Christmas and That Little Red Kettle

I am no longer surprised by how the best of things can become areas of contention among the good folks. That little red kettle has over the years become entwined with Christmas to the point that when we hear that little bell ringing, we look for that little red kettle. Ever wonder where that came from? Well, it got its start in 1891 in  San Francisco.

Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was aware of the many poor individuals in San Francisco that were going hungry every day and their numbers were growing every day. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome — funding the project. His thoughts took him back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. There was this place where the boats came in and  placed there was a large iron pot into which people passing by would toss coins in to help the poor.  The very next day Captain McFee placed a pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing and beside the pot he placed a sign that read Keep The Pot Boiling. He soon had the needed funds to make it possible to feed at least 1000 people who holiday season. There is a lot more to this story but it will  do to just point out that the Little Red Kettle is all over our world today.

A recent discussion made me aware of how the biblical view of charity is so much different from the way some people view “charity”. As usual as per my habit, let’s look at some definitions of the word charity.

 : generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering

also : aid given to those in need

 : an institution engaged in relief of the poor

 : public provision for the relief of the needy

 : benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity

I am going to break this down a little more. The first one listed defines the parameters and the motivator for such actions. The next two indicate an organizational approach to help those in need. That last one is the biblical equivalent of a very well-known verse….. Matthew 25

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.

Why has charity become a contentious issue? I would venture the need to control, the insertion of qualifiers and the cynical attitude of we who have and a lack of compassion which has been replaced by an unqualified judgmental attitude on our part. These things, the first two are debatable but the lack of compassion and a judgmental attitude is in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ and our Christian values. 

Consider these verses 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8, 10.

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. ……….

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

First off Paul says that no one is ever a loser through generosity. While these New Testament verses never suggest material rewards, such as the wealth of things, they do point to the wealth of a glad heart and spirit, there is even more to be considered. You will be rich in love and friends. When we allow our hearts to love others our love will be returned. We will be rich in help.There will come a day when all of us at one time or another will need help, of some kind. If we have been willing to help others there is a good chance there will be others willing to help us. Remember Matthew 25: 35-36, Jesus taught us that what we do to others we do for God. Make no mistake there will be a day that every time we opened our heart to others it will stand well in our favor. Now there are three benefits of generous giving.

-It does something for others.

-It does something for ourselves. 

-It does something for God. 

 The Christian side of this is very plain and simple. There are no additional laws or procedures to be considered. John 13: 34-35

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Perhaps this is a bit to literal for the secular mind but this is one of the hard parts for us as mortals to understand. True Christianity is love and caring for others without judgmental prerequisites. In the Christian world there should be no committee to decide the worth of a need……just the love needed to meet that need.

Life is Good

jk  

Reference Material    Daily Bible Study –  William Barclay

                                              Salvation Army – Red Kettle 

Advertisements

 “Patient Expectation”  Mark 13: 1-13

For most of us in the pew all scripture has little hidden gems that we sometimes pass over or just don’t recognize. We have become so accustom to reading and hearing the word and in that forest of words we miss the tree of added knowledge that strengthens our faith. The disciples were impressed by the grandeur of the Temple as we read in verses 1 and 2. Jesus’ reply, “not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down”, a statement that leads to a literary pattern that Mark used often in the Gospel. Jesus makes a public statement (v.2) then the disciples question him privately (vv. 3-4) to explain what he had said. This time it was the first four disciples who were called that were pressing him to give them a sign as to when this destruction of the Temple would occur. In an earlier instance ( 8: 11-12) the Pharisees had sought to test Jesus by demanding that he prove his authority, which is not the case here. Jesus’ reply (vv.5-13) does not provide the disciples with the sign they seek. Instead in these verses Jesus is telling them how to conduct themselves in times of turmoil and persecution. Jesus speaks to discipleship. They must be able and willing to testify to the gospel, understand they will be put upon because of their faith and in (v.8) not to interpret political and social turmoil as a sign of the end time. We see here a rather common occurrence over the years in the “church”, the preaching of the end times and the signs that point to its being upon us. These apocalyptic writings speak of the evil to come before the ending and in some instances the righteous being led astray. Jesus’ words warn of false prophets, political turmoil, natural disasters and if that isn’t enough a church that while engaged in a mission to the gentiles will find itself hated by both Jews and Gentiles. However, here in chapter 13 Mark does not deny that a crisis exists, he counsels both HOPE and Patience. Here is that “little gem”  I wrote of earlier. Dr.Roger Hahn speaks of it as “Patient Expectation”. 

