Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Irish Christmas Prayer

Thanks to Alan Creech for this!

Incarnation by Denise Day Spencer

He stands,
poised on the brink of two worlds:
One, land of eternal day,
the other, earth of mire and clay.

Behind Him,
legions of heavenly host,
bright faces covered, praising,
all chanting, voices raising.

Before Him,
chaos yawning, swift and deep,
known, yet unknown. Fear unfurling,
death and darkness churning, swirling.

He turns.
One last look at golden glory.
The Three part; He is now One.
The Father’s voice says, “Go well, my Son.”

He leaps
into the abyss.

His next memory will be a Mother’s kiss.

~ Denise Day Spencer, January 1999

Thanks to internet monk for this.

Happy Christmas They Say in the UK

This is a beautiful graphic. The quote is from John 1. Thanks to Mark Berry for this!
Click on the image to see it full size!

Different Reasons

Great Christmas post from Fernando Gros:

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

Advent with Ted the Loser

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.

Cornerstone CD Ready for Download

You can get a hard copy of the Cornerstone CD at The Refuge, or you can download it from:



Saturday, December 20, 2008

These Advent Days by Brett McCracken

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunday December 21, 2008

This Sunday, December 21, is the final Sunday in Advent. That means that Christmas is almost here. That means that 2008 is almost over. As we all say in unison "Where did the year go?", lets think about that. Why does time fly? Where does the time go? Our lives flow past us like a river as we sit on the bank watching. How do we slow it down? We can't. But we can jump in. I encourage you to jump in and really be present and mindful. Check out this article: The Art of Now (Psychology Today).
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

This advent poem is from a blog I follow: Everyday Liturgy.

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

Old School Contemporary Service

Matt Zamora posted this video of our service in the hall from 2002. This was before I was preaching. It's funny that I don't know a couple of the people in the band...
Follow the link!

Stand By Me

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

Sunday December 14, 2008

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent, and the theme is JOY! The worship bulletin for Sunday is here. The Scriptures for Sunday are:
Isaiah 35.1-2, 8-10
Luke 2.1-20
Matthew 1.18-23

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!)
Colossians 1.13,14
Ephesians 1.7
Romans 3.23,24
Titus 2.13,14

Galatians 4.4,5

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't Mother's Day in May?

Mindy also sent me this video, which you will probably see in worship in May. Very funny.

Did You Get the Recall Notice?

Mindy sent me this. Change your Christmas list to just say "Bicycle".

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Second Sunday of Advent December 7, 2008

The worship bulletin for this Sunday is here. The theme for this week is peace. I have recycled my Scriptures and some of the prayers from last year. But I have come up with new/different thoughts.

Isaiah 2.1-5
Isaiah 9.2-7
Luke 1.67-79
Isaiah 32.16-17

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

Sacred Space for Advent

Sacred Space for Advent contains several helps for our spiritual journey. Especially helpful may be the Advent Retreat, which is set up in three sessions, which may be done all in one day of retreat or in three separate sessions on different days. I appreciate Lilly Lewin pointing out these resources.

Why We Are Waiting

This is a website that offers a good spiritual explanation of the pilgrimage we call Advent. There are links to other audio selections as well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Advent Poem Day 2

This poem is from Everyday Liturgy and I find it a meaningful prayer for Advent. The poem is credited to Thomas.

We are weary Lord of life
Lived for survival and not joy.
Take our cares and worries;
Come and bless us,
Change us,
Rearrange 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.

Always May God's Love Be with You

This video is of a song called "In the Sun". It was written by Joseph Arthur, but this cover is performed by Michael Stipe (REM) and Coldplay. It is part of a benefit EP that Stipe put together for Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief. I saw this performance on Austin City Limits this weekend. It is moving. And a great song.

Advent Hope

This is a really good article on hope during the season of Advent. It is written by Mike DeVries. Take time to read it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Are You Happy?

I found this article by Scot McKnight (I follow his blog). It is a little intellectual, but it is a good read. Scot has a warm and inviting spirit in his writing.

From Bart Campolo's Blog

This post is from a blog I regularly read: Bart Campolo. The original post is here.

