Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Theology vs Polity

In a meeting last week, a member of the committee told us that the United Methodist Church has an egalitarian theology and a hierarchical polity. That difference causes a tension in the church.

I think I agree with her, and I have felt that tension.

When I have done Children's Moment during worship on Laity Sunday, and tried to explain to the kids who the Laity are, I have to define "minister." In a church where everyone is a minister, explaining what a (ordained) minister is is difficult.

We have a Convocation Sunday in my church. Several elders are associated with our Charge Conference. On Convocation Sunday, they process into worship in their robes and sit together on the front row. I am so pleased that we recognize them, and yet there is something about it that nags at me. How can I feel both ways? I feel an internal tension about it.

The clergy and the laity have different but equally important roles in the church, each with wonderful access to God, but sometimes I feel as if our polity doesn't reflect that.

And it could all be in my head!

I do love, though, that we have an equalitarian theology. It is a reflection of our belief that we are all children of God.



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best Choice or not

Today I read Genesis 46-47.  In these chapters, the family arrives from out of town, and moves to Egypt.  I noticed a few things that I don't remember from reading these chapters previously:
  • In the genealogy printed in these chapters, very few female offspring are mentioned, and those who are, don't count in the totals.  Hmm.
  • Joseph instructs his family to tell the Pharaoh that they are shepherds, not farmers.  They do have livestock; it's not a stretch, but they aren't really shepherds.  My notes say he does it so that they will not be seen to make a claim on land, and so that they will be sent to Goshen, away from the population center.  They are welcome, but they are foreigners.
  • I remember Jacob asking Joseph to promise to not bury him in Egypt.

All of this together makes me wonder if anyone was really comfortable with the situation -- either Joseph, Jacob, the family, the Pharoah or even the people of Egypt.  It seems happy and great, but I wonder if already they are concerned about the future.  Joseph does this so that his family will be secure in the the famine, but I wonder if it is only a "best choice from among the bad."

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Genesis 44-45

Today I read Genesis 44-45.  In these chapters, Joseph's brothers have returned a second time to Egypt, this time bring their youngest brother, Benjamin.  They still don't recognize Joseph.  He sends them home with provisions, but has a silver cup placed in Benjamin's sack.  Joseph sends someone to accuse the brothers of theft.  They find the cup and all of them return to the palace.

Joseph tells them that Benjamin must remain as a slave, but that the others can return to their father.  Judah gives an impassioned speech, offering himself in place of Benjamin.  It is after this that Joseph reveals who he is.  All of his family is invited into the protection of Egypt during the famine.  (Low musical undertone as we remember they eventually end up as slaves in this land, but for now, it is good).

As I read this, a few things struck me:
  • Joseph is now resorting to deceit.  His fore-fathers had done this, but not him.  I was surprised by his actions.
  • For what purpose did he do this?  Was it a test?  What would he have done if the brothers had failed the test?
  • In Chapter 45, Joseph could have chosen differently.  He had a choice between retribution and restoration; he chose restoration and forgiveness. 

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Moabite

In Sunday school today we talked more about Ruth. 

Ruth was a Moabite -- an outsider.  The story might have been written down when the Israelites were coming out of exile to return to Jerusalem.  We read in Ezra a denunciation of marriage to "the people of the lands."  In Chapter 10 of Ezra, the people covenant with God to send away all foreign wives and their children. 

Into this environment is told the story of Ruth, who is a foreigner, and not only that, but a Moabite.  She is honorable -- a hero of the story -- and ends up marrying Boaz.  They are the grandparents of David.  There is a lesson here.

Who are the Moabites in our culture?  Who do we shun and judge? 

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Psalm 42

Read Psalm 42.
The Psalms are a repository of emotions – happiness and joy, mourning and sadness.  Anger and despair.  All of it is in Psalms.  This Psalm is a lament, and when you read it, you can feel the longing of the psalmist for God in the loneliness of his life.
I think it reminds us of some things we need to remember:
  1. It speaks of water – reminding us of living water, and its source.  Life and grace come from God – and we long for it.
  2. It reminds us that whatever our circumstances, we can come to God, bringing our lives as a living sacrifice.  We can bring our praise, and we can bring our tears.  God wants them all.
  3. Grace pulls us – we yearn because God has created the yearning for him within us.
 

