Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Isaiah 40

My parents milked a television for all it was worth. We didn't get cable into well into the 80's if not 90's. I remember watching reruns of Mighty Mouse as a kid. The bad guy would have someone captive. Mighty mouse would hear a distress call and zoom into the air. And somewhere along the way, you would hear Mighty Mouse sing from the skies, before he got to the bad guy: "Here I come to save the day!"
When I read Isaiah 40, I hear those words "Here I come to save the day!" but this time it is God who is on the way. The prophet/messenger scouts before the Almighty telling all to prepare the way. Nothing will stand in God's way from rescuing his people, his creation. "Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough, ain't no river wide enough--to keep God from his creation"
As we journey the wilderness of life, can we hear the cry "prepare the way of the Lord." Can we hear our God sing out "Here I come to save the day!"
Are we preparing the way to encounter Christ again this Christmas? Are the high places of arrogance, pride and self sufficiency in our lives being made low? Are the low places of doubt, regret, and unforgiveness being filled in with the hope, mercy and grace of God?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent 2

Matthew 1:23  “Look! The virgin will conceive child!
She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

God is with us. That is good news. And if we ponder the name Emmanuel in light of the Scripture from Romans 5: 6 “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” it takes on a new depth.  While we were busy running our own lives, keeping God out, Christ was born in a manger, walked among us, ate with us, and died for us. While we were enemies of God, busy building walls to keep God and others at a distance, Jesus entered our world, invaded our space, and loved us with his life.  While we were slaves to ourselves, to sin and death, God came to be with us.
Yet the message I hear sometimes from Christians is  “God is with us but not with you.” Oh, we don’t say it so blatantly but we say it nonetheless in word and deed.  In arguments or debates, we say God is against you because you are a sinner, a democrat, a republican, fill in the blank ____________ by calling them heretics, sinners, unbiblical. I wonder how many times when I pulled back from someone’s touch that was homeless or sick, I sent the message “God is not with you.” Yet the message of the Incarnation is “God is with us.” Christ came and touched the untouchables. I wonder how many times I have placed boundaries between me and someone else because of political or theological differences, sending the message “God is with me but not you.” Yet when Christ was on earth, he bridged those divides, tore down the walls which separated humanity and God, as well as people from each other. By being in his presence, the people were called to new life and changed. They were not required to change and then God would be with them. The Good News was and still is---“hey sinners! God is with you!”
We celebrate the Incarnation—God chose not to allow our sinfulness to keep us from him. In fact, while we were yet sinners, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.  May we reflect the truth God is with us—sinners and saints, republican and democrat, homeless and middle class and upper class, sick and healthy, imprisoned and law abiding, straight and not. God is with us.  Let us journey deeper into that truth. Let us live like God is with us and with those who are not like us.  Let us trust God to bring us to life again.  I want to declare with my words and my life “Immanuel!”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent--Day 1 Isaiah 64

Isaiah 64 
1 Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!
      How the mountains would quake in your presence!
 2 As fire causes wood to burn
      and water to boil,
   your coming would make the nations tremble.
      Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!
 3 When you came down long ago,
      you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
      And oh, how the mountains quaked!
 4 For since the world began,
      no ear has heard,
   and no eye has seen a God like you,
      who works for those who wait for him!
 5 You welcome those who gladly do good,
      who follow godly ways.

Yes! Open the Heavens and come down! Let your salvation spring up from the ground. Let nature declare you are God. Set things right! Let those who mock me, who hurt me, who hurt my friends, my nation know I was.....I mean....You are right! Show them all God!! You welcome those who follow your ways and do good. So come, Lord Jesus, come! Set everything right.

But you have been very angry with us,
      for we are not godly.
   We are constant sinners;
      how can people like us be saved?
 6 We are all infected and impure with sin.
      When we display our righteous deeds,
      they are nothing but filthy rags.
   Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
      and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
 7 Yet no one calls on your name
      or pleads with you for mercy.
   Therefore, you have turned away from us
      and turned us over[c] to our sins.

Yes, show those ungodly people we, your people, are right.......wait, what? "we are ungodly?" Excuse me, Isaiah, but I think you made a mistake. We are the people of God. And when Christ comes back all those who are not part of "us--godly people"--you know, those who are ungodly-- will be shown the error of their ways and God's people will be shown to be right. How can we be part of the ungodly?
Ok, I will admit that I haven't forgiven that person yet....but she hasn't asked for forgiveness. But that is such a small thing, isn't it?
And, yes, I guess sometimes my "prayer requests" are bordering on gossip, but if it gets others to pray.....no, its not justifiable.
What? My attitude about those in poverty or those of the opposing political opinion? Well they are just lazy and ignorant......oh, you're right, I am generalizing and not hearing their story. I could probably be a little more Christ-like in this area too.
Now, yes, I am angry and bitter towards that person but he acts like he has the perfect theology and uses Scripture as a weapon against me. I mean, does he not see that I Corinthians 13, the fact we see things dimly now means he sees things dimly now?!? What? That verse is for me too? I see things dimly too and probably should be a bit more humble? Well, I can see your point.
Well, you're right, I am quite impatient, judgmental, selfish, quick to talk, slow to listen....ok, ok.
I am ungodly and I don't call out for your help but rely on my own strength to be a good person. I am comfortable as I am. I want you to right this world but let me be. I am part of the ungodly.

8 And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
      We are the clay, and you are the potter.
      We all are formed by your hand.
 9 Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
      Please don’t remember our sins forever.
   Look at us, we pray,
      and see that we are all your people.

