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Category: Culture

Sex Sells

Authentic and true (

On the surface, it seems American culture is obsessed with sex, but the kind that sells is more about separation than intimacy.

“It represents the lowest level of human engagement,” writes John Walsh. “It emphasizes the mechanical, athletic side of attraction and downgrades, or makes redundant, the emotional, tender, quirkily personal territory of relationship that makes us most vulnerably human.”

And the results are in: Psychologists say loneliness is the most common problem they deal with in the United States. Depression runs a close second.

We are a people in need of connection.

We are a people in need of connection.

No Time

We'll drift in the haze of space. #Portland (

The world never stops. Its citizens scurry from home to work and back with barely time to breathe in a frenetic freeway rush of activity. Climbing the corporate ladder requires extra hours, so even sleep is sacrificed to the gods of success. Those removed from the work-a-day world whirl through meetings and projects of clubs and causes. Or they focus their time on leisure activity, the great oxymoron of modern society.

Activity is addictive. And like any addiction, there are consequences. The symptoms of life’s staccato speed are universal: headaches, depression, loneliness, irritation, shallow relationships, mountains of debt in the frenzied pursuit of bigger and better. What will it take to regain perspective, return to sensible living? Where does rapid-fire, war-torn living end?

A doctor from Australia, now living in Seattle, suggests a solution. Christine Sine writes of a different way in Sacred Rhythms: Finding a Peaceful Pace in a Hectic World (Baker Books, 2003). And she starts with her own experience: “I was so busy being zealous for God that I did not take the time to renew and replenish my spiritual life,” Sine writes. “I ended up in the hospital.

“I spent time reflecting on what had brought me to that place and how I could have avoided it,” she continues. “The underlying cause was a viral illness, but I am convinced that my body rebelled against my fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle. I had abused my body. I had lived in a state of constant spiritual arrhythmia . . . . Now I was paying the price.”

In just over 230 pages, Sine offers a challenge to Christians in the western world. She asks them to stop for a moment, diagnose the arrhythmia of their own lives, and seek out the proper rhythm established by the Creator of life itself.

Sine recognizes that separation from the world — in most cases — is neither desirable nor possible. She insists that we need balance: “a rhythm that both paces us through the everyday and sustains us through the mountain passes.” And she spends considerable space selecting and explaining disciplines intended to restore a healthy focus to our lives and balance existence in the world with a spiritual perspective.

Celebration: “Christ is meant to break the power of the eternal winter of our souls and bring festivity and celebration to our lives.”

Prayer: “Intimacy does not develop from a one-sided monologue.”

Relationship: “We know that the darkness is dispelled and the dawn has come when we can see in the countenance of another the face of Christ.”

Sabbath Rest: “For the Jews, Sabbath is fundamental to life and to both their spiritual and emotional health. It is the culmination of the week, the day that gives purpose to all other days.”

Christ’s message, according to Sine, is not one of guilt or condemnation. Instead, God longs for His creation to rediscover the gift of life He gave in the garden. It’s not a duty. It’s not a space in time waiting to be filled by human activity. This gift of life is opportunity and only the beginning of what God has in store for those who seek Him.

We know that the darkness is dispelled and the dawn has come when we can see in the countenance of another the face of Christ.

Whether to Count

Yesterday (

This morning, thinking about what it means to minister, I remembered a thought that came to me eight years ago. I was struggling with the measures we use for outreach activities in the church. We count commitments. The argument goes something like this: “We count people because every person counts.” It sounds like a great bumper sticker slogan, but if that’s what ministry is about, I reasoned, than Christ commissions salesmen. Back then, I refused to think of myself as God’s salvation huckster. I still find the idea repulsive.

My focus must be on letting God have His way in me rather than trying to push my way on others. I’ve seen the church commercial with it’s cheap grace: “You can have all this for a quick, repentant prayer and no payments for the rest of eternity! But wait, there’s more! Act now and receive quality Sunday morning programming for your entire family!”

That’s not what I need, and it’s far from what I desire. I want to meet God. I want to know Him. I want to follow Him. I want to die to self and live in Him so that I might have life and have it to the fullest. In turn, I hope that others will glimpse Christ alive in me and begin to recognize their own hunger for what is real rather than that which is easy or cheap.

“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.” John 12:25, 26

I was struggling with the measures we use for outreach activities in the church.

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