Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sunday's Sermon-Loneliness

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Sunday I'll be speaking on "Christ understands our loneliness." Christ suffered loneliness and abandonment when all of his friends deserted him when he was arrested. It is a condition which we all have felt at one or another.

According to Rob Lloyd in, "About one in five Americans is lonely, a gnawing emotional state that is a patchwork of feeling unhappy, stressed out, friendless and hostile."

Why do you think we are so lonely today? How does it affect us? Also, I am looking for a good song or quote to illustrate the loneliness in our society. Post any thoughts here.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Stress and Addiction

Hello! Last Thursday-Saturday, Becki and I went on a minister/spouse retreat. We went to the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa. (see It is a hotel with 80,000 linear feet of mahogany wood. Each room is unique. We stayed in the "African room." (I barely resisted doing my tribal dance each night.)

One of the speakers at the retreat was Dr. Archibald Hart, a psychologist. He gave us insight into stress and its effects on on us (for a visual, see the picture of the stressed out man on the right).
1. Stress causes a lack of sleep.
2. Stress and sensory overload from constant input/pressure leads to the inability to experience joy, a chemical disturbance.
3. Since no pleasure can be found in normal experience (good food, family, recreation, etc.), those under prolonged stress resort to extreme behaviors--affairs, sexual and substance addictions, etc.--because these are the only behaviors that break through the chemical imbalance.

This progression explains why so many high-powered executives and ministers fall into immoral behavior, even if they have good hearts. Of course, all who live under constant stress are in danger of this. There are other side effects of stress too, such as a breakdown in the immune system.

How does stress affect you?

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Lord's Supper & the Resurrection

Thanks to all who responded last time. I will seek to write a new blog each week, so mark this page in your favorites and check back regularly!

As I indicated in my Easter sermon, the cross has no meaning without the resurrection. And yet, I heard precious little about the resurrection as I grew up. (Perhaps I was too busy playing lines and boxes in church!)

Without the resurrection, the cross can become a symbol of guilt. The Lord's Supper can become a time in which we beat ourselves up each week. The predominant prayer at the LS is that we remember and visualize the pain and agony of the cross. You almost get the idea that the more we visualize blood flying (the gore), the more spiritual we are. That the point of communion is to beat ourselves up and feel guilty for all that we have done in the week.

However, Jesus didn't say, take the LS to remember the blood and gore. He said, do this in remembrance of me. Through the LS meal, we are to remember Christ. And the gospels make abundantly clear that Christ is alive and well. Both Luke and John record accounts of Jesus eating meals with his disciples after he has been raised--and they are filled with joy at these meals. Luke makes clear that Jesus is taking the Lord's Supper at this time with them (compare Lk. 22:19 with 24:30). In the book of Acts, the early church broke bread (took LS) with glad and sincere hearts (2:46).

Resurrection only makes sense in light of the cross, so we have to go through the cross to get to resurrection. But we do not take the LS on Friday. It is not a funeral meal (which, by the way, most funeral meals seem more joyous than our LS meals--people laugh and talk and smile). We take the LS on Sunday--the most awesome, joyous day in history of the world. The Lord's Supper on the Lord's day. It is not a time of private meditation and guilt. Christ has taken all the guilt away. It is a joyous time of fellowship with our risen Savior and one another. If we leave the LS at the cross, we have missed both the Lord's Day & the Lord's Supper.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Emotion in Worship

Hey all you guys and gals out there. I'm starting a blog. Yes, that's right. This is the moment you all have been waiting for. Finally--all of my random, stimulating, spiritual thoughts at your fingertips!

Here is my first thought. The more I observe and learn, the more it seems to me that decisions about worship are driven by personality. People who are extroverted and fellowship-oriented believe that clapping, swaying, lifting hands, singing during the Lord's Supper, etc. is great--and biblical. People who are introverted and who are not fellowship-oriented believe that silence is golden and that outward expressions are suspect at best or should be forbidden--and they believe their position is biblical. It would seem that personality drives the exegesis.

Do you think personality drives opinions and exegesis on worship?