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
Publish Post
self-verifying that way, which is why I sometimes tell friends who are struggling with faith that the most important question isn’t what kind of God are you sure of, but rather what kind of God do you most desperately, most surely hope for. After all, that’s the only One you’ll keep following even when the chips are down.


Are you on the go? We are offering a BRIEF daily Advent devotional available through text message to your mobile phone. It will contain a Scripture verse and a prayer and will come to your phone every day (starting Monday) during Advent. If you want to receive the devotional, list your mobile number and service provider (Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, Altell, etc) on a comment to this post or email it to me at The first message will arrive around 7pm on Monday. The rest will arrive around 7am daily.

Advent Practices

Take time to try this online advent devotional: .

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Sunday begins Advent. [] Advent is a season of spiritual concentration and preparation in the Christian church. Find out Sunday how to make Advent meaningful for you.
Go here [] 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:
Jeremiah 29.10-14
Lamentations 3.21-24
Romans 8.22-25

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.

Advent DEVO

I am going to be sending out a BRIEF (short Scripture and a prayer) Advent devotional via text message each day during Advent. It will start on Monday. It will come around 7pm on Monday, and then at 7am each day until Christmas. If you are already on my text list, you will get it. If you are not, but want to be, then email me or leave a comment here or text me (520-403-2403) with your mobile number AND YOUR CARRIER (verizon, t-mobile, cricket, etc).


At my house, we are planning to take our traditional hike after Thanksgiving dinner, if it is not raining. Another tradition is that the girls do the cooking and the guys do the dishes. We'll see if Jeremiah helps me and Tyler this year.

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.


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

Sunday November 23, 2008

In the church year, this Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. One idea that struck me from the article in the link is from Cyril of Alexandria, who stated that Christ's Kingship is not obtained by violence: "Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature."
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.

Computer transition is tough

My old Toshiba laptop that I bought in 2004 really started messing up a couple of weeks ago. The CPU ran at 100% all the time. It was hard to even run one program at a time, let alone more than one. Our network/computer guy worked on it and then I did, too, for a few days. It improved some, but not a lot. So, I bit the bullet and bought a new computer. It's another Toshiba laptop. I got it at Best Buy. It fit the criteria I was looking for: it is powerful and fast and was on clearance. (I'm cheap, OK). I told that story to explain my blogging absence of late. Not only did I have computer problems, but then I lost lots of time in setting up the new computer. Isn't that how it is? A new computer solves some problems, but then creates a whole set of new challenges. Fortunately, I'm almost done. All I've got to do is figure how to connect to the church MS Exchange server so I can get my email. All last week I ran both computers on my desk: one for my church email, one for everything else. I wonder if I looked really important?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Download the Cornerstone CD!

Click this link to purchase and download songs from the Cornerstone CD (or the whole thing!).

Micah 6.8, part 3

For the past few weeks, we have been considering Micah 6.1-8 in The Refuge. This is an interesting and important passage of Scripture that asks and answers the question:"What does God want from us?". The first two parts of the answer are do justice and love kindness (chesed). The third part is "walk humbly with your God". What does this mean? I think we can state it simply like this: realize that God is God and you are not. To walk humbly with God means to recognize our place and God's place. We are not in control. We are not in control of the world. We are not in control of our lives. And we are certainly not in control of God.
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

Sunday November 2

This will be our annual All Saints/All Souls Observance. There is a difference between the two. All Saints Day is November 1 and commemorates (officially--in the Catholic church) all persons who have attained the status of saint. Some more prominent saints have their own feast days throughout the year, but All Saints Day especially honors those who do not. All Souls Day is on November 2 and is for the rest of us--departed ones who have not been officially designated saints by the Catholic Church. In this respect, it is sort of like Festivus (for the rest of us). So technically, all of the observances we do at Catalina (and probably all Protestant churches) is really All Souls, not All Saints (no matter what we call it or what day we celebrate it); since we do not venerate official Catholic saints on that day, we remember loved ones who have departed. However, since we Protestants believe that all believers are saints (see Romans 1.7, 8.27, 12.13, 15.25-31), I suppose we could call our observances All Saints Day.
This week's worship bulletin is here. There is an introduction to All Saints/All Souls Day there.

