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Updated: 2015-09-16T12:23:21.681-04:00

 



new blogging location

2010-07-08T07:42:16.026-04:00

The day after the last post, this blog was lost, perhaps to a robot which confiscated blogs which had characteristics of spam blogs. Perhaps mine was so confiscated because of all the hyperlinks on it. At any rate here is the new location with the same title.



active in God's will

2009-11-16T05:11:31.273-05:00

I reposted the Saturday posting on nationalism because I thought it might get a couple more readers today. But I add a short post for any who may have read that one already.

To talk about being active in God's will is indeed a mouthful. It doesn't mean some mindless or dead repetition of works or routines. Though it certainly involves repitition of works and routines.

It involves first of all learning God's revealed will from Scripture and in Jesus. This comes from our own reading of Scripture, as well as our participation in the community gathering of the church. We learn by listening, but we also learn by participation. And in this two-fold dynamic we will begin to sense God at work in our lives. Both in using us in our lives and witness, and in changing us to be more and more conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

For me lately, this means I'm making it a priority to intentionally gather with God's people other times than our regular times, but in more intimate, smaller gatherings. This also involves more openness to correction to critique from others if it happens, and from Scripture itself as I view my life and seek to learn from both Scripture and life with others.

One of my biggest problems in the past as a Christian is that I haven't been active enough in God's will. And God's will while involving acts also involves change in our lives. In our hearts as well as actions in words and deeds. This is the tipping point we need.

What about you? What have you discovered about being active in God's will?



nationalism: good or bad?

2009-11-16T04:50:39.975-05:00

Nationalism as understood today may have had its roots in Europe, but its seems to have begun within the story in Genesis 11 of the Tower of Babel, people no longer united due to their different languages- hence the term babble- and spreading throughout the earth. There is much difference over the precise meaning and significance of nationalism, perhaps reflected here by two sets of definitions for the term, from two respected sources:
1. Devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation.
2. The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.
3. Aspirations for national independence in a country under foreign domination.

The Free Online Dictionary
1 : loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups
2 : a nationalist movement or government

Merriam-Webster Online
From a Christian point of view we can ask the question, "Is nationalism good, or bad?" And from respected sources such as C.S. Lewis and Stanley Hauerwas (Dietrich Bonhoeffer probably being closer to Hauerwas than Lewis) you will again get varying answers. Of course all recognize that any nation-state can demand of its citizens or subjects that which only God can demand of them, and that nationalism with nationalistic settings and goals can indeed amount to idolatry.

My vantage point theologically is greatly impacted by the Anabaptists. Of course there's a wide spectrum among them as to how this is understood and played out. But by and large I am wary of a kind of devotion to one's nation that is attached with commitments to political parties, or entities, which may and inevitably I think will compromise one's commitment to the kingdom of God come in Jesus. Though I am of the persuasion that as salt and light here on earth, we in Jesus are to impact every sphere of life. The question is just how we're to do that.

This is just a preliminary sketch on a subject I'm pondering a bit, lately. An interesting link on this, here.

What do you think about this?



Brian McLaren on part of the reason Jesus spoke in parables

2009-11-15T06:30:00.986-05:00

Why did Jesus speak in parables? Why was he subtle, indirect, and secretive? Because his message wasn't merely aimed at conveying information. It sought to precipitate something more important: the spiritual transformation of the hearers. The form of parable helps to shape a heart that is willing to enter an ongoing, interactive, persistent relationship of trust in the teacher. It beckons the hearer to explore new territory. It helps form a heart that is humble enough to admit it doesn't already understand and is thirsty enough to ask questions. In other words, a parable renders its hearers not as experts, not as know-it-alls, not as scholars . . . but as children.

Now do some of the most famous sayings of Jesus begin to make more sense- about the kingdom of God belonging to children, about needing to become like a little child to enter the kingdom, about needing to be born again? Children are dependent, not independent. They can't learn unless they ask questions of people they trust. Their thirst for knowledge expresses itself in an unquenchable curiosity, a passionate inquisitiveness.
Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, 46, 47.



prayer to digest God's word for the assured hope of eternal life

2009-11-15T06:00:01.757-05:00

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer



nationalism: good or bad?

