Monday, February 22, 2010

Searching for Identity

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray," Luke 11:1a

A few weeks ago I had a discussion with a great group of people that meet together to help each other through our first year in seminary. On this particular day, we were discussing prayer: how we pray, how we ought to pray, and what helps us deepen our prayer lives.

We talked about the difficulties we each have in prayer, the things that we can do to intentionally ready ourselves to spend time in prayer and the resources we use to compliment our prayers. Maybe the most striking thing to me was our discussion on how we pray when we don't know what to say: whether it be hurting, stressed, fatigued, confused, angry, sad, etc. We talked about the Book of Common Prayer as a resource to use in those times.

Additionally, we discussed what a blessing it is to have something to pray when we don't know how to pray that was prayed by Christ. How often do we recite the words of the Lord's Prayer without thinking about what the words mean? I know I've failed to recognize the enormous comfort of having that prayer to pray when we don't know what or how to pray.

Take some time. Focus on the words. Explore what it means to say them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The plank in my eye

For those who don't know me well, I'm very much a twitter-er. If you'd like to see what I'm up to on Twitter, click here. Over the past year and a half, I've enjoyed the community of twitter with friends and strangers. I've gotten to know people in ministry, in sports, and made connections with people that I otherwise, never would have come to know. Long story short, I really enjoy Twitter. I've had very few "bad experiences" with Twitter, but I'll share one here.

But first, one of my biggest peeves on twitter is the misspelling of words. The most common ones I see are people using 'loose' (simply defined as "not tight") instead of 'lose' (simply defined as "not win"), and 'definately' (which is less of a word mix up and more of a misspelling of definitely). Anyway, I get more irritated with this than I'd like to admit, and I'm sure I've misspelled my fair amount of words on twitter, but I notice other's mistakes and it seems to wear on me... Ok, now for the experience.

Last week I was corrected after posting a tweet with some false information. I meant well, and mostly did it out of haste (I was in the library studying and on little break from academics). At first it was an innocent exchange asking for some clearing up, then it became the topic of a blog post. My first reaction: embarrassed and angry. I was glad that I was able to learn something, but felt a bit humiliated by the fact that it was dealt with publicly. Granted, I may be the only one that saw the connection, but I still felt shamed.

But the more I thought about it, the more I became convicted of my own rush to see mistakes in the tweets of others. A certain teaching of Christ came to mind: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:2

This is the verse comes just before the well-known 'plank in your own eye' verse. Christ teaches a valuable lesson: judging others usually only results in hypocrisy. Maybe Christians could grow from accepting that mistakes happen and judgment often only brings damaged feelings and broken relationships. Instead of making it public, correct mistakes as lovingly as possible.

PS: I'm not angry with the person who corrected me, I'm actually grateful. However, I do wish that it hadn't been so much of a spectacle for others to see. I'm grateful for learning of my mistake and for the opportunity to try to correct my own problem with expecting too much from others in an arena of informal sharing. Finally, the person never referenced me or my mistake in their blog post. They too, were reacting to a common mistake that they see and mine just happened to be the catalyst that sparked the blog entry. Again, there are no hard feelings anymore, I was just aware of my own feelings and how I might cause similar feelings if (and when) I correct others.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Party Bus Part 2

Something happened last week with blogger while I was trying to post, so you only got half of the Party Bus story. To read the first part, click here. Here is the second half:

So the driver told me he was taking all of these students to a frat party 20 miles away from campus in another town and would not be coming back until the early hours of the morning. He was apologetic and chuckled a bit.

Not being a partier and knowing I had to be awake for a lecture at 8:30am the next day, I started thinking of how to get home. While texting friends that could potentially pick me up, I was fielding questions from the very amused undergraduate students on the bus. They were curious, and we all saw the humor in the situation. To their credit, they were quite friendly: they invited me a number of times to "party with them." I politely declined and carried on a conversation with one guy about where he was from and his career plans, all the while getting messages back from a friend trying to figure out how to get me home. Well, we arrived at the party, I stood outside and waited for my friend who arrived 30 minutes later and in an hour, I was home.

Here is my favorite exchange with one of the passengers:
Random Guy: You should just go with it and party with us!
Me: How long are y'all planning on partying?
Guy: 'Til you go to sleep.
Me: (looks at non-existent watch on wrist) Well you'd better hurry up then.

So what can we learn from this as the church and Christians? People are lost in this world, searching for a place to belong, often times showing up somewhere feeling completely out of place (like I did). If we treat them in a way that communicates that they don't belong, they'll move on to somewhere else. We must seek to include people (just as the party-goers did for me), instead of judging them and pointing out the fact that they don't fit in.

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:8-9