A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

With the new school season and football just around the corner, this is the time of year of new beginnings. My brother has always felt that this should be considered the beginning of the new year rather than January 1st since the transition between summer and the fall schedule is filled with so many changes and new possibilities.

Schools and football programs will focus on the fundamentals which will hopefully help the students and players to have a strong foundation throughout the year/season. All of this has led me to rethink what the fundamentals are for Christian discipleship during this "new year."
Here are a few thoughts on what these fundamentals are:
  • A return to a more consistent pattern of weekly worship attendance.
  • A daily spiritual growth plan that includes reading of scripture/prayer. Many resources for this including "The Upper Room" devotional and "The Daily Office." Find something that works and use it each day.
  • Regular participation in a class/small group that encourages Christian growth and accountability.
  • Intentional hands on serving in a ministry area where we put our faith into practice.

Of course, there are more fundamentals, but if I had to focus on just a few, these would be at the top. As I get ready to reconvene my small group which includes study, prayer, sharing, and accountability, I think my brother had it right.

Happy New Year! May this be a new year of Christian growth and transformation.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Worship Preview - September 5

September 5 - (8:15 A.M. & 11:00 A.M. Traditional Services & 9:45 A.M. Praise Service) & Wednesday, September 8 (6:30 P.M. Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Sermon - "Martiarchs & Patriarchs - Ruth"

Features -15th Sunday After Pentecost Labor Day Weekend; & Holy Communion by Intinction
Scripture - Ruth 1:15-22 & Ruth 4:13-17 & Matthew 1:1-17

Theme -Today, we are in the final part of a six part sermon sermons in the sermon series, matriarchs and patriarchs from the Old Testament. On this Sunday, we focus on the matriarch, Ruth. We often think the matriarchs and patriarchs of our faith were larger than life, and were called by God because they were so special or different than everyone else. Today, we will discover Ruth's fierce loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and to the God of Israel. We will also discover that God used quite an outsider in the lineage of King David and Jesus of Nazareth.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sermon Planning Retreat Highlights

This week, I attended an annual sermon planning retreat in southern Ohio with a good friend of mine who is also a United Methodist pastor. Together, we plan out sermons for the new year.

One of the reasons why I like to go away on a retreat for sermon planning is because of the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. This was the 2nd year in a row that the retreat was held in southern Ohio. We were near a beautiful lake and the weather couldn't have been better!

In addition to the sermon planning, my friend and I spent time in worship and prayer. We also had a lot of fun preparing our meals, getting some exercise, reading, and catching up with each other since we don't see each other that often.

The picture is the sun setting on the lake from the deck of the home we were staying. We sat on the deck and read from the Psalms.

Here are the sermons that we planned out for 2011. Our goal is to plan sermons around five key areas throughout the year; 1) appealing to the unchurched 2) discipleship/Christian growth 3) pastoral care 4) equipping/sending 5) stewardship. In addition to the sermon series, we also will be using the lectionary appointed readings for several Sundays as well.

2011 Sermon Series:
  • January - "It's Not too Late" (A 4-part series on how it's not too late for the church to live out it's mission of offering God's love to the world.)
  • February - "Movie Month" (A 3-part series on connecting movies with our faith.)
  • March/April - "An App for That" (A 7-part Lenten focus on practicing key spiritual disciplines.)
  • May - A celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible & a 4- part sermon series on "Everytime I Think of You" which will focus on the opening greetings from several of Paul's New Testament letters.
  • June - A 3-part series, "Expressions of the Heart," based on the Book of Psalms.
  • July - A 4-part series, "The Greatest Letter Ever Written," based on Paul's letter to the Romans.
  • August - A 4-part series, "Some Things Never Change" based on four different Old Testament Minor Prophets.
  • September - A 3-part series, "In Your Wildest Dreams" which will focus on the dream that God has for the world, our lives, and our church.
  • September/October - A 6-part series, "Treasures of the Transformed Life" which will focus on stewardship.
  • November/December - An Advent series, "Christmas Around the World" which will focus on the uniqueness of how the birth of Jesus Christ is anticipated and celebrated in four different parts of the world in which the West Ohio Conference has a mission partnership.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The New Testament Word/Phrase of the Week

The New Testament bible scholar, Dr. Tom Wright, has produced a glossary of New Testament words/phrases that is really helpful for the study of scripture. What I like most about his definition of New Testament words is that he helps us to know what a Jewish person from the 1st century would have understood these words/phrases to mean. Too often, we allow our 21st century world view to get in the way of the original meaning.

