Thursday, December 20, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
3In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” 4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
- So... here is where the some of the difference comes from between Christians and Christian denominations. John the Baptist had followers just like Jesus later has followers. "Christian" means a follower of Christ.
- It is very easy to like what John the Baptist has to say or what Paul has to say versus what Jesus has to say. These aren't directly at odds with each other, but the question must be asked, "Who are you following?"
- If someone is following Paul, they are a Paul follower, not a Christ follower. I'm not making any judgments here, just by definition, that's what it is logically speaking. If someone is a John the Baptist follower than that is what they are.
- Both John the Baptist and Paul point to Jesus and tell people to follow him, not them, yet that's not what many of us do.
- Perspectives of these guys are part of a much bigger story and when we get caught up with them,such as with issues about baptism, homosexuality, calling out the "sin" of other people, etc. we miss the bigger picture of Jesus.
- John the Baptist here, gives a sermon that you might here in many churches today, but it is just a small part of the point. These churches stop after the sermon and miss the part about looking to Jesus and the fact that there is WAY more to the story.
Monday, November 26, 2007
36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
This reminds me of those annoying "christian" bumper stickers that say something to the point of, "In case of the rapture, this car will be unmanned." or something similarly obnoxious.
This is a radical misinterpretation of this and many other parts of the bible in my opinion. This is about the beginning of a relationship with God, not the end.
The "coming of the Son of Man" is analogous to having a revelation or epiphany of some sort. A life-changing realization that completely alters your world view. So often, church people try to force this sort of thing or create an artificial conversion experience. As this part of the bible exposes, it should be something much more organic and authentic. We aren't supposed to be doing this or that, only being ready for what is about to happen.
Monday, November 05, 2007
27Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 34Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; 35but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 37And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”
This is a bit confusing, and seemingly pointless... but once we discover a few things, it really opens up!
- Sadducees rely only on the Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament) they take it literally.
- Marriage in the Torah was the way to live on past death. It was about keeping your name going rather than romance or love like it is today. It was also about property as men would trade some property for their wives. The father owned the daughter until some dude would buy her from him, basically.
- If a guy dies, his brother marries his wife so that the name will live on. This is the Sadducees idea of "eternal life."
- This was a polygamous society so a brother could marry the wife even if he was already married.
- They are arguing about "life after death" not physical resurrection.
- The Torah doesn't talk specifically or directly about life after death, so the Sadducees reject the idea.
- reframing the idea of marriage, saying that his idea of eternal life has nothing to do with this institution of marriage which is ultimately self-serving and oppressive at that time.
- Using their own scripture to show them how silly their little story is.
- Many "Christians" still read Scripture just like the Sadducees and molest it in a way that proves what they want to prove.
- Jesus speaks to them in their own language to show that their own scripture talks about resurrection.
- The idea of "heaven" isn't as simplistic as we like to make it... it may have a much deeper meaning.
- Many people, Christians and other people like to make these kind of ideas literal so they can try to "prove" or "disprove" something. If it is not meant to be so literal and the beauty comes out in symbolism, metaphor and poetry... we don't get into these arguments and we find truth in beautiful ways.
- This is a shift from "modern" logic and reason based thinking to "post-modern" creative and intuitive kind of thinking. Maybe Jesus was "post-modern" and that's why nobody gets him a lot of the time. (just a joke, kind of...)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
19He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
- What we notice about Zacchaeus: 1. Seeking Jesus 2. Chief Tax Collector and rich 3. His size and the crowd kept him from seeing Jesus 4. He did what he had to do despite what anyone else tried to do to stop him 5. Welcomed Jesus 6. Took action, Participated 7. Realized that what was "his" was not really "his" 7. Did what he could to make up for his mistakes 8. Didn't just pay for his mistakes, but for the mistakes of other Tax Collectors by giving away half of what he had before even paying back those he wronged.
- Why is the Nintendo Wii so popular? Because of the participatory nature of it? Zacchaeus is an example to us because he "participated" and didn't just play church or play Christian. He was authentic and real. His actions prove this.
- Tax Collectors were mostly thieves and ripped people off regularly... a "chief tax collector" probably even more.
- The "crowd" keeps people from Jesus... how does the church "crowd" keep people from Jesus?
- Verse 10 "For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” Is that what the church models? Is that what we are here for? Is that our goal? Or is it to "get something out of it" or to be comfortable. If church is not for the "lost" what is it for? Does the church "seek out" the lost and meet people where they are and give them something to "get out of it?"
Thursday, October 11, 2007
11On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”
We know we are supposed to reach out and take Jesus to the world. John Wesley said that we are changed when we serve others. This Gospel passage shows us how an "outsider" can show things that we can't see for ourselves. When we are around something all the time, we tend to not appreciate it. Bringing "outsiders" into our church can enlighten us to things that we take for granted or just ignore. This Samaritan man shows us how important outsiders are to God, to us and to the church. We can learn from those that aren't familiar... and should. How can we do this in our own lives every day?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
1 Timothy 6:6-19
6Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 11But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
13In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 17As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
This goes along with the gospel reading for the week rather well. I think the Gospel is pretty clear about money and how we should not let it be too important to us. I don't think there is much of a contextual difference on this issue between the times that this was written and today. Money is what money was: security, status and comfort. If we are counting on our wealth to give us these things than we are not depending on God. It is difficult because we can easily use this as an excuse for poor stewardship because if money isn't important to us we can just blow it on whatever and then wonder why God isn't providing. We must be good stewards with what we have as well as depend on God for security, status and comfort.