So when you come in your glory, don't forget me, please. Please don't leave me in my sin and brokenness. As you make the rest of the world whole and right, please make me whole and right. Don't just rend the Heavens but rend my heart too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Assumptions about a woman in ministry

Being female and an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church I have found that people assume a lot about me.
~it is assumed that I am liberal in my theology. I have been accused of hating Scripture or when people quote Scripture. In fact here is a quote from someone’s message on Facebook: “Just stating God's word, and liberal preachers don’t like it.” 
            ~Well, I actually read Scripture regularly. I love to study the Bible and hold Scripture in high regard. I want to find where each Scripture fits into the whole picture of the Bible. Most people who consider themselves liberal theologically consider me quite conservative theologically.
~people assume I have a rebellious spirit. I have heard people say anyone who supports women in ordained ministry are in open rebellion.
            ~You are assuming I didn’t spend lots of time in prayer, Scripture reading and study. You are assuming I didn’t struggle with what I felt God was calling me to do. I spent decades studying, praying, fasting, talking to pastors and other Christian leaders.  I tried to do other things. God closed those doors but opened every door into ministry. In the end, I felt I was in open rebellion not following God’s call to ordained ministry. 
            ~You are assuming that I am simply ignoring the “catch” Scriptures on women in ordained ministry. You don’t even consider that I have done studies on these Scriptures and have read Church history on these passages and read scholars from all sides on these Scriptures –and have come to a different understanding than you on them. Yes, we disagree on the interpretation of these Scriptures. I disagree with the conclusions some powerful theologians have come to on these Scriptures. But here is the thing, there are amazing, powerful theologians on both sides of this issue. The Church doesn’t seem to fully agree on this issue. Church history and Biblical history is replete with women in the position of bringing the Good News, preaching, judging, teaching, leading.
Sitting in discussions with most male pastors I find no one assumes where a man stands theologically. Instead they enter into dialogue.  As a woman, I simply ask for the same courtesy. Please don’t assume. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

what if...

What if.....
What if the world is looking for a safe place to ask questions rather than a place which claims all the answers?

What if faith is more about living in the tension and uncertainty than having control?

What if the Gospel is not about who is in and who is out but rather about the Kingdom encompassing everyone?

What if Christianity is about bringing God to everyone, not having people come to God?

What if God is found in the doubts?

What if Jesus really meant love your enemies, repay evil with good, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are the meek?

What if....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Burning buildings, drowning victims.......and evangelism-- part 2

I remember clearly the calls to evangelize given by speakers as they used the burning building or drowning victim illustrations. As stated in my last post, I find stating unbelievers are in a burning building and it is the Christian's job to warn them of the danger puts the emphasis on the conversion, not on discipleship.
I also think these illustrations to motivate evangelism also inspire a "talk at ya and convince ya" type of evangelism.  I need to tell you from safety that you are drowning or in a burning building. I need to point out your sin to convince you that you are a sinner and you need a savior. The Roman Road approach. While I am certain there are many who have been converted by this manner, I just don't see this in Scripture.
Philippians 2 tells us to have the same attitude or mind that Christ had--who was God but didn't claim hold to his rights as God but instead humbled himself as a servant even unto death. The picture I see in Philippians is Jesus jumping into the water or running into the building. God didn't shout how sinful we are from heaven then jump down to die on the Cross and rise again. Instead, as John's Gospel states, The Word tabernacled with us. God made his dwelling with us, walked among us so we could see his glory.  And swept a bunch of people along for the journey of salvation. I wonder if Christians adopted the Philippians 2 attitude in their evangelism if the world would look a little differently.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Burning buildings, drowning victims.......and evangelism

In a conversation on Facebook, a person stated he believed he must point out people's sins in order to love. He then used the illustration of a burning building. If a person was in a burning building, is it loving to tell them everything is ok or to tell them to get out because the building is on fire? When I asked why are there only two options to love--pointing out sin or telling everyone everything is ok, he asked what the third option is in the illustration of the burning building. Perhaps the answer to that is going into the burning building and helping the person out. His response was the person doesn't believe the building is burning or that they need a way out. So his way to love is to tell a person the house is on fire. If they don't listen, he moves on to the next house.
I have heard this illustration before. A preacher attempts to motivate his listeners to evangelize by employing the illustration of the burning building. The unsaved are in a burning building. You as the Christian must warn them of the fire and offer them Christ as the answer. Or the preacher used the drowning illustration. We Christians are in a boat and all around us in the water are lost souls drowning. Jesus is the life preserver. 
Is this the best illustration for evangelism? The emphasis falls on the moment of conversion. The object of salvation is to save someone from Hell. Yet when I read Scripture, I never find conversion to be central to the Gospel. I find discipleship to be the emphasis. I find God is interested in re-creating me from a self centered being to a God-centered being. I am reborn and must learn to walk again in steps of a peace which seeks everyone's wholeness and talk again using the language of self sacrificial love. 
In my experience, we are not in a burning building but on a journey. God wishes to join us on this journey, invade our space, and redeem all of the journey. I am not saved from my sins in some vague eternity. I am saved from sins now and forever. The journey is redeemed. That which would break me on my journey or break others through my journey, God offers healing and wholeness. At some point in this journey, I joined God's Story, not to get to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to me. The Presence of God is mine in the here and now.
So does the burning building or the drowning victim imagery inspire you to evangelize? What imagery would you use to paint the picture of what God is doing in your life?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

all you need is love.....part 3

So the last two blogs were about I Corinthians 13.  I find it interesting the love chapter is found in a letter to the church at Corinth, not Philippi. The Philippian Church was a persecuted church and Paul had very kind words for them as they lived the Gospel in the midst of hard circumstances. But the love chapter goes to Corinth--the church which is divided (I was baptized by Paul, I was baptized by Apollos) and a church which loved its rituals (spiritual gifts) more than people. They get the love chapter. And the Love chapter does not talk anything about agreeing with each other. Instead, it promises we will not see things eye to eye here. No we are reminded that right now, we are seeing things dimly. And because we see things dimly, perhaps a love which is patient, kind, not rude, seeks the best for the other person, does not boast in being right, rejoices in justice not evil is the kind of love which we are called to.
Interestingly enough, I have been in a conversation on my friend's facebook wall about responding to atheists who "blaspheme" God. One person insists the loving thing to do is to point out they are in a burning building, point out their sin and if they don't respond move on to the next house. I asked if love always has to point out the sin. He responded it was either that or embracing sin and saying all things are fine.
Is there a love in between those two extremes? Is there an act of love between pointing out sin or saying everything is fine? Have we lost our God given creativity if we can only see two sides to love?
Is this life really a burning building and we need to accept Jesus to get out of the burning building of sin? Or is life a journey where we are shaped by the encounters with a loving God who patiently waits for us, calls to us, walks with us until we respond? Perhaps I see things too simplistically. I know I only see things dimly.  But from my experience, God seems to take the scenic route. If its a burning building, God doesn't seem to be in a hurry in my life or the lives of anyone around me. The only answer I keep hearing is: love any ways.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All you need is love....part 2