I lean toward this patient expectation to mean that as christians we are to expect certain times of turmoil in our lives. The turmoil endured by Jesus and his disciples was the result of such evil times. They could expect to be persecuted and in some instances put to death, family and friends would be turned against each other. In times of social and political turmoil christians are often at risk for their beliefs. These are the things we can expect now….in this time. Then there is a patient expectation that leads to something wonderful. Jesus and the disciples suffered all the way to the Cross and their patient enduring of  the expected evil of others led them to the resurrection and the salvation of the believers. To me this is a wonderful thought to endure with “patient expectation”, verses 9-13 Jesus reminds the disciples that their task is to preach the gospel. We too are the disciples of this day and our task is to give testimony to the gospel. Through patience and endurance to the promise of the word we will see our Expectation of salvation. Remember Jesus’ words Mark 13:13

13 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

We will wait serving our Lord and savior, preaching and teaching the gospel, with “Patient Expectation”…….

Life is Good

jk

1000 Words

 The painting to the left is a work by the artist Sigismund Christian Hubert Goetze. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but if you look closely you will  realize the impossibility of giving even a faint idea of its power and awful significance with words from a people who refuse  to recognize their Savior. 

This is traditionally a time that we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. It is the time of the Angels singing on high and joy and goodwill to all mankind. Trees are going up and strings of colored lights decorate our homes and even our cities! Children’s faces are aglow with anticipation of Santa, presents under the tree  and there seems so little time to get everything done. The shopping malls will soon be full of shoppers, pushing, rushing from one store to another and if you look carefully there are few smiles of joy. For many the pressures of the season overwhelm them. In the city where I live there are a number of homeless encampments within hearing distance of the canned Christmas music that is being played everywhere. There will be the usual laments about Christ being taken out of Christmas even though the facts are plain, Christmas is a Christian thing celebrating the birth of Christ. That being said it is worth noting  “Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, with certain elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations who were later converted to Christianity.”  As we make our way back to the painting I must share with you this scripture from   Isaiah 53: 3-5….

 

He was despised and rejected by others;

    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

    he was despised, and we held him of no account

This chapter foretells the sufferings of the Messiah, the reason he did so and for which he died. The Jews were not impressed by this poorly dressed man and his humble appearance and manners. He would suffer for sins not his own, giving to us the gift of salvation. When you can, please read Isaiah 53: 1-11.    

According to an article on the painting in The Literary Digest, “‘At the exhibition of the Royal Academy in London, the great canvas by Sigismund Goetze … has created an artistic sensation.’ It is declared to be a ‘powerful and terribly realistic presentment of Christ’ in a modern setting.”

The complete link to this article will be posted at the end of this blog*. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to go there and read the entire article. Overwhelmed by the season we are unable to see the real gift, the good news if you will, hidden amongst bright-colored ribbons and Christmas wrappings of red and green, mankind’s  only hope for redemption and salvation. The painting of course goes past that to the end result. Why in this time of celebration and great joy would I take us there? Simply put, we have the book, the word and yet we are the mirror image of the people in that painting. Going about our business, caught up in our importance, so rushed with life we can only spare a couple of hours out of this season to note the gift of our salvation coming among us. Go to the link and copy that picture, print it and post it, let every image in it be burnt into your mind. There among a heedless crowd, bound by ropes upon a pedestal stands the Christ. Do our actions say “it is nothing to me”?

To Christians Christmas is not a season, it is the presentation of the gift of the Father to his children in the person of the Christ child, a promise of hope, life and goodwill to all men.