2009-11-14T11:51:54.505-05:00

Nationalism as understood today may have had its roots in Europe, but its seems to have begun within the story in Genesis 11 of the Tower of Babel, people no longer united due to their different languages- hence the term babble- and spreading throughout the earth. There is much difference over the precise meaning and significance of nationalism, perhaps reflected here by two sets of definitions for the term, from two respected sources:
1. Devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation.
2. The belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.
3. Aspirations for national independence in a country under foreign domination.

The Free Online Dictionary
1 : loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups
2 : a nationalist movement or government

Merriam-Webster Online
From a Christian point of view we can ask the question, "Is nationalism good, or bad?" And from respected sources such as C.S. Lewis and Stanley Hauerwas (Dietrich Bonhoeffer probably being closer to Hauerwas than Lewis) you will again get varying answers. Of course all recognize that any nation-state can demand of its citizens or subjects that which only God can demand of them, and that nationalism with nationalistic settings and goals can indeed amount to idolatry.

My vantage point theologically is greatly impacted by the Anabaptists. Of course there's a wide spectrum among them as to how this is understood and played out. But by and large I am wary of a kind of devotion to one's nation that is attached with commitments to political parties, or entities, which may and inevitably I think will compromise one's commitment to the kingdom of God come in Jesus. Though I am of the persuasion that as salt and light here on earth, we in Jesus are to impact every sphere of life. The question is just how we're to do that.

This is just a preliminary sketch on a subject I'm pondering a bit, lately. An interesting link on this, here.

What do you think about this?



reading and pondering

2009-11-13T05:48:39.662-05:00

I heard a recent exchange among men on the importance of "the spiritual discipline of study." Was good, but not entirely sure what to think of it, except I have either misplaced, or never owned my own copy of the book they were referring to (good author). I will be looking at that book soon. One of our pastors, Sharon, in the past has taken us through Lectio Divina in reading Scripture, and it was good.

My point here is that I think we need to learn to read the Bible well. This will involve rereading it, to be sure. And reading it slowly and carefully. Pondering its meaning both for the original readers, and for us today. And trying to catch something of God's voice to us through that.

I have listened to the Bible being read I think dozens of times in my life. That is good, and keeps me in all the books throughout the year. Yet I find that the best reading I do is the kind where I can stop and ponder what I just read. If we sweep over a book, that is good as well, because a cardinal sin of Bible reading, and Bible memory is to take one "precious promise" or whatever from Scripture out of context. We need to read each part of every book in the context of that book.

But we also need to let what we read soak in. We need to ponder and think through each thought we read. And see it all in terms of the Story of God, and how we fit into that story.

This takes time and effort. It certainly involves being in the Book daily, or at least regularly. But it also involves living life and reading other books and listening to others. The Bible reflects real life and the real world, so that we need not be threatened by what we hear and read out there, as we continue to read Scripture. Indeed, we'll often find it eveh helpful to us. Of course not all of us are readers, though probably most bloggers are, so that most anyone who will read this, is. But I find that we need to be in Scripture reguarly, and we understand Scripture better as we seek to grow in living as fully as we can in this life before God through Christ with other believers for the sake of the world.

What has any of you found to be true from your own life and experience in this?



we're in this together

2009-11-12T05:31:31.111-05:00

"Get yourself some haverim." What in the world does that mean? Haverim is the Hebrew words which is plural for haver, which means a "friend". Havruta is a gathering of students to study Scripture, or the Torah. This is an interactive gathering divided up into various discussions over the text of Scripture. Sometimes vigorous debate going on as to the meaning and application of the text to life. Challenging questions to think and wrestle through the text are welcomed and encouraged.

Enter our western individualism mindset where my interpretation is as good as yours. Out of that comes some dubious interpretations, not to mention all the factions even within single groups. Though in the postmodern influence of today the differences don't matter. But sometimes they do. We see this when we understand the background and setting in Jesus' day, and his differences and confrontations with religious leaders of his day such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Zealots. Jesus amazed the religious leaders in the Temple at the age of twelve with his questions and understanding. And he attracted the crowds with his teaching and authority, even as he ended up repelling them and many of his disciples over his hard teachings which he taught were a fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.