 I shared on FB and in my last post, Rachel Held Evans' blog: http://rachelheldevans.com/guest-post-david-nilsen, which made me think of some of the conversations I have had over controversial issues. The question about love--whether love condones or agrees with the other side, how do we love?--has come up on many occasions.  In my last post, I stated how agape love is a love which chooses to love. So I thought I would continue with the type of love we are to choose.  How do we love those who differ from us theologically, socially, or politically? As Christ has loved us is the simple, straightforward answer. If that is too abstract--you know--loving to death people who were his enemies, we can look at I Corinthians 13:
Love is patient and kind. Love bears,  calmly endures even opposing views, pain, mistakes. Love responds not with labels which push people away, put others down, mock the opposing view but responds with kindness.
Love is not jealous, boastful or proud.  Love does not abandon someone who agrees with us some points when they differ from us on a controversial issue. You know, the Christian who believes Jesus is Lord but does not support the literal 6 days of Creation or has a different view on homosexuality or is a *gasp* Democrat or a Republican. Love does not get jealous of the other camp and disown the Christian as a brother or sister in Christ. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love doesn't have to have all the answers and can discuss issues without acting like it is my way or you're completely wrong.
Love is not rude. Love does not call names or throw labels around. Love does not invite people to mock other people. Love does not mock others.
Love does not demand its own way. Love does not require the other person to be completely persuaded to my point of view. Love allows the other person to choose and remain in relationship.
Love is not irritable. Love is not offended when someone disagrees with me.
Love keeps no records when it has been wronged. Love doesn't let the wrongs someone has done define who they are, allowing them to still have a voice into other people's lives, into my own life.
Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. And so, even when a beloved pastor or church leader is leading a mega church and doing wonderful ministry, when he is unjust in his treatment of any other human being, love does not rejoice. The wrong someone does in no way negates the good. But the good does not negate the bad. Let us call each other to a higher standard of love.
Love never gives up. Love doesn't unfriend or leave a fellowship lightly.
Love never loses faith. I can love those who differ from me theologically, politically knowing that God's love wins. God will correct them or God will correct me, perhaps not in this conversation or life. But I have faith, God wins. God's promise is true--those who seek God will find God and be conformed to the image of Christ.
Love is always hopeful. Love expects the best out of others. Love doesn't assume because someone believes a certain way about a theological, political or social issue that they don't love God and don't believe Scripture. Love gives them the benefit of the doubt.
Love endures through all circumstances.
In this list, we do not find love agrees 100% all the time. In fact, the list has more to do with how we deal with each other in times of disagreement and hardship--being patient, kind, not being rude, not keeping record of wrong.
Let us choose to love--no matter what.

All you need is love.....part one

All you need is love.  So why is it so hard? I have been part of dialogs between friends, on line, on blogs, etc. where the tensions rise and accusations are hurled. In the middle of a heated discussion, someone will call people to love. Another will say "love the sinner, hate the sin." And then someone will ask, "how can we love someone who is in opposition to Scripture?" And yet another will state, "we cannot condone this lifestyle or these actions, or this sin. Christianity is not a feel good, hippie religion." Why is love so difficult? When Christ says "love your enemies," what did he mean?
I think part of the problem is our English.
I love ice cream. So obviously, when ice cream is served I am going to partake.
I love hockey. So obviously, I condone hockey games.
I love my sister. I accept her.
We use the term love for silly, temporary things and for deep, eternal matters. Our culture portrays another version of love which a highly sexual one. And so our understanding of love is blurred in our culture and by our language.
But the Greek, which the New Testament was written in, has more than one term for love. I am going to focus on the term agape, the love of God in the Septuagint and the New Testament, because we are to love others as Christ has loved us. It is the agape love we are to show.
I have often heard preachers discuss how agape love is the unconditional love. When I was in seminary, I did a word study through Kittle's Theological Dictionary on the term agape. Kittle looks at each word in the New Testament in the context of the culture--how did the Greek people in history and the contemporaries of Jesus use the word, in the context of the Septuagint and the Old Testament (the Jewish translators chose specific Greek words for specific Hebrew and Aramaic words when they translated), and in the context of the New Testament--how has the author of the Scripture used the term in other places or other NT authors used the term. I found the term agape is more than just unconditional love. The Jewish translators used the term agape for the love of God or the Hesed in the Septuagint because it is a choice love. While the other terms for love in Greek mean affection or brotherly love, agape denotes choice. God chose Israel out of all the other nations to love. God chose to love Israel, even though they turned from God, God chose them, loved them, and used them to bring the Messiah.
So how do we love people we disagree with theologically, politically, socially? Its a choice! We choose to love first whether the person will agree with us or disagree. We choose love before we know where they stand. Rachel Held Evans had an interesting post on the subject of disagreeing theologically with people: http://rachelheldevans.com/guest-post-david-nilsen  Choosing to love is to give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to voice their view. That will be a discussion for the next post.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hell and God's ways

Earlier this week, I was at a table with colleagues and the discussion came around to a new book about Hell, responding to Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins." I can't remember the author or the name of the book in rebuttal. All I recall is my colleague highlighting the argument which reinforced his understanding of Hell. So this blog is not a defense of either books, since I have not read either, but a discussion on my friend's argument. My colleague stated the argument which he agreed with was the thought that God's ways are higher than our ways--Isaiah 55:9. And so when we have a problem with God sending someone to Hell, God's ways are higher than our ways.
I have a couple of issues with this argument.
1. Using Isaiah 55:9 in this manner is an easy way out. If you don't agree with me, "well, you know God's ways are higher than our ways, so it may not sound right to you." Those who disagree with the author or my friend's view of Hell could use the same argument against them. "I know you believe that only those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved, but God can pardon who ever he wants. You know God's ways are higher than our ways." I do not believe we can have complete understanding this side of Glory of all spiritual truths but I don't think we can simply dismiss different views with "God's ways are higher than ours."
2. What is the context of Isaiah 55:9? Isaiah 55 begins "if anyone is thirsty, come and drink." It is an invitation to come back to God. Turn from your wicked ways. Verse 7--right before the "my thoughts are above your thoughts, my ways are above your ways," states, "God will abundantly pardon." What? God's thoughts and ways are above ours.....in the context of God will abundantly pardon. It is not our way to pardon so greatly. It is not in our way to expect to be pardoned for the wrong we have done. But it is God's way. Now this is in no way near a complete exegesis of Isaiah 55. But I think we need to look at the context of a verse before we quote it to back our position. We can and should respect the Bible more than simply using it as a bunch of loosely connected Proverbs we can whip out whenever we need a defense or even a word of encouragement. God's story is much bigger than mere snippets.
So those are my thoughts on my friend's defense on his view of Hell. No, I didn't share it with him at the time. There were an awful lot of social dynamics at play and well, lets say I wasn't comfortable. But I share it with you. What is your take on Isaiah 55 and how we use verse 8-9?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weeds in the Garden

