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Call to Worship: Greatest Commandment

Call to Worship: Greatest Commandment

This call to worship is based on Matthew 22:34-40 with a nod to Psalm 1. Which commandment in the law is greatest? Love your God. And the second? Love your neighbor as yourself. Love with all your heart. Love with all your soul. Love with all your mind. Love with all your strength. On these…
Be Still!

Be Still!

(Originally published in Purpose Magazine, July 2015 edition)
I was driving home from a quick visit to Pennsylvania trying to make it in time for an evening concert at Eastern Mennonite University. A number of my students were performing and I wanted to be there for them. The traffic was heavy. I had to drive a bit above the speed limit, hoping not to be stopped for speeding. 
In order to keep up my speed, I had to weave frantically in and out of traffic, something I normally wouldn’t do. My shoulders tensed up and I found myself gripping the steering wheel harder. I was a bundle of nerves by the time I finally arrived home. I made it in time to enjoy the concert. 
Did I say “enjoy” the concert? Eventually I did, but I continually felt my body tensing up as I tried to relax and savor the beauty of Handel’s Messiah featured at the concert. The wild and furious ride from Souderton to Harrisonburg had left me physically and emotionally exhausted. 
During the concert, in spite of the glorious sounds I was hearing, I had to remind myself to breathe in deeply, then breathe out slowly, and let my shoulders droop. It was like I was present physically but my soul was still somewhere on the interstate trying to catch up with the rest of me. 
This is a perfect picture of the hectic lives that most of us lead. We run frantically from one activity to another, whether church, work, or play; seldom allowing time for our souls to catch up with the rest of us. We are human doings rather than human beings. 
“Be still and know that I am God,” declares Psalm 46:10, reassuring us that God is in charge in spite much that causes fear. “Stand still,” Moses tells the fearful Children of Israel as the Red Sea stood between them and the pursuing Egyptian army according to Exodus 14:13. During a hectic time in his ministry, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while,” Mark 6: 31. 
Jesus modeled for us the need to be still. He withdrew numerous times to pray and to let his soul catch up with the rest of him (Matt. 14:13, Mk. 3:7, Lk. 15:6, Jn. 6:15). How do we follow his example? 
First we need to be intentional. It has to become part of our daily routine. I try to spend 20-30 minutes on our back porch every day. Then we need a spiritual practice. Centering Prayer is the practice I frequently use (see: http://www.centeringprayer.com/for a more comprehensive discussion on the subject). 
I like to begin by breathing intentionally. I call it “sacred breathing.” I breathe in deeply saying the word “grace.” Then I breathe out slowly saying the word “gratitude.” Eventually, as my mind settles, the breathing becomes automatic and I can let go of the words. When my mind strays, I return to my word(s). My pulse slows, I can feel my blood pressure lowering, my body relaxes. I am at peace with the world and with myself. I feel a deep sense of God’s presence. My soul is open for a word from God. 
When I first began this daily practice, I dreaded it. I had to force myself to do it. But as I continued the practice, and continued to experience a deep peace, I looked forward to this daily routine. I find that reserving those few minutes a day, instead of robbing me of precious time, actually make me more productive. Instead of the frantic feeling at the concert after my hectic drive home, I feel a peace and a calm. People experience me more as a non-anxious presence than a bitter, stressed-out bundle of nerves. 
There are many other spiritual practices we could use. The book The Spacious Heart: Room forSpiritual Awakening, written by my sister and me, deals exclusively with this subject. 
   
Instead of frantically driving down the highway of life without time to catch our breath, we need to deliberately find times to be still and let our souls catch up with the rest of us. 
Martin Luther’s Apple Tree

Martin Luther’s Apple Tree

My Canada 150+ blogs of the summer give way to a new series in anticipation of “Reformation Day” on October 31 which will mark exactly 500 years since Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral.  […]
Paul, Creation & Evolution #7 – Original Sin and Paul (EP-57)

Paul, Creation & Evolution #7 – Original Sin and Paul (EP-57)

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In this series, Kurt will explore Paul’s worldview concerning God and creation. What did Paul have in the background? How did this affect how he would think about Adam and Eve? Then, we will end our series looking at Romans 5 and its compatibility with evolution (or lack there of).

GIVE THE SHOW SOME LOVE

1) If you would be so kind to hop on iTunes (or your feed of choice) and leave The Paulcast a review there, that would be amazing. The more reviews we can get will lead to greater visibility in iTunes. And I (Kurt) LOVE reading your comments!

2) Also, please consider hitting up The Paulcast Patreon online tip-jar (think Kickstarter for ongoing content creators). For $3 per month, or more, you can make a direct impact on this show. Financial partners like you really do make this all possible! Through Patreon, you make a tangible difference in this show’s sustainability and quality!

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EPISODE SPONSORS

This episode is sponsored by Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary. They are excited to announce the launch of the new Master of Arts in Ministry, Leadership and Culture. This online program, designed for practicing pastors and ministry entrepreneurs, will help you understand and integrate sub-cultures, theology, and leadership into practice. Guest faculty like Bruxy CaveyGreg Boyd and Brian Zahnd model practical integration of Anabaptist theology and 21st century kingdom work. Learn more at fpu.edu/paulcast.

*Sponsors do not endorse every word or idea on each episode.

Threatening Days

Threatening Days

It’s not been a pleasant few weeks for our dear planet. Hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, an earthquake in Mexico, monsoon floods in southeast Asia, and now wildfires ravaging my own little corner of southern Alberta. These are just the stories that are presently dominating our attention.  […]
Sanctuary for Edith Espinal

Sanctuary for Edith Espinal

Image may contain: 6 people, people standingThe Church is a place of sanctuary. This legacy goes back to the earliest days of our faith, offering refuge and shelter for those being persecuted. Will God's people offer sanctuary today?
Edith Espinal has lived in Columbus, OH a long time. Her three children live here too, and two of them are citizens. Four years ago, she applied for asylum but was denied, as were her subsequent appeals. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) has given her final notice and she now wears an ankle monitor. On September 18, she faces deportation.
"I don’t want to leave behind my children"
Edith has no criminal record, she's never even gotten a speeding ticket.
"I'm not a bad person. I've always tried to follow the law"
Columbus faith leaders, spearheaded by Columbus Mennonite Church, are asking ICE "to hear the plea of our neighbor, and join us in keeping her home with her family...We will continue to walk with Edith and her family in hope and prayer until she receives a stay of removal." Without this stay, Edith will be deported.
How do we as Christians walk in accompaniment with Edith and her family?
Theirs represents the thousands of other families in similar situations. Afraid of being taken from their home. Afraid of losing their loved ones. Afraid of what comes next.
These are real people. They have faces, they have names.
Moreover, they are the face of Christ. Will we offer him sanctuary, or will we send him away?
Luchamos al fin.
Every Boy Needs to Learn to Can Beans

Every Boy Needs to Learn to Can Beans

Every Boy Needs to Learn to Can Beans Last weekend we had some moments of pure gold with a niece getting married at some lovely Shenandoah Valley caverns near here, picking pole beans and canning them with two of my grandsons here, and my youngest daughter being ordained and installed as an elder at her […]

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