Here is the New Testament word/phrase of the week: Miracles

Like some of the old prophets, notably Elijah and Elisha, Jesus performed many deeds of remarkable power, particularly healings. The gospels refer to these as "deeds of power," "signs," "marvels" or "paradoxes." Our word, "miracle," tends to imply that God, normally "outside" the closed system of the world, sometimes "intervenes;" miracles have then frequently been denied as a matter of principle. However, in the Bible God is always present, however strangely, and "deeds of power" are seen as special acts of a present God rather than as intrusive acts of an absent one. Jesus' own "mighty works" are seen particularly, following prophecy, as evidence of his messiahship (e.g. Matthew 11:2-6.)


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Worship Preview - August 29

August 29 - (8:15 A.M. & 11:00 A.M. Traditional Services & 9:45 A.M. Praise Service) & Wednesday, September 1 (6:30 P.M. Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Sermon - "Martiarchs & Patriarchs - Abraham"

Features - 14th Sunday After Pentecost

Scripture - Genesis 22:1-18 & John 3:16-17

Theme - Today, we are in the fifth part of a six part sermon sermons on matriarchs and patriarchs from the Old Testament. On this Sunday, we focus on the matriarch, Abraham.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Homosexuality Debate

About a dozen years ago, I bumped into a member of my church during lunch who was waiting for his order. It was only a few weeks before the convening of the General conference of the United Methodist Church and the city paper had just run an article on how the controversial topic of homosexuality would be the focus of the conference.

In the course of our brief conversation about the conference and the newspaper article, the church member began using a feminine sounding voice to impersonate someone who is homosexual which was his way of letting me know where he stood on the issue. Here was a man with a very responsible job and who had been a member of the church all his life, and he still resorted to this kind of behavior as a way to let me know where he stood.

I ignored his impersonation and shared with him my take on the debate on this issue, at least as much as I could in only three minutes since they called his name to pick up his food and we had to part ways.
The reason I share this encounter which happened over ten years ago is because I had forgotten all about it until today when I received a letter from a pastoral friend. My friend shared with me how his church is up in arms regarding our conference's vote to elect someone who is a homosexual as our new conference treasurer. They called a special meeting just to get everyone worked up by explaining how the bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin.

My friend (not the pastor of this church but who attends as a retired pastor) was the last to speak and was one of the very few who said that even though he also believes the practice of homosexuality is a sin, that the bigger issue which everyone seemed to be ignoring was that God calls us to show love to all people, including those who we believe are in a state of sin. He ended his short speech by asking the question, "How many people in this room (there were approximately 150 in attendance) have shown Christian love to our new Treasurer? How many?" There was silence. End of speech. How's that for a creative impromptu way to end a speech?

A member from the back broken the silence by shouting, "But the bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin!" I guess she missed the point of my friend's ending question. I hope she still takes time to let it sink in.

A couple of months ago, I wrote on this very issue so you can read my post by clicking here. But after receiving my friend's letter which indicated that in addition to the church he attends, two other prominent churches in our conference have or will be holding congregational meetings to "rally up the troops" to protest the hiring of our conference treasurer, I feel compelled to once again weigh in regarding this issue.

OK, so here are my summary points:
  • Yes, I believe the practice of homosexuality is a sin and is not part of God's original design. Very painfully and with a heavy heart, I have come to this conclusion by using the Wesleyan quadrilateral of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Scripture and tradition weigh heavy in the direction of this conclusion for me. Regarding scripture, the practice of homosexuality is in conflict with the complimentary theological scriptural understanding of the male/female relationship and of the Bible's metaphorical way of applying marriage to that time in the future when heaven and earth will finally be reunited (heaven and earth being the complimentary components that are finally joined together to become "one flesh," to use the marriage metaphor.) Tradition makes a strong case as well since the church has consistently been a unified voice on this issue (that the practice of homosexuality is a sin) from the very first centuries of the church. Only recently has the church begun to deviate from this pattern.
  • So with the first point on the table, when you look at the polity of the United Methodist Church, that the appropriate committee of the conference recommended the endorsement of our conference treasurer, that a very fair debate ensued in the context of prayer and discernment, and that a vote was taken by our conference delegates (clergy & lay) in favor of electing this person to office, it's time to move on. We did not violate our church's Book of Discipline in the process, since there are no prohibitions of practicing homosexuality laity serving in church leadership positions. Yes, this was a gray area since the Book of Discipline does state that the practice of homosexuality is a sin, but it also states that we are not to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
  • Most of the New Testament and especially the letters of the Apostle Paul emphasize the need for the church to be unified. Yes, we will disagree, but in the case of our new conference treasurer, the church/conference was given the opportunity to debate and decide on this issue and we agreed to elect this person as our new treasurer.

