Wednesday, December 24, 2008
poised on the brink of two worlds:
One, land of eternal day,
the other, earth of mire and clay.
legions of heavenly host,
bright faces covered, praising,
all chanting, voices raising.
chaos yawning, swift and deep,
known, yet unknown. Fear unfurling,
death and darkness churning, swirling.
One last look at golden glory.
The Three part; He is now One.
The Father’s voice says, “Go well, my Son.”
into the abyss.
His next memory will be a Mother’s kiss.
~ Denise Day Spencer, January 1999
Thanks to internet monk for this.
What If There Is More Than One Reason For The Season?
Imagine Christmas as being like a giant bookstore, with a range of books; some serious, some populist, some trashy, some noble. Every book is a “Christmas” book though, of course, not every book is equal. People are browsing and choosing, talking and comparing. It’s an active and buzzing place - most people are not sure why they are there, but they are trying to make sense of it and trying to have a little fun. Do we really want to be hanging out in the comics section, chugging a slurpy and passing judgment on the people who “don’t get it?”
Thanks to Bob Carlton for this.
The key word here is "judgment".
Monday, December 22, 2008
I saw this on the internet monk site (a blog I follow) and I thought it was right on target both with the essence of Christianity and the Gospel, and with our failed perspectives in American Christianity. Yeah, and it was right on target with me and my experiences, too.
Here is the intro: "This post is inspired by a FoxNews piece updating the situation of disgraced megachurch pastor Ted Haggard. Haggard was a major leader in evangelicalism until he was brought down by evidence of sexual sin and drug use."
Read the post. Please.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It’s a cold December night, less than a week from Christmas. The third Friday of Advent, to be exact. In two days, I’m going home. Home to Kansas for the holidays.
This is a season that swings from joy to sadness rather quickly and unexpectedly, but I’m on the joy side of it these days. I’ve been seeing depressing movies like they’re going out of style, reading depressing books, and watching the news (more depressing than usual it seems). But in spite of my best efforts to wallow in midwinter moodiness, I’ve been overwhelmed with happiness and cheer. Overwhelmed to the point of tears (of joy).
Joy to the world. The Lord is come. Let every heart prepare him room.
It’s a joy, I think, of recognizing the smallness of oneself, while at the same time noticing the ways in which God seems to pay attention to you. That’s when the joy weighs heaviest, when we see that it has absolutely nothing to do with what we’ve done, but everything to do with who we are. That is: who God is making us and shaping us to be.
This realization typically happens around this time of year for me, when I survey the year, write my little Christmas update letter (yeah, I still do that), and think about what I’ve done, who I’ve met, where I’ve gone, etc. As I was driving into L.A. last night for a Christmas party with some church friends, I had one of those “wow, I have been so blessed,” moments when all the faces of the people I’d shared my year with came parading into my head, not in a random montage of unrelated images, but in a sort of kaleidoscope of linkage and interconnectedness. It was one of those moments when I could vaguely, powerfully glimpse a little of the divine orchestration that is at work behind all of this mad, beautiful mess.
Because I do believe that this is the case. I’m convinced that this all makes sense—my part in it, your part in it, the fires and snow and cherry pies. It makes sense on a level of sense-making that is only graspable in the way that the universe is graspable through telescopes. We can see parts of it, and in that we can infer the greatness of the whole and feel the surrogate wonder.
So it was in my car, driving on the 10 through downtown L.A., listening to my “80s heroin shoegazer” Christmas mix. I was overwhelmed by the realization that so much was so clearly happening for a reason. My job, my house, my friends, my car, the things I hear and say, write and read, fear and love… It all fits into the stories and people and places that precede it. It is all very messy and imperfect and frequently painful, but it ultimately isn’t about me or my comfort.
As a Christian, I believe that I am part of God’s church—that is, his extension of himself (via the Holy Spirit) on earth, a mission-minded body of humans that are the hands and feet of a much larger force, working in and for the world. I also believe that this happens largely in spite of ourselves, and that left to our own devices we would probably just constantly be f-ing things up.
