all about living in God’s love and being a part of his grand mission. For years, through Common Cupboard, we have used groceries to open doors and hearts.

Late last year we discovered a web based tool, (No, I did not name it. Hard to believe, I know.) This is a cool program that would enhance any community of people. Churches use it. Community organizations, YMCA’s and non-profits all use it throughout the country. What it does is connect needs with the abilities to meet those needs.

So let’s say that you know a elderly couple on a fixed income that has some plumbing issues. You can post it on the site and people with the ability to help will see the need, and can respond. Or, let’s say you have an unused exercise bike, you can post that in the marketplace and give it to someone who will use it. Or, maybe your church has a workday around the building with many projects You could start an initiative on and keep in contact with those who will be coming out to help with the specific projects,

Well, Common Heart is in the process of launching this tool for our volunteers from 20 local churches. It will give us the opportunity to use many different ways to open doors to God’s love as it connect more people in very practical ways.

A cool benefit of is that communities can blend, share their needs and abilities with other communities. So if your church had a community on the site, it could blend with Common Heart. Now the needs of folks from both communities will be shared with people in either community with the abilities to help. I think this is so cool. So let’s imagine just 6 communities of 50 -75 members each in our area that all blend with Common Heart. Now the needs of the folks we serve will be sent out to a possible 350 or so people who may be able to help and connect in a way that will demonstrate God’s love. Our ability to activate and equip people to serve just increased amazingly.

To sign up for Common Heart’s community go to Sign up for Or, if you would like discuss how your church or community could be using this cool resource, contact Keith at

Here is are links to a couple video about - In Book Form - Coffee Shop

John the Dwarf said,

"I can imagine someone embodying all Christian virtues. Rising every every morning at dawn, he would begin immediately to keep God's commandments. He would be patient, reverent, and selfless in God's love. With genuine humility, he would control soul and body. He would pray regularly and sincerely. Injury would not upset him. This virtuous person would never consider revenge and retaliation. He would not attempt to inflate his ego by criticizing others. He would live in lowliness of spirit, as one crucified. His hands would be busy with work, and he would not complain of deprivation. He would sense the nearness of death"

By Way of the Desert, compiled and modernized by Bernard Bangley

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Moral Roots of Liberals & Conservatives

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.

I found this video to be very enlightening. Thought I would share it. What do you think. If you want to do something fun and personally enlightening take some of the tests at this site.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Marker on the Road - "No Longer"

In my post 12/31/2009 "Blog More", I wrote ... "And sometimes, if we have not placed a marker on the road, when we get to the place we realize that something significant has just taken place, we don't quite know what random thought, chance meeting, or slight adjustment of course it was that though seemingly insignificant at the time, led us to this significant place." And so today, I want to start a series of posts to set down some markers. The first is a road marker that says ... "No Longer".

This past summer while I was meditating on scriptures with some friends, my attention was drawn to the words, "no longer" in this portion of scripture from Romans (14:13). "Therefore let us no longer criticize one another, but instead decide not to put a stumbling block, or a pitfall in your brother's way."

These words "no longer" grasped a hold of me. My friend encouraged us to explore the emotions attached to the words we were holding before the Lord. I can say that it was a strong sense of anxiety over my inability to do "no longer", cold turkey, full stop, never again.

Additionally, it was to "no longer criticize". I remember a day several years ago when a close friend told me that I was the most critical person he knew. That took me for a loop, 'cause I just couldn't see it at the time. Now I do. I feel like I came a long way from those days, however, there are people I perpetually criticize quietly in my heart. It often was displayed in my attitude and actions. And to receive such a strong word was arresting to my soul.

As I further meditated the Lord began to prompt me to pray for those I tended to criticize. He prompted me with loving things to do for them. He gave me creative prayers to pray and encouraged me to believe in the possibilities of change (for me!). It became easier to imagine "no longer", when I substituted criticism with appreciation, and judgement with humility. Through love the rest of the verse flows naturally, "but instead decide not to put a stumbling block, or a pitfall in your brother's way."

As I have walked this road aware of this marker. it has revealed just how deep criticism is within my soul. Although I have learned to be silent, my heart still speaks an implicit criticism. A voice within speaks up to correct and then judge without even trying. It judges not only the person's statements, but his actions. And not only his actions, but often his motives. It insidiously works against God's command to love our neighbor and to love our enemies.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-6

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Book of the Shepherd

The Book of the Shepherd by Joann Davis came in the mail the other day. This is the first book I have received from Harper Collins / HarperStudio to review for I have been looking forward to it. I was surprised by the initial appearance of the book. It was smaller than I imagined. It was printed on rough edged paper, with simple illustrations. Add the illustrated dust jacket and it had the appearance of an antiquarian book. It all fits with the back story that Joann had found this book in the muddle of papers and other effects of a eccentric professor who left a note the day he died about having it translated from the original Middle English/Dutch in which it was written.