If we as a conference would have voted to not elect this person to be our new treasurer and the conference hired him anyway, then yes, by all means, call for a congregational meeting and rally up the troops. But that didn't happen! The church spoke and now we must be a unified body as we move forward.

So, when I got home from conference, I called the new conference treasurer to offer my congratulations, support, and prayers. And then I said, "I'm also calling you because of a situation my church is facing." And as I began to share about our situation, the new treasurer interrupted me and said, "Oh, I know all about the situation because I heard about it and have done some research on it." He then proceeded to offer his expertise to me and my church regarding our particular situation.

When I hung up the phone, I knew that the church got it right. Before the vote, I too, went back and forth. I can understand why people voted differently from me. Now is the time to offer God's unconditional love to this person who is in need of our support and our prayers. Let's focus on doing this, rather than holding rallies to complain about a decision in which the conference clearly spoke.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Rough Beginning & a Smooth Ending

Earlier this week, I had one of those bookend type of days. The kind of day where the beginning of the day started out rough and the ending was smooth.

It was early in the morning and I was in Columbus when I heard a loud "pop" as I was driving. I pulled off to the side and saw that my back right tire was totally flat. After scraping my knuckle on the rough pavement as I cranked up the jack, I put on the spare tire and finally made my way back to Lancaster.

The day had it's ups and downs as well. But around 9 at night as I was coming home from an errand, I pulled into a local McDonald's and ordered one of those wonderful wild berry smoothies. Wow! As the berry taste burst into my mouth as I drove home, I said a little prayer of thanksgiving to God for this end of day delight.
The day started out rough but it ended up smoothie.

God is good.

The New Testament Word/Phrase of the Week

The New Testament bible scholar, Dr. Tom Wright, has produced a glossary of New Testament words/phrases that is really helpful for the study of scripture. What I like most about his definition of New Testament words is that he helps us to know what a Jewish person from the 1st century would have understood these words/phrases to mean. Too often, we allow our 21st century world view to get in the way of the original meaning.

Here is the New Testament word/phrase of the week: Repentance

Literally, this means "turning back." It is widely used in Old Testament and subsequent Jewish literature to indicate both a personal turning away from sin and Israel's corporate turning away from idolatry and back to YHWH. Through both meanings, it is linked to the idea of "return from exile"; if Israel is to "return" in all senses, it must "return to YHWH. This is at the heart of the summons of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In Paul's writings it is mostly used for Gentiles turning away from idols to serve the true God; also for sinning Christians who need to return to Jesus.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Worship Preview - August 22

August 22 - (8:15 A.M. & 11:00 A.M. Traditional Services & 9:45 A.M. Praise Service) & Wednesday, August 25 (6:30 P.M. Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Sermon - "Martiarchs & Patriarchs - Jeremiah"

Features - 13th Sunday After Pentecost & Receiving of New Members

Scripture - Jeremiah 1:4-10 & 29:10-14 & Luke 13:31-35

Theme - Today, we are in the 4th part of a six part sermon sermons on six matriarchs and patriarchs from the Old Testament. On this Sunday, we focus on the prophet, Jeremiah who lived during the 6th century B.C. when Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken over by the Babylonian empire. In the midst of one of the most frightening and anxious times of Israel’s history, Jeremiah offered a word of hope to his own people which is also a word that God wants us to hear today as well.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Oversimplifying the Christian Faith & Life in General

One of the most difficult challenges facing a Christian and the church is the constant temptation to oversimply the Christian faith and life in general. The knee-jerk reaction for a lot of us is to fall back on that old and familiar line, "The bible says it. I believe it. And that settles it!"

