We Make America Great Again by being Stronger Together

ra,unisex_tshirt,x3104,101010_01c5ca27c6,front-c,650,630,900,975-bg,f8f8f8Let’s not forget where we came from.

This rhetoric of making America great again by instilling fear and hatred of the other is not what made America a great nation in the first place.  This kind of rhetoric only serves to undermine the greatness that has been achieved.

Furthermore, this kind of rhetoric does nothing to advance humanity.

And if the past is to instruct us in this matter, what made America a great nation is the contribution of those who came to its shores ever since its founding.

So shame on anyone who adopts and spreads this kind of rhetoric of fear and hatred.  And why do we think that the only way forward is to bring others down, especially those who look different than us?

Why not advance together no matter our differences?

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How does God give the Holy Spirit to those who Ask?

I’ve been spending time with Luke’s Gospel for a while now.  This morning I read the following and wanted to move on, but a question kept challenging me.  How does God give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” –Luke 11:11-13 NIV

For the life of me, I could only think of one plausible answer, an answer that makes the most sense.

First, Jesus defines time.  With his coming, we’re talking the in-breaking of the Kingdom, what theologians and biblical scholars the already-not-yet.  So whether we’re considering the immediate listeners while Jesus was on earth, if you will, or post-ascension listeners and readers, this mention of the Holy Spirit is eschatological.

Second, this giving of the Holy Spirit to those who ask only make sense if we’re talking Christ followers.  But why would Christ followers need to ask for the Holy Spirit who already indwells them (Romans 8:9-17)?

Third, and therefore, to me, the only plausible answer is the asking of the Holy Spirit for kingdom ministry–here and there.

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Worship: Like an Oasis in the Desert

Do you attend gathered worship each week as a performer or a receiver? What’s your approach to worship–whether private or gathered public worship?  I believe the answer to this question determines what you and I get out of worship each week.  At the end of the day, it really comes down to our perspective to the whole matter–our theology of worship, if you will.

Performance-Oriented

With this approach, focus is on what we do.  In this approach, we judge whether worship was worthwhile based on how great the worship team/praise team performed; how well the pastor preached, and so on.

This is where we find the church-hoppers, always in search of the “right” performance and new thing in town.

Open Hand-Oriented

83407-004-0A7E1974The place of worship is not at the top of your list-whether it’s the newest building in town or not.  The charisma of the pastor hasn’t entered your mind.  You’re not into the so-called worship wars–whether praise team/worship team or choir; traditional music versus contemporary music.  And this is not to say that biblical preaching and music do not matter to you. They do matter.

However, you attend worship with open hands to receive from God.  You understand (your theology) worship as a means of grace.  You attend worship to have the Lord minister to you.  Or if you’re in to metaphors, it’s like a weary traveler in a hot, miserable desert coming to an oasis–for relief and refreshment.

What’s your approach to worship?

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First Sunday of Lent 2017: I’m not giving up Coffee

coffee.jpgTo me, coffee is one of those rare, underappreciated blessings from God.  I literally, stop and smell the coffee-and give thanks for it!  With a cup of coffee in my hand recently, I was telling someone how much I love coffee.

For Lent it is customary to give up something, sort of like mirroring Jesus fasting 40 days and 40 nights.  To be honest, I’m still working on what to give it.  I might give up going to Starbucks, but I will not be giving up coffee.

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Transfiguration Sunday 2017

transfiguration.jpgO God,

who before the passion of your only begotten Son

revealed his glory upon the holy mountain:

Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance,

may be strengthened to bear our cross,

and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

–Book of Common Prayer

Scripture References:  Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Peter 1:16-20; Matthew 17:1-9

Reflection: Transfiguration Sunday is the perfect segue way into the Lent season–a season of self-examination, repentance, and renewal–“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

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