Friday, August 31, 2007

Wednesday with Len Sweet

Here are some things I've been learning and thinking about these past couple of days:

* 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

OT Lectionary Blog for 8/26/07

Jeremiah 1:4-10

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

Gospel Lectionary Blog for 8/26/07

Luke 13:10-17 (New International Version)

New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath

10On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

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"

So I watched "Rocky Balboa" today and this line hit me pretty hard, so I thought i'd share...

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

Lectionary Contemplation for August 19th

Luke 12:49-56

Not Peace but Division

49“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! 51Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother–in–law against daughter–in–law and daughter–in–law against mother–in–law.”

Interpreting the Times

54He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It's going to rain,’ and it does. 55And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It's going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?

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

Who do we push away?

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

I'm sure this is totally irreverant somehow, but... check it out anyway!

This is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time!!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Gilbert Arenas

I love this guy... This comes from the Wizards Star Gilbert Arenas' blog and he makes a good point I think. This cracks me up!

There Are No Such Thing as Shark Attacks
I know this is random, but I just want to clear this up for people out there.

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.”