I believe God has been working on me lately to take the time and make the sacrifice to interact more with other believers in gatherings. This is already built into my schedule once a week in a half hour of "devotions" at work, in which we are now working through the book of Ecclesiastes. In this is not only the need to grapple with the text of Scripture, but to grapple with it in terms of our lives, whether or not we're really beginning by grace to live it out. The haver gather in the havruta as disciples. They learn from their Rabbi, or Master Teacher, and then they venture to work out together how that applies to life. This suggests to me that our following of Jesus is to be worked out both in us individually seeking a close relationship and walk with Jesus, and seeking to do so together with others.

And we are to identify with each other in all of life. That includes past and future generations, but where the rubber may meet the road for us, the people we are around and know now. So that we see ourselves in participation with others in some way, at least by being able to identify with them, rather than seeing ourselves as a cut above them, which of course is not really the case.

And there is the need for transparency. Only as we are honest with others about our own struggles and God helping us through them, will they have any hope that God can help them, also. This is about being real and about life. And life in Jesus is meant to be lived out in community with others. And with all our differences, we're to work on the meaning and application of Scripture together. Do we believe we're all in this together, or is it each person for themself?

Do I really believe God wants to work in my life through others? Do I believe that we believers are in this together, each of us having our part? Do I listen well to the stories of how God has worked in their lives? Am I wisely transparent about who I really am and my own struggles? Do I share my own testimony of God's working?

More wisdom than briefly mentioned above is to be found in this chapter and book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, chapter 5, "Get Yourself Some Haverim." Next week chapter 6, "Rabbi, Teach Us to Pray."



politics and the kingdom

2009-11-11T06:14:02.900-05:00

(I overslept for the second day in a row. This of necessity must be short, since today I barely got up in time to get around. Tomorrow we continue the book by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg.)

Was Jesus political? Yes and no. If we mean in terms of this world, coming as an alternative party to work in the system, by all means no. But if we means in terms of "the kingdom of God" come in him, into this world, and yes into the political sphere, to begin transforming all things now, and someday to do so when Jesus returns, by all means, yes.

However while this is true, I wonder if we Christians who hold to it can easily get lost in it, and end up losing our identity and being sidetracked from our calling in its pursuit. There is no doubt that the gospel of the kingdom in Jesus is bigger than I was taught to think as a boy. It encompasses the reconciliation of all things in Christ, with the call to reconciliation to be sounded from us to all others. And from that our task on earth as those under God remains the same. Just thinking, and must end now....



preoccupied

2009-11-10T05:28:54.772-05:00

In thinking through Ecclesiastes, one of a number of things that stands out is how the one "under the sun" learned, one might say, to keep themselves preoccupied with the good things of life, even including their work. Ecclesiastes is a challenging book to figure out, and how to read it with reference to the whole, as well as its conclusion (commentators often don't see eye to eye on it). That appeals to me, because it seems to reflect life, and our experience of it. It often makes little or no sense, and is full of complexities.

When I'm troubled over life, or my experience of it, I find, evidently like the writer, or the character, Qoheleth, "the Teacher" (or "Quester"- The Message), that I do well to get to the everyday task as well as routines of what I have to do, and am working on besides. Sooner or later I find a kind of pleasure in what is at hand, and I more or less, usually more or completely, forget the troubles, or they diminish. At the same time, I am working on bringing them to God and being in the word, something I can do more or less (a favorite phrase of mine today) all day on my job.

To be preoccupied with the good things God gives us can bring joy, as we receive them as God's gifts to us. And his gift to us includes our ability to work through difficult things in the way of Jesus. And as we receive this good gift from God, we can thank him for the help he will give us to see us through any trouble. And in the end, like the book of Ecclesiastes, we'll conclude that we're called to simply fear God, and keep his commandments. Finding in Jesus and in the way of Jesus a loving and gracious Father.

Any thoughts or something you'd like to share from your life on this?



relaxing with what one can do

2009-11-09T05:25:29.323-05:00

I have several books I want to read now, all at the same time. Some are challenging intellectually, probably all of them to some degree. And there's just no way I have time to do justice to them all, or finish them as soon as I want to, or think I need to. Add to that other responsibilities, and you get the picture.

