Saturday, August 18, 2012
Comic Art - Tribute To Joe Kubert
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Friday, August 17, 2012
But, a sleepless night is a good time for a little therapeutic blogging and let me just say by way of update that I find myself strangely at peace with the world this evening. I say “strangely” because I have not been at peace, I have tried to play the good soldier in my battle with cancer, but have secretly nursed a grudge at God and felt that He had given me the short end of the stick.'Nuff Said - Amen!
So all of this is to say that I am in the midst of a mid life change of heart and mostly I simply want to learn the art of thanksgiving. To do that let me give thanks to God. I’m in a season which is pretty good – blood numbers look good and I’m handling the side effects of chemo better than I have in months. But I have a killing disease and my greatest prayer is to be able to mean it from my heart that though he slay me, yet will I praise Him.
Even on a night like tonight when I have the inconvenience of insomnia, this is a reminder that I have been given a few extra hours to praise the Lord and thank Him. And also to thank you dear reader, and especially you Dan Phillips. I have it all – the Lord, food, family, I have been kept free from major trouble via the evil one, and I have dear friends like you who read these meanderings. May you be blessed as I have.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
- Consider what you could NOT have that you have now
- Don’t compare yourself to those who have more than you have
- Count your blessings, name them one by one
- Review God’s promises
- Get an eternal perspective
- Practice giving
- Practicing thinking small
Gratitude lies at the heart of being truly a person of God. Think about it - gratitude implies that someone else is responsible for what we have. Why should I be grateful for what I earned? I am grateful for what I am given.
If someone else is responsible for my blessings then from that must spring selflessness and humility. This is like Jesus.
If we are truly grateful, then we will always count the other as more important than ourselves for they are the source of what we have. This is the heart of Christian character.
I am tankful for the opportunity this blog presents me. I am thankful for everyone that reads it - few though they are. I am thankful that God, in some small way uses me. I am grateful that God loves me.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Missing The Text
This is not personal. I do not know the pastor involved and I don’t want to cast any aspersions on him as a minister. Everyone has bad days, and perhaps this was one of his. All I know is that, IMHO, he completely missed something as he preached on Sunday that was as obvious as the nose on your face.He goes on at length about sermon construction, etc. I want to make my point a bit more simply.
He ruined a perfectly good passage of Scripture. The words he spoke for forty minutes had absolutely nothing to do with the text, even though he was purportedly “expounding” it. His sermon was not consistent with the tone of the passage or the purpose of the Apostle Paul’s words. Nor did it fit with the theme of the season or the service, even though the occasion and other elements in the service complemented the text perfectly. His opening illustration would have been perfect had he applied it to the text, but instead he turned it in another direction.
As a result, this minister missed a perfect opportunity to give a powerful, affirming message of thanksgiving to his congregation. Instead, he essentially called them on the carpet and scolded them, even though the text of Scripture he used had not a word of instruction, challenge, exhortation, warning, or teaching in it.
I blame the common evangelical notion that a pastor must “preach for response.”
This homiletical approach says that the congregation should always be challenged to change, to do something, to be transformed in some way. It is part and parcel of the revivalistic heritage of evangelicalism — Prepare the people. Preach to the people. Persuade the people to respond.
Leave some room for the Holy Spirit! You are preaching to a room full of diverse people in many different situations. They all are just not going to give you the response you think you are supposed to get. In point of fact - thy shouldn't give you the same response. God did create us free after all.
You job is to reveal and allow God to work. Get it?
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Merton’s description of the congregants in attendance that day reflects his pre-Vatican II Catholic views of a primary difference between Catholics and Protestants:Imagine that - going to church and NOT THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF.“What a revelation it was, to discover so many ordinary people in a place together, more conscious of God than of one another; not there to show off their hats or their clothes, but to pray, or at least to fulfil a religious obligation, not a human one. For even those who might have been there for no better motive than that they were obliged to be, were at least free from any of the self-conscious and human constraint,...
After the Gospel reading, a young priest stood up to preach, and this was the part of Thomas Merton’s first experience at Mass that was to prove most revelatory for him. He found the sermon quite impressive.Tradition adds both vitality and force to the word preached - Fascinating Captain.
[...]How clear and solid the doctrine was: for behind those words you felt the full force not only of Scripture but of centuries of a unified and continuing and consistent tradition. And above all, it was a vital tradition:...
I think these points related. When we focus on self, we focus on the now - when we focus on God we look for vitality and force. I have written before here how if the church lacks the vitality and force discussed here, we need to look at our own lives. This brings up another point there.
Liturgy, tradition, institutional solidity can provide such things when we are not up to the task.
Maybe there is something to this old stuff after all.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Dealing With Spiritual Gifts
Hopefully you have not had to deal with a Candace Whitcomb in your church, but my guess is that you’ve known one or two. Her story is funny and pathetic and all too familiar.That story is a lead in to a discussion of "spiritual gifts." There are two comments I want to make on the subject.
Candace Whitcomb is a character in Mary Wilkins Freeman’s 1889 short story “The Village Singer.” It begins with Miss Whitcomb’s dismissal after forty years as the church’s leading soprano. Her voice had begun to crack and those upper notes weren’t as strong as they used to be. So the church officers asked her to go.
As you can predict, Miss Whitcomb was none too pleased.
The following Sunday, a warm May morning in which all the windows of the building stood open, she had her revenge. Her house sat next door to the church, and just as her replacement, the young and delicate Alma Way, began her solo, old Miss Whitcomb, sitting at home, began pounding away on her parlor organ while loudly cawing another hymn to another tune. Poor Alma continued to sing, but Candace’s shrill strains were all anyone could hear.
Sometimes us church folk would be a lot better off if we just spoke plain English. In the context presented here "spiritual gifts" is just fancy talk for finding volunteers to do stuff that needs to be done around the church. IF we do not imbue stuff with such spiritual significance there is a lot less drama associated with it.
Secondly, the church belongs to the congregants, not the staff. That means the congregants kinda get to call the shots - so you gotta let them go where they want to go, and give the the freedom to fail. I know, you wince when you see it. I know, someone might leave the church over it. But you know what - Peter failed to walk on water, but Jesus called him out anyway.