Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity!

Last Saturday, Pastor Joe Nelms of the Family Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN gave the invocation before the NASCAR Nationwide Federated Auto Parts 300 race in Nashville. Let's just say that the prayer was was not your typical prayer. Pastor Nelms thanked God for all things from the different makes of the cars to different teams. From the gas to the tires and most importantly, in Ricky Bobby fashion---for his "smoking hot wife." The full text of the prayer can be read here:

"Heavenly father, we thank you tonight for all your blessings you sent and all things give thanks. So we want to thank you tonight for these mighty machines that you brought before us. Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords. And most of all we thank you for Roush and Yates partnering to give us the power that we see before us tonight. Thank you for GM performance technology and RO7 engines. Thank you for Sunoco racing fuel and Goodyear tires that bring performance and power to the track. Lord, I want to thank you for my smoking' hot wife tonight, Lisa. And my two children, Eli and Emma or as we like to call 'em, the little Es. Lord, I pray you bless the drivers and use them tonight. May they put on a performance worthy of this great track. In Jesus name, boogity boogity boogity, Amen."

Pastor Nelms' prayer has sparked a wide variety of responses. Many people say that it's the "best prayer ever!" other say that Pastor Nelms was putting attention on him and not on God. Others say that the prayer is irreverent or disgraceful. Pastor Nelms stated in the Christian Post that he was trying to be like the apostle Paul and be "all things to all men." Pastor Nelms stated he was trying to reach out to non-Christians. Pastor Nelms stated, "Our whole goal was to open doors that would not otherwise be open. There are a lot of folks who think churches are all [full of] serious people who never enjoy life and [who have] just a list of rules.”

Obviously, no one knows Pastor Nelms' true intentions except for Pastor Nelms and God. Some might say that it doesn't matter. Some might say that you don't speak to God that way or that it was blasphemous. If it was Pastor Nelms' true intention just to be on stage and make people laugh and bring attention to himself then I would agree that it was blasphemous and wrong. For the sake of argument, I'm going to say that his intentions were true.

First of all, I think you have to take the venue into account. A prayer you might hear at a NASCAR race would probably be a little different than a prayer that you would hear at mass. Just like anything, you have to take your surroundings into consideration. I would be aghast if someone tried to put humor into the Eucharistic prayer. But I think inserting a little humor into prayer at a race or with youth is acceptable, IMHO.

Second of all, there are many forms of prayer. You might have your formal prayers, such at the Lord's Prayer or Hail Mary. There are spontaneous prayers like those you may say at a gathering with several people And then there is conversational prayer where you talk just like you are talking to a friend . . . or a father.

Finally, there are different reasons for prayer. There are prayers of adoration, thanksgiving, or petitions. Or, in the case of conversational prayer, we pray so that we become closer to God. Another reason is so that people who may not normally be exposed to God are brought before Him.

So, we have Pastor Nelms praying before a race using a combination of spontaneous/conversational prayer and, among other reasons, trying to bring people to God. Was he, in part, performing for the audience? Yes, but isn't that what many protestant ministers do every Sunday? But to say that he was doing so in order to bring attention to himself and not God is a little presumptuous.

What do you guys think? Did Pastor Nelms cross the line or was this a fantastic prayer?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Together Time

As the years go by, it becomes more and more difficult. Life gets busy.  There are distractions.  There are reasons not too.   There are other things to do.  But to do so is foolish.  To do so makes things more difficult.  That is why, I think one of the most important things to do as a married couple is to spend time together.    It's important to spend time with anyone you care for.  It's important to make time for prayer.

My wife and I have been married for 18 years.  For 13 of those years, I've worked overnight hours.  I've worked off duty jobs.  There have been times that it has felt that we are two ships passing in the night as we hand off the kids for the other to watch.   And then, when we are home together we are doing other things.  We are in seperate rooms.   I can see how couples grow apart.

That's why is is so important to make time for each other.  It's been made easier ever since our oldest child became responsible enough to stay home with the other two kids.  It's easier for us to go to dinner together or to make a date night with each other.  Or we would go to lunch with each other on days I wasn't sleeping.  At the very least we tried to just spend time talking about our day.   I think if we hadn't done these things we would have grown apart.

That's not to say that there can't be improvements.  There are times when we are just so busy that it's difficult to even get a phone conversation in.  I know I need to work on giving her my full attention when we are together. (Yes! That means I need to put the phone down, and get off of Facebook and stop texting---I know that)

The same goes with God.  I don't know how I expect to nurture a relationship with Him when I continously fail to make time for prayer with him.   Going to mass every Saturday evening just isn't cutting it.  I have to develop and work on my prayer life.  I need to set aside time to be with God and to listen to what He has to say to me that day. 

I love Abby very much.   Most nights all I want to do is get to the end of my shift so I can go home to her.   Sadly, there are other times, when I take her for granted and don't appreciate what I have.   The same goes for God although it is normally the opposite.  I take Him for granted most of the time and don't appreciate Him.  And then there are other times when I have great prayer moments and want to spend more time with Him. 

The bottom line is---we have to nurture our relationships with those that we love.   We need to tend to them and ensure that our loved ones know how we feel.  We need to spend time with them.   Otherwise, it becomes easy to take them for granted.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Buried Treasure--17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

When you think of buried treasure, we think of pirates and maps and gold doubloons. We think of treasure maps where "X" marks the spot!   We certainly don't think Heaven and the life hereafter.  In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus compares Heaven to buried treasure that a man finds in a field.   He says that the man and the merchant sell everything that they have in order that they may have these great items. Imagine, selling everything you have for one single item.  That's a heck of an investment!  That buried treasure had better be pretty valuable. 