In such places, whatever it is we may be doing we need to learn to relax with what we can do, rather than hurry and end up distraught over what we can't do. In this we have the joy of working hard, but well. When I put too much on my plate, I can eat too fast, hardly enjoying the food, or at least not enough, and I am probably eating too much, and end up uncomfortable, at least. With too much to do, I can end up the same way, really getting little out of it, and glad when it's over. Hardly what was in my mind and heart at the beginning when I was eagerly looking forward to it.

In all of this is humility as well. It is a walk with God and with others in this life, not just me individually with God. We need God and each other. We each have our part in this, and we need to simply learn to relax with what we can do, what God has called us to do. As the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "Much study wearies the body...The end of the matter is Fear God! And keep his commandments."

And we should love to work hard, but it should be like play as well. As much as that is possible in this fallen world, where toil and difficulty are inevitable.

What would you like to add here, or any thoughts?



Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg on following Jesus like sheep following their shepherd

2009-11-08T07:08:36.118-05:00

Judith Fain is a doctoral candidate at the University of Durham. As part of her studies, she spends several months each year in Israel. One day while walking on a road near Bethlehem, Judith watched as three shepherds converged with their separate flocks of sheep. The three men hailed each other and then stopped to talk. While they were conversing, their sheep intermingled, melting into one big flock. Wondering how the three shepherds would ever be able to identify their own sheep, Judith waited until the men were ready to say their good-byes. She watched, fascinated, as each of the shepherds called out to his sheep. At the sound of their shepherd's voice, like magic, the sheep separated again into three flocks. Apparently some things in Israel haven't changed for thousands of years.

Just like sheep, what distinguishes us is not so much the "pen" we inhabit but the shepherd we follow. Some sheep come running as soon as their shepherd calls, but some struggle to obey his lead, going astray whenever temptation strikes. It takes a lot more energy to follow a wandering shepherd than to be cooped up in a pen.

But we are called to be disciples of a Rabbi who is always on the move, one who wants us to go with him, making disciples to the ends of the earth. We need to learn how to recognize his voice, to go where he wants us to go, and to serve and imitate him so that we can share his good news with the world.
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, 64-65.



prayer for fulfillment of purifying hope in Christ

2009-11-08T06:44:57.124-05:00

O God, whose blessed Son came into the world that he might destroy the works of the devil and make us children of God and heirs of eternal life: Grant that, having this hope, we may purify ourselves as he is pure; that, when he comes again with power and great glory, we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer



a powerful film: Doubt

2009-11-13T23:51:57.604-05:00

Deb and I recently watched "Doubt" (the film's official site), one of the most powerful films we have seen, and the end was one of the most powerful endings I've seen. Left me shaken, though not shaken in my faith. It deserved, in my book, to be nominated for five academy awards. Those with a Roman Catholic background might appreciate it more, and those who have abandoned the faith, including from what I gathered the director of the film himself (on special features I caught a bit of his commentary) would identify with it.

It is set in the 1960's and involves a priest specifically with one boy, and an older and young nun. You can come up with the rest of the general storyline yourself if you've been tuned in at all to the news over the last several years.

The film powerfully draws you in, so that the audience in a sense becomes part of it. You're left wondering or seeing firsthand the ambiguity of what was experienced in similar scenarios.

For us in Jesus who are committed to God through Christ and to the orthodox Christian faith as revealed to us in Scripture, and with the Spirit's continuing help to us, this film won't shake you, even as it does challenge us to think further through certain issues. Any good story which reflects the real world is one I'm ready to see on film. Our own lives and what we see in life make us readily identify with stories like this one.

Just a word of caution. For various reasons you may dislike the film or find it offensive. Nothing graphic is seen in it. I'm sure I missed some of the connotations (literally or figuratively) or perhaps innuendos in it (it's good for me to look up these words in a dictionary, myself). But if you don't mind a difficult subject and deep human interaction over it, than give this a look.



prayers - Fort Hood

2009-11-06T06:18:38.417-05:00

Our prayers and sorrow are with the bereaved and wounded of Fort Hood, and we pray as well for the attacker and his family.

See Jesus Creed.



is socialism bad?

