Where you are, you are

Often times we hold images in our minds from our harshest critic. 
We can be kind to others. We are shepherds and we are caretakers to others.
Although we are awfully hard on our own self. 
In reality both sides are battling it out inside of our heads. Imagine the old cartoons, where there is a devil (or a critic) on our left shoulder and an angel, (the caretaker) on our right shoulder. Both are whispering in our ears, what we need to hear. I challenge you to take five minutes to think through and write down what each voice has been telling you. If you are being honest with yourself, you will hear your own inner-critic first and then notice your strengths, second.
It is natural for our minds to be so focused on the negative first. Although, we can learn to control our thinking. The first step is practicing being mindful. Try being here-and-now. Do not focus on what you have to get done in two hours or later tonight. Be present with yourself, right here and right now. First this starts with breathing. 
Keep your eyes open but just focus on your senses rather than your thoughts. Notice the environment and what you are feeling, sensing, breathing, seeing around you ….
What are you seeing? Look only at one thing at a time. If you are thinking about what you are thinking and interpreting, you are no longer being mindful. Attempt to perceive without judgments, interpretations, evaluations or too much  input from the brain. You should have a running commentary of what you are experiencing right now.
 This exercise was meant to help us become more alert and aware of our surroundings. Mindfulness is “thinking about thinking.” We do have some control over our thinking.  We call this being “mindful.” Being mindful can help us de-stress and relax. Doing this meditation will help you be more present in the here and no, not distracted by thoughts and judgments. At work, be fully attentive and present at work. But then at home, be fully present with your family, instead of focusing on your thoughts and worries of work.
Next week, I will offer some more techniques to help you de-stress and be even more mindful.
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The Pushy Christian

This is a reflection and call to action about chapter 4 of UnChristian by David Kinnaman. This is a book every Christian should read, in my opinion. And I will soon have a reflection from each chapter up shortly.

This chapter is called “Get Saved!” It addresses the perception that Christians are insincere and concerned only with getting converts.

In today’s post-modern mindset, the journey of life is stressed as more important that the destination. The process over the product! So with that said there is a lot of skeptism about any religion, far more about which religion is right!

Outsiders sometimes relate Christians to salesmen. Not only are outsiders skeptical about which message is correct, but they also question Christian motive and intention for sharing and being pushy about sharing the Gospel mesage.

Thinking about the reading, here are some thoughts that stick out about what is happening and what we should be doing:

Instead of converting the masses, focus on the relationships.

Don’t do risky things. Be a good steward of the Gospel and remeber that how you choose to share the Gospel is as important as actaully doing it!

Respect people. Do not offend someone in order to share the Gospel!

The logical barrier is not the only one. In fact most people come to know Christ for emotional reasons, rather than logical ones. The point is let the Holy Spirit do the convincing and do not focus just on the logical reasonings.

Keep in mind a lot of people think they are “Christian” (becuase they live in America, their parents were, they went to church when they were young, or they truly have gotten off track…)
so be respectful of their pasts, get to know them. Talk through the issues. Where do they stand with Jesus Christ? Is it a shallow superfical belief or is there something really there?

Others have truly had a real expireince with the church. It might have been a negative expireince and they have left the church completely. They have formed conclusions are really skeptical of anything you are going to say. They were searching and did not find the truth or anything worthwhile at church. This should be a wake-up call to the church!
If we are missing these oppurtunities, then how well are we truly loving and sharing God’s love?

It is time to stop living self-righteously as a church. Time to stop. Open up the doors to the outsiders and listen to them!

It should not be about a mere conversion, but about full transformation. Not just a “get out of Hell free,” but discipleship and growth in lifestyle.

Think, Love, Listen.
Let outsiders think about the Gospel. Love them. Listen to them. Build a real relationship and not just a conversion. Make visible the invisible, God and his love!

What is essential to Christian faith?

Or better yet simply to the to Gospel message?

I have been learning a great deal that a lot of things in the Christian faith are non-essentials.
My question is what are the absolute essentials?
What must a person believe to get into Heaven?
What must a church agree on in order for it to be Evangelical/Protestant?
What are the “essentials” that Augustine speaks of and are they the same today?
What are the major Agreements?

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Okay, that is a lot of questioning. That is enough for one day. What do you think?
And yes I understand that the answers to each of those questions are different….

postmodern sympathies





Michael Patton in his Reclaiming the Mind Ministries blog, Parchment and Pen, wrote a very intriguing blog recently called “My Heretical Postmodern Sympathies”. I wanted to share with you. And as usual, I have added some of my own commentary below:

“I believe that the internet will be seen as the catalyst to postmodernism in the same way the printing press was to modernism.”
“The age of communication has changed everything.”
“The sheltered reality that prevented postmodernism is no longer a luxury of any community.”
“My postmodern sympathies do not affect reality, but they may cause me to approach things differently. My postmodern sympathies do not change the Gospel, but they do affect the way I present it.”

Even I, as young as I am can testify to the fact that our society and culture has changed a lot due to the power of communicating via the Internet. I grew up on a dial-up connection in a VERY small town of WV. The only people I really knew where at church and school I had a few friends that were neighbors, but most of them were too old for me. The dial-up connection was slow. I did not get on it much really. it was neat to look at Yahoo and play games or check email every once in a while.
But today I live in a suburban neighborhood with a high speed cable connection. I access Y! more than once a day. I check my email compulsively. And I like to blog, IM, and stay connected to my friends through a ton of means online whether email, messaging, blogging, instant messaging, twittering, or other ways. I feel like I know a lot of people pretty well simply through my online interactions with them. Not to mention how much these websites and interactions online increase and benefit my already existing real-life relationships. It is extremely different from my childhood dial-up connection before Facebook, MySpace, and all the other sites I visit regularly.

Culture is changing a lot. I have an interest in studying the changing culture. and I also have similar convictions that Michael speaks about in his blog. We are no longer naive and sheltered to “all of those people ‘out there.’ ” We know that they exist and we all know and have relationships with them. I sympathize this way too.