That's all well and good IF things were that simple.

But the bible doesn't read like an encyclopedia or a "how to" book that we can buy off the shelves at a local Barnes & Noble. The bible is mostly a narrative reading of 66 books from a variety of authors writing from a variety of historical periods and situations. Instead of respecting the bible's preference to take the narrative approach rather than the enclyopedic/dictionary approach, we too often try to rearrange the bible in a way that will give us concise and clear cut answers (two paragraphs or less!) for complex questions and issues.

Here are some reasons why I believe we struggle with this temptation to want to oversimplify the interpretations of scriptures:

1) Someone from our past (a family member, friend, former pastor, etc.) taught us a certain interpretation of the bible or what our opinion should be regarding a social issue, and without ever taking the time to critique that interpretation, we have accepted it without qualification.

2) We sometimes confuse patriotism with the Christian faith forgetting that the Old Testament prophets were willing to speak against the popular patriotism of their day if it meant that people were neglecting the poor or trusting in military might rather than trusting in God alone.

3) A false separation of the Christian faith from education/science. Sometimes we forget that the bible doesn't necessarily address the same questions that are posed by science or philosophies and whenever there are apparent discrepancies between the two, we set up a false separation and again settle for simplistic answers. A perfect example of this is the present day debate on how old the earth is.

4) Christians are not immune from laziness and so instead of taking the time to read and be informed on how the church has addressed an issue over the centuries or being aware of the historical context of a particular passage of scripture or how our particular denominational or cultural context have influenced us, we settle instead for an answer that makes most sense to us from a surface level. This is particularly difficult for us today since we live in a society which prides itself on being individualistic. Over the centuries, the church has learned that the best way to interpret the scriptures is by having Christians come together in prayer and study. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism called this "holy conferencing." Christianity is a communal faith, but too often we have privatized it.

5) And let's not forget what is perhaps the most difficult challenge in oversimplifying the Christian faith. We don't respond favorably when we are challenged about our beliefs and our faith and we certainly don't like it when we realize that our perspective on an issue has been off the mark.

But thankfully, the bible itself has a way of helping us to not fall into oversimplification by offering us the challenge of the prophets and of Jesus himself. Think of how often the twelve disciples who thought they had everything figured out would become disappointed when Jesus would say or do something that challenged their worldview, perspectives, and their understandings of scripture.

Jesus continues to challenge us today through our careful reading of the scriptures with an open mind, intense and consistent prayer, and a sense of humility that we don't have all the answers.

Recognizing the temptation and the difficulty to read scripture with this humble approach, this prayer has often been used by Christians and by churches prior to the reading and study of scripture.

Prayer for Illumination (In Unison)
Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The New Testament Word/Phrase of the Week

The New Testament bible scholar, Dr. Tom Wright, has produced a glossary of New Testament words/phrases that is really helpful for the study of scripture. What I like most about his definition of New Testament words is that he helps us to know what a Jewish person from the 1st century would have understood these words/phrases to mean. Too often, we allow our 21st century world view to get in the way of the original meaning.

Here is the New Testament word/phrase of the week: Present Age, Age to Come, Eternal Life

By the time of Jesus, many Jewish thinkers divided history into two periods: 'the present age' and the 'the age to come' - the latter being the time when YHWH would at last act decisively to judge evil, to rescue Israel, and to create a new world of justice and peace. The early Christians believed that, though the full blessings of the coming age lay still in the future, it had already begun with Jesus, particularly with his death and resurrection, and that by faith and baptism they were able to enter it already. "Eternal life" does not mean simply "existence continuing without end," but, "the life of the age to come."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Love/Hate Relationship with the Church

Best selling American author, Anne Rice, recently announced her decision to not be associated with the church. The reasons for her decision are included in her quote below:

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life."

Anne's quote sums up what more and more people are expressing about the church and Christianity in general. People view the church as judgmental and out of touch with the real world.

Her decision to leave the church reminds me of Bono, the leader singer of U2, who while having many Christian themes run throughout his song lyrics, has decided to keep his distance from the church. His context is a bit different since he is from Ireland where he has seen the church do a lot of hurtful things in the name of God.