Life is Good

jk

 

http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/goetze/paintings/3.html     *

 

 

Angels Among Us

 

More about the title of today’s blog latter. I struggle at times to find things to write about, ignoring the fact that life itself has enough things to ponder and sometimes even change the way we see things. This past week our faith community lost a lady of immense faith whom I am sure was an angel to all that knew her. “Angels Among Us” is a song written by Don Goodman and Becky Hobbs and recorded by Alabama, a country music band. The song was released in December 1993. When I heard that Karen has passed it immediately came to my mind. That coupled with my bible study class which had decided this past week to take a break from our study of John and talk about Angels, well life made a point. Never knew that Angels had a hierarchy and each step the of the way they had certain responsibilities according to their place in the hierarchy. You know me or should if you have read any of my posts, I value simplicity. Here is the simple explanation of those whom God has assigned to comfort us. There is no better way to put it than to just reprint here a portion of the lyrics from the song “Angels Among Us”

Oh, I believe there are Angels Among Us,

Sent down to us from somewhere up above.

They come to you and me in our darkest hours

To show us how to live

To teach us how to give

To guide us with a light of love.

When life held troubled times

And had me down on my knees

There’s always been someone

To come along and comfort me

A kind word from a stranger

To lend a helping hand

A phone call from a friend

Just to say I understand

Now ain’t it kind of funny

At the dark end of the road

Someone light the way with just a single ray of hope.

( Lyrics By       Don Goodman and Becky Hobbs) 

The lyrics of this song give me comfort and I can say with blessed assurance that with Karen May’s passing, God has called another Angel home. We all can be an Angel at sometime in life, just look at the lyrics of the song, the list is simple acts meant to comfort others, we all have at one time or another done at least one or more on that list. Be an Angel to someone……….

Life is Good

jk

Playing With Words…… Political Assembly,  Separation of Church and State 

One word to allow the persecution of the church, the other a misused metaphor that has eliminated anything having to do with Christian theism in the public arena. The word translated as church in the NT is ekklesia, which means political assembly. Now we are referring to early church times but this is an interesting word play. The political comes from the fact that the church had its own laws and authority figures and as it grew in number it was a threat to Roman society in the second century AD. The Roman proconsul Pliny issued a decree prohibiting “political associations” and used that to crack down on Christianity. Never thought of church being a political assembly especially since we value the separation of church and state so much. First let’s look at Pliny, a civil servant who served as governor of Bithynia, in the north of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), from 111-113 AD.  In a letter to Trajan, Pliny is seeking advice as to how to handle these Christians, also approval of his actions so far. We see the Roman Empire’s attitude toward Christianity, while this letter and the questions asked in it were of little importance to the political situation in Rome it does give us a view of how these early Christians were seen in the eyes of the authorities and their actions concerning the church. Trajan’s reply is interesting, it simply states that there is no general rule or fixed standard to judge by. Of course if they are accused of civil disorder or refusing Roman practices as to the worship of our gods and this is proven and documented they are to be punished according to our laws.There is an interesting caveat added here. If they repent and prove it by returning to the worship of our gods, they shall obtain pardon through that act of repentance. Also interesting to note the closing statement in the letter.

But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.” (https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/pliny)

Given the last mid-terms this is advice we could well use today. This blog is the result of my concern over the silence from the pew and pulpit in these changing times. Change will always be with us and in most cases change is a good thing. I am concerned about the lack of civility and respect we have for others and the lessening influence of the church in our daily lives and the influence of societal change that marginalized our faith and our God. We, “The Church” no longer have a seat at the table and the state of our nation and its government have reached a state of controlled chaos. How did this happen? I believe the systematic removal of Christian values, faith and yes, I am just going to say it……The removal of God in our institutions of government, learning and law. Not to be overlooked is the absence of God in our families, once a place of religious learning and teaching of moral standards to live by.  Here is something to think about and gives me a dignified path of exit. “The Metaphor and the Constitution” an excellent article that contains a little nugget I just love. You must read this article to understand the impact this revelation could have on the church and the nation. Here is a brief snippet  from that writing:

“This, in conjunction with several other factors, makes the “separation of church and state” metaphor an icon for eliminating anything having to do with Christian theism, the religion of our heritage, in the public arena.”

