Monday, May 19, 2014

TED Talks and Tim's Thoughts

My inspiration for running these days is the TED Radio Hour on NPR. I stream them from Stitcher Radio on my smart phone. The quality, precision, and variety of topics has no rival. I run and learn about love as a chemical reaction at the base of my skull. I jog and consider the kinship of belief and doubt. I race and ponder the power of storytelling, origins of beauty, and abuses of wealth.

In fact, TED Talks have become so addictive that I watch them while folding laundry, doing dishes, driving my car, and preparing sermons. I've learned about sleep deprivation, collaboration, false causes of obesity, and the psychology of shame while checking off chores from my weekly list. TED Talks have made me faster, smarter, and far more productive.

Of course, I don't always know what to do with the information.This is the curse of the Google Era: Knowing outpaces being and doing.  I now know about experiments with monkeys and currency, but that doesn't stop me from frittering money away on milkshakes. I now know about the havoc backlit screens reap on sleep patterns, but it doesn't keep me going to bed with my Kindle Fire.

Information does not result in transformation because information is impersonal.

TED talks to me, but his active listening skills are lackluster. TED gives me information about parallel universes, but he does not comfort me when my reality comes crashing down.  TED is a savant in hard sciences, but an idiot in personal counseling. TED spreads ideas, but he cannot change a heart.
So at the end of all the talks, I am left wanting. I don't know what to do with the new ideas. I'm not sure how they fit into my personal life, home, or profession of pastoral ministry. I can regurgitate interesting factoids at small group gatherings, but so can any Dick, Jane, or Harry with a smart phone. What makes an idea worth spreading is not its novelty or scientific intrigue, but its ability to transform.

Since TED Talks have inspired better running and housekeeping, I will continue to listen. As for my dream of braving the TEDx stage in the near future, I'll defer. The weekly TIM Talks I give at my church more than satisfy. For God's word can change a heart.

Picture submitted for my TED profile.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Healing on Hold

Politics won't heal this place:
Their restricted range of motion
can't change the heart, just stirs emotion.

Religion won't heal this place:
Its restrictive way of living
can't change the soul, just buys forgiving.

Education won't heal this place:
Its standardized mode of operation
can't change the mind, just gives information

Medication won't heal this place:
The prescribed drug of the day
can't change our mortality, just slows decay.

Health and wealth and Hollywood won't heal this place:
Their excessive and endless voices
can't change our suffering, just add choices.

Prophets and poets and pastors won't heal this place:

They create another world with verbs and verses
for God to invigorate with changed hearts and souls and minds.

There God makes mortal man eternal.
There God puts suffering to sleep.
There healing begins.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Third Person - An Interaction with the Holy Spirit

Both my congregation and denomination have struggled to articulate the role of the Holy Spirit. God the Father and Jesus the Son receive our prayers and praise and thanks and holidays. We leave a dash of speculation, ounce of skepticism, and pinch of curiosity for the Third Person of the Trinity. I suspect this grieves Him (Eph. 4:30).

I've wanted to stir up greater awareness of the Holy Spirit. I've looked for a way to celebrate Pentecost without turning in my denominational loyalty card and "going Charismatic." In two words, I've wanted "spiritual unction." And I may be headed in the right direction.

File:Žeimių bažnyčia 3.JPGOn Resurrection Sunday, I started a seven-week independent study on the Holy Spirit called Third Person. The curriculum grew out of several books and biblical reflection on the role of the Third Person. The material broke down neatly into seven, Spirit-focused topics. Each week I explore the Bible, expound the topic, and exercise the relationship. For example, the last week I considered The Great Succession: how the Members of the Trinity line up.

The Holy Spirit descended fifty days after Jesus' death (Acts 2). God's Son sent the Third Person of the Trinity to empower the church in her witness. The Spirit fell on believers, and they spoke in tongues. The Spirit filled believers, and they became bold. The Spirit united believers, and they shared freely and enjoyed peace.

The Trinity provides a beautiful picture of love and submission and shared responsibility. Throughout the New Testament, Father, Son, and Spirit are linked together in name (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14) and redemptive function (Romans 8; Ephesians 1:3-15; 4:4-6; Titus 3:4-8). God is Father, Creator, and Covenant-maker. Jesus is Son and King and Savior, sent by God. And the Spirit is Comforter, Guide, Truth-teller, and Power-giver, sent by God and Son (John 14:26; 15:26).

The Spirit placed third in the line of succession, but this does not make Him third-tier. In fact, He embraces His role of directing our attention to Father and Son, like a move soundtrack would draw us further into a film.
But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. (John 16:12-15, the Message)