I would love to start this  with the phrase "my gardens are growing...." but I really cannot begin that way. To be brutally honest, I must say the places where there were gardens in my yard are chaotic tangles of flora and fauna. Bushes, flowers, weeds, saplings all compete for a place in the sun. And its a mess. There is nothing inviting about my yard. Outside my front door, I have a visual picture of Matthew 13:24-30--the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The wheat is planted by the Master's workers and then the enemy plants weeds. And the Master tells the workers to allow them to grow up together.  This, Jesus said, is what the Kingdom of God is like. Well, my garden is messy because the desired plants are growing up alongside the weeds and thorns. And so, does that mean, God's Kingdom, until Christ returns, is a messy place?
How does that affect what I expect from church? Perhaps grace is the only acceptable response. But I'm not sure how to respond with grace. We all have our pet peeves about church and about Christians.Those things, those sins, those hypocrisies which press our buttons and try our patience.  How do we show grace to each other and the world even in the areas that try our patience?

I just want to love Jesus

I just want to love Jesus.
But so much gets in the way.
I just want to love Jesus by spending time quietly in prayer and Scripture.
But instead, I press the snooze button or the laundry suddenly becomes a desperate need.
I just want to love Jesus by serving others.
But instead I many times treat people as interruptions to my daily tasks.
I just want to love Jesus in all that I do.
But doctrinal differences, political differences, cultural differences all get in the way.
I just want to love Jesus.

The Southern Baptist have reinforced their understanding of Hell in light of Rob Bell's book. There are numerous books out to combat Rob Bell's "unorthodox" view. "God's ways are higher than ours so just because an eternal Hell is repugnant to us doesn't mean it isn't God's way." And anyone who doesn't believe in a literal hell is dismissed or better yet, a heretic. We assume we can know completely about Hell, Heaven and all Spiritual Truths beyond any shadow of a doubt. And that assumption drives a wedge between us.
There is the debate over homosexuality. Actually it isn't debated much. We simply talk over each other, around each other, at each other. And somehow, if you believe one way you are a liberal heretic who doesn't take Scripture seriously or you believe the other way, you are ignorant, narrow minded and don't understand Scripture as well as you should. And our assumptions destroy our trusts.
The political realm is heating up for the presidential campaigns. And the Christian propaganda is churning. "We need to save our country, take it back." And we pray God's Kingdom come but we cannot understand why its taking so long to get here despite the fact we seem to be living for the glory of America instead of the glory of God. And our zeal burns so hot, we burn each other.
I just want to love Jesus. I just keep getting in the way. And I just keep letting lesser things get in the way.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

mundane to sacred

marinating in
the mundanity of life
God makes it sacred

another haiku

sun shine prances as
leaves dance in a summer's breeze
calms a stormy soul

a Haiku

I travel from heights
to the lowest of places,
will you go with me?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

UM Ordination--reflection and advice

Ten years ago I joined the United Methodist Church with ordination as an elder (pastor) in the front of my mind and heart. My call into ministry is another story as is my joining the UMC. I knew the journey would be a long one. It is one of the "benefits" I saw in joining the UM. Now, I stand on the other side of ordination after 10 years of working towards this day.
First, in this reflection/advice, I do not want to downplay those who have had negative experiences in the UM process of ordination. My experience was extremely positive but that doesn't mean the process is perfect. I know of many stories but can only speak of my own.
1. I love the UM process because it is long. I know this is one of the big complaints against the process of ordination in the UM. The length of the process allows for challenges, affirmations, others to hear God's call. We often set our eyes on ordination and see the meetings with BoM, answering of the questions, meetings, etc. as hoops to be jumped through. I got lost in that task oriented approach every now and again. I got the most out of the process when I tried to find God in each meeting, each question, in each step. My advice to those still in process--find God's hand in every step of the process.
2. It is easy to downplay certified candidacy, commissioning, etc. as we focus on ordination but there is grace in every step. I rejoiced in becoming a certified candidate, in my commissioning, in my first appointment. I am reminded of the places in the Old Testament where God's people erected an altar to commemorate what God had done in their lives. The various steps in the process became stones of the altar for me. When I interviewed for ordination, I could look at this altar which was being laid stone by stone and rest that God has brought me this far. For those of you in the process, don't miss today's grace working towards the goal of ordination.
3. I was blessed with amazing District committees on ordained ministry and Boards of Ordained Ministry. I have been told how some boards have been combative and confrontational. The committees and boards I was honored to interview with were not that way. Instead I felt these committees and boards were journeying with me and listening to hear God's call on my life with me. I am not sure how much of that atmosphere was the personality of the Board/ Committee or how much my attitude helped create the atmosphere. I came into the process from denominations which didn't support women in ministry. So I was asking the UM to help me hear God's call. I entered each meeting surrendered to God and submitting to the UM. I never tried to prove myself, defend myself, or impress the board/committee that I was exactly what the UM was looking for. I simply shared my story, my experience of God, Scripture, ministry and let that speak for itself.
Ordination is not the end. It is a rest stop on the journey where I am rejoicing in God's grace, just like Commissioning was for me. And now, its back to ministry.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hospitality of Listening, part 2

Gearing up for Annual Conference and then General Conference next year as well as the pending vote on same sex marriage in this state  has ignited the discussion debate argument ? over ordaining homosexuals and same sex marriage. And the feelings which caused me to discuss the hospitality of listening the other day, well up in me again.

