One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus.
If you don't take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You're doing too much, you're being too much in charge. You've got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you're not doing anything.
American culture is probably the least Christian culture that we've ever had because it is so materialistic and it's so full of lies. The whole advertising world is just, it's just intertwined with lies, appealing to the worst of the instincts we have.
The most important thing a pastor does is stand in a pulpit every Sunday and say, 'Let us worship God.' If that ceases to be the primary thing I do in terms of my energy, my imagination, and the way I structure my life, then I no longer function as a pastor.
If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame an attentiveness to your life.
There's nobody who doesn't have problems with the church, because there's sin in the church. But there's no other place to be a Christian except the church.
That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love.
The minute the church and pastors start saying what do people want and then giving it to them, we betray our calling. We're called to have people follow Jesus. We're called to have people learn how to forgive their enemies.
I cannot fail to call the congregation to worship God, to listen to his Word, to offer themselves to God.
The role of the pastor is to embody the gospel. And of course to get it embodied, which you can only do with individuals, not in the abstract.
If people don't know their pastor, it's easy to put the pastor on a pedestal and depersonalize him or her. It's also easy for pastors, who don't know their congregations, simply to classify congregants as saved or unsaved, involved or not involved, tithers or non-tithers.
I believe God takes the things in our lives - family, background, education - and uses them as part of his calling. It might not be to become a pastor. But I don't think God wastes anything.
People are not problems to be solved. They are mysteries to be explored.
Religion is a very scary thing, because a pastor is in a position of power. And if you use that power badly, you ruin people's lives, and you ruin your own life.
Spirituality is no different from what we've been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It's just ordinary stuff.
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