Tuesday, September 29, 2009


A couple of months ago, I was in Michigan for a pastor's conference. At the beginning of the event, the main speaker asked the crowd: "Do we have anyone here from another country?" And after one person yelled, "Canada!" and another, "Ireland!" one guy near the front shouted, "TEXAS!" Everyone laughed.

Not originally from Texas, I've been going this whole time thinking the idea of Texas existing as its own country was just a running joke. That is, until I saw the following bumper sticker on my way home from church yesterday:

This was the only bumper sticker on the car. On my car, the only bumper sticker says, "Love Wins." I put it there because it's something that I really believe in and I don't want to just put anything with text on my car. I think this guy feels the same way about his sticker. I took a look at the driver, and he's definitely not the kind of guy who uses irony in his choice of bumper stickers. This guy is seriously ready to declare Texas independent from....well, everything.

I didn't know people were making these stickers.

I didn't know people were buying these stickers.

I'm not saying I wouldn't buy one. I would. I would buy one right now if the opportunity presented itself. But I would immediately place it in my office somewhere near my Transformers-themed Mr. Potato Head and my Jesus CelebriDuck. In other words, I would put it somewhere that, when people see it, they would think, "Oh that Rob. He loves silly novelty items that nobody takes very seriously."

As I was staring at the back of this guy's car (and subsequently missing my turn), I had a little conversation with him in my head:

Me: "So....secede?"

Truck Guy: "Yup."

Me: "You know, the last time someone wanted to do that, it started this huge war and hundreds of thousands of people died. Not only that, it didn't even work. By the end of the war, the secession had failed. And they had 11 states and a couple of territories. You're talking about just Texas. That would be Texas vs. The Other 49 States. How do you feel about that?"

Truck Guy: "We can take 'em."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spiritual Practices

I have been doing a lot of study on the concept of spiritual practices. I think we tend to think of spiritual practices in terms of Bible study, prayer, and fasting. If you were to ask most church-goers to talk about spiritual practices, you probably wouldn't get much more than this. But there is so much more to be considered.

Taking a Sabbath is a spiritual practice.

Listening to music or a sermon can be spiritual practices.

Reading a book can be a spiritual practice.

Spending time alone in silence can be a spiritual practice.

Eating can be a spiritual practice.

Breathing can be a spiritual practice.

My Sunday night small group is going to spend this semester considering what it means to engage in spiritual practices, so I've wanted to get through as much research as I could. One of the best books that I've found that speaks to this is Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton.

I'm curious about something. If you're reading this, what are your thoughts? What are some things that you have learned to engage in a spiritual way that you never would have previously categorized as "spiritual" before? How big does this category of spiritual practices get?

*EDIT: Just after I posted this, I read this quote from Henri Nouwen: "Precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual dsciplines, we have to develop our own. We have, indeed, to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord. Without such a desert we will lose our own soul while preaching the gospel to others. But with such a spiritual abode, we will become increasingly conformed to him in whose Name we minister." (this is from The Way of the Heart)

Once again, Nouwen brings the thunder.