We have many other idols besides money that we get these three things from and this is just as problematic. Just because we aren't rich, doesn't mean we aren't idolaters. When we fight about worship, it is an issue of comfort and security in a different way. It is so interesting to me how songs people are used to mean the most to them and touch them the most. I think sometimes we desire comfort so badly that we confuse it with being touched in a way that leads to progress. Being comfortable is important but it isn't going to make you better unless you use such comfort to be uncomfortable in new ways. Discomfort can lead to progress in many ways and we have a choice when we are uncomfortable... we can move forward into new comfort or back into old comfort. The more we do uncomfortable things the less uncomfortable they become and this allows us to "get out of the box" in different ways.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I recently preached from Luke where Jesus talks about God needing to know who's on God's team and that you can't do this thing halfway. Now we visit people... don't get me wrong, I'm sure all pastors visit people when they are sick and when they are in need of something, but what if we made "recruiting visits?" I don't mean bringing a coffee cup with the church's picture on it to somebody that visits, but to really find out who's gonna be on the team and who's not. Here's what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna start visiting "key" people in the church and taking the "new member" packet with me and finding out who's really on board. Then I'm gonna have a game plan for the week, just like the coaches do. I've always wanted to be a coach, so here's my chance... no more office work, no more fluff, it's time to get down and dirty!
Friday, September 07, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
18The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2“Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him. 5Then the word of the Lord came to me: 6Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. 7At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. 9And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.
11Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
so my new thing is to try to read scripture organically! This is going to be slow going for a bit, but bear with me as I try to exegete the text in a post-rational way!
Potters- what do they do? They form, they create, they mold, they shape, they spin a pot they transform clay into a pot
clay- what does it feel like? mushy, soft, flexible, potential, gross, messy, dirty, stains your hands, pretty worthless, controlled, helpless
sight- lump into beautiful, useful pot
sound - hmmm?
touch - formation
smell - kinda gross, then smell goes away
taste - don't think this is applicable
The main sense I am getting at the moment is how we are like clay and we are easily manipulated by whatever hands are on us. The difference is that as human beings, we have a choice of who our potter is going to be. We can be molded and shaped and transformed by God, or we can be shaped by something else, or we can just sit there like a lump of clay!
Friday, August 31, 2007
* We did this really cool activity getting to know Len and him getting to know us. We used out name to identify ourselves as a brand and then we told some of our intangible assets. 65-75% of the total value of Fortune 500 companies is intangible (which is an unbelievable statistic) so we used that model. After we named these things about ourselves, we went around the room and named them about one another. It was very moving and affective, even though we had only known one another for 2 days.
* A new friend of mine went with me to a jazz club and we checked out this jam session that these guys were doing and it was amazing. We went to a punk rock show after that... I love Portland!!! This one band was called "Hostile Combover" and they weren't that good, but come on... that is one of the best band names ever! The next band totally rocked!!! They were called "Hope is Noise" and they are from Ireland... they are really good! This is seriously the coolest city I have ever been in...
Friday, August 24, 2007
1:4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
1:6 Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy."
1:7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you,
1:8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD."
1:9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, "Now I have put my words in your mouth.
1:10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."
We are afraid... as pastors, we are afraid to let people know where we stand; we are afraid to say something that someone else might disagree with; we are "supposed" to be neutral on political issues etc. Now, I'm not saying we should preach politics from the pulpit, I disdain that and won't even get into it now, but why can't I help with a campaign or put a bumper sticker on my car? Do we, as pastors, really feel like we are so important that we can't have an opinion of our own without necessarily speaking for God. I know God is a Ralph Nader fan ; -) but if he doesn't run this time, do I just need to be quiet about it. I am still mulling this over.
Jeremiah was afraid too, and he is having a lot of responsibility put on his shoulders here! What does it mean to have God's words put inside of you? I know that when I preach, I rarely think about what I am saying, it is somehow on a more subconscious level. That's the only way I can explain it. I'm not saying that God is speaking instead of me, but when I get into that kind of "trance" (I guess) I feel like God can use me better than when I am controlling every word. This is the best way that I experience this type of thing. It is important to let ourselves go, not to take ourselves too seriously, and to enjoy God, enjoy life, and enjoy revolutionizing the world with God's Kingdom!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Luke 13:10-17 (New International Version)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible SocietyA Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath
14Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."
