Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bodily Worship!

Romans 12:1-2
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I have long loved this passage from when I first learned it in high school.  Back then and throughout college,
it served as a reminder to "not be conformed" but "transformed".  I remember a 90s style t-shirt that I wore often as a reminder, it read: "Against The Flow".  Again challenging me as a teen that being different, making different choices due to my faith was a "good and acceptable and perfect", God's will for my life.

Now in my 30s and in my 12th year as pastor, I am drawn to the first verse of Romans 12, "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual act of worship."  Again as in my teens and 20s this verse stood as a reminder for how I used my body particularly when it came to sexuality and abstinence.

But now I am thinking in terms of worship and bodies.  My DMin study involves exploring the possible connections between Multiple Intelligences theory and worship planning and leadership.

According to Romans 12:1 presenting our bodies to God is a spiritual act of worship.  My experience of worship in the churches that I have been associated with has been very much head and heart.  Faith and worship were well thought out.  Sermons followed a logical sequence.  Hymns fit the theme of the day.  Prayers engaged the mind with images and poetry.  And worship sought to inspire awe, wonder, passion, love for God.

Through my recent experiences in other traditions, other styles of worship, other forms of prayer, that I have begun to wonder: why only head and heart?!

Multiple Intelligences theory (according to its original thinker Howard Gardner) offers 7 intelligences or said simply 7 ways that people are smart.  Gardner explored brain research as well as multiple cultures to determine these 7 intelligences:


He says that people engage the world in these 7 ways, we learn through our experiences in these 7 ways, and we make decisions in these 7 ways.

My thesis is to apply these 7 intelligences to the design, planning, and leading of worship so that the worshiping body will be fully-engaged! Heart, head, hands, voices, feet, thoughts, relationships, images, songs all united in our praise of Almighty God.  Therefore, we will be doing as the Apostle Paul challenges us, "to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

God is our REFUGE and STRENGTH

Ok, so this week I'll get on my "Soap Box" about a phrase often used as a word of comfort and
encouragement that is a MISQUOTATION of the Bible, and I think a phrase that causes more heartache instead of comfort.

"God won't give you more than you can bear." NOT TRUE I say.
I wish I could erase that phrase from all of our minds and off of all of our tongues. It is just NOT TRUE!!

It is a misquotation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says,
"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."
If we are being literal, then the Bible says, "[God] will not let you be TESTED beyond your strength..." Being TESTED is very different than "giving you more than you can bear".

Some may say the translation matters, does it?  Follow this link to see MANY English translations:

"God won't give you more than you can bear." is a terrible MISUSE of Scripture.  And just plain BAD pastoral care.  Think with me about a few situations:

  • Child abuse is more than any child (any one of us) can bear.
  • Spouse abuse is more than one can bear.
  • The death of a child is more that one can bear.
  • Addiction is more than one can bear. (The 1st step of the 12 steps of AA is to admit being powerless aka unable to bear it!)
  • the list goes on...
No instead the Good News of the Gospel is that WE DO NOT BEAR THESE THINGS ALONE!  God is with us.  Christ on the cross bears them with us (and even he cried, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!").  The Christian community surrounds us with prayer, with compassion, with physical embrace, with the very arms of the Body of Christ.  In our times of trouble and difficulty, WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Again return 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Apostle Paul's offer of Good News is that in times of trial and temptation, God PROVIDES A WAY OUT!  God is WITH us and PROVIDING for us in our difficult times.  There is a WAY OUT.  That is Good News.  Our job is to watch for God's way out.

So do me a favor, never say again, "God won't give you more than you can bear." 
Instead say, 
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear..." Psalm 46:1-2
Ok, I'll step off my "Soap Box".