There are 168 hours in a week. We spend one of them in worship. What about the other 167?
The Antidote for Toxic Religion
God For Us
It is not just the name of our series, it is what we long to hear.
At its best, religion is able to connect us to God in ways that proclaim
There is nothing you are going to do to make God love you more...or less.
At its best, religion helps us embody and extend the unconditional love of God. But the truth is, religion is not always at its best. In fact, many people wonder if it is the source of much of what is wrong with the world.
There is bad religion- and then there is toxic religion- and there needs to be an antidote for both.
A friend recently challenged me to write a Thank You note everyday for two months. I liked the idea so much that I challenged the congregation to "40 Days of Thank You!". Its a simple concept: 1 Thank You note per day for 40 Days.
The concept is as powerful as it is simple. Gratitude is the foundational virtue for a growing soul. Practicing gratitude opens us up to the provisions and grace of God that are all around us. The more we practice, the more we see. The more we see, the larger our hearts grow and the more we are able to allow God's grace to flow in and through us.
How about it- are you up for this challenge? If you started on Monday, it would take you to New Year's Day. Let me know if you take this on and I hope you'll share your experience of "40 Days of Thank You!"
She is the best-selling author of three books, her speaking events sell out within hours, she is interviewed in TIME magazine, Oprah Winfrey and even on the cover of this month's Costco Connections (the true test that you have arrived!).
I think it is more than hype. Brené's research has sparked a global conversation about what it means to live wholeheartedly, with courage, vulnerability and creativity. More than self-help, this is the necessary work of the soul and people are often amazed at how well her work integrates with the wisdom, insight and teaching of the scriptures.
That is why I'm excited that we have several opportunities to explore the discoveries of Brené Brown and expand our own understanding of the abundant, wholehearted life that Christ offers.
You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both
The Daring Way
Beyond what you can get from just her books and talks, Brené put together an intensive training workshop that digs deep into the personal work necessary to embody wholehearted living. She spent time personally training and certifying instructors who could present her material- people like my friend, Rich Gantenbein. He is bringing that workshop to New Hope on October 9-10 (he'll also be preaching on October 11).
Its going to be a powerful weekend. Bring a friend, your spouse and even your entire LIFE Group! The cost is $35 and you can register online or at church.
Have you heard about best-selling author, Brené Brown? She is a researcher who listens to stories- lots of them. Over years of listening to people's lives, emerged recurring themes of guilt and shame, scarcity and vulnerability, empathy and creativity, authenticity, whole-heartedness and courage. What Brené heard surprised her, even frightened her. If what she was hearing was true, it meant she needed to make some changes in her own life if she was going to experience whole-hearted living.
Brené began to share her findings and her own struggles with change, first in a TED Talk, then in books. It struck a nerve. Her TED talks are some of the most watched in history. Her books* have become best-sellers. She has been consulted by such disparate groups as the Pentagon (in trying to crack the code of PTSD) and Pixar (releasing and enhancing creativity).
Have you ever noticed that the Bible is full of stories, too? You don’t have to listen too long, before you also begin to hear some common themes about shame and guilt, scarcity and vulnerability, empathy, authenticity, creativity and wholehearted living. Some of these go by other names, but the underlying lessons are remarkably consistent. I believe our communities and our churches would benefit from and people’s lives would be changed by, integrating Brown’s insights and the truths of scripture.
It’s not easy growing old. I know, because I’m doing it. People sometimes ask how long it takes me to write a sermon. I tell them it depends on the topic and the week. I can tell you this sermon took me 60 year. I turned 60 this summer. I am officially an ‘old guy.’ Granted, my daughters have been telling me this for much longer. This year, the facts are on their side.
Here's a question: "What's the best part of getting older? What's the worst? I'd love to get your thoughts this week. It's all part of our series this fall, "Growing Wise in the Seasons of Life."
We are using scenes from films to help highlight the issues of getting older- through all stages of life. The first week was "Big" and last week, Erik showed a scene from "Second Hand Lions". This week we'll see a scene from "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and the issue is "aging".
What are the fears that are stirred up by getting older? What are the benefits? While you're thinking about your answers, here is a passage on "Old Age" from Frederick Buechner:
We started our annual "Moving Pictures" series on Sunday with a clip from the movie, "Big." The theme for this summer is "Growing Wise in the Seasons of Life", and we are using movies that talk about growing older.
There are seasons in life just as there are seasons in nature. As in nature, we don't control the seasons of life. All we can do is respond and tend to the work of each season. "Big" is a movie where someone desperately wanted to be in a different season of life- and then got a glimpse of what he would have to give up to stay there.
Do you know what season you are in?
There are seasons of waiting, healing, gathering and losing. Some are in seasons of loss, saying 'good-bye', saying 'hello' or having to say, "I'm sorry'." Some are in seasons of needing to learn new things and others are having to unlearn things that no longer work. The seasons of life aren't always pleasant or what we would choose, but they are nonetheless the season we have been given. When we treat a particular season as a problem that needs to be solved so we can get back to "normal", we miss not just the work of that season, but the presence of God. Another quote we used reminds us that,
Glad you're here! My name is Russ Kane and I have the privilege of being the pastor of an amazing church called, New Hope Presbyterian Church. It's a place where people "Find a Home, Build a Life and Make a Difference." This blog is a journal of our life together. Welcome!