Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God's righteousness doesn't grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
(James 1:17-27; The Message)
My mother has this thing where when she finishes a statement she goes "eehhhhhhhh" until it is her time to talk again. My cats can't hear me yell at them to get down from the ceiling fan, but can hear the whisper of the thought of a can opener anywhere in the house. I know that I often forget people's names or what they said, because I was concentrating harder on what I wanted to say...
When I preach, I see heads nod in agreement, but what do they really hear? "Blah blah blah blah Jesus blah blah?" "Everyone else sins but you?" Notice this juxtaposition: A. we do not pay attention to words; B. we were created by Word!
The "religious" call out and then strain to hear the echo of their own voices. A Christian hears the cries of others and then responds. Who is a better listener?
Monday, August 27, 2012
Normally, I re-imagine the lectionary readings, contemporize them, or ask questions to stimulate looking at them in a new way, but it struck me as a sin to mess around with this masterpiece - so enjoy:
Ah, I hear my lover coming!
He is leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My lover is like a swift gazelle
or a young stag.
Look, there he is behind the wall,
looking through the window,
peering into the room.
My lover said to me,
“Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!
Look, the winter is past,
and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
the season of singing birds has come,
and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
The fig trees are forming young fruit,
and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.
Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!”
(Song of Solomon 2:8-13, New Living Translation)
Friday, August 24, 2012
Lastly dear ones,
Be strong in faith -
His power's yours.
Wear His armor,
Be arrow proof -
Safe from deviltry.
The war is not of
Flesh and bone -
The war's against:
Bad Church leaders;
Satanic powers; and
The forces of Evil!
Don God's armor,
Prepare for battle.
And once ready,
Stand up to evil -
Face the enemy.
Lock and load:
The utility belt of Truth;
The Righteous breastplate;
Peace-boots on the ground;
The fire-shield called Faith;
The mighty helm Salvation;
And the Spirit-sword Word.
Pray without ceasing -
Pray with Spirit words.
Be vigilant, stand firm.
Pray for all the saints
Standing beside you,
Who fell before you,
Who come after you.
Pray too for me.
Pray that I speak up.
Pray that I speak the mystery.
Pray that I speak out boldly.
Pray that from my prison embassy
I may be a loud fearless voice,
And declare the Gospel bravely,
For I can not remain silent.
(Ephesian 6:10-20 retold by Tiwago)
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Jesus: "You are what you eat - those who eat my flesh and drink my blood become part of me, and I become part of them. Just as I am of the father and live in the Father, so too will all who live in me. This is the manna of the new covenant. Your Wilderness ancestors ate but still died in the end, but those who eat of this bread shall live in me forever."
Disciples: "This is hard to stomach! This is unacceptable!"
Jesus: " Do I offend you? How much more will you be offended when you witness my ascension? It is Pneuma, the Spirit, which gives life, not inanimate flesh. The Word is both Spirit and life, but there are those among you who are Spiritless and lifeless. As I've said before, no one comes to me until they hear the Father's call."
This was too hard for many to accept. Jesus let them all go without trying to keep them.
He turned to the remaining Twelve: "Do you also plan to leave me?"
Peter: "There is no one else we would follow. You have the Word. We have been called and answered. We recognize you, Messiah."
(Retelling of John 6:56-69)
1. Is it enough to be just a disciple, or are we called to be one with Christ?
2. Were they offended that Jesus was bread instead of sword, that he spoke of cannibalism and vampirism, that he claimed to be part of the One, or that he granted them the opportunity to be part of the One?
3. This could have been the death of the unborn Church, why didn't Jesus do what ever he had too to keep members of his congregation from leaving?
4. Was the Body weaker or stronger afterwards?
5. Do we truly recognize Jesus?
Monday, August 20, 2012
So beautiful is Your Home,
O Lord of the multitudes.
My injured soul longs for it -
It pines for Your gardens.
My whole body sings in joy
of the very thought of it.
Even the smallest bird
Has a Home with You -
As You smile at the nest
That she built on Your altar
And laid her eggs in trust.
Joyful are those who dwell
In the Home of the Lord -
Singing songs of praise.
Joyful are the weak who
Are strong in Your power.
Joyful are those with hearts
That lead them toward Home.
Joyful are those who bring
Water to the driest deserts.
Joyful are those who walk
By Your grace and gifts
Along the road to Home.
Listen to me God of the Body.
Hear me God of my ancestors.
Guide those who govern us!
Lead those who pastor us!
A day in a swing on Your porch is
Dearer than a thousand other days.
I would rather be a menial servant
Answering the door in Your Home
Than live as a pampered potentate
In the mansions of the wicked ones.
My God, You're my sun and my shade.
Your grace and mercy are my hope.
Your goodness You freely share
With all who do good for others.
Happy are those who trust their Abba.
(As retold by Tiwago)
Friday, August 17, 2012
"I'm telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self."
At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: "How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?"
But Jesus didn't give an inch. "Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always."
(John 6:51-58; The Message)
A) Bait and switch: "Come get free bread that will make you live forever. O, by the way, it's my flesh! Live forever as a vampire or a zombie..." Who came up with this ad campaign?
B) Is it any wonder people freaked out? Human blood and flesh - could you get any less kosher? Was Jesus just being a shock-jock? What might be the purpose of such a full frontal assault on people's preconceptions of the law?
C) Are there areas in my faith life where I'm too comfortable?