Please go to this link

//www.allabouthistory.org/separation-of-church-and-state.htm

So to wrap up, we have been quiet for too long. The church has been too busy trying to adapt to the changing times and remain relevant in the lives of its people. No words from pulpit or pew, just silence and the mistaken belief that this is how we show our love for all people. Like it or not we must get back to the “table.” God’s voice must be heard again. Our voice, God’s voice is being held hostage by a Metaphor.

Separation of Church and State was never intended to remove the Christian’s voice from the establishment of our Government, its laws or its people from their God.

Life is Good,

jk

 

 

 

God’s Call To Unity… Life and Worship In The United Methodist Church

“The issue of homosexuality was first openly debated in the church at the 1972 General Conference, four years after the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches joined to form The United Methodist Church. Issues related to sexuality have continued to be debated at General Conference gatherings since then. General Conference last met in Portland, Ore., in 2016 and will next meet in a special session in St. Louis, Missouri in 2019.” (http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/human-sexuality-backgrounder

This is another one of those blogs that I have started over more than once. This is an issue that I have always believed to be driven by social and organizational agendas and having no standing in the church. Here I will get a few raised eyebrows, as I believe God settled this issue long ago. Having gained no significant ground over the years it sought a more universal platform, one that would produce a large enough angst among a larger more focused group and then there was the Methodist Church, just one among many.Here is the thing, if you were looking for a way to reach a lot of people who were passionate about something, you need look no further. Next, you need controversy, the more the better. Nothing, absolutely nothing, draws a crowd better than controversy. It was, to use a time-worn phase, “a marriage made in heaven.” So I have come to the conclusion that this same-sex issue has kidnaped the Church and Christianity. Now the Methodist church was an obvious target due to the fact that they are so vast, serving all over the word and taking seriously the charge to “do good whenever you can and wherever you can.” The Methodist church has had a social agenda for a long time, well-funded and active. in Romans 14:1 -15:13 we find Paul dealing with issues within a small church in Rome. Paul’s discussions of the different opinions that separate them is remarkable in that Paul in this section of scripture uses no identifiers such as Jew, Gentiles, circumcised or uncircumcised. He briefly lists the matters that divide them and focuses on the things that bring them together. To put this in context with today’s same-sex issue is not that hard and we must acknowledge that this issue is not the only one facing the church of today but it is the one at this time that seems to be capable of splitting the church. Paul takes these issues concerning the early church and makes it one about opinions, and as you know, everyone has one. The interpretation of scripture is one of the driving forces of this same-sex issue which is  changing church doctrine today. The issues may be different but he stays with the theme of the commonality of the faith. There are people of diverse backgrounds coming to join the people of the one God and acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The church at that time was very much still Jewish in many of its practices and these Gentiles were of a different opinion concerning the matters of worship and faith. At that time the big issue was what you could eat and what not to eat, being circumcised or not  being circumcised. Paul knew that the problem was between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians and there were strong and weak in both as to their adherence to the faith. Here is a point that would help us with this issue in the church today….Paul does not condemn either for their opinion. Paul is worried that the matters that have arisen will threaten the united worship of the one God. Paul is concerned that this worship of all sorts of people will be impacted by social or cultural influences and the insertion of Jewish law into this new “way” for God to be reconciled with his people would impact the church’s growth. Paul knew the elements that were involved here, but wisely chose to not emphasize them, he did not want to be drawing lines in the sand, he preferred to insist that it was possible for people of different opinions to learn to live and worship together.  

Now it gets a little sticky here on. Here again is my opinion, yours may differ. Paul equates “strong or weak” in the faith to a matter of maturity. We should not disqualify people for their opinion, because opinion is not a requisite of Christianity. Can we recognize that people whose faith is anchored by the belief that Jesus Christ, the risen Messiah and Lord belong together in the same family……the “Family of God”? What is the standard for exclusion from the “Family of God” and who makes that judgement? I must make this plain. The research material I am drawing from divides this segment of scriptures (Romans 14: 1 -15- 13) into three segments. In 14: 1-12 we read that the weak and the strong are made aware that they each have the same Lord. He is the Lord of all and we all will be judged and held to account by him. It is not right that any Christian should pre-empt God’s right in advance. Verses 13-14 present a real problem for many of us. Can we cope with the need to not condemn others opinions? Can we learn to respect and not make demands on one another’s consciences? When we get to the verses in chapter 15 there is an insistence on a mutual welcome to all people. Jews and Gentiles, following the risen Christ, the Messiah through whom our God will give the hope and power to be one in the Holy Spirit.