God sent Jesus to earth to start something new. And start something new he did. But the new world that began with baby Jesus in a manger is now a world that a wider body of mortals is asked to participate in, to develop more fully and to expand, looking towards the time when all will be redeemed, made right, and reconciled. It will be God who brings this about. Only he can make things as they should be. But he asks his people—the church—to live in such a way that aspires to and expects this glory.
And in that, we sometimes see glimpses of things we can barely understand. We taste the powers of the age to come (Hebrews 6:5). I think we all can experience this. I think it’s what I’ve been experiencing these Advent days.This is a really good Advent post. It can be found at http://stillsearching.wordpress.com/
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I think this is much more of a spiritual issue than we think. Living in the present, being present to our lives and souls, being mindful (all mean the same thing), is a key to our spiritual formation. This is a little preview of our December 28 study. So, why did I get on this subject now? I know. More later.
This Sunday, the theme for Advent is LOVE. I encourage you to check out three articles by Julie Clawson about the LOVE week in Advent. They are here and here and here. In her tradition, love is week 3, not week 4, but we will not let this sidetrack us and we will get the message. Just a short thought: God is love, and God asks us to love. That sums it up. This week's worship bulletin is here.
Advent Poem Day 18
December 17, 2008 - 3:19pm by Thomas
The shepherds, tucked beneath
Trees sans leaves, sans shelter—
Not one leafe to share for cover—
Look up into skies void of hope.
The young man, walking slowly
Back to his lover, his dearest,
Whom he loves in such duress,
Says that no room can be found.
The young woman, tucked beneath
Blankets with holes, with stains—
Not one fit for royalty or queens—
Looks up into skies for the answer.
The new born, breathing slowly
And searching—pasty arms reaching
For a mother fatigued from pain, reeling—
Cries out the groan of creation.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Follow the link!
I was made aware of this video through Tony Jones' blog. Jones says this about the video: A note about the creator of this short music video: Filmmaker Mark Johnson traveled around the globe getting street musicians and others to record part of the track for Stand By Me. Using battery powered equipment and a pocket full of Frequent Flyer miles he got tracks from dozens of performers. Each one was able to wear headphones and hear what the other performers had done.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Isaiah 35.1-2, 8-10
Our study will focus on the truth that joy comes from redemption. And this is the whole point of this Advent/Christmas story and season. God was not content to let us suffer; to leave us in our mess. God intervened in our story to deliver us--to redeem us. And that is what Advent is about. We have God's redemption, God's deliverance. But we wait. We wait for the full consummation of God's redemption and deliverance in the day of the Lord. We wait for the world to change--and for US to step up and change it--as the body of Christ. We symbolically wait for Christmas, for the re-telling of the birth of the Christ Child, which not only is the centerpiece of our hope for redemption, but is the centerpiece of all cosmic history.
Other Scriptures on redemption are: (read them with interest!)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Peace is such a deep, elusive, and almost trendy subject. There are a lot of people talking about peace in a lot of different contexts. Framing it in advent terminology, there are a lot of people WAITING for peace. I think about us--the people in America--waiting for peace. We long for peace in Iraq. In Afghanistan. But why? Just so our soldiers can come home? That's a good enough reason, but how about the suffering of the people in those countries? And we wait for peace in Sudan (and the rest of Africa). But why? Because the thoughts of the suffering bother us? Because we watched Hotel Rwanda and were moved by it?
God's heart breaks with the conflict and suffering of the world. Ours should, too, because we are called to follow the words of Jesus: "Love your neighbor as yourself". And because we are all part of each other; we are all connected.
And we wait for peace in America. In the richest country in the world, our souls are empty and in perpetual turmoil. Let us pray Psalm 80.1-3:
1Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Saved. Saved from ourselves, saved from the things we have created, saved from the things we love.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
We are weary Lord of life
Lived for survival and not joy.
Take our cares and worries;
Come and bless us,
May our house be filled with
The aroma of your presence,
And the cold drafts of
A wintry world that seeks and devours
Be stopped up
That we joyfully relax in
Our vocations, renewed by
The scent of unceasing divinity.