And yet, U2 is known as not only one of the leading rock and roll bands in the world (see their huge success with their recent 360 world tour) but also as a band that performs concerts that feel a lot like a Christian worship service. Not only that, but Bono has been known for his humanitarian work in Africa, has been a featured speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast, and has been featured at continuing education events for pastors and church leaders!

Bono has been critical in how the church has been slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic in Africa but in a more recent interview, has said that he sees how the church has been responding more and more to the challenge.

So what do we make of this growing trend where people are wanting to distance themselves form organized religion?

Well, first of all, yes, the church needs to reexamine our judgmental ways and how we have not been faithful in living out who we are called to be. I sure hope that the church is humble enough to admit where we have fallen short. Too often, the church has had a triumphalist attitude that is not God honoring. Sometimes, the church sends a signal that they have all the answers and they don't allow room for the doubts and questions people have about the faith.

And this leads me to another thought. While the church may take strong stances on various issues, the church is still called to be open to hearing other opinions and voices. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, emphasized the need to interpret scripture with the aid of tradition, reason, and experience. It's this last component, "experience," that helps the church to see various issues from the perspectives and experiences of others.

I grew up in the church from the cradle through the present day. I've now served the church as pastor for 24 years. Yes, there have been times, that I have been frustrated with the church. Yes, there have been church meetings where people have not displayed love, patience, and respect. Yes, we sometimes say things in a way that is hurtful and judgmental. Hopefully, we are humble enough to confess where we have fallen short.

But more often than not, I have seen the church say and do things that make me proud to be connected to the church. I see people serving, loving, and caring in ways that are unique to the church.

One night at church, as I was getting ready for the first session of a new member class I was leading to help people prepare to join the church, a man who had been visiting our church stopped me in the hallway to offer a complaint. He said that if someone is a Christian, that person doesn't need to join a church since they are already part of the heavenly church. He said, "You shouldn't expect people to join a particular church, since they are already part of God's family when they became a Christian."

Here was my response. I affirmed that I agreed that when someone becomes a Christian, they are already part of the larger church, or as he called it, 'the heavenly church.' But I said, in the United Methodist Church, we believe that one of the best ways to grow in your faith in Jesus Christ and experience God's grace, is by making a commitment to a local congregation. For all her faults, the church is still an important means by which God's grace is extended to us.

Sometimes our connection to the church can have a love/hate feel to it. Yes, being a member of the church has its highs and lows. But at the end of the day, it is the community of faith, a local congregation, through which we experience God's grace again and again and we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. Scott Peck, a Christian author in referring to a marriage, says that every marriage needs a little friction in it for growth to ocurr. I believe the same is true with our relationship to the church.

Below is a prayer I pray every Sunday morning before heading over to lead the church in worship. It's a prayer that for me, really says it all. It's a prayer that is even more needed after reading about Anne Rice announcing that she is leaving the church.

In humility, pray with me:

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Worship Preview - August 15

August 15 - (8:15 A.M. & 11:00 A.M. Traditional Services & 9:45 A.M. Praise Service) & Wednesday, August 18 (6:30 P.M. Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Sermon - "Martiarchs & Patriarchs - David"

Features - 12th Sunday After Pentecost & Worship Liturgists Commissioning

Scripture - 2 Samuel 12:1-15 & Luke 6:1-5

Theme - Today, we are in the middle part of a six part sermon sermons on six matriarchs and patriarchs from the Old Testament who help to make up our faith family photo album. On this Sunday, we focus on the patriarch, David who was the most famous king of Israel and who also experienced sin, brokenness, and God’s redeeming grace.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Evangelical Excessive Baggage

As an evangelical Christian, I have a problem with leading evangelical spokespeople using what I would call "excessive baggage" in making their theological points through the media.

For example, in response to the recent federal judge's ruling on California's Proposition 8, the ban on same sex marriage, Chuck Colson, a leading evangelical had this to say:

"I have warned you for months that our religious freedoms are imperiled. Well, Armageddon may be close at hand if a new court decision holds up."

While Chuck Colson is passionate about the biblical definition of marriage being between a man and a woman which I also endorse, why does he feel the need to throw in "end of times" theological language with the Armageddon reference? All of the sudden, I now want to distance myself from Mr. Colson, not because we disagree on the definition of marriage, but now he has thrown in what I believe to be a non-orthodox view in which he believes that this world will one day be destroyed by a cataclysmic battle.