For over thirty years I sat in a pew in the Methodist Church and then a little over three years ago I found another pew. To my beloved church and to my brothers and sisters, I beg you not to leave as I have. We are one in Christ and we should not let opinions and other views drive us from the “Unity of Christian worship.” Judge not, Believe, Respect, Love and Honor God’s call to Unity. 

Life is Good

jk 

Theology….The Church’s Conscience

 Those of you who have followed me in past blogs know I am a big fan of  understanding the meaning of a specific word. A specific word to me is one that is used to introduce a person, place, thing, event, present a question, or direct our thoughts or conversations toward a shared opinion. I know the correct use of a word is important, correct being the context it is used to convey a thought or point. Today’s blog deals with two specific words, Theology and Conscience. First: Theology is the study of religion. … The study of theology is part philosophy, part history, part anthropology, and also something entirely its  own.  Theologians have the complex job of thinking about and debating the nature of God. Studying theology means taking on challenging questions about the meaning of religion. Next: What does it mean to have a conscience? One definition being the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience – the complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual. 

Theology had an important role in the development of the early church. Four important functions of theology were, catechetical, the apologetical, the polemical and the homiletical. Let’s start with the first and keep it simple. Catechetical relates to Christian instruction.

1

: a convert to Christianity receiving training in doctrine and discipline before baptism

2

: one receiving instruction in the basic doctrines of Christianity before admission to communicant membership in a church

Next we look at the word  apologetical, a systemic defense of an, often religious, position.

Apologetics is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse. Early Christian writers who defended their beliefs against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called Christian apologists. In 21st-century usage, apologetics is often identified with debates over religion and theology.

On to polemical which in its polemical function, Christian theologians defended and expounded the biblical faith against heretical threats from within the church. It was the early church defending itself against controversial or other writings that were disputatious to the church. A christian must grow and mature in the faith and not be blown elsewhere by false teachings.

1

: of, relating to, or being a polemic : CONTROVERSIAL

2

: engaged in or addicted to polemics : DISPUTATIOUS

Now the last being Homiletics, in religion, this is the application of the general principles of rhetoric to the specific art of public preaching. One who practices or studies homiletics may be called a homilist, or more colloquially a preacher. Two among many are these scriptures which says a lot in a few words. First Timothy 4:13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching.There is also Titus 1:9, one of many attributes needed by an Elder, He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

I have often stated my worry about the increasing pressures on the “church” that are forcing it to take a path that is being guided by those with a personal agenda who are taking biblical texts out of their biblical contexts and allowing them to be driven by societal demands for change. A sound Theology provides a firm foundation to judge whether we are growing and serving Christ as the Great Commission charged us to do and are we obedient to his will? For most of us in the pew, it is the simple direct word of the gospel that drives our Theology.

John 6: 35-40

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” It may seem to many of us in the pew that Theology is the equivalent of a course in Christian Algebra, we need it but just find it hard to understand.

Theology is the Church’s Conscience. Thanks for being in the Pew this week. Below are the reference materials used for today’s blog.

Life is Good

jk

Theology – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theology

The Role of Theology  By John Jefferson Davis, Ph.D.