Monday, December 01, 2008
From an Email to a Struggling Friend
'Everything will be all right in the end’ still works for me, limited God and all, so long as I locate ‘the end’ way beyond my earthly life. When I fight against Chuck Norris, no one (even Chuck) can be sure exactly how long it will last or how many lucky punches I may get in before I succumb, but everyone (including me) knows that I’m going down in the end. That’s the surest hope I have: That, in the end, Love will prove to be stronger than everything else. I can’t prove it, of course, but I’ve decided to live as though it is true because nothing else inspires me, and because I genuinely like that way of life. The more I do so, of course, the more convinced I become that my hope is true. Most ways of life are
Take time to try this online advent devotional: www.followingthestar.org .
Spend time SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE during Advent. Get rid of what you don’t need. Pick one room or one area of your life and get started. Here are some online resources:
Pray one of these breath prayers during Advent:
A breath prayer is a prayer so brief that it can be prayed with each breath. The first half on inhale, and the second half of the prayer on exhale. This is a way to learn to “pray without ceasing”. Breath prayers also seem to stick in our minds and sink down into our souls and our subconscious minds. Pray a breath prayer for a specific number of times (100, etc.) or for a specific period (while you walk, drive, cook, wait in line, etc.)
Emmanuel, I believe you are with me.
Christ Child of the Manger, be born in my heart today.
Prince of Peace, may your peace fill my heart.
God of Hope, I am waiting for you to come to me.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner (traditional Jesus prayer)
Lord of Love, fill my life with your love.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Go here [http://catumc.org/files/Nov%2030%2008.pdf] and check out the worship bulletin for The Refuge Sunday for two ideas: simplifying your life (which is something we all need to do and might bring us some peace during this hectic time of the year) and praying an advent breath prayer. Also, I would encourage you to think about this: what will it take to make you really happy? Think about it. Journal about it. Then ACT on it.
The traditional weekly themes of Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love. We will consider one of these each week in order. So, this week is hope. Here are the Scriptures I want to consider:
Even Post-Obama, hope can be a tough sell in our world. Why should we have hope? And I mean REAL hope, not just some holiday-induced fake Christian sentimentality. Lets see if we can come up with something Sunday. My hunch is that it will have something to do with Advent, Jesus, and faith.
Often we go see a movie on Thanksgiving. I don't know if we will do that this year. The prices of movie tickets keeps going higher and higher. One way we've found to beat that is to go to the cheap theater. I recommend this. We go mostly to Crossroads at Grant and Swan (since it is a local theater) and occasionally to Century Gateway 12 on Kolb between Broadway and Speedway.
HERE IS GOOD THANKSGIVING READ FROM THE PEOPLE AT RELEVANT MAGAZINE:
Thanksgiving is upon us once again. The time of year when we get together with family and friends, eat ourselves into a mild coma and fall asleep on the couch watching plasticine announcers make asinine comments about enormous cartoon-character balloons, or look on in horror as John Madden greedily devours this year’s turducken. Without a doubt, it is the pinnacle of the American experience. Certainly, though, the time-honored holiday has to signify more than an excuse to gorge ourselves on pies and various starches. After the hectic madness of each year, and before the brutal onslaught of the Christmas rush, Thanksgiving at least offers us the opportunity to sit back and consider the things in our lives for which we have to be grateful.
But thankfulness isn’t easy for a lot of us these days. With the economy spiraling out of control, many people are more worried about their jobs and houses than finding the perfect place-setting for their family gathering. Some of us have had a downright horrible year. Thankfulness can be a very difficult attitude when we’ve faced a lot of life’s trials. Health issues, relationship troubles, family dramas—all of these things can make it hard to put ourselves in a very thankful mood, and Thanksgiving day becomes nothing more than another salute to gastronomical excess. The very moniker of the holiday is ignored.
Sometimes, in the midst of a complicated world, we can be tempted to cast a wistful eye to the origins of the holiday. Modern society seems so much more complicated than the idyllic days of the first Thanksgiving. The celebrants of the first Thanksgiving had none of the woes forced upon us by industrialization and the information age. Their woes were, of course, far worse. Though there is dispute about where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated (most scholars say it was St. Augustine, Fla., in 1565 rather than Plymouth, Mass., in 1621) one thing is certain: Disease, hunger and a grueling physical environment were all realities in the days of the first Thanksgiving celebrations. They gave thanks in the midst of circumstances it is hard for us to imagine in modern day America. Fully half of the settlers in Plymouth died the first winter. Governor William Bradford’s young wife died before the ship even landed, by falling overboard. We give thanks because we got our turkey on special at Safeway, and Uncle Carl miraculously didn’t embarrass us this year. They gave thanks for not dying in the previous calendar year. Pretty heavy stuff.