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Band at the Football Game

Which one is J?  No idea -- they should put numbers on their uniforms
like they do for the football players.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Social Media

The Kentucky Annual Conference has a policy of monitoring the social media expressions of its canidates for ministry.  You can read about it here.

I'm not going to judge the policy or comment on it.  I don't really know anything about it except what the article on the UM Reporter discusses.

I am, however, a blogger.  I post on Facebook, and my devotionals are posted on a Devotional Blog that hosts the devotionals from our church's ministry.  I am on the web, and I realize the following:
  • The internet is public.  What I write can be read by anyone.  I need to always remember that.
  • We sometimes don't use the same rules of conduct on the internet that we would in person.  One blogger I know reminded her readers that they should consider her blog like her living room.  If you wouldn't say it in person, in someone's living room, then don't post it.  I like to add, if you wouldn't say it in person, in someone's living room, with your mother listening, then don't post it.
  • What I write today -- what I think today -- may not be the same thing I would post in a year.  I grow and I change my mind.
  • What I post is there forever. Or at least for a few years.
  • My posts don't have the benefit of my expressions and voice inflection. They could be misunderstood.


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    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Holiness

    A quote from the RevGalBlogPal blog: "Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary."

    Do you look for holiness in the ordinary?  A burning bush might seem ordinary, unless you turn aside and pay attention, as Moses did -- then you notice the holiness.

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    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Doubt and Fear

    The Hawkins book I am reading quotes Emily Dickinson. She says that "we both believe and disbelieve a hundred times an hour, and that keeps believing nimble."

    Is there a benefit to doubt? It seems to me that the movement between disbelieving and believing would be like the stretching of a muscle, and that it would strengthen faith. Questioning, exploring, reaching, pulling away and coming back -- it would keep faith nimble, as Dickinson says. Doubt can result in growth.

    Could it be that when someone believes we should not question God and that to doubt faith is just wrong is afraid that God will not be strong enough to withstand the testing? Could we step away from doubt out of fear?


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    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Life

    I've been really busy, and I don't see it getting any easier for the rest of the week.  I have posts in mind I want to write -- I hope I get them done soon.  In the meantime, excuse the lightness of my thoughts.

    A few random ones:
    1. We took our son to college this weekend.  Of course, I miss him, but that's not the major thing I'm feeling.  I can't remember any thing that had such conflicted emotions.  I am so proud of him and excited for him!  And I can't believe our baby is old enough to go to college.  I mainly come down on the happiness part, but sometimes the shock of the moment floods in.
    2. I expect his brother to miss him, and to demonstrate that emotion in an unrecognizable, venting way.  I haven't seen it yet.
    3. I have two meetings this week to prepare for, and a talk (with powerpoint) at a meeting this Saturday.  Much to do.  I also need to find a lector for Sunday and a speaker for a meeting next month. Oh, and a person to help with media, and maybe an assistant song leader.
    4. When I get through this week, all will be calmer.
    5. Next week, my younger son will be old enough to get his Learner's Permit.  So much for calm

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    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Water Ballons


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    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Dorm Life


    We took G to college this Saturday.  Note the pile of boxes and the unmade bed.  Think he'll get it all in order.  I hope so, but we left before we saw it.

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    Friday, August 19, 2011

    From our Deck

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    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Inadequate words

    I'm reading the book Undiscovered Country: Imagining the World to Come by Peter Hawkins.  It's the text for our church's upcoming Convocation. 

    There are many great thoughts in the book, but one struck me for this post.  The author is focusing on Dante's Divine Comedy, and its three sections -- Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise.

    In the Paradise section, Hawkins is discussing how Dante continually states his inadequacy as an author to use words to describe heaven.   "After all, can anyone truly "succeed" when describing light, love or God?"

    Isn't that true?  Wouldn't we all agree that words or even our thoughts are inadequate to describe God.  Yet, as we look at the Bible, there are some of us who believe that every word is meant as literal, and that God can only be as described in the words of the book.

    I believe the Bible is divinely inspired, and yet I know that it is human words.  It cannot possibly completely describe God.  We see now in a mirror dimly.