I listen to both sides and hear the passion on each side. Then I hear the bricks being placed to strengthen the walls. In one conversation I was reading, participants started declaring "if this gets approve, I know several people who will leave the church." And a reply, "several people have left the church because of the stand we take right now." And we swim deeper into the ocean of emotions. These comments don't open dialog but instead close them down. "If we don't act the way I believe, I am leaving." This is a door slamming to dialog, not a door opening. I am aware there are those who would say we shouldn't open the door. How thankful I am that Christ spoke to the woman caught in adultery instead of closing the door. But that is beside the point.

With the threats of people leaving and the understanding there are those who have already left, my question is: Does God abandon us when we get "it" wrong?  Who I understood God to be two decades ago and who I believe God to be today is different. I look back and think "wow, I actually believed that." I can see where I have grown in my relationship and understanding of God. Yet where I was wrong in the past in my beliefs, I was not abandoned by God. If God is a God of grace, then God needs to be able to forgive and sanctify where I am getting it wrong. And I have to believe God does the same in the work of churches and denominations. If God doesn't, God is inconsistent. And in a way, that is where the debate lies for me. What does this say about God? What does our conversation and how we treat each other say about our theology and the God we believe in?
As the churches continue to struggle with the controversial issues, how do we rely on God's grace to work in us and in those who disagree with us? How do we stay in communion with each other as God stays in communion with us? I am no where near perfection, yet I come to the Table and meet Christ there. Will that be enough for us no matter which way the conversation leads us?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Hospitality of Listening

Today I visited an elderly couple from church. As we ended our time together, the retired farmer stated the hardest thing for him being old is nobody listens to him. He has wisdom to share and people don't hear him.

In a clergy gathering in worship, there was an invitation to show your support for a specific, controversial issue through wearing a specific item. So we are put into categories, labeled in a setting which does not allow for dialog. I get labeled without the opportunity to be heard.

Two very different situations but similar problems. We dismiss people who are too old, too young, different than us in any way. We dismiss each other, even in attempts to reach out to others. Those who have different doctrine than us are dismissed as too liberal and not holding Scripture in high enough regard or too conservative and holding a narrow interpretation of Scripture.

So how do we listen to each other?I think it would be the easy, pat answer to say "stop labeling." But it has to be more than that. We all place people, ideas, values, and things into categories. I think the issue is when we allow those categories to become walls which block us from each other or stones we throw at each other.

We need to find a way to listen. Hospitality is valuing the other. Listening, hearing each other is the basic way we can value one another. Perhaps we need to define listening first. Do you feel listened to only when the other person agrees with you, concedes the point or does what you advise? Can we listen, disagree, and still fellowship?
We don't live in a society which encourages listening. We encourage yelling, telling others off, and shutting people out. How do we, especially those who are Christians, live out the hospitality of listening?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Salvation salvo

On another blog I follow, Jesusneedsnewpr, http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/forgiveness-jesus-osama-bin-laden/, a picture of Osama Bin Laden in the arms of Christ was posted. Some people have stated that we don't know if Bin Laden repented on his death bed and therefore, received forgiveness or not.  I have joined the discussion in a nit-picky manner. One person stated that the picture of Christ holding Bin Laden is a great picture of what Christ is willing to do IF we repent and believe.

So here is my question: does Christ's willingness to forgive depend on our repentance and belief? Does Christ only offer forgiveness when we repent and believe? Or does Christ offer continually to forgive, and we do not receive the forgiveness until we repent and believe?

I know this is semantics. But it colors my view of God. If God does not offer forgiveness unless someone repents and believes the correct way, does God truly love and forgive unconditionally? What if I don't believe correctly or repent of a sin?  If we must believe and repent for God to forgive, is this works based salvation? And when we get to Romans where Paul states "mercy leads to repentance," if God does not offer forgiveness first, how can we repent? So if Christ's offer of forgiveness depends on our repentance, then I see Christ as this judge who waits to make sure I get it right and then extends grace. But if Christ is offering forgiveness first, Christ is no longer that judge but a person coming out into the streets inviting us to a banquet. Belief is my entering the banquet hall and feasting on forgiveness.

God so loved the world he gave his only son so that whosoever believes should not perish but receive eternal life.  Is the whosoever believes qualifying God's love or qualifying the reception of eternal life?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scripture and the complicated world we live in.

In the past couple of weeks, i have joined a couple of conversations on the internet. One was discussing rejoicing over Bin Laden's death. Those who believed it is ok to rejoice over Bin Laden's death quoted the Psalms where the psalmist rejoices in the demise of their enemies. They quoted the Proverb which declares the earth rejoices when the righteous rule. Those who declared we shouldn't rejoice over anyone's death quoted Ezekiel 18:23 and a proverb which said not to rejoice in your enemy's downfall as well as Jesus' words to love your neighbor.  Another conversation I passively joined was the topic of Hell, Heaven and the authority of Scripture. My part in the conversation was mainly an attempt to get us to think about how we use Scripture.

For so long, Christians have used Scripture as individual proverbial pieces. We pull them out to buttress our position or viewpoint. In the worse cases, we use them as weapons. And too often we take Scripture and force it into our political, religious, and individual worldviews rather than taking our worldview to Scripture--to the whole of Scripture to be changed by God's Presence as the Spirit uses Scripture in our lives.

We can all find and quote Scripture. So the questions I have been pondering are:  How do we/you "prioritize" Scripture? Does Jesus trump the rest of Scripture, then the NT over the OT, prophet over Psalm? What do you do when, like in the case of the Bin Laden discussion, Scriptures seem to say different things?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week Reflection--Finding ourselves with the Pharisees

I don't mind finding myself with the disciples. At least they were faithful at times. I don't mind finding myself with the crowds around Jesus. At least they heard and experienced Christ at times. During Holy Week, everyone seems to be missing the point about Christ. Everyone seems to forget Jesus' promising to rise again. Everyone is surprised on Sunday morning.

It is the Pharisees and High Priest I don't want to relate to. I cringe at the thought of being like them. Yet, I must admit, I have been like the Pharisees and High Priest. I have been resistant to change. I have been reluctant to join God at work in my life and the world around me. I am most reluctant to join God when God shows up in people and places, ideas and activities which I do not recognize as "Christian" or from people who have a different political view or theological view than I.  Instead of straining to hear God in those who I differ from, some times, I have jumped to conclusions.