It did have the feel of such a book from a far off time and land. It is a land where cruelty is law, It is the story of Joshua, a shepherd, and his companions David, an abused, discarded boy and Elizabeth, a former slave girl as they seek a "new way". This "new way" we find out was practiced by an outlaw group of monks who sought to make kindness and forgiveness a way of life. As their way is banished they hide their secret law, the "law of substitution", in a secret and dangerous cave.

As the trio travel we learn of their own stories and the stories of those they meet along the way. Others have sought this "new way" in the past, but have never returned. Guided by dreams, a grandfather's map, and what they learn from kind people along the way they get to the cave. It takes the gifts that each provide to acquire the secret.
I enjoyed reading it. It is a simple parable. It held few few surprises, but engaged the heart. The Book of the Shepherd inspires you to believe that small communities of people practicing kindness could produce great changes in the larger community. And that one can make the difference. This is one reason why I like this book. I believe this to be true.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A key to Sabbath Rest?


I am very grateful for my lesson learned this week about Sabbath rest. I went to bed early (for me) last night. I got a full 8 hours. I rarely get a full 8 hours. And after worship and lunch today, I took a nap.

It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?
Psalm 127:2 The Message

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Wed, and I haven't blogged yet

Well before Deb Hamm writes me a note on Facebook, I figure I had better write a blog post. I have good reason to fall behind this week. It has finally been busy at work. That is a very good thing! But it tires me out. Then Monday night we went to see Avatar with our cell-mates. Yesterday, I got home at 10 pm after visiting 2 friends. I am not trying to make excuses ... well, I am sort of.

But the thought about Deb sending me another prodding note, has proved enough to encourage me to write. Isn't that interesting.? Deb spurred me on to a good work the other day, and that nudge is stillworking a couple days later.

So, with that in mind. What good thing do you want to do? I want to encourage you ... prod ... or nudge you today to do it. Go public with it by mentioning it to a friend, or maybe post it as a response to this blog post. And let's encourage each other. We all need a little push now and then to do good things.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Meaning of Sabbath Rest (Part 1)

There are three principles that bring meaning to this concept of sabbath rest according to Gordon MacDonald in his book "Ordering Your Private World (OYPW)." The first he calls Closing the Loop implying that the task is completed.

""When God rested, He looked upon His work, enjoyed its completed appearance, and then reflected on its meaning: "And God saw that it was good" (Gen 1:10) This shows the first of the three principles of genuine rest. God gave His work meaning and acknowledged its completion. In doing so he taught us there is a necessary exercise of appreciation and dedication for our routines.

So you could say that on the seventh day, God closed the loop on His primary creation activity. He closed it by resting and looking back upon it to survey what has been accomplished.

This rest is then first of all, a time of looking backward... We gaze upon our work and ask questions like: What does my work mean? For whom did I do this work? How well was the work done? Why did I do this? What results did I expect, and did I receive?

To put it anther way, the rest God instituted was meant first and foremost to cause us to interpret our work, to press meaning into it to make sure we know to whom it is properly dedicated." (OYPW, pg 173.)
Today as I grow in making sabbath rest a real rhythm in my life, I am focusing on this first meaning of sabbath rest. The other two are according to MacDonald, "Returning to Eternal Truths" and "Defining our Mission".

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hear the voice of our pleading

Creation groaning,
hearts cry out,
pain, cares, woes,
sobbing, wailing,
hopeless, helpless,
looking ...
waiting ...


The earth waits,
I wait.
Waiting no longer,
I act.
You've answered.

I wrote this poem in response to a time of meditation during a prayer event that my friend Steven Burleson held at Hope Church. We were combining art and an ancient Bible meditative practice known as Lectio Divina. As I was meditating on the word "voice of my pleading" my heart was drawn to the pain of the world. When we look around it seems as if God is not answering the voice of our pleading. Silence seems, too often, to be the response. We say that God answers our prayers, but sometime the answer is no or wait. Sometimes his answer is silence. Maybe when we cannot stand the silence any longer we will hear his simple call to act. could we be God's answer to our pleadings?

