Thursday, September 12, 2019

Perspectives: Bottles


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Theological Absolutes

The more committed we are to certain theological absolutes, the more likely we are to discount the work of the Spirit when it doesn't confirm to our presumptions. (Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans).

Theological absolutes.  What are your theological absolutes? Are they the words you recite when you say the Apostles' Creed? Are there more? Are there less? Are they different than those words?

How tightly do you hold to those absolutes? Do they become synonymous with God? 

Do we think if we were to doubt our absolutes, that we would be doubting God? Doubting God's existence? Doubting God's word? Do our absolutes become an idol?

And do we hold so tightly to them that even the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and others becomes invisible to us? Can we become so stubborn in what we hold that we blind ourselves to God?

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Near? Or not?

Am I a God nearby, says the Lord, and not a God far off?  Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? say the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.  (Jeremiah 23:23-24)

We believe God is close by, don't we? In our hearts? In our rooms? In our churches? In our cities? In our offices? At our tables?  I think that we say we believe that, but I'm not always sure that we act as if we believe it.

When was the last time you were in a church committee meeting and felt that those who were in the room with you (and yourself) were speaking and acting as if God was sitting in the room with you? That God was a part of your conversation? How would your deliberation and decisions change if you acted on what you believe?

When was the last time you filtered your prayers to not include those actions for which you are ashamed? Keeping a secret? Do we not believe that God knows what we have done? How we feel?  Who are we trying to fool?  God? Maybe ourselves?

Do we act as if God is walking with us? Do we treat people with love and kindness? Or do we ignore them, or hurt them? 

Is God a God who is near? Or far away?

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Monday, September 09, 2019


In Sunday school a few weeks ago, the teacher read the book of Ruth to us.  It was interesting to hear the whole book read in one sitting.  We didn't (as a consequence of reading the entire book) have much time left to discuss the book; it did bring to mind questions about theme.

A few things I noticed:
  1. The book begins with a family fleeing to another country - one in which they are probably not welcome - to escape a famine.  They are refugees.  I wonder how much they were welcomed in their new home.  And when Ruth and Naomi come back to Naomi's home, Ruth is a foreigner.  How is she welcomed?  I believe this book was written after the Exile, when the prophets were telling the returning Israelites that they should abandon their non-Hebrew spouses and find new wives from the chosen people.  This story is counter to that idea - on purpose, I believe.  What does it say to us, today? How do we treat the refugee and foreigner? How does God tell us to treat them? How would we react to being in Ruth's place? Naomi's place? Boaz's place?
  2. I wonder if this is also a story of loyalty? Ruth's loyalty to her mother-in-law is very obvious.  Also, though, there is Boaz's loyalty.  He is faithful to his beliefs by trying to follow the law and care for the relatives of his relatives.  He does more than that - he cares for the widows.  He allows Ruth to glean - more even than he has to.  He protects her. He will find a way for both of the women to find permanent care - either through the actions of another relative or his own.
  3. It was interesting to me that I had not noticed that Boaz's goal is to make sure Naomi has an heir.  If you read the book, you will see it repeated several times.  He will do that by marrying her daughter-in-law and having children who will be heirs to her deceased son, and thus to her.
  4. One of the discussion questions regarding arranged marriage.  Is this an arranged marriage? I'm not sure, and I keep wondering about that.  I suppose in some ways it is. Naomi instructs Ruth how to proceed so that Boaz will marry her. To me, though, it's not the main theme.  It's just part of the culture of the time.
It's an interesting book.  I think multiple readings would result in continued revelation.

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