And so, the Cross, once again, is because of me and for me. May we all experience the grace and love of God this Holy Week. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week Reflection--Finding ourselves with the Disciples

I can relate to the disciples. They have left everything to follow Christ. I have not necessary left everything but I have lost some friends to follow the call of God into ministry. Other relationships have an added tension to them due to my role as pastor and my friends' view of women in ministry. 
The disciples have been at times faithful and zealous. Their enthusiasm and their sense of entitlement has gotten in the way of others experience of Christ. They were reprimanded. I too have defended my Christianity at the expense of others. 
There is the follower of Christ who cuts off the ear of the priest's slave as they  come to arrest Christ. This disciple defends Christ without knowing what Christ is doing.  I too have reacted without knowing what God is up to in my life or around me also. 
During Holy Week, we remember the disciples running away in fear or in Peter's case, follow from a distance and then deny. I too have allowed fear to keep me from following Christ. 
And so the disciples remind me, the cross is because of me and for me. But they also give me hope. The disciples didn't run so far the Risen Christ couldn't reveal himself to them. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Holy Week Reflection---Finding ourselves in the crowd

Each year we revisit the Story of Christ's Passion. And each year, we are invited to join the Story, to find ourselves within the characters.
Today, is Palm Sunday. The crowds which have followed Christ, awaited Christ's arrival every time he came to a village, now line the streets of Jerusalem as Christ enters on a donkey. This crowd who shouts "Hosanna!" will in days cry "Crucify Him!"

I have played the part of the crowd. I have praised God on Sunday and crucified him or others on Monday as I joined in the gossip or the complaints. I have raised my voice in worship on Sunday and raised my voice in anger on Tuesday. I have been the crowd too many times.

And so I am reminded the Cross is because of me and for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why Liturgy?

My grandparents on both sides attended the United Methodist Church. My parents left the UM when I was young and attended a non-denominational church, a baptist church, and settled in an Assembly of God church. All of the churches my parents took us too were more contemporary in worship. Yes, we sang hymns at times but the one thing we did not have was liturgy--at least in the Methodist/Catholic/Episcopal sense of the word. Because all churches have an order to their worship. There was a fear in the un-liturgical churches (known as low church) I attended that liturgy was too Catholic. Liturgy had the reputation of being cold and life-less. Repetitive prayers and cold old hymns plagued the "dying churches" according to those in the low churches I attended.
So I have come back to liturgy and I have fallen in love with it. Why?

*Liturgy calls us to join the story of Scripture. It connects us to the Redemptive narrative. We are the people lead out of Egypt. We are the people awaiting the Messiah. We are the people who cry "crucify him." We are the people surprised by the Resurrection.
*Liturgy connects us to the Saints who have gone before. We sing their testimonies in the hymns. We pray their prayers. We lift our voices in chorus with theirs.
*Liturgy brings a sacred rhythm to our often chaotic lives. We travel the seasons of life as we travel the seasons of the church. We are called back to the Manger, back to the Mount where the Sermon was given, back to the Mount of Transfiguration, back to Gethsemane, back to Calvary, back to the Resurrection.
*Liturgy reflects the need to prepare for our Lord's return and our waiting for our Deliverer.

What is your experience of liturgy?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Incomplete without a man?

Ironically, after I posted my thoughts on how I can pastor as a woman, a family friend sent me the message, "you need to get married so you will have a spiritual covering, a spiritual head to do ministry."
This isn't the first time I have been told this. Back when I was in college, I volunteered to work with the youth as the church waited for a new youth pastor. The pastor told me I couldn't work with the youth because I didn't have a husband, a spiritual covering. At that point, I was feeling called to ministry but had not shared it openly with a lot of people. Why would I share God's call on my life when I received statements like this? And so, I must be wrong. God obviously wasn't calling me because I was a single woman. I must be hearing God wrong. And so started my 10 years in the wilderness. Questioning myself, questioning God, I drifted aimlessly. I must not be able to hear God correctly. But what kind of God calls someone to do ministry but doesn't send what is needed to accomplish this task? To add to my confusion, at the same time I felt God was calling me to ministry, I felt God was calling me to a long period of being single. How conflicted can one person get?!
Thankfully, God had my path begin to cross the paths of some very godly women pastors. God's grace exploded across my imagination and soul. Suddenly I was not incomplete without a man. Suddenly, I was not a third class citizen---behind men and behind Balaam's Donkey. If God could use a donkey, he surely can use someone who desires to serve him? I was drenched in God's grace and freed to joyful obedience.
And so, when the words were spoken once more that I need a husband to be complete and covered so I may minister, I wasn't hurt or sent into a spiral of doubt. I smiled and let it go. I claimed the God who promised to be the father to the fatherless and husband to the husband-less would be enough for me. And I am thankful. Thankful God has brought me out of the pain, out of the oppression, out of the feeling of inadequacy due to my gender. Thankful for the freedom and hope and grace I have found.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Preaching "Don't Worry" after facing the Board of Ordained Ministry

So God has quite the sense of humor. I have been doing a series through the Sermon on the Mount on Sunday mornings--interrupted here and there by a special speaker. The Sunday after I meet with the Board of Ordination--my scheduled section of the Sermon was on Matthew 6: 17-34--you know, the section about worrying and seeking first the Kingdom of God. After I have spent the past few months wrestling with the stress and anxiety of ordination, I get to preach "don't worry."
So it was an honest discussion--not quite a sermon. It didn't feel right to "preach" this sermon since I myself had been anxious at times. After months of wrestling with this passage and failing at times, here are my thoughts on "seek first the Kingdom."
1. I have always interpreted "seeking first the Kingdom of God" as spending alone time with God--devotions, meditation, prayer, Scripture reading,etc. I still get anxious. I still worry. Do I need more alone time? or do is there more to seeking God's Kingdom? I concluded there is more than personal devotions involved in seeking God's Kingdom.
2. Seeking God's Kingdom is seeing in every event or circumstance which causes anxiety the opportunity to experience God. My faith is being pushed to the edge. God promises to meet me there. When I am anxious, seeking the Kingdom means I will believe God and look to see God's provision in the midst of the circumstance.
3. Seeking God's Kingdom means every circumstance is an opportunity for me to join Christ's redemptive work. How can I reflect the Kingdom of God in the midst of this circumstance?
So what does it look like for you to seek the Kingdom of God first?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How can I pastor?

