Category Archives: From the Minister

From the Pulpit April 22 2017

Recently, we celebrated Palm Sunday, in which Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey. His entrance was heralded with crowds of cheering spectators, palm branches and cloaks thrown down to cover the road on which the donkey walked and lots of excitement.

I often marvel at the great response to this man riding into the city on a borrowed donkey. Who made up the crowd that lined the streets? Who welcomed Jesus like a conquering hero or some royalty? Why did this assembly of pilgrims, inhabitants of Jerusalem, followers of Jesus, curiosity seekers, and those needing healing raise such a fuss?

Were they his familiar followers, or prospective followers, or just groupies? Groupies are those who tag along behind celebrities, rock bands or infamous people hoping to be part of the inner circle.

It was most likely a mixture of all of the above as well as religious leaders who distrusted Jesus and wanted him dead.

On Sunday, the crowds could not get enough of this man, but by Friday, many needed something more exciting to hold their attention. It was no longer enough to just chant his name and shout praises. Jesus had not lived up to their expectations, and the people had grown bored and wanted something more. When Jesus was arrested, the only thing left to entertain the crowd was to witness a public execution. When Pontius Pilate gave the mob a choice of setting Jesus free or executing him, no one shouted praises or called him a king. Instead the air was filled with shouts of “crucify him”.

The question tugging at me is where I would have been in the crowd. Would I have been pushing through the people to the front shouting for Jesus’ release; would I have been curious as to whom he really was; would I have been disillusioned as to whom this man was supposed to be; would I have been a groupie, or worse yet, would I have been just a face in the crowd?

 

 

 

 

Signs of the Times 11/13/16

Luke 21:5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

SIGNS

We get information from signs…

Signs of Tornado

  1. A Rotating, funnel shaped cloud extending from a thunderstorm towards the ground.
  1. A dark, sometimes green, sky

 

  1. An approaching cloud of debris
  2. A loud roar (similar to a freight train)
  3. A strange calm after a thunderstorm
  4. Debris falling from the sky

 

Signs of a Stroke

  • Numbness or weaknessin your face, arm, or leg,                  especially on one side
  • Confusion or trouble understanding other people
  • Trouble speaking
  • Trouble seeingwith one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headachethat comes on for no reason

Signs of Prostate Cancer

These include bladder and urinary problems that result in: 1. painful or difficult urination, and frequent urination,         especially at night 2. loss of bladder control 3. reduced urinary flow or velocity 4. blood in the urine (a condition known as hematuria)

Signs of Hard Winter

  1. Thicker than normal corn husks                                    2. Woodpeckers sharing a tree                                      3. Early arrival of the Snowy owl                                     4. Early departure of geese and ducks                      5. Early migration of the Monarch butterfly               6. Thick hair on the nape (back) of the cow’s neck                                                                                                      7. Heavy and numerous fogs during August              8. Raccoons with thick tails and bright bands                                                                                                9. Mice eating ravenously into the home           10.    Early arrival of crickets on the hearth       11.    Spiders spinning larger than usual webs                          and entering the house in great numbers  12.    Pigs gathering sticks                                              13.    Insects marching in a line rather than meandering                                                                      14.   Early seclusion of bees within the hive       15.   Unusual abundance of acorns                            16.   Muskrats burrowing holes high on the river bank                                                                                             17.   “See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell  how high the snow will rest”                                       18.    Narrow orange band in the middle of the Woollybear caterpillar warns of heavy snow; fat and fuzzy caterpillars presage bitter cold                                                                                                    19.      The squirrel gathers nuts early to fortify against a hard winter                                                            20.      Frequent halos or rings around the Sun or Moon forecast numerous snow falls.

SIGNS – WARNING SIGNS

            An early signal that something bad or dangerous might happen                                                       A notice or bulletin that alerts the public of imminent danger/ hazard

PURPOSE OF WARNING SIGNS

The main purpose of signs is to   communicate,  to convey  information  such that the receiver may make cognitive decisions based on the information           provided

EVANGELISTS- tell of signs

END TIMES

Harold Egbert Camping who died in 2103                                  was an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist. …

Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, … time of the Rapture or the end of the world

 

Jack Van Impe

TV Evangelist

Weekly program – Detroit

an eschatological commentary on the news of the           week through an interpretation of the Bible.

