March 4, 2021

A Future with Hope

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11
Israël thought its wholeness was tied to a particular land. To be exiled from that land was to be cut off from any sort of meaningful life. Yet they were told in Jeremiah 29 that a meaningful life was not just possible in exile, but that it was God's will for them.

Christian wholeness has never been geographically based. We believe that the fullness of God brings wholeness to God's people regardless of time or place. The cross of Christ is the perfect symbol of this unlimited scope, reaching both up and down between heaven and earth, and outward from the very beginning until time is no more.

March 3, 2021

The Kindom of God

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”
Genesis 2:18
Many Christians these days emphasize family. And there's no denying that the Bible has a lot to say on the subject. It's there in the very beginning of the Hebrew Bible, and it's a subject Jesus addresses. The problem is, the Old Testament concept of family has little in common with what the modern church encourages among its members: polygamy, hierarchy, sexual abuse, the death penalty for disrespectful children—these are all part of what we see advocated by some ancient biblical witnesses. 
Jesus' teachings about family are much to be preferred, but they are also distasteful to many of the churches that claim to be advocates of the theme.

March 2, 2021

The Path to Wholeness

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
Psalm 119:66
Wisdom is one of the Bible's greatest treasures. It is, in fact, one of the most important attributes of God. So it should come as no surprise that human wisdom is a gift few possess to any great degree. In Psalm 119, belief in God's word precedes wisdom, and it appears that "good judgment and knowledge" are not so much a sign of belief as a result of faith.

The New Testament Letter of James appears to create a golden chain when it indicates that actions taken in faith demonstrate wisdom and understanding on the part of the believer.

March 1, 2021

On Helping Others

So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock.
Genesis 37:14a
It's human nature to want more stuff. It's also human nature to put yourself ahead of others. But that doesn't mean that fulfillment will be reached by following the path of human nature. God also planted a higher nature within each human soul, and feeding that part of ourselves offers the kind of fulfillment that selfishness and materialism simply cannot.
This is not the pie-in-the-sky imagination of a religious do-gooder. Psychological studies have actually shown that helping others improves self-esteem, alleviates stress, and (no surprise here!) improves interpersonal relationships.

February 28, 2021

Lent 2 Worship

The Gospel lesson in most Protestant churches today is perhaps Jesus' ultimate teaching on what discipleship is. Here is the order of service found in the video at the bottom of this post:
  • 00:00 Chimes
  • 00:24 Prélude: If We Take Up the Cross
  • 00:51 Welcome
  • 01:35 Geography Lesson
  • 02:54 Opening Sentence: Psalm 22.26
  • 03:13 Opening Prayer

Finding God in Suffering

Do not fear, for I am with you.
Isaiah 43:5
There's such a thing as "name-it-claim-it" theology that encourages believers to scan the scriptures looking only for the positive. If, in Jesus' Name, we deny the realities of pain or hardship, then we will never have to experience them—or so some Christians believe.

But Jesus told us that we should not expect to avoid those things that he experienced in his own life. And the lives of the apostles bore this out. Rather than a promise that we can avoid life's difficulties, the scriptures offer us a much more profound promise: God's presence in good times and bad, and the knowledge that when we suffer we are most like the God whom we most clearly see in the face of the Crucified.

February 27, 2021

Eagles, Doves, and Chickens

As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions.
Deuteronomy 32:11
An eagle spreading its pinions, a dove descending, a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings—some of the Bible's most vivid expressions of God's abiding presence are found in birds. If strength, blessing, and protection are so evident in the creatures I see around me every day, how can they not be signs of God's love for creation?

In all these things there is a peace that touches the heart in ways that the mind cannot comprehend. Though my eyes may overlook the Divine in the common sights and sounds the world offers up on a daily basis, may my spirit find peace in the living metaphors for God that surround me.