My call into ministry began as a child. I sat in the pews and heard/felt/sensed a small inaudible voice say, "you are not meant to be in the pews forever, you are called to the pulpit/altar." And all my life, I have been drawn to the Communion Table and to the pulpit. But I ran into the cultural arguments against women in ministry. There were those who "corrected me" and I believed them when they pulled out Paul's letters and pushed me back into my "proper place." But here I am having been approved for ordination, pastoring two churches, and looking forward to June 11 when Bishop Marcus Matthews lays hands on me and tells me to take the authority given to me to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and lead the church. How do I reconcile my new found freedom? This is not going to be a scripture by scripture account but this is my reasoning.
1. There are women in leadership throughout Scripture. Deborah, Priscilla, Junias..etc. The Proverbs 31 woman was not a "stay at home mom" like we know today. She bought and sold land. At that time, the whole family was "stay at home and all work for the family". Why are the women in leadership in Scripture considered the exceptions to the rule? When I watch my friends who are parents work with their children, the exception to the rule is not freedom but limitation. If one child is doing well in school and the other is doing poorly, the limitation on after school activity, friends over, video games is the exception to the freedom. As they improve, freedom is restored. Paul's letters are to particular churches with particular problems. Perhaps, like a parent, Paul is imposing restrictions because there is a problem in those particular churches.
2. What are we saying about God when we limit who God uses and in what way? God's grace was strong enough to save men from their fallen nature and weaknesses, restoring them to a place where they can fully participate in the work of God. Paul states there is no male or female in Christ. Is this only for salvation? So God's grace is only strong enough to save women but we cannot be fully restored to the partners with men and with God in the work of God? I would argue that in his letters, Paul is not talking about salvation only but living out the Christian life. I believe this is the biggest issue--what does our restriction of who God uses say about the God we serve?
3. I discovered those who told me women cannot be used in pastoral ministry by quoting Scripture were misquoting Scripture. These people who proclaimed to have a high regard for God's Word were not using Scripture honestly. The story of the Fall is one area. Women were deceived and so we cannot be trusted to rightly divide the Word. In Genesis 3, Adam was right there with Eve according to Scripture. He never raises an objection to Eve's taking and eating the fruit nor to his own eating the fruit. He is mysteriously silent. No one ever mentioned Adam's role despite the fact Paul himself talks how sin came through Adam. The other Scripture I found mysteriously changed was the story of Deborah. I was always told Deborah was a prophetess/judge because there was no man who would step up to the job. Because no man would take the position, Deborah is an exception. But that is not how the story goes. She is a judge and all come to her. The exception comes later when the man of God would not lead the people to war without the prophetess going to battle with him. And so the victory will not be given to the man of God but to a woman. the victory is given to Jael who kills the enemy of Israel.
4. There are issues also with the Greek in the Timothy passage which states women cannot teach---the Greek word is never interpreted as teach except in this case. If I recall my Kittle and Dr. Mullholland lecture, it has more to do with making a decision outside of your authority which affects your family--like Eve did in the Garden. That is my summary, I cannot find the word for word lecture of Dr. Mullholland nor do I have the luxury of owning Kittle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exhaling and Inhaling

I exhale. I exhale the years of oppression, the years of fear, the years of "no, you can't."
And I inhale once again a sweet fragrance which expands my imagination and frees my spirit. Grace has never smelled sweeter.
Each step of this journey from being a little girl in a cage to ordination has had this lingering aroma of grace. At first it was a small scent which drew me out of my cage. Yesterday it was as if I dove into a field of lilies. And life blooms around me and in me.
God's grace was strong enough not just to save me from sin and from eternity apart from God. God's grace is enough to save me fully to serve God not as a second hand citizen but as a full child. I am not inferior. Nor am I superior.
For so many years I was second class because I was a woman. I was saved by God's grace. But somehow to those who taught me, I could not hear God as well as a man. I could not teach men because I was a woman. God's grace was not strong enough to restore me to equality with men--one created in the image of God, created to be a partner with men in the work of God. And so I had a lesser place.
But this journey to ordination has offered me the opportunity to experience the grace of God in a new way. God chooses whom he will to use and work through.
So I exhale all the years of being told no and all the years of fear and inferiority. I inhale the Grace of God.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The journey to ordination

Tomorrow I meet with the Board of Ordained ministry to seek approval for ordination. This journey has been long, tiresome, affirming, marvelous, exciting, stressful. I have plunged to the depths of my fears and risen to the heights of hope in Christ.

As I have written my answers, submitted my work, and prepared for tomorrow, I feel naked and exposed. I am opening myself up for critique, evaluation, and hopefully affirmation. I am risking everything, it feels like. I am jumping off the cliff of the known and praying God will catch me. So here I go...................

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A different peace

John 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift-- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid.

You promised peace.
I looked for the absence of conflict. I found shallow relationships and pent up emotions.
I looked for live and let live. I found disconnection.
You promised peace.
You promised peace.
I realized my own brokenness and found You still loved me.
I heard you calling me to seek forgiveness of others whom I have wronged.I found Emmanuel, God with us.
I heard you calling for me to forgive those who wrong me, even when they do not admit wrong. And I found freedom and peace.
You promised peace.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Forgiveness is a dish best served.....

I have been pondering the Lord's Prayer in Matthew.

Matthew 6:9-15 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. 10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven. 11 Give us our food for today, 12 and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. 13 And don't let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. 14 "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

While I find many parts of this prayer to be challenging at times, forgiveness seems to be emphasized in this section of Scripture. How is it that God forgiving us is dependent upon us forgiving others?