Merriam – Webster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John 6: 1-21…The Rest Of The Story

 These are two of the most wonderful stories in the Fourth Gospel. Bible study can sometimes lead us to things that challenge our faith and yet at the same time increase our understanding of scripture that in a way captures and here I barrow from Paul Harvey  “The rest of the story.”  There is quite a story here and if you are preaching, one whale of a sermon. Looking at the feeding of the five thousand the improbability of feeding that many people does challenge our faith. It is even more challenging considering the amount Jesus had to work with, now the rest of the story. Setting the scene:

-the people had seen Jesus heal the sick

-Jesus and the disciples had withdrawn to a hill nearby

-at the base was a grassy field

-the field was near a main road 

-the Passover Feast was at hand and the roads were full of people 

-Jesus saw the multitude coming toward him and had compassion for them

The players in this story include not only people but time, place and circumstance.  Now the passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand and the roads were full of travelers eager to be in Jerusalem for this holiday. There was a main road that ran close by to this grassy field. Jesus asked Philip where they could buy food to feed these people, even though he knew what he would do. Philip replied that it would take six months wages to buy enough food to feed these people. One of the disciples, Andrew stepped forward and told Jesus about a boy who had five barley loaves and two fish! Andrew followed Jesus’ instructions and with the rest of the disciples distributed enough to feed all those present and still have enough left over to fill 12 baskets. Some things to remember. Philip, thinking like any of us often do, saw the enormity of the need and no real practical way to meet it. Now scripture doesn’t say it but I believe it very possible that this young boy offered what he had believing it would help the situation. Andrew apparently was not willing to accept that they just give up and was willing to reach out and put forward any hope of finding a way to feed these people. We see here a perfect example of turning over to God the impossible and having faith God will make it happen! 

Included in these verses is the story of Jesus walking on water and here again we allow mortal practicality to marginalize our faith. Here in verses 16-21 we are again challenged and our faith tested. Jesus had finished feeding the five thousand and the crowds surged toward him and he left quietly instructing the disciples to take the boat to the other side of the lake. It was his intention to walk around the head of the lake while they rowed across and rejoin them in Capernaum. It was as Snoopy was known to say “a dark and stormy night. The Jews would refer to it as the second evening, the time between twilight and dark. They had been rowing for almost four hours due to the intensity of the storm. Then they suddenly saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. Now in this day and time all people were superstitious and they believed it to be a ghost and were terrified. In verse 20 Jesus calls out to them and they took him into the boat and in 21 they immediately reached land. Now there is a lot of commentaries and opinions as to what really happened here, all designed to make an improbability a probable. I will not go there but offer these thoughts. These verses contain one phrase that sets to rest any need to ponder what happen here. But he said to them, ‘it is I; do not be afraid” and they took him into the boat. How often in times of uncertainty and fear do we not hear the voice of God because of our lack of faith?

The rest of the story is rather simple. How many times have we as a church using our human reasoning limited our faith that God can do anything? Why can’t we be like that little boy and Andrew? Willing to give, giving it to God and trust he will make it happen. Why are we not able to realize how important it is to listen for God’s voice as he calls out to us and allow him to make our impossibilities, possible, removing our fears of the uncertainties of this life? There are many “rest of the stories”  in the good book and to find them you have to go beyond the words to the faith of a believer who knows the word but also hears the calling of God.

Thanks for joining me in the Pew this week.

Life is Good!

jk 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanakh, The Hebrew Bible…Jews, Christians and The Word of God

I am not sure how I got to this title but I will go with it any way. While it might seem strange why I would focus on the Jewish Bible, consider this. If you took the “good book” and open it to Genesis read a bit and then opened the Jewish Bible, Tanakh, read it a bit, it would almost be like looking in a mirror.  Oh there will be some different words here and there and there is only one Bible which has been translated into over 2000 languages. Currently, there are more than 40 different versions in English, from the King James Version, which was published in 1611 and is still going strong, to modern versions, some of them very simplified. (English.https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-types-of-Bibles-are-there-How-are-they-written)

I was drawn to this subject by the differences of the day that plague us in increasing fervor in the church today. There are so many issues that divide us because of societal pressures and the church’s struggle to remain relevant in the lives of its people. Both the OT and the NT are of one God but there is a natural tendency to view each differently and negate one to a lesser role.  Bible translation began about 2000 years ago. It connects us with our heritage and our inheritance, we are after all the adopted children of God through the body and blood of the risen Christ. Now days there is little of the OT in our bible studies in church.The Tanakh , the result of the coming together of a number of Jewish scholars and rabbis from the three largest branches of organized Jewish life in America, resulted in bringing together the three main translations of the Jewish bible. Started in 1955 the ongoing translation was published in  three main stages. The Torah in 1962, The Prophets, (Nevi’im) in 1978 and The Writings (Kethuvim) 1982, all three with applicable revisions were brought together in English in the form of today’s Tanakh. What drew me to the Jewish Bible was the sudden realization that this great written treasure of God’s mercy and redemption was not due to random events of history but rather the will of God and his desire to reconcile with his people.