__________

There will always be those who try to      unlock the real message or      messages of REVELATION

To unscramble the codes… read the clues, decipher the signs… so we would have an exact ANSWER —

 

In the scripture today,

it says Jesus warns that there will   be those who come and claim the   end is near…

they will claim to be sent as the messenger of God –

Jesus said “don’t be fooled – do not follow them…

These impostors will talk

of the wars – of the time

of Nations rising against Nation –

of the latest plagues like the                                          world has never seen before…

and claim the end is here….

__________________

When has there ever been a time when there was no war anywhere on Earth…

it has been calculated that in the last 3500 years,

there have only been 230 years of peace throughout the civilized    world…

__________

Nation against Nation is just part of world history… Even when there may have been times of peace…

Nations were still enemies –                                                  Russia will always hate the US…                                    the middle Eastern countries will continue to hate one         another as they claim to be the chosen ones…

And I have to believe that each time a new illness, virus, bacteria, plague appeared… people believe it was    the sign of the end of the world…

In 10,000 BC – Small Pox ravaged the population

TB – first appeared 15-20,000 years ago… it had to have         seemed like a world ending plague

Polio – spread and maimed thousands after it was first         diagnosed in    1789.

Zika Virus –panic spread in the last couple of years and it spread into the US… but it was first seen in 1947 –

Ebola – hemorrhagic fever – strikes fear in our hearts…

HIV- AIDS in the 1980s had people screaming the end was near…              it was a plague on sinners…

Each time the world is in the throes of a medical epidemic… we fear the end has come..

_____________

SIGNS-

So, the signs Jesus means, are signs that mean MORE than just wars and plagues…

He mentioned weather calamities as well… and with the climate warming issues… we see these happening now too..

Jesus said these will come and go…– and even if we understand the signs… we cannot prepare for what is coming…

We don’t have to prepare… just keep our walk with God as the most important focus of our lives…

_______

Signs of the times are everywhere…

Many of us as well as our neighbors are feeling very anxious and afraid with the result of the Presidential election.

There is fear for well-being for those who depend on the Affordable Care Act for their medical needs –

Those of other cultures fear the possibility of not being recognized as citizens and forced to leave the country.

Some are afraid for their lives because of promises to undo the laws that assured their rights as equal citizens –

The threats of physical violence towards those who think differently – is a real fear for many…

________

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you;

they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.13

This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14

So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 1

6You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 1

7You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish.

19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

____

So, is the end near…? Are the signs clear?

Once again , Jesus dodges giving an answer…

What we do know is God is                                                    establishing the new age among us..

This new age does not come with wars, and uprisings, protests and threats…

Not with vengeance and resisting the forces that control our land

But it will come in the still of the night… with the birth of a child in Bethlehem…

It will come with a quiet call to love one another…

The new age will come with a journey through our fears —           and we will be under God’s protective wings –

We will face the world with LOVE

We will stand up to anger and hatred –                              With MORE LOVE

We will be the LOVE the world needs…

______________

Signs of the times are everywhere.. and there’s a brand new feeling in the air

Keep your eyes upon the Eastern Sky- Lift Up your heads redemption draweth nigh…

Thanks be to Spirit….

Looking Deeper…

Luke 18:9-14  (NRSV)                                                       Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

HOMILY

Today’s parable (a made-up story) is about two men who go to the temple to pray.

Jesus says the first man was a Pharisee.

The word, “Pharisee,” symbolizes a set of       unattractive attitudes and behaviors. ,

This Pharisee has become a symbol of a                  person who thinks to himself,

“I am better than ….,

those other people who are riff-raff and           detestable and contemptible.

I am better than those …

prostitutes who cruise on Saturday nights,               and those bums sleeping on benches in the downtown ,

The Pharisees would think

I AM BETTER than

those poor souls who sleep in the church doorways, those addicts who are strung out on     booze and drugs, those welfare folks who use their coupons  to buy cigarettes in the grocery store in line in front of me,

those people who never darken the  doors of the church, those bar hoppers who spend their                  life with their friends at the bar,those Muslims, those Jews, those gays, lesbians, and transvestites,           transgenders–

those marriage losers who have divorced over and over — those prisoners who spent months,            years or decades in jail. You know, those people who won’t work, but expect the government to take care of them

PHARISEES

Saw themselves as  GOOD….                                                 Men who obeyed the law

  • I work… pay taxes… pay bills…
  • I go to church every week.
  • I give ten percent of my income.
  • I say my prayers daily.

