Friday, September 20, 2002

Yesterday Marty Russell spoke about Quiet Times (a term never used in the Bible and a practice which is also apparently missing from Scripture—so where from?). The ‘method’ she suggest, if the term ‘method’ can be applied at all, is abiding (taken from John 15, if you abide in me [Jesus] and my words [scripture] abide in you). Instead of outlining a formula, she suggested three changes: 1) lengthen—spend large chunks of time once a week or so; 2) quiet your soul—spend some time before your time with God dealing with the mundane issues of life (errands etc); 3) avoid wedging time with God between other engagements—allow the time to be open-ended; and 4) experiment with less structure. In our methodized and schedualized world, fitting in a chunk of hours once a week seems impossible. Though anyone who has even one TV show that they watch every week really has no excuse—ouch!

It seems to me that this is another aspect of discipleship as “living with.” It is not only living with other believers, it is also living with God. If we treated our human friends the way we treat God, I fear very few would stick with us. So we must apprentice ourselves to an older believer and we must apprentice ourselves to God. But it is more than this. Our relationship with God is more than learning from him or being blessed by him. It is also loving him. Not the clean tidy love that easily fits into our lives and doesn’t cost us much. It is rather that messy, passion-filled, dangerous love--love that loses itself in the beloved. Love so deep that, sometimes, it hurts.

In one of his holy sonnets, John Donne says it all:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

This love is too dangerous...

Thursday, September 19, 2002

At a luncheon today, Marty Russell (wife of Walt mentioned in the 9/13 blog) gave a talk on quiet times. She basically blew up the whole Western idea and replaced it with a biblical one. I blog more on this tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

One of the good things I see happening here at Talbot is a new focus on Spiritual Formation--not as traditional classes and lectures, but as "living with." It's in the beginning stages, but just as an example, in their first semester students participate in a class that basically dredges up their stuff and takes a hard look at life. In the second semester there is a follow-up "class"--a group of fellow students who meet weekly with a professor in a small group/discipleship situation. It's not the only answer to the problem--especially since the majority of pastors who fail do so because of character/spiritual issues, not lack of training--but it seems to be a step in the right direction. There is a need for the academic training in theology and biblical exposition (especially in a day of flexible beliefs), but since ministry is about God and people, seminaries and other training institutions MUST develop some way for students to be discipled—to be shown how to follow Jesus in a "living with" type of relationship with someone who's further down the road.

The main issue I see in these beginning stages is getting students on board. Too often a dedication to intellect--a good thing--becomes all-important--a bad thing--leading to an unbalanced life--a very bad thing. If we are to love God with our whole heart, whole mind, whole soul, and whole strength, then we need balance in ministerial training. If ministers are not trained, how can they train others? Sure, there will be individuals who focus on one thing or another, but all in all, each person must strive to love God with everything they are--beefing up those parts of themselves that are not up to snuff.

On a more mundane note... I'm still in the hunt for real chalupas...

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

On the what is church weblog, Amber Bishop quotes Andrew Murray’s book, Teach Me to Pray.

"Jesus did not teach his disciples how to preach but how to pray. To know how to speak to God is more vital than knowing how to speak to men. It is power with God not man that is of supreme importance."

Why don’t seminaries, like Talbot, teach future ministers more about prayer? Why is it not a required course? I think part of the answer lies in the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He did not sit them down on a hillside and lecture on the various methods. He prayed. There is, in fact, a great danger in teaching methods rather than living life with a person who prays. Too many times I have tried to conform to methods—prayer list, ACTS, journaling--but without the passionate interaction between a soul and God lived out in front of me, praying became a duty, done with closed eyes and clenched hands.

A quote from a recently read book (which title I cannot remember) started me thinking: "Pray as you can; don't pray as you can't." In my struggle with traditional Protestant methods, this quote was like a breath of fresh air--I no longer even attempt such things as prayer lists. I'm still struggling to learn--and as good as Hebrew I and Theology III are, they do not teach me how to pray "deeply, passionately, and with total dependency" on Jesus. I join the prayer--Jesus teach us to pray.

Monday, September 16, 2002

So sad... no chalupas yet :-( As a matter of fact, Taco Bell has done such a fine job at brainwashing America, that few people even know what one is. This may become a cause!