It puts a lot of things in perspective to think of those few, first brave pioneers from Europe. While their motives and methods of colonizing North America are often questionable in the light of history, their courage and fortitude are not. Certainly, they knew hardships few of us could comprehend. Yet, in the midst of it all, they set aside time to honor and thank God for His provision.
It is hard to give thanks to God when we don’t see His goodness. Sometimes the providence of the Almighty seems much more an abstract concept than a reality. Yet, thankfulness should be a part of the very fabric of our beings, in spite of circumstance. The apostle Paul was an absolute model of this attitude. Few people had the laundry list of grievances that Paul did: shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, imprisoned. Yet his attitude throughout his writings is one of constant thanksgiving, even while in chains. He tells the church at Thessalonica:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Thankfulness in all circumstances is not intended to massage God’s ego. Rather, thankfulness is an attitude that ultimately benefits us. When we give thanks to God in the midst of hardships, we are reminded of certain incontrovertible truths: God is good, God is gracious and God has our best interests at heart. By keeping these truths in mind, our faith becomes stronger. We begin to have the resolve to trust God, and the outgrowth of that is a new sense of peace when trouble arrives. Moreover, it’s a tremendous example to the rest of the world. To give thanks and praise to God when things are going tremendously well in our lives doesn’t prove a lot to people outside the community of faith. But to show that same thankfulness when our world is falling apart, that’s an attitude that speaks multiplied volumes.
Thanksgiving should not be limited to one day a year, but let’s start there. Let’s resolve to spend this holiday in a true condition of thankfulness. Perhaps this year hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Perhaps it’s been your worst year. Maybe Thanksgiving is actually going to be a tremendously lonely time for you. In spite of all this, give thanks. Thank God for the fact that He gave you life, and that He intends to give it to you more abundantly. That may not always resemble what we have in mind, but it will always be what’s best.
Author: Fred Burrows
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Christ the King Sunday always comes the last of the church year, the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent.
This Sunday is also the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We will attempt to incorporate both themes into our worship for this Sunday.
The worship bulletin is here.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Click this link to purchase and download songs from the Cornerstone CD (or the whole thing!).
It is easy for us to believe (unconsciously, almost--we would never admit to this) that the world revolves around us. But just as Galileo and Copernicus brought us to understand that the earth is not the center of the universe (or even our galaxy), so we need to come to the paradigm-shifting, earth-shaking understanding that we are not the center of the world. So often we behave and think like God is part of our world. The truth is that this is God's world, and we are only small parts in it.
Another way we need to walk humbly with God is to understand and admit the limitations of our understanding of God. It is our nature to think that we are right, that we understand properly, and that anyone who disagrees with us is wrong. But we need to disagree with us. We need to see that our concepts of God are just that: our concepts of God. God is bigger, and more complex, and more mysterious, and just MORE than we can ever conceive. In his book How (Not) to Speak of God, Peter Rollins describes a position he calls a/theism. This means that we are both theists (believers in God) and atheists (disbelievers in God). We believe in God, but we (at the same time) do not believe our own concepts of God. Another way to say that is we do not limit God to our understanding of God. We will try to explore this a little more Sunday morning.
Here is the worship bulletin.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
This week's worship bulletin is here. There is an introduction to All Saints/All Souls Day there.
For this Sunday:
ALL SAINTS WORSHIP EXPERIENCE
We will offer several prayer stations during our worship service today. Instructions will be given. This type of experience may be new to you, but rest as-sured, there is no right way or wrong way to participate! Simply be open to God in all the experiences. There is no set order to go in, or any pressing need to visit all of the stations. Take your time. Pay attention to your soul. Remem-ber those who are gone. We will come together right before communion for a Remembrance of the Blessed Ones. This will be an opportunity for you to come to the front and speak the name of someone you want to remember. We will use the format “Blessed is (name of the person), who (say a few things about his/her life).” Then you will have the opportunity to light a candle in memory of that person on your way to seat.