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    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    New lately

    What have you done lately that was new to you?  That you have never done before?  That you are surprised you were able to do?  This is not a Friday Five -- these are my own questions, but I wondered if I could list five things that fit into these catagories:
    1. I uploaded a new template to my knitting blog.  I've changed the template before, but always using a Blogger standard template with a few changes.  This time I found a third part template on the web and uploaded it to my blog.  I had no idea if it would work, but it did. 
    2. I'm working on putting an Emmaus Walk team together.  I'm still not done, but I've called more people and asked them to serve than I ever have. 
    3. We're working on preparing Grant to go to college.  New.  Hard.  Exciting.  Never done before.
    4. I knit an entire blanket, and it ended up being 8 feet by 3 feet.  It's the largest knitted item I have ever undertaken or completed.
    5. It's 11:40 and I keep falling asleep before I think of one more.  Maybe that's OK -- maybe that symbolized that the next new thing in just round the corner.

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    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Ruth

    In Sunday school this past week, we explored the beginning of the book of Ruth.  A few things caught my ear and mind:
    • The word in the story that tells us that Ruth and Orpah became the wives of Ruth's sons is the word "taken."  This is the only time in the Bible when it is used in this way -- usually it refers to something being taken or lifted.  I wonder if Ruth and Orpah became wives willingly.  Does that change our perception of the story?
    • When Naomi comes home to Bethlehem, those in the community could seem to be perplexed as to whether this is Naomi or not.   I wonder if she has changed so much that they don't recognize her.  She has changed -- even her name has changed. 
    • Yes, I know she has been through a lot, but she seems unwilling to recognize the blessings around her.  She has changed her name to Bitter -- does bitterness get in our way?
    • Boaz is kind to Ruth, even though she is a Moabite -- an outsider.  Boaz' mother is Tamar, the prostitute from Jericho.  I wonder if he is more willing to be kind to outsiders because of his mother?

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    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Worship Alone

    On Sunday, Joe used an illustration in his sermon about a young man who lived across the street from a large downtown church.  He decided one day to find out what that church was all about, so he walked in as worship was about to start.  He was dressed in black, had piercings and tattoos, and didn't know how church "worked."  He walked into an almost full Sanctuary, couldn't find a seat, and walked down to the front of the room.  He sat down on the floor in front of the pulpit.

    The head usher, an older man, walked to the front of the Sanctuary.  Everyone knew he was going to ask the man to leave, but instead, he sat down on the floor with the young man so that he wouldn't have to worship alone.

    I love that phrase -- so that he wouldn't have to worship alone.  Sometimes I think we might be too selfish about worship -- worship style, sermon construction, hymn choices, etc.  We want to brings us closer to God, what makes us happy.  We want the songs we like and the words that please us.  We may not give as much thought to what brings the person next to us closer to God.

    Do we ever sit down on the floor with someone else so that other person doesn't have to worship alone?

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    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Living today

    Benjamin Wells, MU United Methodist Campus Pastor, preached at our church this morning.  His scripture was the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It was a great sermon.  The first thing that caught my ear was this.  First, read this passage:
    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
      Luke 10:25-28
    Benjamin told us that when the listeners heard the first sentence, their reaction would have been different than ours.  When we read it, we think of heaven -- eternal life.  We hear Jesus saying that if we follow the law, we will receive eternal life  Those listening to the parable wouldn't have heard "eternal life" as life in heaven.  They would have heard, "How do I live in harmony with God, today?"  That changes how we hear the rest of the parable.  Love God, love each other, and life today in harmony with God.

    To me, that fits our faith much better.

    I think we believe that the kingdom of God begins now, today, here.  Yes, we live forever with God, in heaven, by his grace.  Today, we live in his kingdom, and if we love God, and love each other, with all that we have, we will live in harmony with God.  We will know his kingdom, now, here, today.

    If we do that, we will live!

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    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Boys

    Boys at dinner on our cruise -- first night

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    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Genesis 42 and 43

    
    Sunset from the Cruise ship -- Taken by Steve
    I was reading Chapters 42 and 43 of Genesis.  This is the story of the famine in Egypt.  Jacob sends 10 of his sons to buy grain, and they encounter Joseph, not knowing it is Joseph.  Joseph keeps Simeon and tells the other brothers to go home and return with Benjamin.
    When they tell Jacob what has happened, he says:
    ‘I am the one you have bereaved of children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has happened to me!’  Genesis 42:36
    ;It strikes me that Josesph was sold into slavery and exiled from his home, Simeon has been separated from his family and imprisoned, and Benjamin has to leave home and possibly end up in prison as well, and yet Jacob considers that it has all been done to him.

    Do we do that? Do we organize the universe so that it spins around us personally? 