Sorry for digressing into "end times" talk since the more immediate issue is on the definition of marriage, but the orthodox understanding of the end times envisions a time when through a special act of God's grace (the reappearance of Jesus who will take his rightful rule on earth), God will renew the earth and flood it with righteousness, justice, and peace. Evidently, Mr. Colson, an evangelical, endorses a theology that doesn't affirm that God's creation is good and it fails to affirm God's promise to one day rescue and redeem THIS world. Perhaps, I have misrepresented his use of the word, "Armageddon" but that's my point. Why does he feel the need to throw in the excessive baggage?

So while making a point about one particular subject in the bible, marriage, he opens up a can of worms with the Armageddon reference. And here's the ironic thing in all of this. In affirming the theological understanding that God's creation is good and will one day rescue and redeem it, the biblical writers often use a wedding/marriage metaphor (the complimentary coming together of a man and a woman in a covenant relationship) to explain the end times (the complimentary coming together of heaven and earth forming an eternal covenant relationship.)

And what's even more ironic is that it's time for me to leave now and officiate at a wedding.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Women in Church Leadership Roles & Offices

For this Sunday's worship, the focus is on Deborah who was a great leader during the early years of Israel's history. This raises the question about the biblical view of women in ministry leadership positions.

The theology of the United Methodist Church values the role of women in all levels of ministry leadership in both the local as well as denominational levels. Deborah, from the Old Testament is a good example of the leadership abilities that women bring to various leadership positions in the church.

A New Testament example is Junia (Romans 16:7) where Paul writes that she and other leaders in the church "are outstanding among the apostles." Why has Junia, a female apostle not received more attention in the "women in church leadership roles and offices" discussion? In part, this is because one of the earlier biblical manuscript scribes changed the name to the similar male sounding name of Junias, a patriarchal assumption! Today, most reasoned biblical scholars agree that Paul was referring to the female apostle, Junia.

Since Junia is given the title, "apostle" by Paul, this means that she would have been involved in leadership positions involving evangelism, teaching, preaching, and establishing, and leading churches.
But back to Deborah from the Old Testament. As one of the Judges of Israel, Deborah was thee leader of Israel at the time which involved national leadership (political and military!) and judicial decisions.

Somehow, biblical women leaders such as Deborah and Junia don't get mentioned in discussions regarding women in ministry. But well, they should.

Quote of the Week

Read this wonderful quote by Scott Peck, author of "A World Waiting to Be Born," which I am presently reading:

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The New Testament Word/Phrase of the Week

The New Testament bible scholar, Dr. Tom Wright, has produced a glossary of New Testament words/phrases that is really helpful for the study of scripture. What I like most about his definition of New Testament words is that he helps us to know what a Jewish person from the 1st century would have understood these words/phrases to mean. Too often, we allow our 21st century world view to get in the way of the original meaning.

Here is the New Testament word/phrase of the week: YHWH

The ancient Israelite name for God, from at least the time of the Exodus (Exodus 6:2f.). It may originally have been pronounced 'Yahweh', but by the time of Jesus it was considered to holy to speak out loud, except for the high priest once a year in the holy of holies in the Temple. Instead, when reading scripture, pious Jews would say Adonai, 'Lord', marking this usage by adding the vowels of Adonai to the consonants of YHWH, eventually producing the hybrid 'Jehovah'. The word YHWH is formed from the verb 'to be', combining 'I am who I am', 'I will be who I will be', and perhaps 'I am because I am', emphasizing YHWH's sovereign creative power.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Worship Preview - August 8

August 8 - (8:15 A.M. & 11:00 A.M. Traditional Services & 9:45 A.M. Praise Service) & Wednesday, August 11 (6:30 P.M. Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)

Sermon - "Martiarchs & Patriarchs - Deborah"

Features - 11th Sunday After Pentecost

Scripture - Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 & Judges 4:4-10, 14-16

Theme - Today, we are in the 2nd part of a six part sermon sermons in which we focus on various matriarchs and patriarchs from our Old Testament family photo album. On this Sunday, we focus on the matriarch, Deborah.