March 3, 2011

Dr. Mary Poplin and Finding YOUR Calcutta (part 1)

With tea steaming in a teapot, banana muffins arranged on a plate, and  pencil and paper by my seat, we were ready for Mary and Tom's visit last Friday afternoon.*  Upon their arrival, we got the kids settled in front of a Mr. Rogers DVD and made our way into the kitchen for adult chatter.

From small talk about Mary's travels and her impressions of Pittsburgh (she got to spend a little time in a beautiful neighborhood called Shadyside and loved it), we moved into my questions for her.  They weren't really questions at all, I suppose.  All morning I had agonized about how to best use those 45 minutes.  Finally, it occurred to me to pray.  (I'm a slow one!)  So while ironing, about an hour before they arrived, I got some inspiration, praise the Lord!  Rather than ask specific questions, I would simply ask for her thoughts on four things and how they relate to the Christian: community, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and scripture.

I didn't record our interview, as it was more of a conversation, but I want to share Mary's thoughts (quotes in italics), as best I can from my notes.  She began with Scripture and went from there.

SCRIPTURE:  Read the Bible as what you are, so you can serve best where you are.  For example, Mary is in education.  She once read through the Bible paying attention to words like understanding, knowledge, wisdom, learning, etc.  Then she was thoroughly equipped to filter thoughts about education through the Scriptures and better serve as a teacher and researcher.  For me, she suggested paying close attention to what the Bible says to and about being a mother or wife.

PRAYER: nothing happens without it.  She went on to share how critical prayer is for the Christian.  We need people praying for us and with us.  Mary is firmly convinced of the power of prayer and the covering it puts over us.  In her experience, it's often people who are not where she's speaking who are those that cover her speaking engagements in prayer.  And she practices what she preaches, she and friend pray together every day - even though they live in different places.

HOLY SPIRIT: has been "lost" in the West with the rise of secularism.  She also stated that pantheism (Buddhism) has moved in where Christianity has vacated.  Meaning that the Eastern religions with their "spiritualness" are appealing, because Western Christians have left out the Holy Spirit: that there is a God at work in supernatural ways, in our world, right now.  The gospel spreads quickly and we hear more of miraculous stories in poorer nations, because there's something about lack of self-sufficiency that enables us to believe in the Spirit's work.

COMMUNITY: only a part of Christ can really get along with others who are different.  The Christian Church is the only true multi-cultural faith, not bound by any specific culture.  Anywhere a believer goes in the world, he can find others believers.  But for this to happen, there has to be a common head.  For the church, that is Christ.  Sadly, we hate authority, so submitting to Him as head challenges us, particularly here in the West.

I really appreciated Mary's thoughts.  Throughout her Christian life, God has had her on a journey  integrating her faith into all of life, even life in the academy.  What a good reminder that the Lord rules not only in our life when we're in a church pew, but also in our kitchens, our offices, our bedrooms, and our shopping centers.
As Jesus said, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:4-5

Mary shared a few more things that I'd love to share.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

    *Please read here to get the story on how I came to meet Dr. Poplin.

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