For this Sunday:
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.

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

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

I'm with Jim Wallis

Over on Bart Campolo's blog, I found this article by Jim Wallis about his faith priorities which will guide his voting in the election. Good stuff. Read it even if (especially if?) you don't agree.

Ignatian Examen

We started a new spiritual practice this week in the Catalina youth group and in the Refuge: the Ignatian Examen. Download and print the page here and it will give you a form to use and instructions and introduction. The examen is a great way to reflect on your life. I think it is especially appropriate during this All Saints season.

U of A Band Day

Here is the schedule for U of A Band Day, this Saturday, November 1.

Just so you don't have to read the whole thing, Sahuaro performs around 4:40pm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sunday October 26

I know, I know. I should blog about more than just what is happening on Sunday. And I do have some things I want to share. I will try to get to these. But for now, here is what is happening Sunday.
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

Sunday October 19

This Sunday I will be camping at Picacho Peak State Park with the Catalina youth group. Pastor Ed will be preaching. We will also have great music, including a solo by Amy Tober (freshman at Empire High School) and Kendra McLean will be our percussionist. (Tyler is also going camping!) The worship bulletin is here.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sunday October 12

This will be our last study in our series on the Psalms. I have really liked doing this. Looking at the Psalms gives you a ready-made portion of Scripture to study--you already have your boundaries set for you. And the Psalms were written to be used in worship (most) in ancient Israel, so they are naturals to include in our worship. And the Psalms cover real-life stuff and the gamut of human emotions. So it is with great sadness that I will leave the Psalms after this Sunday.
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.

Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God.

Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.

Let your God
Look upon you.
That is all.

God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
with an enormous love,

And only wants
to look upon you
with that love.


Let your God--
Love you.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

World Communion Sunday October 5

Can you believe it is OCTOBER?? I can't. Where did September go?
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


Take a look at my photos from my cruise last week!…uise%2008/

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Take a look at my photos from my cruise last week!…uise%2008/

Mobile post sent by richardleejones using Utterlireply-count Replies.

Check out the photos...

of my cruise last week! We had a great time!

Mobile post sent by richardleejones using Utterlireply-count Replies.

Check out the photos...

of my cruise last week! We had a great time!

Mobile post sent by richardleejones using Utterlireply-count Replies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Back from the Cruise!!

Hey, it's great to be home after our cruise! Of course it is hard to get back to reality after 7 days with Mindy on a great ship, having all your meals served to you with no cooking or dishes, doing no cleaning, doing no work, and visiting wonderful ports in Mexico.
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


My first and last day at the office this week! I am officially on vacation and Mindy and I are heading to Long Beach on Saturday to leave on a cruise for our anniversary. You probably won't hear from me again until Tuesday, September 23!

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Today is my first and last day at the office this week! I am officially on vacation and Mindy and I are heading to Long Beach on Saturday to leave on a cruise for our anniversary!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Richard is working at home today while a new patio door is installed at his house.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sunday September 7

This is communion Sunday. I always like communion Sunday. In many ways, I would favor having communion every Sunday. And communion is available every Sunday at Catalina. It is served in the chapel following all of the Sunday morning services.
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.

Trying Ubiquity

Ubiquity is sort of an add-on app for Firefox. The point is to enable "mashups": performing more computer/online/internet functions without having to open up multiple windows, etc. I have found it sort of helpful. It helps if you can remember which commands you have subscribed to, and that is my problem most of the time. I use the email command (I had to create a new gmail account for this), the calendar command, the weather forecast command, the google search command, the map command, and the search Amazon command.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sunday August 31

This Sunday Seth will be preaching. The worship bulletin is here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The New Routine Has Begun!

We knew when Mindy took the job at the U of A library that she would be on "extended hours" (the library is open 24 hours during the school year). Her regular hours are 5am to 9am. That's right: 5am to 9am. These hours started TODAY. That means that she got up at 3am to be ready to leave at 3:45am. She rode her bike probably 11-12 miles to work, and then back home! That's impressive!
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

WOW!! This is a cool and powerful video about the environment!