2009-11-06T13:50:06.040-05:00

In a facebook conversation yesterday, my hope for a bill to pass to provide affordable health care for everyone, including the "public option" was met with a good reply which included a desire to avoid socialism. I don't think the person was telling me that I was for out and out socialism, but that what I support is socialism.Socialism is defined as "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods" (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary). What is considered socialism's alternative, capitalism, is defined as "an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market" (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary).What drives me as much as anything in trying to answer the question of the post is my view of humanity theologically, based on Scripture. Original sin, the simple belief that in some way from the time of "Adam", the entire human race is infected with sin, so that we are all sinners, plays a major part in how I view the world, and what will work in the world. There cannot be a utopia until Jesus returns and the kingdom of God in him takes over all things.This makes me wary of any system that is thought to be the answer in and of itself, unless that system incorporates checks against inevitable abuse by sinful humans.At this point I know I need to study and think more. But I would go for something of both elements to be worked out in society. We must remember too that what might work well in one society or culture, may not in another. There at least will be some differences. What makes America stand out, and in many ways for good I think, is its entrepreneurship. Many think that capitalism and free enterprise played out in entrepreneurship would result in the greatest good for everyone by the "trickle-down economic" effect. Or they may think that capitalism affords the most opportunity for others to take responsibility and provide for themselves and their families, being responsible and contributing members of society. Entrepreneurs end up providing jobs for others, and much more money is gathered by their work than in some collective society.I'm running out of time and space, but I want with others to think through more on this. I don't think the Bible teaches economic theory as in one being better than another. I tend to think that while there will be some things in common across the board in all cultures, still there will be differences according to the cultures and peoples and their gifts and manner of living. Freedom to live and work in a responsible, creative way should be one overriding factor. And another ought to be "loving one's neighbor as one's self."So is socialism bad? In its connotations earned through Marxism, it indeed can be bad, a cover-up for evil. But capitalism can be as well, as we've seen from the recent crime and recklessness in the American private sector.What thoughts would you like to share from this sketch?[...]



in the midst of troubles

2009-11-05T05:45:49.401-05:00

It is often easier to have faith for someone or something that is more or less removed from us, than it is for something or someone more or less near to us. I wonder in part why that is. We ought to be most in prayer for what is going on around us. Surely there are a number of factors at work.

We see the problems firsthand, and indeed are often part of the problem ourselves, perhaps just as often unknown to us. This is the beauty of faith and of God's working. It includes everyone. One of the reasons I love the "Our Father", "Lord's Prayer." Sometimes it takes more faith to believe God will change something we've lived with for a long time, than it does to believe God can change something else removed from us. This is why we need to be praying for others with reference to the troubles they live in, as well as persevering in our weakness to hold before God our own troubles, and not give up. We in Jesus need each other, and we need to persevere in faith ourselves in the midst of ongoing problems.

Of course there's much more to say on this, and draw out on it. What would anyone like to add here?



learning in the way of Jesus

2009-11-04T05:34:10.494-05:00

"Following the Rabbi" is a very wise chapter in what I'm coming to realize more and more is truly a wise book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg. Wisdom from the Bible is rooted in the Jewish writings of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, in Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and found in other places. And Jesus learned and lived by the wisdom from God given through the Scriptures, and passed on in the tradition of his people. Of course not without critiquing that tradition, while living as part of it.

We know the adage, "Wisdom is more caught than taught." But do we really believe it? It doesn't matter at all what we tell our children if our lives don't line up with our words. They will end up following what we do, and not what we say. Or they will try to chart a new course if they see our lives as making no sense of our profession of faith, and indeed casting doubt on our faith.

This chapter skillfully and from different angles, with one fascinating present day example, looks at the way of being a disciple, learner, or follower as Jesus practiced it. It is a relationship no less, and that of apprenticeship. The disciple submits to the rabbi, or master, as a servant so that the rabbi, imperfect as he (or she, I would add, because of the dynamic in Christ of neither male nor female in the work and service of God) will be, since there is only one true Rabbi and Master, Jesus himself. Nevertheless what we must understand is that it is inevitable for us to live as we see others live, and others will be impacted by our lives, for good or ill. In fact in God's order in Jesus, this is part of how life is to be lived. As Paul told his readers, they were to follow his way of life, as he followed Christ. And this is not a quick fix or instanteous change, but rather a walk of a lifetime. Transformation comes slowly. As the authors point out, Jesus didn't just transform his disciples. It involved close relationship with him and a process.