So Jesus is giving us that treasure map with the "X" clearly marked.  He is telling us where the most valuable treasure is.   He is even willing to walk us to the treasure.  That is how valuable Heaven is and that's how much He wants us to find it.  That's how we should see it.  That nothing on this Earth is as valuable as Heaven is.   And it's ours.  Jesus paid the price for us so that we could have it.  He is giving us this wonderful gift.  He's giving us the gift of eternal happiness.  He is giving us the opportunity to spend eternity in his loving embrace where we will not want for anything.

We don't cherish this treasure that Jesus bought for us though.   We tend to squander it away for nothing.   Every time we sin it is like we are telling God that the gift that Jesus got for us is not important enough.  We would rather spread rumors about our boss or co-workers.  We would rather experience anger and jealousy.    We prefer to get drunk or look at porn.  We are telling him that these temporary pleasures are more valuable to us that He is.

What fools we are.  Nothing on this Earth is worth our salvation.  No one should be more important to us than our souls.  Yet, time and time again, we risk everything for these temporal pleasures.   And it's not like Jesus doesn't warn us what will happen.  In the same passage, He tells us that in the end times the angels will sort through the wicked and righteous and throw the wicked into the fires of Hell.    We read that and still pick Earthly pleasures.

So what do we need to do?  We need to put down the treasure map that society gives us and realize it that it is only going to lead us to fool's gold.  Temporary pleasures that will go away with the tide.  We need to pick up the map that Jesus has given us.  Don't get scared off by the path we have to take because yes, it is going to be perilous.   We have other aids besides the map to help us to the "X."  We have the church.  We have scripture.  We have the sacraments.  And most of all . . . we have Jesus showing us the way.  We just have to make sure we are reading the correct map.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Call to Hear Confessions

Anyone who has read this blog or who knows me knows that I am a fan of confession.   I'm such a little geek that I even have an Excel spreadsheet listing all of the parishes nearby with their times for reconcilliation.   (To be fair, I also have the times for daily mass as well as adoration on there.)   One thing that has bothered me for awhile is how seldom the sacrament of reconcilliation is offered in many parishes.   I would like to challenge priests to encourage confession and to offer it more frequently.

I've heared it said that parishes that only offer confession once a week aren't really offering confession and I would tend to agree.   Looking and my fancy little spreadsheet, I looked at all of the Catholic churchs in the northland in Kansas City and figured out that on average they offer confession for one hour a week.   That's only an average, so some churches offer it more and some offer it less.

I think for many Catholics, confession has gotten a bad rap.  They make their kids go before their first communion and that's it.  But if it's important enough to send your child, isn't it important for you to go?  They may go to a communial reconcillation service during the advent or lenten season.  But I doubt they would let six months or a year go by without cleaning their kitchen or bathroom. So why would you let that much time go by before cleaning your soul.   Others don't believe it is necessary at all.  They believe they can go right to Jesus and don't need to go to a priest.  But that's not what the church teaches.  I would challenge anyone who believes that to find out what the church teaches.  You can off by reading my blog, "Ten Reasons for Going to Confession."

So many people don't realize the importance of confession.   They don't realize that you cannot take communion if you are in a state of mortal sin without being first reconcilled.  Or worst yet, they don't realize that if they are not in a state of grace and they die then they are not getting into heaven.   Yet, we don't hear confession being taught from the pulpit.  We aren't being told how important it is.  I think the lack of confession times tells the laity that it isn't important.

I realize that priests are busy and have a lot of things on their plate.  I'm not suggesting that they sit in the confessional all day long.  The churches that I know that do offer frequent confession offer it 15-30 minutes before daily mass as well as the weekends.  The priest has to be there anyway for mass so what's an extra half an hour?   I know of a church that offers it 5:30pm on a Wednesday night as well as other times throughout the week.  But it's publicized that if there is no one around when confession starts then father will leave.

If found it interesting that when I do go to a parish that only offers confession on Saturday afternoon that there isn't normally many people there.   On the other hand, the parishes that do offer it frequently normally have 5-10 people in line.   Now, either the parishoners in the first church are pure and don't sin or they just aren't educated about how important confession is. 

Priests!!!  Take care of your flock!  Hear their confessions!  Absolve them of their sins.  That's my challenge

How often does your parish offer confessions?  Would you go more often if it was offered more frequently??

Monday, July 18, 2011


Okay, I've been slacking.  Not only on this blog, as you can tell, but also in my physical and spirtual life.

Therefore; I'm setting some goals and to help keep myself accountable, I am taking a page from my sister, Maggie.  She has been posting her weight loss (way to go, Maggie--or should I say "weight to go!") on her blog and am going to post how I'm doing on my blog.   I' think it'll be an incentive for me to actually reach these goals if I have to post in a public way how I've succeeded or failed.

So, in regard to my blog, I'm going to try to make 2-3 posts a week.   I've found when I blog I do better in my spirtual life.

Also, in my spirtual life my goals are:
*fifteen minutes of meditative prayer, in addition to morning and evening prayer
*make one holy hour and/or weekly mass a week
*confession once a month

In my physical life:
*CrossFit four times a week.  I've been slacking real bad since January and I'm feeling myself lose the gains I made---or is it "gaining the losses I've made
*eating healthier--we've slipped back into our eating out A LOT lifestyle and it's just getting too expensive.  So, I'm going to do better as far as planning my means, which ensures that I eat healthier.

Sooooooooo, I guess I'll report back next Monday---we'll see.  Those of you who know how to get ahold of me. . . . I'm holding you accountable for holding me accountable.  :-)