Thursday, February 28, 2019



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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Word

Yesterday, I quoted Rachel Held Evans: "The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget-- that what makes the gospel offensive isn't who it keeps out but who it lets in."

Consider for a moment the story of Mary and Martha.  A few years ago, I wrote about this story.  
But that's not what it's about. Mary's decision was radical. Mary decides to not be who she was and to  be someone else -- to be a disciple, sitting at Jesus' feet and learning from him. Ortberg writes,  "Martha did what the culture valued in women: cleaned the house and cooked the food. Mary did  what the culture valued in men: became a disciple".
It's a life transforming decision. And Jesus approved.
Anytime we are struggling with biblical interpretation, we should place our thoughts and teachings against what we know of God and what we know of Jesus.  This is the Word.  This is Truth.

As I thought of this today, I reflected about the evangelical debate regarding complementarianism vs egalitarianism.  When we understand that patriarchy is a synonym of complementariansim, then we understand that the complementarian edict that man should be the head of the household, the head of the church, the head of the world is based SOLELY on the fact that he is a man.  They try to support this idea by saying it is a biblical mandate (my words).  

Compare that to how Jesus lived - the true Word.  Compare that to the idea that God created man and woman in God's image.  I think the patriarchal view espoused by complementarians is supported by our 1950s view of traditional family structure, not by Jesus.  Not even by the Bible, if one reads it deeply instead of proof-texting.  References to Biblical Manhood, Biblical Womanhood, and the Biblical definition of marriage as are used to try to support the edict, but they fail.  The 1950's image of Ozzie and Harriet is not scripture.  Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is the Word.  What does Jesus say?  

And what does the Bible really say?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Who it lets in

Reading this morning from Rachel Held Evans' book, Inspired.

Think about the trifecta of stories in the Gospel of Mark:
  • In chapter 1, Jesus heals a leper by touching him.
  • In chapter 5, a woman who is bleeding touches Jesus and is healed.
  • The story in Chapter 5 is interwoven with the story about Jarius. Jesus goes to his home and brings his dead daughter back to life by touching her.
All three - the leper, the bleeding woman, and the dead little girl are untouchable.  And yet Jesus touches them.  He didn't have to.  Do you believe he could have healed them without touching them? I do. But the touch was part of the healing. The touch changes them from untouchable to part of the society again.

In speaking about these miracles in The Meaning in the Miracles, Jeffrey John says what is more relevant to us is that "...the miracles universal significance; the overturning of social and religious barriers; the abolition of taboos; and Jesus' declaration of God' love and compassion for everyone, expressed in the systemic inclusion of each class of previously excluded or marginalized.

Who in your neighborhood is marginalized? Who is untouchable? Who needs to be returned to the community, even though they are physically present? And what can you do about it as you act as the hands and feet of Christ?

Evans goes on to write, "The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget-- that what makes the gospel offensive isn't who it keeps out but who it lets in."

Do we remember that?

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Monday, February 25, 2019

What prevents you from worshiping?

In Sunday school today, the teacher asked us, "What impedes your worship in the Sanctuary?"  The question was met with crickets.  No one really had an answer.  

I've heard various answers before from others.  Some of them included:
  • Applause prevents me from worshiping (Oh, please, don't get me started - applaud.  It's worship.  Anyway, moving on...)
  • ___________ kind of music.  Fill in the blank here.  It can be anything from contemporary, to classic, to organ.  
  • Today in class, someone said "the absence of children" which I thought was a cool answer. I've heard the opposite, though - that the noise of children prevents some people from worshiping.
  • Long sermons.  Short sermons.  Sermons that are read from a manuscript. (Truthfully, none of these matter if the sermon is good, to me).
How would you answer? What prevents you from worshiping?

As I thought about the question, ironically, during worship, the answer that was the most honest (to me) came to me.  I prevent myself from worshiping.  I fail to focus, I fail to silence the distractions in my mind.  I fail to worship because I can be my own biggest obstacle.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Prayer for Next Week

On a walk through the woods at Snowshoe last year, I saw this tree.  It had been an obstacle - one that without intervention, would have prevented Steve and me from continuing down the path.

If I had been walking on the path before the fallen tree had been cut, I could not have imagined a way to clear the path myself.  I might have climbed over the tree, or turned around, but I couldn't have removed the tree on my own.

Next Monday, our church is meeting together in General Conference.  Please pray.

Creating God, loving God, sustaining God,
with boldness and humility
we come together as your Church,
or at least in the broken image
of your Church,
and we ask for your help.

Open our minds,
Open our hearts,
Open our doors.
Revive our imagination.
Help us to see your presence
in the work that will be done.
That has been done.
That is being done.

I pray, loving God,
that you will help those gathered
and those of us not with them,
to see a way to
be your Church.
United in Christ.
With arms open to reach all of us.
Every one of your children.
As you do.