Find more videos like this on Inconvenient Youth

Sunday, August 24

We continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 95. This psalm is both a beautiful work of poetry and a slap-in-the-face wake up call. An outline of the passage, some background material, and a list of related Scriptures is in the worship bulletin.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Memorial Service for Alva's Son

We will have a memorial service for David Garcia (Alva Ruiz's son) this Sunday at 3pm in the chapel. I will be officiating and Chris, Carlene, and Seth will be doing music. There is another service in the sanctuary, so don't get mixed up!

Sunday August 17

We continue our study on the Psalms with Psalm 86 this week. The theme is "How Prayer Works". Now, don't expect me to explain everything about prayer. I'll limit my comments to Psalm 86! You may have heard people say that prayer changes things. Other people say whether or not prayer changes things, prayer changes ME. Both are true. The worship bulletin is here. We will be experimenting with some changes in our order of worship this Sunday, so be prepared!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sunday August 10

This Sunday we will continue our study of the Psalms with Psalm 42/43, which is considered to be a unit. Some indicators of this are: Psalm 42 has a superscription (title) and Psalm 43 does not. Both psalms share the same theme. Both psalms share the same refrain: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God." (42.5,11, 43.5).
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 is a website that facilitates the sharing of prayer requests. It is a way that we can support each other in prayer during the week. It is a place that we can share joys or concerns with our faith family. Send me your email address and I will send you an invitation to join our group. Or you can go to the group page and request membership.

Sunday August 3

This is communion Sunday. Info about communion is in the worship bulletin.
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

More Photos

My photobucket now includes photos from the Tijuana 08 high school missions trip (more here), the Jr Hi Missions Project, bowling activity, and VBS (Tuesday and Wednesday).

A Few Days Off

I took Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off this week. Mindy and I wanted to get started on a few projects around the house, and I needed to rest after 22 days straight with no day off. Our biggest project is REMOVING our hot tub. It is an above-ground tub that needs too much repair. It is always needing something and we are tired of fooling with it and pouring money into it. The hot tub is inside a gazebo, so that must go, too. Tyler started on it and I have taken a lot of it apart, also. We are almost to the point of thinking about how to move the tub itself. No simple task. There is wiring, plumbing, and the sheer weight of the thing to consider. Not to mention a couple of good-sized bushes that have grown up in front of it (right in our path of removal). We plan to leave a part of the gazebo in place. We are going to plant a vegetable garden where the hot tub is now.

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.

Sunday, July 27

Pastor Ed (that's SENIOR PASTOR Ed to you) and I will be trading places this Sunday at church. Ed will preach in The Refuge and I will preach in the sanctuary. This may prove to be a lot of fun, or not. Of course, this means I will need to show up and preach at the 8:15 service in the chapel. I'm usually here at 8 to bring Tyler to rehearse, but this week he will be at band camp and so I COULD have come later.
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

I've been really busy!

Sorry I haven't written anything the last couple of weeks. On June 29 we left Tucson for Tijuana for high school missions trip (photos are here and here). Then I got back in town and the next week (July 9-12) we had the jr. hi missions trip here in Tucson and I was one of the leaders for that. Then this week is VBS (photos are here and here). So, I've been swamped!
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

Jeremiah is preaching this Sunday

I will be in Tijuana with our high school missions team working with kids and building houses under the guidance of Youthworks, a great youth missions organization. Jeremiah will be preaching this Sunday, and I think he will be featuring a video clip called "Open", which is one of the Nooma videos by Rob Bell. I have always found the Noomas to be thought-provoking and faith-inspiring. This one is about prayer and why God doesn't seem to answer some prayers, and does seem to answer others. The Scriptures are:

James 5.14-16

Matthew 26.36-39

Psalm 13

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sunday June 22

This Sunday, we continue our study of the Psalms. Psalm 3 is our focus.
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

Psalm 2 Sunday June 15

This week we continue our summer series on the Psalms. Psalm 2 is about authority. It's about who is in charge. It is about taking the lesson from Psalm 1 (life with God is better than life without God) and living it out.
Read Psalm 2.
Worship bulletin is here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sunday, June 8