This Sunday will also be communion Sunday.
A BLESSING FOR ALL SAINTS DAY
Maybe in this there has been a glimpse of the kingdom
A foretaste, a hint, a promise
Let it hold you and let it send you
So you will never be at peace
Until all are fed, until all know home, until all are free, until justice is done,
Until peace is the way, until grace is the law, until love is the rule,
Until God’s kingdom comes. Amen.
PICK UP YOUR GREEN CARD! There are some small green cards on the back round table that you can use to participate in the Ignatian Examen during All Saints season. Simply pause at the end of your day and reflect. For what moment was I least grateful? Record your answer and pray about that. For what moment was I most grateful? Record your answer and thank God. The card with instructions is online at http://catumc.org/files/ignatianexamenallone.pdf
Our All Saints prayers and liturgies are online here if you are interested.
May the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forevermore. Amen.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Just so you don't have to read the whole thing, Sahuaro performs around 4:40pm.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The worship bulletin is here.
This week we are starting a new study on Micah 6.1-8. This passage of Scripture asks and answers an important question: What does God require of us? There are a lot of ways to answer this question and there are a lot of answers being touted as THE answer to that question. But take a look at this Scripture passage. Does the answer in verse 8 surprise you? Do the suggested not-valid answers in verses 6-7 surprise you?
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
But we won't be leaving the Old Testament! We are going to spend 3-4 weeks looking at a very important Scripture: Micah 6.8.
Anyway, we finish this week with Psalm 139; a great song of God's love, care, and power.
The worship bulletin for this Sunday is here.
Here is a excerpt from this Sunday's study:
Psalm 139 is a seduction. It is a love story. God knows you the way a lover knows the beloved. God will never leave you. God knows all your secrets and still he is the truest lover of all.
This poem, "Let Your God Love You", by Edwina Gately will be used as a closing meditation this Sunday.
Before your God.
Let your God
Look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
with an enormous love,
And only wants
to look upon you
with that love.
Let your God--
Thursday, October 02, 2008
The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday. You can read a little history of the event here. Of course, the biggest point of World Communion Sunday is the WORLD part: the unity of all believers all around the world sharing in the same observance--the same body of Christ. But I also like to emphasize the COMMUNION part. I believe that Holy Communion is not understood and is generally under-appreciated. That is why I take World Communion Sunday to talk about the importance and meaning of communion. Just as Christians have different views on baptism, so there are many different views on communion. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters celebrate the Mass, and believe that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Our non-sacramental, evangelical brothers and sisters believe it is an ordinance--simply something we are commanded to do--so we do it. Some also believe it is a memorial to Jesus. But most evangelicals believe that communion is completely symbolic. If it has an spiritual significance, it is all due to your attitude, your receptivity to God.
The United Methodist understanding of communion is officially stated in This Holy Mystery, a document adopted at the 2004 General Conference. Although there is a lot to say about communion, I will stop with saying that in the UMC, communion is a sacrament (see Article 16 here). That is to say that communion is a means of grace. God does something during communion, not just us. It is not just us taking the bread and the cup--that is a minor part--but God is with us and is working his grace in us in communion. That is what it means to have a sacramental view of communion. In other words, if one person comes to communion not interested and zoned out like a zombie, and another person comes to communion spiritually alert and with a heart of prayer, God's grace comes to both of them. Obviously the latter person will feel a more meaningful experience than the church zombie.
I think communion is VERY IMPORTANT. You will hear 6 things that I think communion means to us as Christians on Sunday. The worship bulletin is here.
And remember, Jesus instituted communion or the Lord's Supper during the observance of the Jewish Passover meal. How does the significance of the Passover to the Jewish disciples inform what Jesus was presenting with communion?
Interesting stuff to think about !
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
When can I go on my next cruise??
Photos are in myspace pics and all of them are at
Last Saturday we drove to Long Beach (Los Angeles area) and spent the night at a great hotel (Long Beach Hyatt).