Be in the room with the delegates.
Close their mouths, open their minds.
Shut away their fears, and recreate their hearts.
Increase their kindness, and decrease their stubborness.
Stengthen each of them for the work you have called them to do.
Not the work they have picked up,
but the mission of your Church.
Clear their hands of what they bring,
and make way for what you give.

May they all be changed.
And may your church be changed.
To be your Church.

Be here with us,
those of us not present.
Bring us the same gifts
that you provide the delegates.
Receate in all of us
the hearts we need
to move forward in your Will.

I let it go,
and place it your care,
where it belongs.
Trusting you,
that you are at work,
as I know you are.
And that your way,
is the Way.

I pray in your son's name,
and ask for his presence in their work
next week.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Walking on Today's Water

I'm reading Rachel Held Evans book, Inspired.  Chapter 6 includes a section called "The Sea;' it begins with a modern retelling of Peter and Jesus walking on water.  The story begins with a pastor on a boat during a tour that includes the Sea of Galilee during a storm.  As lightning strikes, they turn back to shore, and the man (Pete) sees Jesus walking towards the boat. On the water.

It was a little disconcerting to read the story.  Modern, but with Jesus walking on the water.  It made me wonder - where in our lives do we find Jesus walking on the water?

It would be an unexpected place during an unexpected time.  When in your life have you been down, even to the point of doubting the presence of God, and then found God walking on the water toward you?

When in your life have you needed to see Christ, walking toward you? And found him?

When in your life have you taken the risk, stepped out on the water, and been Christ for someone else who desperately needed him?

Can you watch for Christ? Can you take the risk to step out and be the hands of feet of Christ, present for someone else?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Do we believe the same things?

I'm reading Rachel Held Evans book, Inspired.  As I was thinking thoughts related to yesterday's post, I read this:

God is busy making all thins new, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it.  The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up int he same story, with Jesus as the center.

While you and I are debating issues, God is going about God's work - changing lives, transforming the world.  Do we want in on it? 

I love and applaud the idea that the church is not a group of people who believe the same things.  Certainly, we have a shared system of beliefs that unite us, but beyond that, we do not  We do we continue to insist that we must? 

The church is a group of people caught up in the same story.  Are we? God is transforming the world all around us; are we caught up in that story? Or are we failing to be an obedient church?

Is Christ at the center of what we do?

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Monday, February 18, 2019


In Sunday school a few weeks ago, a member of the class read a quote from John Wesley taken from his journal, dated October 6, 1774:

"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them,
  1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:
  2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And,
  3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
I've been thinking about those words.  Do you find them difficult to put into practice?  When they were read in Sunday school, another member said, "Well, one out of three isn't bad."

We would all agree, I think, that we shouldn't sell our vote, and that we should make a judgement and vote.  But what about the other two?

I admit, I do speak negatively words about the person against whom I vote, and I do probably have sharp words to say about the people who do not vote the way I do.  And yet, I do think there are times when one must stand up and speak against the people and ideas that we believe are wrong, or even evil.  

In a country that is so divided politically, and in a church that is divided by one particular (that we are currently noticing) issue, how do we implement Wesley's advice while still acting and speaking with integrity?

I don't have the answers, and I confess I've not been able to follow Wesley's advice, but I do think we need to see the other person as a person.  Once we change that person into an issue or into an obstacle, and no longer see him or her as a child of God, we lose the ability to act in Christ's healing peace.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Navigating the New Year: A List, Part 3

For the last two days and today,  I'm posting a list I wrote at the beginning of the new year.  Don't take it too seriously, or take it very seriously - whatever speaks to you.  I'm not talking to anyone in particular, or everyone in particular, or quite possibly myself.

In other words, take it for what it is worth - not much, but there are a few laughs in there.  It has forty-five bullets, so 15 on each day.  Here are the last 15:
  1. When it is a choice between doing something or cleaning, do the thing. The dirt will be there tomorrow. (Unless a holiday is coming, then clean. You have to cleans sometime.)
  2. Just because I don't share your Facebook post does not mean I don't love God.  Stop telling me that it does.
  3. When you say, "I wish I had the time to..." you do realize that everyone's days have the same number of hours, right?  Choose differently.
  4. If you are feeling overwhelmed, throw something away. Literally. 
  5. Listen. And don’t let your answer (if there needs to be one) begin with “that is like when I...” too often. It’s not about you. 
  6. Not everyone wants or needs your advice.  
  7. Don’t brag about your ability to say “no” unless you say “yes” sometimes. 
  8. Laugh - it is very good for you. 
  9. Make a list and check things off. Even a false sense of accomplishment can motivate you to get things done. And a list will clear your mind for the action that needs done. 
  10. If your brain is nagging you about something, listen to it. It’s your brain, and it has been right before. 
  11. Ask why. 
  12. Check Snopes before re-posting. You are responsible for what you post, and it’s probably not true. 
  13. When you are posting in response to someone, imagine you are sitting in his living room, and your mother is with you. Would you say it then?  
  14. Proofread. And if necessary (and it probably is necessary) ask someone else to read it, too. 
  15. Beware of lists like this. Investigate the truth of everything on your own. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Navigating the New Year: A List, Part 2

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,  I'm posting a list I wrote at the beginning of the new year.  Don't take it too seriously, or take it very seriously - whatever speaks to you.  I'm not talking to anyone in particular, or everyone in particular, or quite possibly myself.