 

IN JESUS’ DAY                                                                                 the Pharisees were the strict Jews.

They believed.      They were disciplined.                     They took the Law seriously – so seriously,                 in fact, that they created a “hedge” around the law,  called   the Oral Law                                                          a tradition of the ELDERS –  a tougher law with the idea that if they kept the rules of the Oral Law  then they wouldn’t break the Mosaic Law.

By building a “hedge about the law” or fence around the law, the Jewish   leaders would be able to   `      develop a system of rules and interpretations that would keep people as far from sin as                      possible.

For example, if the law said not to work on the Sabbath day, they would make up volumes of              rules that indicated exactly what actions       constituted work. This made a huge separation between the so-called righteous and the sinners.

It also made following God a burden that Jesus Himself said was too heavy   to carry.

It also allowed the leaders appear to be righteous, to approve and disapprove of people and to control     all of the religious affairs within Judaism.

Jesus continually referred to the oral law as the “tradition of the elders” or the “tradition of men” (Matt 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-23;

The problem with building a hedge around the law is that the hedge often becomes the new law.

Pharisees would chastise the violation of the Jewish “hedge” law as if it were from the mouth of God.

When the hedge becomes the law, a new hedge ensues, to keep us from violating the new law.

Pharisees were members of an exacting party of the Jews who believed in strictly observing God’s law.

People became chained to these unrealistic laws; would wreck themselves while judging others –       and all for something God did not intend.

In some ways, we might pity the Pharisee –

Their original intention may have been to    safeguard against breaking Jewish Law, but as often happens,

original things change… and … the laws morphed into twisted versions that were nearly too difficult to observe.

Into MAN’s LAWS not Gods.

Possibly through no one’s fault…. Just good intentions gone too far

___________________________

We too, have our “hedge” around the law.

At various times and in various churches there have been rules against  flip-flops,                   sleeveless dresses, slacks for women,                       women not in leadership, abstaining from wine and hard liquor,  beards, lack of beards, lack of head       coverings, eating pork, dancing,eating any meat, drinking caffeinated drinks , smoking…

You get the idea.

None of these is stipulated clearly in                                      the scripture, but each comes from a                             desire to please God and avoid

 

But, just as the Pharisees, Sometimes we misjudge others because of not knowing the origin of                  their beliefs –

What was their ORIGINAL intention for this law?

NOW——-

What has this got to do with us?

This entire year, our nation has been  divided by what we know and what   we think we know about two  candidates –

Many people view the opposing side’s supporters as morons – uneducated and unthinking mobs –– people who will ignore illegal behavior —   crude and socially unacceptable – liberals with no morals –  conservatives with no ability to                   understand…

Much like the Pharisee

We thank God we are NOT like those  who support Trump –

We thank God we are NOT like those  who support Clinton

We pray that those blind followers will see the truth before they vote…

___________________________

WE only see THEM                                                                           as one dimensional = WRONG

Until this morning, we only had a one dimensional view of PHARISEEs—-Bad men – who hated Jesus  HOLIER than thou…. Self-serving…unrighteous

THEN

by taking time to learn about the Pharisee—-we have a broader understanding where they came from- what they originally intended —

Good intentions – that got lost in the shuffle…

The same can be said for how we view others in our nation this week…

Stop and look at  ORIGINAL INTENTIONS and PURPOSE

Attempt to look at this election through your opposing supporter’s eyes… and try to understand how they have arrived at their decision…

NOT all intentions are selfish – self-serving –           meant to hurt someone else…

As we continue to learn –                                                     not everyone takes the same path to get to the top of the mountain…

The Devil Made Me Do It?

James 1: 12-13

 

12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord[a] has promised to those who love him.

13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.

 

HOMILY  INTRODUCTION

 

Whenever I hear the word temptation – I have several images come to mind…

Adam and Eve – Garden of Eden

Job

Jesus in Wilderness

The old gospel hymn I grew up with..

Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin—

Each victory will help you – some others to win..

Fight manfully onward – dark passions subdue – look ever to Jesus – he’ll carry you through…

The devil… satan – is rarely a topic on Sunday mornings…

I do not know why it is the topic today, but I have learned NOT to ignore what God puts on my heart… even when it scares me – or makes me wonder why…

Today, I continue to trust God’s decisions, and just get out of the way….

_________________________

What does the Devil look like?

Pitchfork and tail –  Greek mythology,                           Neptune/pitchfork

RED            blood – violence – passion

Horns/ Beard –   Satyrs, the lust-filled tempters    (goat legs, horns, beard)

___________________

SATAN – Originally

Angel – most perfect of all

In Ezekiel 28:12-18  you will find God describing     him:

“Thus says the Lord GOD,   You had the seal of perfection,    Full of wisdom and perfect  in beauty. You were  blameless in your ways from the day you were created. Until un-righteousness was found in you.”

So Satan was created a cherub and he            originally was

“the anointed cherub that       covered” the very throne of God.   He was perfect and “blameless”.

  • -But his pride got in the way
  • -he became “unrighteousness” before God.
  • -Satan’s pride was his downfall.
  • ________________________

NAME    –      SATAN

PROUNUNCIATION

The Hebrew word “satan” means   adversary or accuser.

“Satan” is pronounced as “sah-tahn.”

There has arisen a misunderstanding of the Hebrew in which some are

choosing the pronunciation of the name of the accuser of the brethren as “Shatan” rather than as “Satan.” 

However,

“Shatan” is a different Hebrew word                                                                                            which means “urine”.

We should not confuse these two words,

rebuking “urine” (Shatan)  does nothing to get the enemy to depart from us.

The confusion comes because the same Hebrew letter in both words has two PROUNUNCIATIONS

s- sound   or   sh- sound…

Satan (Hebrew: meaning                                                        “ENEMY” or “ADVERSARY“;

-derived from Hebrew verb ‘satan’                         which means TO OPPOSE

Arabic: shaitan, meaning;  “ASTRAY”, “DISTANT”,

When Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek….

  • They translated “satan” as “diaboloc” from which we derive our English term “devil” and “diabolic.”

 Devil- DIABLOS in Greek

is a figure appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions who brings  evil and temptation,                  and is known as the deceiver  who leads humanity astray.

OTHER Descriptions

 SATAN = Any person acting as an

  • accuser
  • enemy
  • Opponent
  • Adivine messenger sent by God as an adversary:
  • member of God’s inner council;
  • a type of chief prosecutor of Heaven:

HEBREW PHRASE

“Ha satan” –      THE Adversary

  • such as advocate on other side of argument

HEBREW HA – just means THE

SO WHAT?

This makes ‘ha satan’ a common noun rather than a proper noun      or      NAME like   “Satan Jones”

Judaism does not believe in the devil,                                       but they do believe in   ‘the Satan”

 

`Not SATAN, but ‘the satan’

which also means  ‘CHALLENGER’ –                                 ‘DIFFICULTY’

___________________________________

IN JUDAISM

HaSatan works for God.

His job is to make choosing good   over evil enough of a challenge so that it can be a meaningful               choice.

HaSatan is an angel whose mission it is to add difficulty, challenges, and growth experiences to     life.

Contrast this to Christianity —-           which sees Satan as God’s opponent. _______________

In Jewish thought, the idea that there exists anything –capable of setting itself up  as God’s opponent  would be considered  overly polytheistic

Viewing Satan as God’s opponent would be setting up the devil  to be a god or demigod.

_____________________

SO —-

We learned all of the meanings behind the name HaSATAN – one I have been taught over the years is TEMPTER –

Since we have the Eden story, Jesus in the Wilderness – and of course Job’s mess.

We even have other faith’s understanding of the Purpose – of the HaSatan

We began this lesson by describing what HaSatan looks like….

Red – Horns – Beard – Goat legs – Tail – Pitchfork – scary red eyes – sharp teeth

Interesting that human imaginations picture         ha-satan as scary,  red, black, violent,                                   ugly, viscious…

Yet,

If that is how we envision ha-satan-     how could he be a temptation to us?