Sunday we boarded the Carnival Pride and started our cruise! We started with two FUN DAYS AT SEA (really) and then on Wednesday we docked in Puerta Vallarta. Mindy and I went to the beach there. Thursday we docked at Mazatlan and we did a walking tour with some shopping there.
Friday we anchored at Cabo San Lucas and we had a shore excursion to an exclusive beach resort. It was here that Mindy went parasailing. Yes, that's right.
Saturday was another FUN DAY AT SEA and then we docked and got back to US soil on Sunday morning. We drove home to Tucson on Sunday.
We had a great time, and yes, I would go on another cruise anytime!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Our study for this week is Psalm 100. The New Interpreter's Bible says this about Psalm 100: "Psalms 100 is perhaps the most familiar of the songs of praise. Mays observes: 'Were the statistics known, Psalms 100 would probably prove to be the song most often chanted from within the history that runs from the Israelite temple on Mount Zion to the synagogues and churches spread across the earth.'"
Psalm 100 tells us about worship (much like Psalm 95). But Psalm 100 emphasizes the transformative nature of worship. We come to God in worship because of God's goodness to us and because of our connection to God. But when we come to God in worship, we can come to "KNOW that the Lord is God." Worship is not just something we do, it is something that happens to us. And when something happens to us, we know that we have worshiped.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
She asked me if I would modify my schedule a little so that we are at least on a similar schedule. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I got up at 5am this morning. I also rode my bike to work (9 miles) and will ride it home.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
The title of the study is "How to Talk to Yourself", which is what the psalmist is doing in the refrain. More specifically we will discuss how to talk to yourself in a way that is encouraging and uplifting in times of trouble, and not in a way that allows you to wallow in self-pity. Sounds like fun, huh? The worship bulletin is here and has an outline of the psalm.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
We also continue our study on the Psalms with Psalm 32. Psalm 32 is one of the penitential psalms that deal with repentance for sin. See also Psalm 38 and Psalm 51. The worship bulletin is here. There is an outline of Psalm 32 with notes in the bulletin.
Repentance/confession/self-examination are tied to communion. In 1 Corinthians 11.28, Paul says, "Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup." We will do just that this Sunday with the encouragement of David from Psalm 32.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Also, I was able to catch up on my sleep and my Halo3 playing (on x-box 360, of course). I REALLY enjoy playing Halo. I play only online (x-box live) and I usually only play Lone Wolves (every man for himself). This is my hobby, my one vice, my one addiction. Well, the only one I'll admit to.
I will preach on Psalm 3. My handout for the sanctuary is here. My message is "How to Deal with Hard Times". I think this is timely.
Ed is preaching on Daniel 3. The sermon title is "Seven Times Hotter". Here is the worship bulletin.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
This Sunday we will consider Psalm 23. Psalm 23 almost suffers from over-exposure, but it is a favorite passage of Scripture that is rich in meaning and insight for our lives. The worship bulletin is here.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Normally, our experience informs our theology, our understanding of God. And this is natural and usually a good thing. John Wesley included experience as one of his sources in thinking about God and life. But, if we let experience alone inform our faith, then it is not faith at all. If we rely exclusively or mainly on our present experience, we can forget lessons we learned during other chapters of our lives. This is David’s point in Psalm 3: what he has come to know about God will not be overthrown by his current experience. Further, what he has come to know about God will inform his current situation.
David's current situation (at the time of the writing of Psalm 3) was a pretty dire one: he was king of Israel, but a coup was being led by his own son, Absalom, who wanted to kill David. (See 2 Samuel 15, 16) That pretty much beats any problem I've had. Maybe if I can see how David dealt with this problem, I can find a way to deal with my problems.
The worship bulletin is here.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Read Psalm 2.
