Pope Francis I on ‘the Cross of Christ’

via Pastor Dan’s blog:

From Pope Francis I’s first homily:

Pope Francis praying at Rome's Santa Maria Maggiore basilica“We must always walk in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, always trying to live in an irreprehensible way,” he said in a heartfelt homily of a parish priest, loaded with biblical references and simple imagery.

“When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly,” he said.

“We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord,” he said.

He said those who build on worldly values instead of spiritual values were like children building sand castles on a beach. “Then everything comes crashing down,” he said.

More HERE.

Sounds like things are already off to a GREAT start!

Some new books

Thank you to the anonymous donor of a few new books that showed up in my mailbox yesterday!!  (Well, I hope they were for me and not sent to my address on accident!  lol!)  It was very gracious of you, kind person!   Thanks so much I really appreciate it!

Here is what they are:

Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (IVP).

Gordon Fee’s New Testament Exegesis (WJK).

Gordon Fee’s Paul, the Spirit and the People of God (Baker).

Jurgen Moltman’s The Trinity and the Kingdom (Fortress).

So… pretty much , nothing less than the BEST!!  🙂

on discipleship

I have been thinking about discipleship the last few days.   I seems to me that even this issue is not immune to the problems of consumerism within the church that we might read about in a Eugene Peterson book (it is one of his biggest pet peeves).

What I have been thinking about is just the overall nature of discipleship and what it means for the Christian life.

Speaking of Eugene Peterson, if I may borrow a title from one of his books, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society

(I haven’t read the book but the title seems pretty self evident)

…even though this book was written in 1989, over 20 years ago…

(Dear Pastor, do you think you might be willing to look it over and consider revising it or bringing new insight?)

I think we are still neck deep in the miry clay of attempting to create disciples almost overnight, in an instant.

If that isn’t the problem, I have been noticing lately all the (f)ads pushing the latest in discipleship material that can best be used to disciple people and congregations, as if there was some formula, some “get-discipled-quick scheme.”   Now, I don’t want to knock these materials too hard as I know Christians and congregations, can use all sorts of differing things to aid in their spiritual growth and maturity in the Lord and in the faith.   But I sm slightly concerned that they often encourage wrong thinking about what it means to be in discipleship to Jesus and the dynamics involved.

I can’t pretend to know all the answers but I think I do know that discipleship can’t be done quickly (and maybe no one is even saying this).  It takes time.  A long time.  A whole life long time.  Discipleship to Jesus is something that when we begin, it never ends.  We will always be learning and growing and maturing in the Lord, even into eternity.  Just as it takes a long time to grow up and become adults (sadly, some never become adults), it takes a long time to grow in our maturity and discipleship to Jesus.

But I think to what I wanted to share is that discipleship isn’t just found in study or devotional material.  It is also, if not more so, found in the life long everyday living of our lives both as individuals and in community.  Discipleship can happen at picnics or at the dinner table.  It can happen on the back porch or patio, down at the lake or at the local coffee shop or when out fishing alone or with friends or the kids, just living life.  Discipleship is best done in the living out our lives each day with one another in the every-day-ness of life, good or bad, better or worse, up or down, forwards, backwards and on and on.  It can be in being neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, friends.  It is done in living life together, over the long haul.  Over the long years of our lives we become better disciples (at least we should).  It does take some work, some effort on our part, but it doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over life.


Eugene Peterson on teaching how to Pray

he writes in his book The Pastor…. (142):

Up until then I had concluded that prayer was not something for which there was much of a market.  Wanting to serve my congregation on their terms, I kept my prayers to myself and did what I was asked.  Marilyn’s “Would you teach me to pray?” was a breakthrough.  I reflected on the irony: the work that I was most equipped for, that I most wanted to do, what most pastors for most of our twenty centuries of working in congregations expected to do and did, was not expected of me.  Until Marilyn asked.

An inner resolve began forming within me: I was not going to wait to be asked anymore.  In the secularizing times in which I am living, God is not taken seriously.  God is peripheral.  God is nice (or maybe not so nice) but not at the center.  When people want to help with their parents or children or emotions, they do not ordinarily see themselves as wanting help with God.  But if I am going to stay true to my vocation as a pastor, I can’t let the “market” determine what I do.  I will find ways to pray with and for people and teach then to pray usually quietly and often subversively when they don’t know I am doing it.  But I’m not going to wait to be asked. I am a pastor.

Last I checked this is called intentional discipleship (or perhaps a kind of spiritual direction) and it is the responsibility of pastors (and probably most Christians) to engage their congregations and or brothers and sisters in the Lord in this action of intentional discipleship (it is part of loving one another), which is not on their terms, but in the leading of the Spirit and with an eye to what is needed to help people grow in their relationship and understanding of God.   Obviously intentional discipleship is a process that takes time as does anything else and of course we should operate in grace and mercy but at the same time should be done with some degree of purpose and intentionality!

Thanks Eugene Peterson for this memoir!