Any thoughts?

Next week: chapter five, "Get Yourself Some Haverim."



spontaneous and set

2009-11-03T05:47:38.209-05:00

A kind of curious thing has been going on in my thinking lately. On the one hand those of us in Jesus are led by the Spirit. As Jesus told us, we're not to think about what to say ahead of time in the event that we face an hour of persecution. The Spirit will give us words to say then. But also, of course, we have Scripture, the word of God given to us in many words.

Add to this the witness of the church. There is no faster growing segment of the church growing than the Pentecostal, charismatic side of it. There surely are some secondary factors, but I believe the primary reason is because of the power and working of the Holy Spirit. These churches are purposefully more open to the Spirit, whatever we might say about all their doctrine and theology and practice. At the same time we see a resurgence in the church for an appreciation of liturgy. The Book of Common Prayer from which I have been taking a prayer from weekly is one prime example.

I am becoming more and more convinced that we need both. We need the freedom, spontaneity and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I believe in all the gifts of the Spirit for today, though how they work out in local congregations will vary. And I believe everyone in Jesus strictly speaking is a charismatic Christian already, having the gift of the Spirit, whether or not they believe in or practice any of the gifts that are more common in Pentecostal, charismatic circles. We also need every word of Scripture to be received as God's word to us. And we need the witness of the church now and through the ages. What the church has said and written does matter, even though all must be critiqued in view of God's word. But the critique itself includes not just each one of us, but the church together, necessarily, and with the help of the Spirit. We can benefit much from written prayers and liturgy, helping us to pray, even as Jesus taught his disciples and us to learn to pray -through a set prayer.

The Spirit can work powerfully through both, and the best way for us to live in Jesus is to include both the spontaneous and the set. Of course the bottom line is learning to love God and love people through following Jesus. And sharing the gospel by living it out, as well as giving a verbal witness to it. In all of this God is at work in us through Jesus as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We know we woefully fall short, yet to recognize and acknowledge this can help us to look to our only Redeemer, Savior and Lord: God through Jesus by the Spirit. The work begins in us and then out from us to others.

What would you like to share about this, or any thoughts?



what is God doing?

2009-11-02T05:33:22.376-05:00

Sometimes we reach stale places in our lives in which it may seem like there's a stalemate. We're doing good things, or maybe in a season of less work and more reflection and reading, but somehow there seems to be something lacking. I think it's good to pause and ask what God is doing, or where God is moving in reference to my life- which I need to plug into and become a part of.

This will take time. Of course the process is in no certain order. The question might come at the beginning of it, more likely into it, or towards the end. And we need to listen to what God may be saying through others, especially through his people, and especially the ones we have fellowship with regularly. Of course including our spouse or closest friends. And those from whom we seek spiritual counsel and prayer such as our pastor.

I am at this kind of place. I see God at work in my life, and moving in answer to prayers (Deb's and mine). But there just seems to be something missing, or lacking. Some work or direction I'm to find or go to. A key in this is to find what God is doing, or how he may be directing me.

We must beware of thinking that something "big" is out there. It's rather much more likely and usual for this to be part of our being directed along the path of good works and activities God has for us in our life and mission here in Jesus; something we must do in God and with others in Jesus. This becoming a part of who we are in the rhythm of our lives.

What might you like to add to this?



John Polkinghorne on Jesus' worldwide, ongoing influence

2009-11-01T06:58:51.211-05:00

Jesus was swiftly arrested, condemned and led away to crucifixion. This painful and shameful death, reserved by the Romans for slaves and rebels, was seen by devout Jews as a sign of God's rejection, since Deuteronomy (21:23) proclaimed a divine curse on anyone hung on a tree. Out of the darkness of the place of execution, there came the cry of dereliction, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46). On the face of it, the final episode of Jesus' life had been one of utter failure. If that had been the end of the story, not only woiuld it put in question any claim that he might have had to any special significance, but I believe that it would have made it likely that he, someone who left no personally written legacy, would have disappeared from active historical remembrance in the way that people do who are humiliated by having seen to have had pretensions above the sober reality of their status. Yet we have all heard of Jesus, and down the subsequent centuries he has proved to be one of the most influential figures in the history of the world. Any adequate account of him has to be able to explain this remarkable fact. Something must have happened to continue the story of Jesus. Whatever it was must have been of a magnitude adequate to explain the transformation that came on his followers, changing that bunch of frightened deserters who ran away when he was arrested, into those who would face the authorities in Jerusalem, only a few weeks later, with the confident proclamation that Jesus was God's chosen Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:22-36). I do not think that so great a transformation could have come about simply through calm recollection and a renewed determination to continue to affirm the teaching of Jesus. All the writers of the New Testament believe that what had happened was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on the third day after his execution.
John Polkinghorne, Quantum Physics and Theology, 38-39