Worship bulletin is here.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Read Psalm 1
Check out a very similar passage Jeremiah 17.5-8
Psalm 1 teaches us a very simple lesson: life with God is better than life without God.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
During the summer months, we do not have dinner with youth group. We begin at 6pm (usually in Fellowship Hall) and end at 7:30. For many years (this tradition pre-dates Richard) Catalina youth have had an activity called “Afterburner” in the summer. This is an informal time of going out to eat after youth group. It is not officially part of youth group. Youth group is over at 7:30. Those going to Afterburner are responsible for their own transportation, and pay for whatever they order. Parents often transport youth—and we can usually find rides for whoever wants to go. Some youth eat dessert, some have a beverage, some eat a full meal. We go different places each week, but we try to balance out inexpensive and a little nicer places. Youth need to be picked up by their parents at the Afterburner location at 9pm (or earlier if we are finished). We do not bring youth back to the church for pick up. A tentative schedule is here:
June 7 Johnny Rockets (University and Euclid)
June 14 Applebee's (Grant and Swan)
June 28 In-N-Out (El Con)
July 12 Bowling
July 19 Rubio's (El Con)
August 2 Sweet Tomatoes (Broadway and Wilmot)
August 9 Red Lobster (Park Mall)
This is our study for this Sunday.
Here is the worship bulletin.
These are the Scriptures:
Here is the point: at Jesus' baptism, God the Father named him as God's beloved child. We see in the Scriptures that we are adopted as children of God. Then who are we? We are also named as God's beloved child. The Scripture goes on to say that God is very pleased with Jesus. As God's children, God is also very pleased with us. That's what God thinks about you: You are his beloved child and God is very pleased with you!
After receiving this name, Jesus was tempted TO PROVE WHO HE WAS BY PERFORMING. We face this every day. But we do not have to prove we are acceptable, lovable, or good enough.
This is our creed for this Sunday:
I believe in God the Father who has named me as his beloved child. I believe God is very pleased with me.
I believe in Jesus Christ who frees me from the need to earn love by how I perform. I believe Jesus demonstrated how much God loves me and how important I am to God by giving his life for me.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who will remind me I am God’s beloved child if I will be still and listen.
I believe in God’s holy church. I will recognize those around me as God’s beloved children, and I will allow myself to acknowledge that I, too, am God’s beloved child.
Tyler and I take a class every Tuesday from 4-7pm at BICAS. BICAS is an awesome community organization. Check out their website.
The class we are taking is called "Build a Bike", and that is what you do. You start with a bike that has been donated or abandoned and you strip it down to its frame and build it back. You learn all about how bikes work and how to work on bikes in the process.
The bike that you build in class is either given away or sold to support BICAS. Then you have free access to parts, tools, and shop time to build your own bike that you keep. The fee for the class is $80, but I believe some scholarships or financial aid is available.
The teachers and the class are awesome, and we are really enjoying it!!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
And the mixing of politics and religion in the last few decades has only exacerbated the problem. Now, your political position not only reveals whether or not you have any sense, but it also determines whether or not you are a Christian. I cannot hide the fact that the religious right is a problem for me. I am religious and I am not part of the right.
But that's all my opinion. What did Jesus say about politics? Consider the Scriptures below, and look at the worship bulletin if you want. We will discuss this issue Sunday.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Here are his Scriptures:
Monday, May 12, 2008
The Letter Carriers' Food Drive this last Saturday was an overwhelming success--at least at the Rincon Station. I don't know what happened at the other post offices, but so much food came in at the Rincon Station that we could not finish on Saturday. Volunteers returned at 7am Sunday to work more. The food collected goes to the Community Foodbank. It was great to see the people of Tucson respond in such an awesome way! And the letter carriers were cheerful, helpful, and some of them made two trips around their route to pick up all the food! This photo shows the piles and piles of food that was left to be sorted at the end of the day! More photos are here.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Our study Sunday will continue our "What did Jesus say about..." series and will be themed for Pentecost. The study is "What did Jesus say about the Holy Spirit".
The worship bulletin has some info about Pentecost and all the Scriptures.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
An article from Relevant Magazine's email has some good insight on the subject also.
I recently received this email:
“Lately I've felt like there is no point to living life. Everyone I talk to says, ‘Well, that's just how life is.’ I understand it's going to be difficult, but my question is, why bother? People also say, find what makes me happy, but nothing makes me truly happy.”
