Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How Do We Commune with Memories That Bring Life?

I grew up in the Deep South, and it was common for people to talk about the Civil War as if it was a current event rather than an event well deep into our nation's history.  Granted for some old timers, it had not been that long ago, and they and certainly their parents had felt its influence.

The memory of this war produced a wide range of effects.  A person could have nostalgia for a romantic version of the South that never existed, and others a sense of inferiority with a need to prove their worth to a larger nation.  

I am not wise enough to know the place of such memory, nor how they should affect our present.  In fact, as a nation we are not alone in this behavior.  Other older nations can often hold onto and live in the presence of memories centuries old.  

These memories do exist and we are wont to continue to live in them.  For not only do the positive memories our life and ancestors shape us, those memories that are less than pleasant often force us to live in communion with the painful and negative.  

Memory is powerful for it enables us to commune with the past, and then transform us into the likeness we commune with.  

Knowing this truth, I must admit its power and look for ways to commune with a past that will shape me into the likeness of Christ.  

Not being wise enough to be the doctor of my own soul, I must submit to something larger, wiser, and older than me, proven to produce results in those who live in Her memories.  

The Church is this giver of memory that can shape me into the likeness of Christ.  

Sharing Her memories through the events of Her year, and remembering the lives of Her members, who were transformed within Her, brings a confidence that I too can be transformed in the likeness of Her Head.  

Imbibing Her memory is not a trip of nostalgia remembering the good old days but a participation in events that have become our own and bring us life.  

We are shaped by memory--whether good or bad.  Yet in the life of the Church, we can choose to adopt new memories that can make us whole and grant a new life.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

9 Ways to Stay Awake During Church: From Sleepy to Sober

Below you will find a link to my latest post on OCN's Blog the Sounding.

Originally, I put this together as a ten minute talk for our local youth group.  They got to be my guinea pigs, and no one fell asleep during the talk so I took it as a good sign.

9 Ways to Stay Awake During Church

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Are We Creating a Present for a Positive Future?

Think back to childhood and dredge up some good memories.  For me, my best memories as a kid have nothing to do without getting things.  In fact, I can't remember many birthday or Christmas gifts, but I do remember moments.  

I remember being in the front yard shooting cans out of the air with my dad.  I remember the mountain vacations with no TV to entertain, but being left to wander around the cabin and explore with my parents.  We bumped into old-timers with crazy stories, panned for gold, and rafted in whitewater.  

I rarely remember a lecture or instructions the adults in my life gave (not that they were not important), but I remember experiences:  a Sunday School teacher taking our class on a prison tour, a high school coach letting me hang at his house, or my father shuffling me through plowed fields looking for Indian relics.  

I am sure the lectures and teaching shaped my soul, but it's the meaningful experiences that let me slip back in time.  

Memory allows us to commune with the past to shape us for the future.

This is incredibly important if you have any influence with kids.  If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, youth worker, etc., are you creating memories?  Will those memories help shape the future?

I won't stop lecturing my kids, but I wonder if the experiences we have will create anchors for their future life, constantly tugging their soul to the good and true and beautiful no matter where their path leads.  

How can we be intentional about creating lasting positive memories in the children we influence?

Theron Mathis

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Journeys of Faith - A Review

Recently I received a copy of Journeys of Faith: Evangelicalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism.  It was written by Robert Plummer, a professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville.

Journeys presents the stories of conversion from one segment of Christianity to another.  These are not jumps between denominations, but leaps from the Protestant Evangelical world to Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anglicanism with one story in reverse of a cradle Catholic moving into Evangelicalism.

The book was setup in a wonderful format.  A person presented his story, then another would kindly refute the reasons given for leaving the former tradition, and the story conclude with a rebuttal on the part of the convert.

The arguments were usually vigorous, but done in a spirit of love, so you didn't feel like you were on a religious O'Reilly show.

As one who left Evangelicalism, I felt a kinship with most of the stories, but felt the refutations never got to the heart of the convert's dissatisfaction.  The issue of authority and Sola Scriptura continued to crop up in each story, and the response never seemed quite adequate to address this issue.

This was an enjoyable read, and humanized rather than demonized those who sincerely question their tradition in favor of another.

While I don't think anyone will be swayed to one side or another, it does open a window to a world that believers in the Evangelical world never consider.

Plummer did a great job, and provided a starting point for future dialogue, and gave a measure of common ground for all who hold to a robust Trinitarian faith.


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