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. Romans 8:19

Blog Often

Alright. Today my friend Deb Hamm told me that I was not doing well with my with my resolution to blog more. Only one post this week! My resolution was not only to blog more, but to blog regularly and blog often! Well, thanks Deb for noticing my lack of posts and encouraging me on. I am hoping to make up for the lack of writing in the next 24 hours as I blog often this weekend.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

8 Things You Should See At a Missional Sunday Gathering - David

This is an excellent post from David Fitch. It is very similar to how I envision a missional community gathering. On Sunday nights at 6 pm at The Commonplace I have Vespers and Lectio Divina (Bible meditation) and I have invited anyone to come and join me. This little gathering that has never been more than 4 people is in the spirit of this post. There is a standing invitation for you to join us in this quiet contemplative, and mission formational time.

As I understand the missional church, the Sunday gathering can never be the focal point. And yet it plays a crucial role in the formation of a people into God’s Mission. It is essential for the sustaining of a missional community who lives life in the rhythms of mission. We do not gather for self-improvement as Christians (although this happens), we do not seek to attract more Christians into this church for the sake of building a “successful church.” Yet here we are shaped by the Spirit into a political force for the Mission of God in the world. Assuming all this, if you were to come and visit one of these gatherings, I think you would notice some things that should tip off that this church has a culture of Mission. What would you notice? Here’s my (off the cuff) list of 8 things to ponder that should tip us off that this gathering is Missional.

1.) There is no single dominating leader/pastor: You won’t be able to tell who the senior pastor is. There will be leaders, but no one leader will dominate this gathering. There probably will not be one dominant preacher. Leadership will be diffused. There will be a high percentage of people involved in various forms of leadership.

2.) The Service isn’t Produced: The liturgies, preaching and music will have an organic sense to it. It will be a family type gathering not a show. There will probably be candles, art and other tactile means to enter into the reality of God in Christ. The production value of the service has more to do with organic artistry, not professional produced excellence. Above all, there is a focus towards the communal encounter with the living God. We don’t have full-time paid professionals to orchestrate a Sunday morning service. In fact, if we all came together 5 minutes before the gathering time, and 3 of the leaders for the service were sick, I would like to thin we could put it together without a hitch. This is because the gathering is about the regular liturgical shaping of who we are into the Mission of God.

3.) There probably will not be many strangers present in this service: There will not be as many strangers, for these kinds of connections take place outside the Sunday gathering. We do hope to see people who don’t walk with Christ among us – but they will be folk who have gotten to know people in our community (who do walk with Christ). We hope to have people among us asking a lot of questions who have arrived here through an important relationship in their lives.

4.) Socio and economic diversity: Everybody should not be of the same socio-economic strata. Maybe you couldn’t tell on your first visit, but there should be people hanging around living below the poverty level who are being helped and sustained by this community. You should see folks with handicaps welcomed and loved and feeling comfortable. You should see these kinds of diversity as the justice of God through reconciliation of all kinds permeates through this cmmunity into all our other relationships.

5.) Sunday Morning Greeters?: OK, I don’t know about this one. All I know is that you should notice strong and viable friendships happening. And this might make it harder to or more uncomfortable to actually meet people if you’re s stranger just visiting on a Sunday. Most connection happens in relationships outside the church from which people come to the gathering. This means that visitors will find true communal connection on a Sunday morning gathering more difficult. We should expect people to make significant connection with strangers (especially strangers to the gospel) outside the church gathering.

6.) The Sending Out: The high point of the time together should be the benediction!- The Sending Out. There will be various liturgies and worship all centered in the encounter with the living God. It always ends however with the sending out for mission. There is a centrifugal nature to the missional Sunday morning gathering.

7.) The Gathering is Participatory: We sit together in a round before God around the altar, not as passive spectators for a performance. The service is active and participant driven. I can’t imagine a missional church that trains its people to sit passively on Sunday all facing in one direction as if they come to sit and receive. Anyways, this is how we arrange the gathering place at LOV [Life of the Vine]. Is this just us?

8.) Ethnic Diversity?: OK I admit to being troubled by this one. Especialy after last weekend’s missional learning commons. Should missional communities be diverse by definition? Even if we are located in a predominantly white context? Should all Christian communities be diverse even if they have to pay people of a different ethnicity to come and be a leader/singer ? I deliberately left this one up for grabs. Missional communities are not typically diverse. But we can do some things to prepare the way? We’ve had many suggestions? Any new ones?