    What about when we claim that something terrible has happened -- orchestrated by God --  in order for us to learn a lesson.  Doesn't that seem to be a rather ego-centric opinion?

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    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Water Walking, Part 3

    Sermon continued from yesterday:
    Note that after Jesus sends the disciples out in the boat, he goes up on a mountain to pray.  It’s helpful here to remember what we have been told in the rest of chapter 14 of Matthew.  At the beginning of this chapter, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, has been executed, and Jesus has received word of the death.  He tries to retreat for prayer, but is interrupted by ministry – he stops and peaches to over 5000 people and then teaches his disciples how to feed them.  Once the crowds are gone, he resumes his quest for a time of prayer.  I’m certain this time alone with his father strengthened and restored him.  For us, time spent in prayer will develop our relationship with our creator.  I think it might be easier to hear what God is leading us to do if we stop and take the time to listen.

    Also in the scripture, we can see that Ortberg is right – stepping out of the boat is required for water walking.  We have to leave the safety of what we know – the comfort of what is easy and routine.  In order to follow God, and do the radical mission he calls us to do, we’ll need to stretch muscles we didn’t even know we had.

    My husband likes to ride his bicycle – it’s his hobby.  For the second year in a row, he has participated in the Bishop’s bike ride.   Early in June, several bike riders from across the state find sponsors, meet in Charleston on a Saturday morning, and ride 150 miles, on bicycles, to Buckhannon to raise money for mission.  This year, they raised several thousand dollars to benefit relief efforts in Japan after the earthquake.  To me, riding 150 miles is impossible. At some point, though, Steve had to believe that is was possible, and he had to step out of the boat, and start peddling.   He used muscles he didn’t know he had, to do a task that to most of us sounds very improbable, to raise money to help people he has never met.  To be radical disciples like my husband, we have to step out of the boat.

    Water walking is frightening.  You know as well as I do that to do something extraordinarily radical – to step away from what we know – can be terrifying.  Think about Peter.  It was dark and stormy, and he has just STEPPED OUT OF THE BOAT and is walking on the water.  He miraculously succeeds, too, until he takes his eyes of Christ, and focuses on the wind and the water.  He focuses on the fear.  And he sinks.

    Sometimes, in the darkness of fear, we forget that Christ is always with us.  Jesus was there for the disciples when a storm threatened their lives.  He was there for Peter when Peter started to sink.  Even in the middle of the night, when it is the darkest and our fears are all we can see, Christ is there. 
    In the passage, Jesus tells the disciples, “take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’   I think Jesus is encouraging us to “take heart – take courage” from him.  He reminds the disciples – and us – who he is.  He says, “It is I” – it’s Jesus, their teacher and friend.  And that’s comforting – strengthening – for them and for us.  But there is more.   In his statement of encouragement, we can also hear, “I am.”  He is reminding the disciples and us that he is not only their friend, but he is also their God.  This is God who is with us, and that is a powerful companion on even the darkest night, and even in the most impossible task.

    In my office, on the wall in front of my desk, is a print of an empty boat on the water.  I hung it there to remind myself that each and every day, I am called to step out of the boat and to walk on the water.  I am reminded to stay focused on Christ, instead of on my fear, to remember that he walks on the water with me, and that he will not leave me alone.

    Do you, like Peter, recognize the voice of Christ when he calls to you to leave your boat behind and to step out and walk on water?  What radical, impossible task is he calling you to do? 

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    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Water Walking, Part 2

    Continued from yesterday:  Part II of Water Walking

    Hear these words from the 14th chapter of Matthew, verses 22-33
    Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
    Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
    John Ortberg – great author – has written a book called, If you want to walk on Water, you have to step out of the boat. It wasn’t easy, as I’m sure you can imagine, to send in a resume to someone I barely knew, saying, in effect, “I know I don’t have the expected education or qualifications for this position, but God says, “Apply.” It very much felt like stepping out of a boat and trying to walk on water.

    Picture the scene from the passage in Matthew. Focus for just a moment on Peter. He and the other disciples were sent out in a boat by Jesus. Unexpected storms had arisen, and I imagine there were afraid for the very lives. The passage says that it was early in the morning – the Greek specifies a time between 3am and 6am. It was dark, just before dawn. Think about being outside in the dark, with no electricity, your only source of light being the moon. Peter had had a rough, fear-filled night, and it wasn’t over. On the water, he can barely make out a figure approaching, walking on the water. Impossible. The figure on the water tells all of them to take heart, and he reassures them that he is Jesus. Still, Peter isn’t sure – he can’t see who it is, it is too dark. He can’t be sure of who it is by the voice – it must have been noisy in the storm and on the water. He says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus replied, “Come.”