prayer - All Saints Day

2009-11-01T06:20:50.346-05:00

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer



at Ashland Seminary

2009-10-31T08:51:44.324-04:00

I had a great time this week at Ashland Seminary, meeting Allan Bevere who graciously hosted me there. Was good getting acquainted with him in person. And getting to hear Scot McKnight on the gospel. Four great lectures on the gospel along with good, stimulating question and answer times afterwards.What was reinforced for me is that the gospel is bigger than many of us have understood it to be. It is centered in Jesus and out from him comes the salvation that is meant for the entire world and all of creation. And it is meant for each person and each person in their totality. I gained new insights into this with reference to the gospels, the early witness in Acts, and Paul, and how we work that out in the present day. Was great to have the privilege of chatting at a coffee place with Scot and Allan. Allan himself is a gifted scholar, pastor and professor. I wish I could have heard him teach or preach. And with Scot we had a most interesting conversation over theology and what is going on in their work and from others today.I must add that Ashland Seminary is an interesting place, and it looks to me like a very good work is going on there. And beautiful days there as you can see from the pics.[...]



thinking critically

2009-10-30T05:33:56.602-04:00

If there's one thing that stands out in my mind right now, that I would like to have done better with my mind, it is the art and practice of critical thinking. We actually do something of the sort all the time, as we sift through what we think is of value and what is of lesser or no value in what we hear and see, in the world.

Critical thinking wants to hear and understand, and then critiques everything. For us in Jesus this means evaluating everything in light of God's truth revealed to us in Jesus in accordance with Scripture. This is an ongoing task as we keep working on both our understanding of this revelation from God, as well as our understanding of the world in which we live. I am reminded of John R.W. Stott's fine and helpful book, Between Two Worlds.

I should add that we need to keep being informed and formed by good theology based on Scripture and on the understanding given to the Church. Scripture is our basis, but we need to read it, and seek to understand it along with tradition, or how the Spirit has helped the Church to understand it over the centuries. And with the view of ever reforming theologically on the basis of Scripture, avoiding both the full and uncritical acceptance of tradition, and the rejection of tradition. The entire Church is united together, even though we don't live that out on many levels here, so that we must take into account the tradition which has been passed down for generations, while continuing to work on clearer and more accurate ways of understanding the truth in Jesus. But as those within the one tradition of the one Church. Of course, again, tradition is not infallible, so that we ever have to apply critical thinking, yet to depart from it is to fall into the error of departing from a primary means and agent of how the Spirit reveals God's truth in Jesus to believers.

This is just a beginning and limited sketch on this. What from your perspective might you like to share on this?



talking past each other

2009-10-29T05:37:48.663-04:00

A common phenomenon in theological circles as well as in other spheres, such as political, happens when two or more people are discussing an issue on which they to some degree don't see eye to eye, is the problem of talking past each other. In other words one or each supposes that the other believes such and such, so has the response ready. But the other becomes convinced that they are being misunderstood or not understood precisely as to what they're saying. And it goes on.

The answer to this is dialogue. The kind of give and take that insists on hearing each other out. Come to think of it, this can be quite important in a marriage. Sometimes the spouses are at logger heads with each other. But what about giving each a time, a set time, to share with no interruptions? And then the other can reply with no interruptions, and back and forth.

Humans will never agree on everything, and we carry our own perspectives into each matter. But we have to remember that even from those we disagree with, we can learn. That God may speak to us through them in some way. We need to be open.

In order to help others we must learn to listen well. To listen not with the idea of gathering an answer, but with the goal of understanding fully the other. And with no intention of an immediate reply. Indeed being willing to forego any such reply, at least at the time.

What have you learned in regard to this? Or any thoughts?