Friday, February 23, 2007

Where is Brady?

There are times in life when it is time to unplug from the race of life. Each day has a built in time of rest. The sun disappears, the sky darkens and our bodies grow weary. We rest. Each week there is typically a day that is spent away from work. Each year there is at least some time set aside for a vacation or a ceasing of activity.

After many years of ministry and ongoing continuing education, it was time for me to unplug. Working every weekend and being “on call” constantly can wear one down. That is not to mention life as a parent and husband. My life is no different from anyone else's. Many people stay very busy.

I do rest at night. I do very well to take a day each week to stop work. However, it is time for me to completely unplug and retreat into the presence of God. I have needed extended time of prayer and reflection. Donna and I learned at the Pastor Retreat Network that a “retreat” or a “sabbatical” is much different from a “vacation.” By definition a “vacation” is an attempt to stop work activity in order to return to work with greater strength. A retreat is an intensification of activity by intentionally withdrawing from daily life. A retreat focuses activity on solitude and spiritual discipline to draw closer with God.

So, what am I doing? I am resting. I am watching every sunrise. I am praying without ceasing. I am conversing with God and listening. I am journaling. I am reading classic books of Christianity by Bonhoefer, Keirkegaard, and Guyon. I am watching the sun set. I am spending time alone with God in nature. I am walking and talking with Donna. I am writing and working on a book. I am listening to other people preach.

Life can get the best of you. God wants all of you. Maybe it would do you well to take an afternoon off from work and pray. Maybe you might rest better by turning off the television and sitting and reading some Psalm like Psalm 40 or 27. Maybe you might do better at work if you tried to smile and pray for everyone you met, served, called, drove past, or ate with. God wants to live with you. Do you want to live with God?

Thanks for granting me time to actively retreat with God. Thanks for praying for me. To give you a window here are pictures I took on the property of Donna’s parents in the South Texas Hill Country. This was one of many sunrises I watched develop in the midst of prayer with God.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Old Friend

I ran across someone I had long since forgotten. This was someone about whose life I never really knew much. Frank Laubach is well known as an educator and is especially remembered for his work in the Philippines to promote literacy. He taught illiterate people the alphabet and in a matter of hours they were able to teach others the alphabet. This is how Frank is remembered as a master educator. He wrote countless books and is frequently cited in educational literature.

However, people do not know about the private side of Frank’s life. He was also a deeply Christian man. The richness of his devotion to God was revealed in his very active prayer life and also in his missionary work to the Philippine people.

What most interests me about Frank Laubauch is a very brief pamphlet he wrote on prayer. It seems that Frank began experimenting with keeping God ever on his heart and living in a state of constant prayer. His experiment grew out of a frustration that he had been a minister for about fourteen years, yet he did not have the kind of prayer life or relationship with God that he felt he should have. In a matter of a few months, Frank began attempting to contemplate (think about) God at least one second out of every minute throughout the entire day. It seems like a ridiculous venture, but one that comes out of a deep desire to have relationship with God. It seems like an impossible venture, but it is an adventure that, if you move past what seems like legalistic second-counting, actually describes an obvious and abiding relationship with God. I encourage you to read this short pamphlet (click here).

Even more, I challenge you to give it a try and experiment with ceaseless prayer. One of my favorite passages is written by a guy named Paul in a letter he wrote to the ancient town of Thessalonica in Greece.

Rejoice always,

Pray without ceasing,

Give Thanks in all circumstances

For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

The old friend that we really need to reconnect with is God. How is it that people claim to be "Christians" or disciples or followers of Jesus and yet do not spend their lives in friendship with Him? Prayer and conversation with God is maybe something we do at meal time or hear at church. There is an old friend we need to reconnect with.

Friday, February 02, 2007

NFL Opposes Christians on Super Bowl

This is the weekend of the "Big Game" known as the. . . Super Bowl. I hope that I do not get sued writing about this. My friend Scott K told me about an article that ran in an Indiana paper. The news article dealt with threats from the National Football League upon a church party.

It seems that the church planned a Super Bowl outreach party, complete with snacks, drinks, and big screen televisions all held in the safe environment of a church. However, no place is "safe" from lawyers of the NFL. Since the church was charging for snacks, the NFL threatened to shut the party down. Lawyers of the NFL asserted copyright laws on this Baptist church sending a FedEX letter to the pastor demanding the party be canceled.

So, the church decided to remove the charge for the snacks. The hardball NFL still would not allow the party because the screen had to be 55 inches or less. The church was forced to cancel the party.

In the article, the NFL also took issue with the church's use of testimonies from NFL players and coaches. The NFL's hard line three-point stance against Christianity can be nothing less than hypocrisy.

Take a bar as an example. I cannot imagine how the NFL can allow bars and clubs and parties across the country to go without citation, and show zero tolerance in their office upon a church. Bars with fan are okay. Christians fans are not okay. Actually, the NFL is lining up in an anti-Christian offensive formation that should infuriate Christians, players, and fans. I wonder what will happen when people make their voices heard? If you can figure out a way to contact the NFL Commissioner please let me know.