15The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
17When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
How do we put rules and schedules before people and God? The always "anal" Pharisees are at Jesus again, because he put the woman higher on his priority list than the rules of the church. I wonder how much we put rules, both written and unwritten, above people, above the church, and even above God. My younger brother is writing a journal about breaking social norms. He is going to break norms and write down people's reaction and how he felt at the time. This should prove to be a very interesting undertaking. It's funny how much we are used to some things and how much of our comfort and security lies in these things. I wonder if we put more of our comfort and security in God, maybe little things, like rules, wouldn't bother us as much... or at all!
The other thing that strikes me about this is how bold Jesus is. He is around the Pharisees, he knows how they are going to react, and he still does what he thinks is right... or in his case, I guess he knows it's right! As pastors and as Christians we seem to care more what people think than what is right. Somehow, the gospel has turned into making everyone like us, or keeping everyone happy instead of revolutionizing the world with God's infinite love!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Rocky Balboa: The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
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1. We pay attention to a lot of different things in our lives. We check the weather, we check the stock market, we check the box scores from last night's game (the Yankees lost btw, : ( What if we paid attention to what God was doing as much as we paid attention to these things? God is at work all around us whether we are a part of it or not! This is a very humbling thought! I like to think that God's work needs to be done in this world, so I better get busy... but it's not about me. I should feel more honored, I should feel more humbled, I should feel more in awe about participating in God's action for the transformation of the world!
2. This passage makes me uncomfortable because I guess, in a way, I really do believe that Jesus did come, does come, to bring peace on earth. I can't quite put my finger on exactly why I believe this at the moment, but I can think of tons of ways that Jesus did bring people together and still does bring people together! Jesus preached peace, and Jesus acted to create peace. Why would he say what he says in verse 51? What does he mean? Why does it bother me so much?
3. Of course, since the NIV uses the word "baptism," this got me thinking about baptism. This is a huge point of dissension between denominations that I deal with fairly often. I was visiting "The Bridge" church in Phoenix a few weeks ago and they had a few baptisms. Now, "The Bridge" is associated with the Baptist Church (and it is very cool btw) so the sermon on baptism and the theology surrounding it, was of course different than mine. This is what I learned from this wonderful experience: I think that baptism is a tool that God gives us to use. It doesn't "mean" exactly one thing, it is God being present through water and the Spirit to symbolize and transform in different ways. The Ancient Jews used baptism as a conversion experience, John the Baptist used it as a sign of repentance, Baptists use it as a sign to symbolize a commitment to Christ (what John Wesley would call "justifying grace"), United Methodists use it as a sign of all of these things and more. Jesus is using the term to refer to God marking him and being present in the Crucifixion. I think it matters how we use baptism, more than whether we roll the dice correctly and decide EXACTLY what baptism "means."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Although this sign is fake, I will never ceased to be amazed and disturbed by people that have had these kinds of things said to them, whether implicitly or explicitly. It seems that over and over again, people tell me stories about experiences they have had in church where they were condemned for one reason or another. When I hear these stories, I am not surprised that many churches and many denominations are getting smaller. Whether we are the ones inciting the bigotry not, we are certainly paying for the actions of others on a large scale.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
There Are No Such Thing as Shark Attacks
There are these things called shark attacks, but there is no such thing as a shark attack. I have never seen a real shark attack.
I know you’re making a weird face as you’re reading this. OK people, a shark attack is not what we see on TV and what people portray it as.
We’re humans. We live on land.
Sharks live in water.
So if you’re swimming in the water and a shark bites you, that’s called trespassing. That is called trespassing. That is not a shark attack.
A shark attack is if you’re chilling at home, sitting on your couch, and a shark comes in and bites you; now that’s a shark attack. Now, if you’re chilling in the water, that is called invasion of space. So I have never heard of a shark attack.
When I see on the news where it’s like, “There have been 10 shark attacks,” I’m like, “Hey, for real?! They’re just running around? Sharks are walking now, huh! We live on the land, we don’t live underwater.”
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I hesitate in answering "the homosexual question" not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question.
We pastors want to frame our answer around that need; we want to fit in with the Holy Spirit's work in that person's life at that particular moment. To put it biblically, we want to be sure our answers are "seasoned with salt" and appropriate to "the need of the moment" (Col. 4; Eph. 4).
Most of the emerging leaders I know share my agony over this question. We fear that the whole issue has been manipulated far more than we realize by political parties seeking to shave percentage points off their opponent's constituency. We see whatever we say get sucked into a vortex of politicized culture-wars rhetoric--and we're pastors, evangelists, church-planters, and disciple-makers, not political culture warriors. Those who bring us honest questions are people we are trying to care for in Christ's name, not cultural enemies we're trying to vanquish.he concludes...
Welcome to our world. Being "right" isn't enough. We also need to be wise. And loving. And patient. Perhaps nothing short of that should "seem good to the Holy Spirit and us."
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
All of you have a generous spirit and it warms my heart to be in community with you. It is in this spirit that I say that we have the opportunity to make a difference in our surrounding area spreading out into the world. The church is a place that should be making the world better and we have the opportunity to do more and more of this as we grow spiritually and all become leaders for God. I think about Jesus and how much time he spent around the poor. Then I look at my own life and ask the same question, while getting a very different answer. When I lived in