    How did Peter know it was Jesus? Not by what he saw, not by the voice he heard. Peter asks Jesus to command him to do the impossible – to walk on water. Bishop William Willimon preached in a sermon about this scripture, “Jesus is the one who extravagantly, recklessly, commands you to leave the safety of the boat, to step into the sea, to test the waters, and show what your faith is made of. That's Jesus.” Peter knows it is Jesus because Jesus commands him to do something seemingly impossible.
    That’s not particularly reassuring for those of us who follow Christ. I’m pretty certain we don’t want to be called to do what we don’t believe we can do. And I know that gathering the courage and will to do the impossible is a tough job. This passage offers us some help for this type of radical discipleship.

    Continued tomorrow.

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    Tuesday, August 09, 2011

    Water Walking, Part 1

    Part 1 of a Sermon I preached last Sunday:

    My name is Kim, and I am the Associate Director of a United Methodist Foundation. I rarely begin a sermon with that kind of information, but today it is part of a story I want to tell you. The Foundation helps people explore ways to create financial legacies to support ministry, helps churches manage resources. The Foundation holds funds in trust and distributes money to ministries across the state. On any given day, I might be writing an Agreement to establish a trust, evaluating market returns, speaking with a pastor about a custodial account for church reserves, or visiting an individual to consider how we can help match his or her desire to give with the tools to make it possible. I love my job – I love the ministry of it, I love how we are able to help people, I love using my gifts to further our mission.

    I tell you all of that so that you will have a clear picture of what I do now compared to what I did before. I have a masters degree in biology, and for the 20 years prior to joining the Foundation, I worked in medical research. I worked in a laboratory, designing and carrying out experiments, analyzing data, and training others who were entering the field of clinical research.

    My life and my work are very different now than what they used to be.

    Three years ago, I spent a very long, dark night not able to sleep, struggling with God to discern if he was calling me to consider leaving my work of 20 years and apply for a position at the Foundation for which I was not trained, and that I had never done before. Changing careers would mean a lifestyle change, it would mean working in a different city that the one where I live, committing to travel across the state, and stretching my personality to fit work I wasn’t sure I could do. Trust me; it was a long, dark night of uncertainty. The next morning, I had no answers, no sleep, and only a certainty that I had to leave behind what was comfortable and trust God.

    There is a song in the United Methodist Hymnal called Here I am, Lord. It contains the line, “I have heard you calling it in the night.” Whenever we sing it, I remember that night.

    Part 2, tomorrow.

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    Monday, August 08, 2011

    Recommended link

    Go, read this:  http://reflectionary.blogspot.com/2011/08/stepping-out.html.  It's a post by SongBird, aka Martha, a pastor.

    Sunday, August 07, 2011

    Worship

    
    Cabbage Beach in the Bahamas
    Grant asked a question today after Sunday school.  They had read the "walking on water" passage from Matthew in Sunday school.  At the end, the disciples recognize the Jesus is the son of God, and they worship him.

    "How can you worship someone who is standing right in front of you?"

    I'm not sure what he was getting at.  My thought, though is that the actual naming of Jesus as the son of God is an act of worship. 

    Placing God as God is an act of worship, and it might be one we forget from Sunday to Sunday

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    Saturday, August 06, 2011

    Sunset

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    Friday, August 05, 2011

    Staycation

    This week's Friday Five:
    1. Have you ever 'staycationed' in order to work on a project? If no, would you?  No, I haven't done that before.  I always say that I might, but I have never fallen through with it.  Although, now that I think about it, I used to take off the week between Christmas and New Year's, and I would stay home.  I mainly did it to have a time of relaxation after the hectic holiday. 
    2. What project did you or would you tackle first? I would love to get rid of some things in our house. Clean out.  Straighten up.  Declutter.  Simplify.
    3. Any other projects?  Paint the house? 
    4. What are the pitfalls of a staycation for you?   While I say that I would clean, what I would really want to do is go see a movie, take a day trip, knit, watch TV or movies -- just relax.
    5. Never mind this staying at home business, where do you want to go and what do you want to do there?  While we were on vacation this year -- a cruise -- my two favorite things were relaxing in the morning in a deck chair and spending dinner with my guys.  That sounds good to me. 

