Thursday, January 18, 2018

I'm a Fish

Common as carp;
Fancy as koi...


The Son came here,
Sharing great news,
Of our Abba's love;
Saying to us:
"Kairos has come!
Kingdom has come!
Get right with
Your Maker,
And believe deeply
In my news."

The Son walked the shore;
Saw a fisherman,
And His brother:
"Follow me."
They did!

The Son walked the shore;
Saw a fisherman,
And His brother:
"Follow me."
They did!

"Let's go fishing."

~ Tiwago

(From Mark 1:14-20)


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

There's a Time for Noise, and a Time for Silence.

In silence...


my lonely soul listens for, and yearns for, the absence of noise. In the soothing calm of the Adonai, I can again find my lost hope. Upon Them rests my only chance of deliverance from myself, and the restoration of my honor. Friends, trust our Abba above all else; let your tears pour out of your hearts before our Lord. Take refuge there - Selah!

The poor and powerless are but a puff of air; while the rich and powerful are just a delusion - both are feathers that float upon the Breath. Place no confidence in your cons. Set not your dreams upon your schemes. If your wealth grows, do not fall in love with it.

Psalm 62:5-10


(photography by tiwago)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Here I Am Lord; Nobody Special, From Some Shit-hole.

Like many preachers this week, due to current events, I had to scramble to update my sermon...



It was towards the end of the time of the Judges of the Hebrew tribes. The acting religious leaders (of the “church” if you would) were self-centered and self-serving - corrupt. Many felt that God had been too quiet, too absent, for too long; there were no more Prophets amount the people.

From our reading from 1 Samuel 3:1-20, and a couple of other stories of calling, I have learned four things about God’s call:

1. God calls us out-of-the-blue.

a.   Moses was herding sheep when he heard a voice from a burning bush.
b.   Gideon was threshing wheat when he heard an angel sitting in the shade.
c.   Samuel was asleep when he heard a voice in the night. 

2. God is VERY persistent.

a.   Moses was full of ‘excellent’ excuses.
b.   Gideon needed serial signs.
c.   Samuel kept thinking the voice was Eli’s.

3. God’s call is a call to action. 

a.   Moses was called to free the oppressed. 
b.   Gideon was called to defend the people. 
c.   Samuel was called to speak against corruption.

4. God believes in those who can’t believe in themselves.

a.   Moses was an exile, a murderer, and spoke funny.
b.   Gideon was the least of the least of the least.
c.   Samuel was a powerless kid. In fact, he didn’t even “know” God yet. God’s call to him could be considered what we call prevenient grace. In John Wesley’s commentary on this passage, he noted that Samuel’s immaturity and innocence served God by convincing Eli that the message came from God rather than a political move by Samuel and the devil stirring the pot.


If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, did it make a noise? These stories suggest to me that there are three things that the one who is called must be: Perceptive; Receptive; and Acceptive.

1.   Perceptive - We must be able to perceive that we are being called in the first place. Sometimes, like Samuel, we need a little help. We need Open Hearts.
2.   Receptive - We can’t be closed-minded and refuse to listen to the ‘impossible’. We need Open Minds.
3.   Acceptive - We must be willing to accept the Messenger, the Message, AND the Mission. We need to have Open Doors. 

“Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ I said,’Here I am, Lord; send me’”! (Isaiah 6:8)

In our other reading (John 1:43-51), Phillip has heard Jesus’ call and is extending it to his friend.
     Phillip: ‘I’ve found the One we’ve all been waiting for! Jesus from Nazareth.’
     Nathanael: ‘From Nazareth? Nothing good ever comes from THAT place!’
Nazarenes and other Galileans were ‘frowned upon’ by mainstream Jews - it was a backwoods 'shit-hole'; a place of civil unrest; a place where people mingled and worked with unclean foreigners; and where they all spoke funny. In a way, Nathanael is asking: ‘Can good come from bad?’
     Phillip: ‘Come, and see for yourself.’ 
Don’t judge people or places by received ‘wisdom’ and prejudicial stereotypes!

Are you ‘nobody special?’  Are you from ‘no place special?’ Then, aren’t you just who God needs to do something special? God is calling you by name. Do you hear? 

‘Whom shall I send?’
‘Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, IF YOU LEAD ME. I will hold your people in my hand.’
(Schutte and Young, UMH 593)


‘O God, help us to recognize in ourselves what you see there. Remove the distortions that keep us from recognizing who and what we are’ - that we are someone special! Amen



(photography by tiwago)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can Anything Good Come From That Place?


Jerry Van Dyke died last week, and his passing got me to thinking of my birthplace - Danville, Illinois. I used to joke that the reason there were so many famous entertainers from there was because that was the only way they could get out of town!