(The Scriptural witness to the Son of God, however, did not begin with the New Testament – it first appears in the Old Testament in the abbreviated form of “Son” (with one exception).  While the number of Old Testament references to Son [of God]are nowhere near as numerous as that in the New Testament, they are extremely significant and have helped Christians recognize that Jesus Christ is indeed this Son of God and what the Bible means by this phrase.)   

 http://biblicalmissiology.org/2013/02/11/son-of-god-in-the-old-testament/ 

For it is written:

But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

A child is born to us!

A son is given to us!

And he will be our ruler.

He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”

“Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”

“Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

New Testament writing: 

Galatians 3:28-29 King James Version (KJV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I find peace, continuity, certainty, promise and redemption in the scriptures. There is one God, one salvation and one savior before whom all people will stand to be judged by the only judge that matters. We as mortals may find many things that divide us but old things prepare us for the wonders of new things. All things are of God…..Amen

Come back next week, God bless.

Life is Good

jk

Responsibility The Glue That Holds It All Together

 

Authority, Accountability, neither works well unless there is a reasonable amount of responsibility that is driving these two attributes. God has given us both individually and collectively a sense of responsibility. Quite reasonable to say that this particular thing, responsibility, differs in intensity among we humans. God at that moment in the garden gave the human race a guide to their responsibilities: Genesis 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We shouldn’t look at that verse as a to do list but rather a very plain listing of what was expected, you might say, our earthly responsibilities. Responsibility can and often does mean different things to different people. In Matthew 25: 14-30 we have the story of the master who was to be traveling for a while  choose  to give three of his servants each a different number of these bags for them to keep safe until he returned. He had wisely thought it best not to carry such wealth while on the road. Sometimes this biblical account leaves me wondering. I find no instruction as to what they were to do with this wealth that had been entrusted to them other than keeping it safe and they would be held accountable to him because they and they alone were responsible for it. There are many scriptures where responsibility is given by God to certain individuals and it is often followed by accountability. Here is a twist I didn’t see coming when I started this weeks blog,  responsibility can also be a corporate thing. Groups, organizations, even churches have corporate responsibilities to their members and their communities. Be a good time here to look at the definition of responsibility.the state of being the person who caused something to happen

: a duty or task that you are required or expected to do

: something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.

One of the more common aspects of responsibility is the nature of a man to deny responsibility for his failures or transgressions . This usually takes the path of blaming others when we fall short of the goal. Of course one of the best known “blame games” in the Bible took place in the garden. Adam blamed Eve, and ultimately even the Lord, for the sin in which he found himself. Of course Eve blamed the serpent. The scripture is full of examples of God’s people blaming others for many different things. Sarah was not happy with Abraham when Hagar bore him a son, even though it was her advice to Abraham that initiated that event. Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob then complained that Jacob had deceived him to get the birthright. Arron made the golden calf but would not own up to it and Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility for Jesus’ death. 

  Paul addresses the issue of accountability in the Book of Romans. He also established that God is righteous and his judgment is based on truth (Romans 2: 2).  We all, each one of us will be individually  held accountable before God. (Romans 14:12)

Paul reminds us in Romans 1:25:

25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

The Israelites had the law, in some ways they were privileged but with that privilege came a greater responsibility. (Romans 2:9)   

There are none among us that are righteous, we have all sinned. Jews, Gentiles, all must come to Christ and repent. 

Wrapping this series up I will leave you with these thoughts. It is my opinion that of the three responsibility is the most important and here is why. Authority is granted or given, Accountability is imposed……responsibility is an inherent trait which when all is said and done will determine how we use that authority and how we hold others accountable. 

Thanks for sticking with us through this series. Hope to see you back in the pew next week.

Life is Good

jk