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    Thursday, August 04, 2011

    Thoughts on Water Walking, Part II

    Thoughts about Water Walking, continued:
    1. Peter, being Peter, is willing to step out of the boat.  I wonder if it is uncharacteristic of Peter that he waits for Christ to tell him to do so.  He seeks guidance.
    2. Peter still doesn’t know it is Jesus.  Biship William Willimon says Peter knows it is Jesus because he commands him to risk everything.  And that's how you will know Jesus. Jesus is the one who extravagantly, recklessly, commands you to leave the safety of the boat, to step into the sea, to test the waters, and show what your faith is made of.  That's Jesus.
    3. It is when he focuses on the fear, rather than on Jesus, that he begins to sink.  It is when he sees the fear that he is afraid.  He’s been on the boat, he knows there is a storm, he knows there is danger.  When he focuses on Christ, he can step out of the boat. 
    4. Could it be that through Christ, he can believe in the impossible?  It’s not unreasonable to be afraid to step out of the boat during a storm to attempt to walk on water.  It’s impossible.  Faith in Christ makes the impossible, possible.  When we believe in Christ, we are able to do not only what we are afraid to do, but we are able to do what would be impossible to do without him.  To defy death.
    5. Both times when Peter / the disciples are in danger, Christ is there.  Christ is there in the danger, to save them. 
    6. "Why do you doubt?  After everything you have seen, everything you have done, why do you doubt?” 
    7. It is the evidence of the power of Christ that the disciples worshiped.  He walks on water, he saves Peter, he comes to them in the boat, and the storm stops.  Amazingly, they recognize I Am enough to worship at this point.

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    Wednesday, August 03, 2011

    Thoughts about Water Walking

    Matthew 14:22-33


    Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

    Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’


    I'm working on a sermon based on the scripture above.  In order to get my thoughts in order, I wrote them down in a list:
    1. I’ve never noticed before that the incident occurs between 3am and 6am. The darkest part of night right before dawn. The light would have come from the moon. Imagine darkness before electricity – how dark it would have been. No wonder they didn’t recognize him – it’s a wonder they saw him at all.
    2. He makes the disciples leave. William Barclay says that John (in his Gospel) explains that the crowd is trying to make Jesus a king, and he has to dispel this – the disciples might have gone along with it.
    3. After everyone is gone, he goes up on a mountain to pray. Alone. The chapter begins with the death of John the Baptist’s death.    Jesus tries to retreat for prayer, perhaps in response to the news.  This time alone was probably interrupted by the feeding of the 5000.
    4. While he’s praying, the boat is far from land, in a storm.
    5. He comes to them on the water (maybe?). He tells them to not be afraid, “It is I.” This translates as “I am.” Not only is he saying, “It’s me, Jesus, your teacher and friend, but he is also saying, "It’s me, God." Whichever way you hear it, he is telling them to not be afraid. Trust him.
    6. What about the phrase, “Take heart.” What does that mean? What is heart? Is it courage? Take courage from me?
    7. When they are in danger, physically, from the storm, Jesus comes to them. In the middle of this storm, when they are far from safety, when their lives are in danger, he tells them to not be afraid. “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
    Continued tomorrow...

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      Tuesday, August 02, 2011

      Growth

      We visited with a potential donor couple today who would like to start a scholarship.  She told us that it was God's money and that she prayed for the wisdom to do with it what God wanted done.  She said if he wanted it to grow, it would grow.

      I've thought about that.  I hope that if she placed it at the Foundation, it will grow in value.  If they create a trust to fund a scholarship, then the scholarships will help the recipients to grow in knowledge and wisdom.

      If we are a church, and we pray for wisdom for what to do, and act in obedience, then if God wants the church to grow, it will grow.  The people we reach will grow.  We will make disciples for Jesus Christ.

      Our gifts and talents belong to God.  We pray for wisdom to use them.  If God wants our ministry to grow, it will grow.

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      Monday, August 01, 2011

      Turning Away

      Joe, in his sermon on Sunday, was talking about Jesus -- do we stay with him, or will we leave him?

      He used a phrase that caught my attention:  "They turned away from him.  The treated Jesus the way they were supposed to treat sin."

      How often do we do that?  How often do we treat Jesus the way we are supposed to treat sin?

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