Something that is ugly, scary and violent would send us running in the opposite direction – yet

Our teachings are that the devil is  trying to lure us in –  tempt us into sin – lead us into trouble and pain.    Take advantage of our weaknesses…

Hang with me for a little longer…

If THE Satan is not a proper NOUN –                                 then we can also deduce                                                            THE Satan may NOT a  proper BEING –

but a metaphor –

A representation of what tempts us from our walk with God –From our loving one another              From our joy —

SORT OF- The Devil Made Me Do It

a catchphrase made famous in the 70s by Flip Wilson –

on his tv show – he had a character Geraldine  who used this excuse whenever her husband accused her of doing  something wrong….

Not my fault… the Devil Made Me Do it.

ALSO —

Remember the cartoons when a character was caught between doing something wrong and right… and on one shoulder appeared a miniature angel telling them to do right…

and on the other should appeared a miniature devil, telling them how great it      will feel to do wrong…

Halloween is our time to express our fears or lack of fears – and the devil is almost always one of the costume choices…                                                                          either the ugly, vicious scary version…or the cute little cherub devil…or the sexy temptress —

Whether we view this tempter as Satan – HaSatan – Devil – Opponent – Adversary – enemy or challenger –OR   whether we understand this part of creation as a thing or spirit or just an   expression of behavior…

It is one way of gauging our spiritual walk –   again using bad things for a positive       purpose…

— we can measure ourselves against this one we call the Satan –And use this information to help us            Recognize temptations –                                                           and work hard to avoid them…

Lead us not into temptation, but when they happen – let us turn away…

I realize this dressing as HaSatan/ Devil is a very different approach to a Sunday message… but,I couldn’t help myself…                                                               maybe the angel made me do it…

From the Pulpit October 22, 2016

According to 1 Peter 3: 8-9, God calls us to live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, be compassionate and humble. We are not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, so that we may also receive blessing.

How can something sound so simple, yet be so difficult to do? But it appears nearly impossible if one watches the Presidential Campaign. We are not to repay insult with insult, but with blessing. At the second debate, the candidates were asked “Would either of you name one positive thing that you respect in one another?”

What a powerful question, and what a change in the atmosphere in that room, as well as in the homes of everyone watching. How sad that the question initially drew laughter, as if it were a prank question. But, I could feel everyone lean in to hear their answers.

In Clinical Pastoral Education, to become a hospital chaplain, we met in groups to discuss our chaplain experiences in the clinical settings. Each chaplain was to critique the other chaplains and offer growing edges, or suggestions for personal improvement. Before each chaplain could offer a critique, we first had to acknowledge the other chaplains’ attributes. After recognizing a chaplain’s strengths, we could then critique possible deficiencies.

How different this political season would be if each candidate had to provide three positive qualities before showcasing their opponent’s perceived shortcomings. What would happen if we learn to agree to disagree? Better yet, what if we learn to disagree without being disagreeable?

From the Pulpit June 10 2016

Religion is not for me. I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I do not believe in organized religion. I had enough church growing up. I don’t need to go to church talk to God. I don’t want to be preached at and told I am going to hell. I do not need to march in step with a particular religion’s philosophy to know right from wrong. These are statements I hear a lot these days, and rightfully so. In this modern age, many view the church as outdated, irrelevant, and cumbersome; offering little interest for the Generation X and Millennials who have no church experience or who have had negative church experiences. In fact, I agree with these statements myself. So, why am I called to be a minister? I have asked God that question many times in the last few years. But, I have learned that I am called to be a different minister than when I first answered. Originally, I felt called into ministry to ‘save souls’ according to my adolescent understanding of the scripture known as the Great Commission. But, as an adult, I do not see my call so simply. I still feel called to spread the good news, only differently and not to ‘save souls’.

My ministry is to spread the good news that we are all loved and called by God. This doesn’t mean we are to go door to door and prod people into church. We are called so God can use us to meet people where they are; to show them that God is God for ALL people, not just those who obey some religious dogma. God is God for ALL people – no matter who they are, where they are or what they are. 1 Timothy 4:10 “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL people, and especially of those who believe.”

SUGGESTED READING

MARGARET N. RALPH

Ralph, Margaret N.  And God Said What? An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms                                                                              (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2003).

