“Pray Without Ceasing…” [Awkward Christian Signs]

Pray Without Ceasing

I was talking recently to some friends about the nature of prayer, and what it might mean to pray without ceasing (a topic that might merit some reflection on this blog in the near future), but while we were talking, some of them pointed me to this nearby sign...I'm sure the sign is merely a product of careless inattention to what is being said... (which is bad enough in itself) BUT it also stands as a powerful sort of reminder of the many shortcuts we take in our Western Christianity, and how we reduce the Gospel to fit our convenience.  Such shortcuts were a key impetus in John and I … [Read more...]

Work, Generosity and the Schooling of Desire

church-property-012

Mike Bowling, pastor here at Englewood Christian Church, has been preaching through the 10 commandments this year, spending 3 weeks on each commandment, one looking at the Old Testament context, one looking at what Jesus said, and one looking at that commandment in the New Testament and beyond...This past Sunday was the third week of the series on "You shall not steal," and the text was Eph. 4:28: He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. There are a bunch of … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: Against Religion

Falling_Church

 The thing that I have been most struck by as I have read the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) repeatedly over the last few weeks, is how ambivalent it is toward what we call religion (or even at times, the text seems specifically anti-religious).  I'm thinking here especially of Chapter 6 (v 1-18) and chapter 7 ( v. 15-29).One of the shortcuts that "Industrialized" Western Christian has taken over the last century or more is to make an increasingly big deal about the weekly (or bi-weekly, etc) worship service: about exactly the sorts of things that Jesus instructs against -- worship … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: A couple of thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount

A couple of thoughts have popped into my mind the last few days as I read and reflected on the SOTM...First, John's decision to give up his iPhone reminded me of a similar choice by my friend Ragan Sutterfield: In Praise of Single Function Devices Ragan writes here: I’ve been wearing a watch recently.  It’s nice—it tells me the time.  I’ve also been carrying a pocket calendar.  It has dates with space to put in appointments and a few blank pages for notes.  I also have a phone I’ve been using.  It has internet access if I absolutely need it, but a painful pared down version—it is not “sm … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Simple-Weight

I was delighted to get a copy of poet Tania Runyan's collection Simple Weight last week, which fortuitously is structured around the backbone of the Beatitudes.Another collection of Runyan's poems, A Thousand Vessels was recently named a 2012 Englewood Honor Book (as one of the best books of the year).Simple Weight is going to make an excellent companion to my reading daily through the Sermon on the Mount, and I hope to share a few of the poems here between now and Easter.I begin today with the opening poem of the collection, one whose title are the opening words of the first … [Read more...]

Jesus Manifesto (and other alternate versions of the SOTM)

Oster-JM

When John proposed the idea of reading the Sermon on the Mount every day through Lent, one of the first things that came to my mind was the paraphrase of the SOTM that my friend Ken Oster wrote a number of years ago entitled "Jesus Manifesto," (not to be confused with the later book of the same name by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola).After a fair bit of digging, I finally found my one page version of Ken's Jesus Manifesto, which I am honored to share with you here (and since it has been placed in the public domain, you are welcome to share it as you see fit): Jesus Manifesto by Ken Oster … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: Sermon on the Mount #2

This morning I read just past the end of the Sermon on the Mount, where it says that the crowds were amazed at Jesus's teaching because, unlike the scribes, Jesus taught as one who had authority. I almost took that as an invitation to go back and re-read the sermon...this time with feeling!One thing I struggle against is that the Sermon on the Mount is so familiar, and it's full of so many well-worn phrases -- light of the world, turn the other cheek, go the second mile, lilies and sparrows, pearls before swine, do unto others, the house built on the rock -- that they have become … [Read more...]


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