The picture I have of unforgiveness is Marley from the Christmas Carol. He drudges through eternity tethered to all his wrongs. Unforgiveness tethers us to all our pains and all the wrongs done to us. We are held back in relationships, in trust, in our attitude, in our life by withholding forgiveness from others. Our pain, our recounting the wrongs done to us became walls between us and other people. It can become a weapon to hurt others before they can hurt us. Unforgiveness is a poison which infects us and those around us. And perhaps this is why God forgiving us depends on us forgiving others.
God's forgiveness is ever flowing. His mercy is new every morning. But when we are too busy dragging our hurts around with us, building walls around ourselves, and using our pain as an excuse or a weapon, we create a barrier from experiencing God's forgiveness. It is like God's forgiveness is a river and our unforgiveness is the sandbags to keep ourselves dry.
Perhaps we cannot experience God's forgiveness when we withhold forgivenss because forgiveness is best experienced in community. God chooses human beings to be the tangible conduit of forgiveness. When we withhold forgiveness, we keep others from experiencing God's pardon completely in their lives. Forgiveness is best served in community and best experienced in community.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayer for Japan and those touched by the Quake/Tsunami

Dear God,
Tonight I go to sleep in a house which will keep the weather out. I have food in my refrigerator. My water is drinkable. I go to sleep not fearing the ground will move underneath me. I do not fear the water will sweep me or my loved ones away. But my brothers and sisters in Japan do not have safe structures to sleep in, food in their refrigerators, drinkable water. And their world is shaking, a lot. So I pray, Lord, have mercy. I cannot do much to ease their suffering. I cannot offer them a place to sleep in peace. So I pray, Lord, have mercy on the people of Japan. May aid get to them quickly. May peace once again come to their land. And may your people share love and grace as they bring food, clothing, and other aid.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Living in Uncertainty

I am living in uncertainty. Living in the in between, once again. I am learning to find God in the midst of uncertainty, which is somewhat odd. In the churches I grew up in, we were told to be certain. Certain about the existence of God, certain that Scripture--word for word--is to be taken literally. Certain about what is a sin and what is holy. And so the picture I painted of a good Christian was one who lived in certainty. Any doubt showed weakness, any uncertainty showed a lack of faith.

But here I am, once again, in the midst of uncertainty. This is a place I am getting to know better as I get to know God and myself better. Seminary solidified my relationship with uncertainty. Here I go throwing myself at the mercy of God. Where you lead me I will go! But God is not one who gives us the full picture all at once. God is not one who gives us the answers and reasons all at once. And as I study Scripture, I seem to come up with more questions than answers.

I am living in uncertainty. It use to throw me into anxiety. But now it throws me into the arms of God. Perhaps this is where I need to be, simply trusting God, not the certainty of my situation. I am living in uncertainty and, you know, it is ok.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Into Your Hands

So I have submitted my work for ordination. And the words of Scripture that come to my mind are the words of Christ on the Cross, "Into your hands I commend my spirit." I wonder if, in a very small way, I am understanding those words a new. As Jesus said those words, was he saying, "Father, I have been obedient. I have proclaimed your kingdom, I have healed the sick, set the captives free, and when they turned on me I remained peaceful. I trust you to do what you said you will do." In his heart, did Christ say "but if I perish, still will I praise you"?
That is at least what I feel like I am saying today. God, I have been obedient. I have followed you this far. And now, I commend my life to you. I trust you are calling me. And whatever the outcome, I will praise you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

who do you think you are, running around leaving scars?

I heard a song on the radio the other day. "Who do you think you are, running around leaving scars?" We have all experienced the explosion of an emotional bomb and perhaps we have been the emotional bomb. Someone you may or may not know melts down, explodes. Shrapnel goes everywhere, leaving people bleeding in the wake.
"Who do you think you are, running around leaving scars?" I think we are human. We are all broken and hurt. And sometimes we explode, melt down and hurt others unintentionally. And sometimes we use the explosion intentionally. We leave people confused and uncomfortable at the very least and we leave others emotionally scarred.
Today, an emotional bomb went off next to me. And so while I want to ask who does this person think they are, I remember I have also been the one exploding. And the one who exploded, well, they are obviously in a lot of pain. They needed a place to explode, to let out that pain.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The American Beatitudes?

If America had its own Beatitudes what would they be?
Blessed are those who pick themselves up by their bootstraps and are self made people for theirs will be fortune and fame.
Blessed is the lone ranger, the one who does it their way, for they will never need comfort.
Blessed are the powerful and the influential for they will get what they want.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for instant self gratification for they will be filled and then empty and need more.
Blessed are those who stand up for their rights at all cost and have the attitude “take no prisoner” for they will be admired.
Blessed are those who are strong willed and those who do what feels right in their own understanding, those who stay true to themselves, for they can create God over in their own image.
Blessed are those who can tell others off and demean those who oppose them, for they will be called a good leader, a child of America, and offered their own television show.
Blessed are those who stand up for what they believe and keep people out of their exclusive clubs, for this temporary world is theirs.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Arizona Tragedy--some thoughts on language

Yesterday a madman, a disturbed individual or two, a disgruntled voter, someone named Jared went to a "congress on your corner" meeting and shot 19 people, killing a 9 year old and a federal judge and severely wounding Rep. Gabrielle Gifford.
The sheriff in Arizona stated "vitriol may be free speech but not without consequence." People began to complain about the political atmosphere in the country being filled with anger and hate. And then people found on Sarah Palin's website her "crosshairs" where on a map of the United States target marks were placed over areas where Democrat congress members serve. The words No retreat, reload appeared on the website. Palin cannot be held responsible. Nor can Beck.
No, their words were not the rally calls to violence. No, Palin and Beck are not calling people to go and shoot democrats. But have their words added to the violence and anger? Or have their words added to peaceful change?
Scripture states, be angry and do not sin. Being angry is not a sin. And there are plenty of things to be angry with in a broken world and broken system. Using violent imagery when inciting people to act may be cute and get your point across, but it also does not help encourage mature, civil dialogue and solutions.
No Palin is not to blame. But I would ask her and Beck to begin to choose their words better because we can be better. Words have power.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The New Year

I like the word "new". I like to get new stuff. I like new starts. I like "new". But in Scripture when the word new is used is it in the same manner we Americans use it? If I get a new car, I am replacing my old one. I discard the old.
With the coming of the New Year, we do not discard all the years which came before. In fact, we are the sum of those past years in good and bad ways. The New Testament does not replace the Old. The New Covenant in Christ does not discard the Old covenant. Christ came to fulfill the law, not do away with it. I am a new creation, the old has passed away---but does that mean the old is discarded?
God created us with strengths and talents and the ability to love and the ability to know God. In Christ we are new, the old that was self centered and broken has been healed and made new. In Christ we are new, the old that was good has been filled with Christ.
May 2011 be filled with Christ.