This Sunday we start a summer study series on a few of the Psalms. We will start with Psalm 1 (big surprise, huh?). It is interesting that just about every commentator that I read considers Psalm 1 to be an introduction to the collection of psalms. It didn't just happen to be put at the front. The Psalms are a collection of poetry, usually used in worship. Psalm 1 has no title (or superscription)--the little caption under the chapter number.
Read Psalm 1
Check out a very similar passage Jeremiah 17.5-8
Worship bulletin

Psalm 1 teaches us a very simple lesson: life with God is better than life without God.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A friend of mine, Charley Hagley, sent me this video. You might find it a little cliche-ish, or maybe sentimental, but it is right on target. If you are a parent, check it out. Even if your kids are grown, it's not too late to spend time with them. Find something to do, find some way to connect, find some time for your kids.

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)

What Does God Think about You?

This is a good question to spend some time meditating on. What does God think about you? DOES God think about you? Is God disappointed with you? Does God desire something radically different for your life, and you have no idea?
This is our study for this Sunday.
Here is the worship bulletin.
These are the Scriptures:
John 1.12
Romans 8.16-17
Ephesians 1.3-6
Galatians 4.4-7
Mark 1.11
Matthew 4.1-11
Matthew 11.28-30

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.

Community Bike Ride

This last Tuesday, Mindy, Tyler, and I participated in the Community Bike Ride. We met in front of Old Main (near the flagpole) on the U of A campus. Hundreds of bikes showed up and we road for over an hour all together. It was an amazing and awesome sight and experience. The weather was great, and it was really good to gather with other bike riders in the community. Below are links to some videos and articles about the ride.


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

What did Jesus say about politics?

The subject of politics usually evokes a heated discussion. I run into so many people (like me) who seem to think that everyone else agrees with them! When we find that a friend or family member holds different views, we are usually surprised, maybe disappointed, and maybe dismayed. How can the other person not see the truth! I guess what I am saying is that very often we are very intolerant of anyone who holds different political views from us. We are right (aren't we?).
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.
Luke 4.14-21
Isaiah 61.1-3
Mark 10.35-45
John 18.28-38

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sunday May 18

Seth will be preaching this Sunday. I have a few things to do on Sunday morning (present to Homebuilders Class at 9:30, Confirmation at 11), but I hope to be able to hear Seth. I have had so many positive comments, I've just got to hear this guy for myself!
Here are his Scriptures:

Matthew 25:14-30

Psalm 18:25-36

Romans 8:5-8

Philippians 4:13

Matthew 17:20b

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stamp Out Hunger 2

Several of us from Catalina were featured in the KGUN 9 news story about the Letter Carriers' Food Drive. Go here and click on the small photo of the cans of food to see the story.

Stamp Out Hunger 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

Sunday is a two-fer

This Sunday, May 10, is both Mother's Day and Pentecost. We will find a way to celebrate both in worship Sunday. Wear red for Pentecost!
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.

My boy is sixteen

Monday, May 5, was Tyler's birthday. He turned sixteen. Happy birthday, Tyler!
Here is a photo of Tyler from Easter Sunday. He's looking serious. Ignore the other guy in the background. That's A.J.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Problem of Pain

This has always been (at least for me) THE biggest issue in faith: why do people suffer? I recently read the novel The Footprints of God. The main character said that of these statements: God is all-powerful, God is good, suffering exists, only two can be true. C.S. Lewis dealt with this is his book The Problem of Pain. Rabbi Kushner eloquently covers the topic in When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
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

Also, check out this discussion. Go to the link to follow the discussion.

Is Our Pain God's Problem?

Is our pain God’s problem? If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow so much suffering? These kinds of questions—sometimes called the problem of theodicy—have long bothered believers and nonbelievers alike. These questions are especially pressing now as we face the AIDS pandemic, widespread hunger, and environmental degradation—not to mention the grief that humans can cause one another. Our two guests for this new Beliefnet Blogalogue have devoted part of their lives to addressing these issues. Bart Ehrman is James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of God's Problem and Misquoting Jesus, among many other titles. N.T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham for the Church of England and has taught at McGill, Oxford, and Cambridge. His books include Surprised By Hope, Evil and the Justice of God, and several other titles.

Brian McLaren's take on the debate
Melvin Bray's thoughts on the debate