Let’s cut to the chase: However you might currently be seeking them, we all want love, peace, freedom, fulfillment and contentment in every moment. But that doesn’t happen, does it? You work hard; the payoff is small. We desire and seek these realities, but they are fleeting.I spent many years seeking God. Actually, I was really seeking a life of well-being through God. Among other things, I wanted to get off the roller-coaster ride of all my misplaced dependencies and futile attachments for worth, security and happiness, and be free from the anguish this groping for fulfillment inevitably produced. It was more than just wanting these nice blissful experiences tossed into my life here and there to balance out the difficulties and disappointments of human existence. I wanted these realities to be infused into my very being—inhaling, exhaling and being love, being peace, being contentment and being freedom.
My logic was that I could achieve these things through God, and more specifically by being a “good Christian.” Didn’t work.
Go out and apply every formula for living a happy life: Become wealthy, accomplish great success, be devoutly religious, achieve the perfect body, save the rain forests, find Mr. or Mrs. Right, climb Mount Everest, purchase a Yamaha R6, double your Facebook friends—whatever floats your boat. Do it all! Doesn’t work. Won’t satisfy. It will never produce the life you want.The life not worth living is about seeking happiness out there—in people, places and things. Even religion places God somewhere out there (technically, up there) to be sought through a system of rules, rituals, precepts, principles and practices. As the emailer said, “Nothing makes me truly happy.” That’s a truth to wake up to—nothing or no-thing outside yourself (as in stuff, people, circumstances, religion) can make you truly happy. Happiness is the temporary satisfaction of a felt need, and is dependent on all kinds of conditions or circumstances.
Just as life circumstances can produce temporary bouts of happiness, they can also produce experiences of pain. But there is a difference between “pain” and “suffering.” Pain is a natural response to life circumstances; suffering stems from depending upon these circumstances as our source for well-being. For example, if you don’t get the record deal, you will naturally be painfully disappointed because it’s something you desired. However, if you are depending upon getting the record deal as the source of your happiness in life, you will be utterly devastated. See the difference?
The life of Jesus is the most compelling example. Few people will ever endure the extent of physical pain inflicted upon Jesus or be so utterly rejected and despised as Jesus. And yet Jesus was always at peace. Why? Because the source of Jesus’ peace was not His human circumstances but eternal reality. Until recently, I didn’t realize that I could have this peace, too—and not only that, but it is within me and has been within me all along.Do you realize you have this peace within you, too?
When Jesus said that the peace He gives “is not as the world gives,” He was seeking to awaken people to a whole other dimension of life, which, by the way, is worth living. Life circumstances or bargaining with God through religion or whatever won't work! Jesus laid out all the essential truth by saying, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus identified the only source for abundant or eternal life, the “Kingdom of God,” and then showed us its location: “within.” His point is not that eternal reality is like a magic ball floating somewhere inside our human body. He’s saying that the frequency of eternal reality is an immaterial and invisible energy or life that flows within us.
Can you be at peace in a room where nobody gives you the time of day? Yes, because the source of peace is not whether people ignore or dismiss you. The source of peace is on another frequency, which you can tune into if you want to. You can choose to be at peace no matter the circumstance, but it’s a choice you have to make for yourself. We each have free will to participate in the present reality of God’s Kingdom.
You say, “It can’t be that simple.” But why should God, eternal reality, truth and the life worth living that Jesus came to give be complicated, difficult and only attainable by a few highly knowledgeable and enlightened people?The Bible says, “God is love.” Would Love make peace, contentment and well-being a carrot for you to chase and never catch? Or, would Love make peace, contentment and well-being available to you in every moment?
I chased the carrot for many years through theological knowledge, ministry success, a daily regimen of spiritual disciplines, church commitments and social activism. It’s not that any of these things were wrong, or that they had no value, but what I was seeking to gain through them was still searching for eternal reality on the wrong frequency. A lot of people are trying to squeeze God into their current way of doing life through religion. God wants you to experience another life altogether.
Author: Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer is the author of Divine Nobodies and Wide Open Spaces, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, check out this discussion. Go to the link to follow the discussion.
Is Our Pain God's Problem?
Brian McLaren's take on the debate
Melvin Bray's thoughts on the debate