Can ANYTHING good come from that place?
Can anything GOOD come from that place?
Can anything good come from THAT place?
(John 1:46)

A travel guide this week said that my neighboring state of Missouri is THAT place - don't visit it they said (Fodor's No List 2018). A TV ad for Governor Rauner of Illinois has been playing forever which has the Governor of Missouri saying that Illinois is THAT place.

Nazareth was THAT place - Nazareth was "iffy". Mind you, it wasn't as bad as Samaria, but still... There were a lot of foreigners hanging around the place, gentiles; you know: THOSE people. It was a hotbed of civil unrest, protests, violence. The residents weren't quite "religious" enough, not conservative enough, and had a funny accent! Can anything good come from such a place?

Yep!


(photography by tiwago)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Lust - Meditation On 1 Cor. 6:12-20



"It wasn't 'illegal'!"
"It might have been immoral, unethical, inadvisable, regrettable, etc., buuuut..."

The legal, but wrong, things I let myself do nudge me down an icy slope. For example: food is meant for the stomach, and the stomach is meant for digesting food; they are mutually dependent. But, the stomach can be abused by the lust of gluttony. Just as, the body is meant for the Lord, and the Lord is meant for the body. The body is abused by lust.

Don't you know that the God who raised his Son will also raise God's other children? Don't you know that your bodies are part of Christ's Body? Shall I then prostitute my body; your body? Don't you know that whoever surrenders themselves to lust becomes one with that lust - the two becoming "one flesh?" But, if you surrender yourself to Christ, you become "one spirit!"

Shun lust! Lust leads to sins against the body. Don't you know that your body is God's House, and not your own property?

You were bought with dear price; not as a prostitute, but as a ransomed hostage. Glorify God with your body. 


Footnote: As it is with the body, so it is with the Body. The Body must never be prostituted for political power, for comfort and security, for tithes and offerings, for the lust for new members...


(photography by tiwago)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Kings

Arise! Shine! Your light has come;
    the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth
    and gloom the nations,
    the Lord will shine upon you;
    God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light
    and kings to your dawning radiance.

                                        (Isaiah 60: 1-3)


Lift up your eyes and look all around:
    they are all gathered; they have come to you.
Your sons will come from far away,
    and your daughters on caregivers’ hips.
Then you will see and be radiant;
    your heart will tremble and open wide,
    because the sea’s abundance will be turned over to you;
    the nations’ wealth will come to you.
Countless camels will cover your land,
    young camels from Midian and Ephah.
They will all come from Sheba,
    carrying gold and incense,
    proclaiming the Lord’s praises.

 (Isaiah 60:4-6)


Three came, following a star: 
Three wise intellectuals?
Three leaders of governments?
Three pagan priests?
An old man, a middle-aged man, and a young man?
An Asian, an African, and a European?
No women, one woman, more?
Three of us came, following a star.

Now "King" Herod was a tricky one. The Three came to him and asked for the location of the child born to be the King of the Jews. There could only be one King of the Jews, but after consulting with his cabinet of wise men, he said: "It is written that in Bethlehem a shepherd will appear. Please go to him with all haste. Hurry back and tell me all about it, because if it is true, I would love to go to him and bow before him!" And all the while, a star shown. A global event, a planetary call. A prevening grace that drew the Three, but which was rejected by an Empire's puppet.

They soon found the child with his family, and gave him wonderful gifts. Verse 5 of John H. Hopkins Jr.'s We Three Kings suggests three aspects of the Christ: King; God; and Sacrifice. Verses 2-4 reveal the corresponding gifts: gold (for a king); incense for a god; and funereal perfume. Then came the time for the long voyage home. God told them to go back by a different route. And so they did.

(From Matthew 2:1-12)


Those who were not chosen by old covenants were adopted, becoming members of the one Body - sharing in the covenant of Christ. (Based on Ephesians 3:6)



(photography by tiwago)


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Prayer For Our Leadership


Abba:

Give our leaders Your true justice, and give their children good character. 

May their judgements be righteous, and may they give justice to the poor.

May their stewardship of the Earth provide sustainable prosperity for all equitably.

May they be defenders of the poor and deliverers of the needy as they crush those who cause inequality and support oppression.

May they be light to us like the sun and the moon; and water to a parched land, a thirsting people.

May the other leaders respect and honor our leaders, and emulate their servant-leadership. 

May:
they assist those in need;
they lift up the poor and powerless;
they help those who have no helper;
they feel pity for the weak;
they fell empathy for those who are beaten down;
they save the lives of the desperate;
they redeem those who are imprisoned by injustice;
they save those who are in danger...

FOR PRECIOUS IS EVERY DROP OF BLOOD TO THOSE WHO LEAD AND SERVE.


Psalm 72 (1-7 & 10-14)


(photography by tiwago)

I'm a Fish

Common as carp; Fancy as koi... The Son came here, Sharing great news, Of our Abba's love; Saying to us: "Kairos ...