Anyways, these are just a few hints as to what someone might notice upon entering a missional community’s Sunday gathering. I am sure there are many more. I’m not sure the comunity I co-lead can live up to these ideals. Any immediate ones you’d like to add to the list?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adjusting to Sabbath Rest

What I learned this week about Sabbath rest is that it is not a one day adjustment. It calls for the adjustment of your whole life. I began thinking about it early in the week, realizing that I needed to change my laundry habit. I also had given thought to simplifying our Sunday meals. I picked up my old copy of Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald that has a wonderful section on Sabbath. I want to enjoy and reconnect with my family as a part of this rest. I desire to refresh my soul with meditative quiet. I tried to prepare. However, I did not fully tweek my week to take full advantage of my Sabbath.

I did get some time with the family. I couldn’t rest enough to take advantage of the early morning quiet I had. I had to late in the week sought out the book I mentioned. And, what bothered me the most is that due to a lack of planning I started my evening Sabbath scurrying to get a hair cut before the shop closed at 6:30. I could not put it off since I was sharing briefly at a friend's church and I looked like a very Grizzly Adams! I consoled myself with he fact that I spent the evening with Grizzly Jr. (Kyril), and had a great conversation with the hair stylist. Nonetheless, it is no way to start a day of rest!

I did greatly enjoy ending my Sabbath rest with 3 friends praying Vespers at The Commonplace. And I did receive a challenging word that I will be meditating on all week as I seek to bring my work in line with it. (That is for another post.)

So, armed with my new knowledge and with 6 days to prepare, I will be in a better place to rest on my next Sabbath eve.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Missional Imagination

Read this over at today and thought it was worth posting on my notes along the way. This is what Common Heart is about.

A missional imagination is not about the church; it’s not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying
church around. It’s not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized…. This [missional] imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn towards our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing?’ it becomes, ‘What is God up to in this neighborhood?’ and “What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?’ This is what a missional imagination is about. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 20.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sabbath Rest

Last post I ended with thinking about a rhythm of life. Work dominates my life. Five days a week I head into Charlotte driving about 45 minutes each way. I am at work for 9 hours. I get an hour for lunch. This is not unlike many people. On Saturday I get up just as early to go to work with Common Cupboard. I am usually done by noon.

One basic rhythm is a sabbath rest each week. It is so important god put in in his big 10. I must confess, I have never truly practiced the rest of a weekly sabbath. I say I am too busy for it. During my spiritual formation group meeting this past Monday I committed to observing the 24 hours from sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday as a sabbath rest.

So I have been thinking this week how to go work free for my sabbath rest. I am going to have to change some things ... simple meals, laundry on a different day, no paper work. there is a couple will be continuing to consider the implications and then enjoy my sabbath rest this week.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making room for the important

Last blog got me thinking about what I really value. I mentioned a few things that I say I value highly. Some I have made room for and discipline myself to do. Others I have not.

The thing about making room for the important is that something else has got to be replaced. I prefer to multi-task. But somethings just deserve my undivided attention. I must chose to make room for them and allow those things that are truly important to me to create a basic rhythm to my life. Other things need to fit into. that rhythm,

As I go through this day I am going to think more about what my daily life would look like built upon the rhythm of what is truly important to me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Blog Regularly

Blog more ... This I know I can do. From July to December 30, I did not write a word on this blog. So blogging more is easy ... I have just done it.

But blogging regularly, that is a discipline. A friend of mine, Jeff Gardner, is the pastor of Threshold Church in Matthews. Now he blogs regularly at Every Thursday a new post, and in the past couple months he posts notes on Monday from his Sunday talks. So each Monday and Thursday a new edition is available. Good stuff too.

I mentioned the word discipline. I don't particularly care for it, to tell you the truth. I usually see the discipline of doing anything as constricting. I like to believe I am free and spontaneous. But the reality is I am not. I am constantly pushed by the many demands upon my life. Some are relentless. Some are just what I got to do. Others seem to scream out with urgency. Truthfully, I am not as free and spontaneous as I like to believe. Rather, I am driven by circumstances much more often that I care to admit. What discipline really does is make room for what I consider important. If I don't intentionally carve out time for these truly important things, my life will crowd them out. Some of the things I value highly are prayer, meditation, dreaming, spending time with my family, reading good thought provoking books, and putting my thoughts into words. So the discipline of regularity is more of a way to carve out time for what energizes and renews me.

So what will blogging regularly look like for me? Don't know yet! I would love to blog daily, but several times a week is probably a good rhythm for me. Let me think on it and I will get back to you.