"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Friday, October 31, 2008
Almighty God, gracious Father, pour out your Holy Spirit upon your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your Word, protect and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all their enemies, and bestow on the Church your saving peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
For this first week, (first two chapters) here are the highlights of our conversation:
Like it or not, all of us "pick and choose" when interpreting verses/passages in the bible. Even folks of the fundamentalist variety who take the bible very literally pick and choose. Examples include Matthew 10:7,8 - why are many of us preaching about the kingdom (verse 7) but few of us are showing the signs of the kingdom through healing (verse 8.) Another example: Why do folks who point out that the practice of homosexual relations is sinful with such verses as Leviticus 20:13a not also apply the punishment for such activity (the 2nd half of that verse.) While we say, "thank God that people don't apply the 2nd half of that verse," the point is that we pick and choose.
- The point of this first chapter isn't that it's right or wrong to pick and choose. The point is that we can't escape from doing it!
- The 2nd chapter explains the author's use of the blue parakeet as a metaphor for his book. A blue parakeet is its own bird. That is, when a blue parakeet is around other types of birds, it does not adapt to their habits and flight patterns. Sometimes other birds try to get the blue parakeet to adapt to their ways, but it will stand its ground (its sky?) McKnight says that the bible is like the blue parakeet. Even though we try to fit the bible into our way of thinking and worldview or what we think it should say, it holds its own ground. We need to let the bible be the bible. And the first step in letting the bible be the bible is to admit that all of us pick and choose
- Often times we get Tradition (capital "T") confused with traditionalism in studying the bible. Tradition (capital "T") is how the church over the centuries has interpreted scriptural passages whereas traditionalism is how we so often take one strand of interpretation and without any critical thinking, allow that particular interpretation of a passage of scripture to be the final authority. In summary, Tradition is vital for the appropriate interpretation of scripture. Traditionalism is the wrong way to go!
- Looking ahead to next week's bible study (chapters 3 - 5) the proper way to interpret scripture is in remembering these three words:
More on this next week!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Features - All Saints Sunday & Holy Communion
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
- Works closely with the organization, "Opportunity International" which provides loans to people living in the poorest nations of the world. Since banks in the third world countries typically only do business with only 5% of the population, this organization provides loans to people who are in desperate need. Interestingly enough, 98% of the loans are paid back in full.
- Regarding peace in the Middle East, he is working hard to include the leading religious officials of several different faith traditions representing these countries to be officially part of the peace process. In the past, it's been primarily the political leaders who come to the table. But in this area of the world where tensions are due to religious differences, it only makes sense to include the major religious leaders. I believe he said that he's traveled to the Middle East 9 or 10 times this past year. He's returning in November.
In addition to sharing what he has been doing since serving as a US Ambassador, Tony Hall also shared what he believes to be the important issues facing our country today:
- The National & Global Hunger crisis. Only 1/2 of 1% of our nation's budget is in the form of foreign aid, but he publicly affirms President Bush's because he has done more for the poor who are overseas than any other US president.
- The health care crisis needs to be addressed. It's wrong that 40 million Americans are uninsured.
- He has been part of a weekly prayer and scripture gathering with members of congress (both Democrat & Republican) every Wednesday at 4 P.M.
- He said that he has been motivated to help end global hunger because there are almost 2,500 verses in the Bible which are about caring for the hungry and those who are poor.
There wasn't a lot of time for Q & A, but I asked Tony Hall this question: "In your experience in working to help end global poverty, what are some positive signs you are seeing in the area of third world debt reduction and elimination?"
His answer: "Eliminating third world debt is making a huge difference in these countries, particularly in countries like Ghana and Mozambique. Our world needs to live out the biblical principle of the 'Year of Jubilee' where debts are forgiven and countries can use this money to provide education and food for their people."
It was an honor to be part of this meeting and to be part of the dialogue.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Features - 24th Sunday After Pentecost; Celebration of “Prayers, Presence, Gifts, & Service: A Forty Day Journey;” & Reformation Sunday
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
I have come through this letter explain my gratitude and acknowledge receiving 900$ from you, which is directed to my studies at Africa University . Because of the love shown to me, I wanted to thank all the churches that participated in raising this money. For me it is a great benediction to have this money, really this will make a difference in all my life. Because, It will keep reminding me of God's working through his people. It is true that when we receive from God, he also except us to be faithful servants.
I thank the Churches for having this spirit of sharing, because the Bible says "when you do this to the least of these people, you do it to me." "Jesus-Christ"
I realized God's love when I received this money for my studies. This transfer God's love that reaches my life. You are doing it through your hands to touch all my Love; this is an extension of God's love, reaching somebody who is really in need through your sharing of the resources. Moreover, for all my lovely congregations, I have received your love with great joy, the only thing is that this gift reminds me to work faithfully to God and continues to love him forever. Thank you very much for accepting to respond to the Divine duty. May God assist you and bless you all. In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit Amen!!!
Rev Eric Kalamba Bondapa
Third year Student
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Features - 23rd Sunday After Pentecost
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Most of us already knew that we were a nation living on the edge, feeding off greed and the insatiable appetite of always wanting more toys, but how many of us knew that we were this close to collapse? Even with all of the safeguards surrounding the proposed bailout, we have been painfully reminded of the cost of being part of a culture which promotes the philosophy that enough is never really enough.
Many of our area churches are participating in stewardship campaigns this fall to prepare for 2009. Part of our stewardship campaign includes reflecting on what it means to be faithful with the financial resources God has given us. Obviously, the secular agenda’s approach to handling money (unbridled capitalism) when left unchecked, offers instant gratification, but in the end, will lead us down a dead-end street (the street formerly known as Wall Street.).
Enter the biblical view of stewardship and God’s call for each person to recognize that all good gifts come from God: a roof over our heads, food for the table, skills and abilities, the air we breathe, good health, loving relationships, a caring and nurturing community of faith, and the list goes on and on. When we remember this basic truth that all good gifts come from God, our attitudes and approach to money take on a whole new meaning.
Not only do we become more grateful for what we already have, we begin to see ourselves as extensions of God’s grace on behalf of a world in great need. Our lifestyles begin to reflect the giving nature of God, and we grow in what it means to practice extravagant generosity through the sharing of our financial gifts with those who are hurting.
Recently, our community participated in an annual two-mile Hunger Walk, CROP Walk, in which 25% of all funds collected remain right here with our Greene county FISH food pantry. The remaining money will go to support world-wide hunger relief efforts. Our food pantries are in need of additional financial and volunteer help, especially after the recent wind storm that left thousands of people without power.
As I made the stroll down the Xenia bike path and through the canopy of changing leaves on that warm autumn day, it was obvious that God’s many gifts were streaming down upon us from every direction. Pure gifts. Pure grace. So yeah…I know how much $700 billion dollars is and it’s nothing compared to the immeasurable love of God.
That’s something Wall Street can’t teach us.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Features - 22nd Sunday After Pentecost & Coins for Missions (Coins placed in the offering will help support St. Paul UMC Outreach Center in Dayton, FISH Food Pantry, the Caring Place Meal Ministry in Xenia, & IHN which provides temporary housing for families in need.)
Theme - This is the fourth sermon of a six-part sermon series on “Prayers, Presence, Gifts, and Service: A Forty Day Journey.” On this fourth Sunday of our forty day journey together, we will reflect on the fourth week of readings which focus on offering our financial gifts to the work of Jesus Christ and the church.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2The more I called them, the more they went from me;they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. 3Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.