Ralph, Margaret N. Discovering the Gospels: Four Accounts of the Good News                         (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist    Press, 1990).                                                         Presently published by Wipf & Stock                                                      Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 2001.

Ralph, Margaret N. Discovering Old Testament Origins: Genesis, Exodus, 1, 2 Samuel                                                                                                 (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press,1992).

Ralph, Margaret N. Discovering the First Century Church: The Acts of the Apostles, Letters of Paul and The Book of Revelation                       (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1991).

Ralph, Margaret N. Why the Catholic Church Must Change: A Necessary Conversation                                                                                           (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2014).

PHYLLIS TICKLE

The Great EmergenceThe Great Emergence
emersion, an imprint of Baker Publishing Group
(October, 2008)
Buy from: Amazon.com
Buy from: BarnesandNoble.com

Emergence ChristianityEmergence Christianity
Buy from: Amazon.com
Buy from: BarnesandNoble.com

 

MARCUS BORG

Meeting Jesus Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time
“For many contemporary Christians, Biblical scholarship is seen as the enemy of faith. In a personal and highly readable account, Marcus Borg shows how Christians can explore contemporary scholarship as a way toward a far more dynamic and meaningful faith.” — Rosemary Radford Ruether, author of Gaia and God
Purchase:    HarperCollins    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Indiebound
:    HarperCollins    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Indiebound
Reading the Bible Reading the Bible Again for the First Time
“Takes the Bible back from the specialists … nothing short of a blessing, even a miracle!” — Peter J. Gomes
Purchase:    HarperCollins    Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Indiebound
Heart of Christianity The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
“A winsome, accessible, pastoral offering … Borg provides a way for an important, positive, and serious rethinking of the gospel.” — Walter Brueggemann
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From the Pulpit – Faith Without Seeing

Faith is claimed, but rarely executed. Faith is trust without proof and the undergirding of our spiritual lives. We believers espouse that we have faith, but when the rubber hits the road, faith is hard to find. Recently, our church helped feed the homeless through a local group called “Taking It to the Streets” where I witnessed powerful faith that ran rampant amongst those daily taking it to the streets. One after another joyfully shared how God had changed their lives and provided their every need in feeding those living on the streets. Whenever they needed something like a building, an oven, steam tables, and had no money, they prayed and God provided. For many, this sounds contrived, but their faith was deep and unmistakable.

As an ordained Minister, I am expected to have a strong faith, and I do, but in the presence these disciples who have seen too much of life, it felt weak. I serve a 125 year old church that has historically been in several locations, and even rebuilt from a fire, but is presently, without a building to call its own. Like many churches, we shrank out of our building and had to sell the property when maintenance exceeded our offering. Our giving is meant for more than a light bill and repairs, so with thirty-five of the ninety-plus members of years ago, we stepped out in faith. Now, when asked if the church is growing, I excitedly say yes, we have grown exponentially in faith and community.

God brought us this far, and is leading us forward. We remain in constant prayer for a new location, that is handicapped accessible and affordable so our offering continues to be more for ministry to others, than for a meeting place. Like those disciples we met Saturday, our faith is that God will provide.

FROM THE PULPIT (Omaha World Herald ——- I Can See Clearly, Now

In Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth he wrote: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

Remember how frustrating it is to drive when the windshield is fogged up? Have you bristled at waiting for the bathroom mirror to clear after a hot shower? On Tuesday, I was shoveling snow and my warm breath escaped through my scarf and fogged my glasses, and I could not see where I was shoveling. Have you ever been in the Majestic Theatre and have the movie start, only to realize it is out of focus? We want to see the world around us clearly and in focus, so we wear prescription glasses or contacts, have tinted windows to prevent glare and wear dark glasses protect our eyes from the sun.

Paul was saying that although there are things in this world and about God we cannot understand, or see clearly; one day we will be face to face with God, and know all things as God knows all things now.

Elders tell young people to be patient, because one day when they are older they will understand. We all have a little two year old in us that asks why of everything. Why is there war? Why do animals suffer? Why do babies die? Why is there pain? Scripture assures us that someday all things will be made clear, and will finally make sense. There is an old gospel hymn that says “trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand…we will understand it better by and by.” Until then, Paul also reminds us that we walk by faith and not by sight.