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
be careful out there
don't be ignorant
be smart and wise
be careful out there
these are evil days
use your time well
don't play the fool
discover and know
the will of the Lord
don't get drunk on spirits
get drunk on The Spirit
and as you sing out loud
and as you sing soft inside
always give Him thanks
for all good and all bad
in the name of the Son
(Ephesians 5:15-20 retold by Tiwago)
Monday, August 13, 2012
i praise the Adoni
with my whole self
before the faithful
before all of y'all
wonderful is His
work of creation
by delighted eyes
honor and majesty
what he has made
was made for all
by His eternal love
He is known by
His holy deeds
His open grace
His free mercy
He feeds those
who live in awe
He keeps those
who love Him
His people see
His acts for them
He's given them
What He makes
is true and just
What he ordains
is true and just
eternal the truths
and loving laws
He's always faithful
we are faithful too
He sent His people
He is what He is
true wisdom starts
in joy and wonder
the awed get it
ever praising Him
(As retold by Tiwago)
Friday, August 10, 2012
The Jewish opposition grumbled about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
They asked, “Isn’t this Jesus, Joseph’s son, whose mother and father we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus responded, “Don’t grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless they are drawn to me by the Father who sent me, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets, And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God. He has seen the Father. I assure you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that whoever eats from it will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
(John 6:41-51, Common English Bible)
1. Is this "drawing" prevenient grace?
2. Does this mean that grace is not reserved for Christians alone?
3. Do I know people who have been taught by God unknowingly?
4. Do I help people who feel drawn, or do I push people?
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Stop lying! Speak only the truth to your neighbor for we all belong to each other. Who's my neighbor? EVERYONE!
It's OK to be angry, but don't let it lead you into sinning against each other or God! Don't go to bed angry and sleep with Satan.
Stop taking what isn't yours! You didn't make that. You didn't earn that. Work hard so that you can help those in need.
Quit sniping, gossiping and bullying people! If you can't say something to build someone up, to heal, to be a gift of grace to the hearer, then don't say anything at all.
Don't be such a pain in the Spirit's holy butt! It was placed upon you as a sanctifying seal.
Stop your poisonous, cancerous, malicious ways! Be kind. Be soft. Be merciful. Isn't God kind to you? Isn't God your soft place to fall? Isn't God merciful with you?
Be a baby! Imitate your Father/Mother until it becomes natural to you.
Be love! Remember that our Brother and Savior submitted himself to horror and death for us - a broken alabaster jar releasing a fragrant sacrifice, an incense to God.
(Retelling of Ephesians 4:25-5:2)
1. How am I a lying, angry, stealing, bullying, holy pain?
2. How am I a cancer in my congregation, my community, my family?
3. What does it mean to act like a baby?
4. Read John 12:1-8.
Monday, August 6, 2012
In front of the Army, the High King ordered his generals to be gentle when they captured his rebellious son Absalom. The battle that ensued in the Dark Forest was vicious - 20,000 soldiers and rebels died. These desert nomads were uncomfortable and unfamiliar with woodlands, and the Forest killed more men than swords did! Absalom fled upon a mule through the reaching writhing branches of the looming trees. His vain-glorious Samsonian hair streamed like a battle flag in retreat behind him, until suddenly...
Suddenly, his hair became tangled; in the grasp of a mighty old mossy oak. The mule continued to flee, braying in terror, as his rider struggled as he swung above the ground. Ten of Field Marshal Joab's squires found him like that. Thinking of fame and glory, they surrounded the helpless would-be king. They jabbed and poked and swung at him like a child's birthday party game.
They killed him.
A runner took the news from the front back to the King in his capitol city. "Hallelujah! Tidings of comfort and joy, my Lord King! Yahweh has meted out justice this day, and has delivered you from those who sought to destroy you and usurp your throne."
David asked for the news most important to him: "Is my son well?"
The messenger's answer ripped the King's heart from his chest: "May all your enemies find an end such as his!"
The grieving father fled to a room over-looking the gate through which his son's body would be carried.
"O my poor poor boy. I had hoped to redeem you. Would that I could have died in your stead! My son, my son..."
(Retelling of 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 31-33)
Friday, August 3, 2012
After the 5,000 rose from their after-meal naps, they noticed that Jesus and his students were gone. They assembled an armada of fishing boats and searched for him. Finally, they found him on the other side of the lake. "Teacher, we thought you were going to stay with us - why did you leave us?"
Jesus answered: "You're not seeking faith or understanding. You came for the free dinner and show! The Empire may need bread and circuses, but man needs more. Don't strive so for food that quickly digests and is excreted. Labor instead for a nourishment that lasts throughout eternity, a food which God the Father gives you through the Son."
"What work would God have us do?" they asked.
Jesus said: "Believe in he whom God has sent you."
"What proof do you have to show us that we should believe you? God gave our ancestors a sign - He fed them manna from heaven! What miracles have you ever done?"
Jesus: "Moses did not make manna appear as a sign, God did it in grace. It is my Father who gives the bread of heaven. It is this bread of God that gives true life."
They answered back: "Then give us this kind of bread all the time!"
"I am the bread of life - I am. Whoever comes to me and believes in me will not go away hungry!"
(Retelling of John 6:24-35)
How many of us expect to be entertained at church?
How many nasty fights have taken place over music or worship style?
Do I expect to be fed by Jesus or do I seek nourishment in him?
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ. That’s why scripture says, "When he climbed up to the heights, he captured prisoners, and he gave gifts to people." What does the phrase “he climbed up” mean if it doesn’t mean that he had first gone down into the lower regions, the earth? The one who went down is the same one who climbed up above all the heavens so that he might fill everything.
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part.
(Ephesian 4:1-16; Common English Bible)
What is the purpose of a gift?
Is the gift to me alone?
Is Church daycare or college?
Am I growing towards perfection?
Do congregations also grow?
Do I use my gifts to do my part?
Do I waste my gifts by doing someone else's part?
Do I allow others to use their gifts?
Does my congregation enable gifts or fill vacancies?