Thoughts

Listening to the Word

Today I was reminded yet again of how important it is to read Scripture and spend time in prayer. I sat down to do my devotional today and decided to use d365.org. The verse for the day is “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) This is not a new verse for me. I took an entire semester on Philippians in college, and I’ve translated most of Philippians between English, Greek, and German….
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Reclaiming Jesus

I will add my name to this statement.   From reclaimingjesus.org: We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake. It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. “By this everyone will know that you…
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Untying the Colt

Untie the colt. Jesus tells us this donkey is for us to take – is it? Really? Untie the colt. Is this donkey good enough, is it strong enough, is it appropriate? Untie the colt. We leave too much tied up – it’s time to let it free for Jesus to use. Jesus is coming into Jerusalem as a hero. A celebrity, a favorite teacher, but one whom the people in power dislike because he’s too much of an upstart. They yell and scream and riot, but they’re just looking for excitement. He’s not actually teaching them anything new –…
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Following the Leader

People think Christians hate others: we hate immigrants, we hate lawbreakers (depending on which law), we hate black people, we hate gay people, we hate transgender people, etc. If we don’t say anything to correct that impression, people will assume we’re full of hate. It’s up to us to change the narrative. We have to say that we don’t wish the south had won the war so that we’d still have slavery. We have to say that we don’t think committed monogamous homosexual relationships are sinful. We have to say that we don’t think Native Americans deserve to have their…
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Multilingual Congregations

Since Pentecost is coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to share my honors project from college about multilingual congregations in the PC(USA). It has some particularly interesting things to say about the Tower of Babel story and the Pentecost story (even if it is only an undergraduate work!) Click here to take a look: Multilingual Congregations

Acceptance

Christian practice today requires acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity in order to reach those not being reached by the church. Without those values, conversations either can’t begin or won’t go far. They must stem from a humble spirit, but contrary to what you might expect, the path to acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity begins with an inward, not outward, journey. In order to accept others (because acceptance is the height of tolerance and inclusivity), you must first be able to accept yourself. In order to truly be a presence of love for someone else, I have to first accept myself as I…
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Miriam and Jyn Erso

Rogue One was a great movie that, in my opinion, did a great job of exploring a small part of the greater Star Wars story. The original Star Wars hinted at a great sacrifice having been made to get a hold of the Death Star plans – without which, Luke wouldn’t have gotten very far on his epic journey that now spans 4 movies (I don’t count Revenge of the Sith). As it turns out, getting the Death Star plans was a great adventure and I am better off for having heard the story. In every story, there are little…
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Planting Seeds at Christmas

Jesus wasn’t born as a baby, he was planted as a seed. Jesus refers to himself agriculturally a few times: In John 12, he refers to his life as a grain of wheat that has to fall to the earth and die in order to bear fruit. In John 4 he tells the disciples that they are reapers, harvesting what has grown because of the work of others, including himself. And in the parable of the sower, he is both sower and seed, because he is himself the word of God. Paul picked up on this metaphor, referring to himself…
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GC

Some of the most difficult questions I face on a weekly basis are some of the most basic ones to ministry. “Who is God?” “What is the Church?” “What is Church for?” “What are people supposed to do with their lives?” “What are Christians supposed to do?” I think often about what Langcliffe is being called to do this week, month, year, and decade. One thing is clear: there’s a lot to do. But what does God want our church, specifically, to do here and now in Avoca in 2016? People say the Bible is the instruction book for things like this,…
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Evangelism for Goats

This Sunday, I’m preaching on Matthew 25 as we begin a five-week series on the “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” by Robert Schnase, and the first chapter is “Radical Hospitality.” After reading the chapter, I can see that our church does well at this, for the most part. Our Vacation Bible School day met his highest standard for a welcoming, hospitable VBS that reached neighborhood children, not just our own. One thing we might be less practiced at – or at least one thing I’m less practiced at – is knowing what we have and why we want to offer…
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