In other words, take it for what it is worth - not much, but there are a few laughs in there.  It has forty-five bullets, so 15 on each day.  Here are the next 15:
  1. Change the sheets on your bed, even if you don't want to.  You will be glad you did.
  2. Burn the candles.  Use the pretty printed napkins. Stop saving them. You will never enjoy them until you use them for the purpose for which they were designed.
  3. In a public restroom, check for the presence of toilet paper. First.
  4. Not only do you not always HAVE to be right, there are many times you just aren't right.  Be humble enough to see that.
  5. It just is not necessary to point out every mistake you see or hear.  It's OK to let some of them go by unremarked.
  6. Worry less.  Stop believing that the worst will happen.  You will miss the best of today.
  7. When you say, "I don't know how to wash clothes" or "I can't cook," you just sound silly.  It's not rocket science, and you are a smart person - just go do it. (edit this to apply to whatever you are trying to avoid doing).
  8. It always seems terrible in the middle of the night.  Wait until morning, and it will be less terrible.
  9. Be an adult. Anticipate the results of what you are about to do.
  10. Say thank you, and mean it.  
  11. Do nice things for people just because it is an expression of the love of God. Grace is unearned and cannot be repaid. Give away happy.
  12. What everyone else says and what everyone else does is rarely about you.  Stop assuming that it is.
  13. Leave a conversation learning more about the other person than he learned about you.  If you don't, then you weren't listening.
  14. The way you have experienced a situation may not be how another person is experiencing it, even if you think they are the same, so avoid saying, "I know what you are going through" very often.  You may not.
  15. You will make mistakes sometimes; everyone does. The issue is not the mistake, it is how you respond to it. Be honest, do what you can to fix it, learn from it.  Take more responsibility for it than you think is yours. 


Monday, February 11, 2019

Navigating the New Year: A List, Part 1

I have my new computer.  Yippee! What I don't have are my files or many of my programs.  I anticipate those this week.  Cross your fingers and toes.

So, we're back to blogging with a soft start. Today and the two days that follow, I'm posting a list I wrote at the beginning of the new year.  Don't take it too seriously, or take it very seriously - whatever speaks to you.  I'm not talking to anyone in particular, or everyone in particular, or quite possibly myself.

In other words, take it for what it is worth - not much, but there are a few laughs in there.  It has forty-five bullets, so 15 on each day.
  1. Create. If you think you can’t be creative, it may be because you aren’t being creative. The only way to be creative is to be creative. 
  2. Stop looking for the bad. Look for the good. And talk about that. Be more optimistic.
  3. See the people as people, not as issues. See the people first - and then discuss the issues. Failing to see the people is objectification and it cannot lead to peace. 
  4. It is a good and faithful thing to stand up for what you believe. Make sure it is what YOU believe, not what you think you should believe - don’t be a blind follower. Think for yourself. 
  5. People never earn forgiveness, including you. It is an act of grace. 
  6. A MEME on Facebook may not be true, even if it sounds poetic.  Think about it before reposting it.
  7. You have the ultimate power over your computer - you can turn it off.  If it misbehaves, exercise your authority.
  8. You are the boss of your underage children. Act like it.  You are not the boss of your adult children, even when you think you are right.
  9. No one can read you mind, even when you think you are hinting at high volume.  Use words.
  10. What you think has happened, and what has really happened may not be the same.  Stop confusing your conclusions with fact.  
  11. Stop acting in ways that are passive-aggressive.  Even the name of it sounds dishonest.
  12. Send cards. It may not feel like a big action, but it feels like one to the recipient.
  13. Go to church. It isn’t about you, so a sunrise or a garden won’t do it. Be in church so that you can be the church. (Edit for your own faith). 
  14. Whatever happens, you will have a story to tell. 
  15. If you think the Bible says the answer clearly, you are wrong. The Bible is beautifully complicated. Have enough respect for it to realize that.


Monday, February 04, 2019

Silent Black Screen


I'm still here, but haven't been posting.  About the time I planned to return to the blog, my computer died.  It was fine on a Thursday when I used it happily for several hours, but by Sunday, it would not power on.  Just silent.  All amateur and professional attempts to revive it were not fruitful.  It remains dead.  It Will Not Power On.  Period.

I've ordered a new computer, and I am told it will be here this week.  Life is too busy at work for me to blog from there, so the blog will remain silent a little while longer.

The funeral for the dead computer will be delayed until the computer surgeon is able to extract its brain and transfer its thoughts, hopes, and aspirations to the new computer.

I hope you are staying warm and safe, and that your electronic equipment is alive and kicking.

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