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Showing posts from 2008

The Gospel

Blessed are you, gracious God, creator of the universe and giver of life.  You formed us in you own image and called us to dwell in your infinite love.  You gave the world into our care that we might be your faithful stewards and show forth your bountiful grace.

But we failed to honor your image in one another and in ourselves; we would not see your goodness in the world around us; and so we violated your creation, abused one another, and rejected your love.  Yet you never ceased to care for us, and prepared the way of salvation for all people.

Through Abraham and Sarah you called us into covenant with you.  You delivered us from slavery, sustained us in the wilderness, and raised up prophets to renew your promise of salvation.  Then, in the fullness of time, you sent your eternal Word, made mortal flesh in Jesus.  Born into the human family, and dwelling among us, he revealed your glory.  Giving himself freely to death on the cross, he triumphed over evil by his resurrection from the d…

The Endless Knot

Although the title of this post is the same as the last book in a great trilogy, I couldn't think of a better one because it fit so gosh-darn well.

Yesterday morning, my roommate and I were discussing different issues of the same thing.  Namely, why don't people help out each other all the time, not just during the holiday season.  I emphasized the need for the church to be at the forefront of this.  This prompted him to relay a story about when he was younger and on the streets.  He said he had been walking for a number of days and was smelly and hungry and tired.  He walked into a church and found a couple.  While he was asking them about catching some sleep in one of the class rooms and maybe getting a sandwich from the kitchen later, they called the police.  Can you imagine?  He was arrested.  That couple had him arrested for wanting to get some sleep and a bite to eat!

That story just kills me!  I mean, I can't imagine Jesus ever doing anything like that.  And yet, here…

Thanksgiving Day

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(BCP, pg. 246)

Another thought...

To go along with the previous post...

Since God has already reconciled people to Godself, and is 'not counting [people's] sins against them' (2Cor. 5), it seems to me that, again, the idea would be to show that you believe that by your actions, since, you will be held accountable for you actions at the 'end'.

Wow...

Think about the impact of that statement in regard to mission. If 2Corinthians 5 is 'true', then we have got it all wrong. We are telling people that they are 'sinners in the hands of an angry god' when, in light of 2Corinthians 5, God has already reconciled with them. They just need to reconcile themselves back to God. It seems to me that we need to rethink this whole thing.

Blessings of God be with you.

OD

Another thought...

To go along with the previous post...

Since God has already reconciled people to Godself, and is 'not counting [people's] sins against them' (2Cor. 5), it seems to me that, again, the idea would be to show that you believe that by your actions, since, you will be held accountable for you actions at the 'end'.

Wow...

Think about the impact of that statement in regard to mission. If 2Corinthians 5 is 'true', then we have got it all wrong. We are telling people that they are 'sinners in the hands of an angry god' when, in light of 2Corinthians 5, God has already reconciled with them. They just need to reconcile themselves back to God. It seems to me that we need to rethink this whole thing.

Blessings of God be with you.

OD

Just a thought or two...

Here is a question that seems to have escaped notice from quite a lot of people. Have you ever noticed that all of the judgment scenes in the Bible have nothing to do with what one believes? Every one of them has to do with what one has done for the poor, widowed, naked, hungry/thirsty, imprisoned, sick, etc. What should we make of this? My thoughts are just now forming, but here is my take on it.

The gospel (i.e., 'Jesus is Lord') is a statement of fact. It doesn't matter if one believes it or not. One can choose to believe that gravity doesn't exist but that doesn't change the fact that it does. So, the 'belief' part of the modern gospel might not mean anything. Jesus is creations rightful High King. Period. So, the most obvious question would be, since all of creation is living under his rule, 'What are the requirements for living within this kingdom?' Ah... that is the right question. That question makes the biblical judgment scenes make sense.

It happened!

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As you may recall, I recently bought a Gateway laptop from Best Buy.  And, I did not configure Windows Vista.  Instead, I changed the boot order and installed Ubuntu 8.04.1.  About a week later, I saw a blog about a guy who received a refund from HP because he didn't want Windows either.  So, that inspired me to try and get a refund from Gateway.  This blog is just to give you a quick recap of what happened.
At first, I contacted Gateway through their Customer Support page.  I emailed them and told them that, according to the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) with Windows, I should contact the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for a refund if I decided I didn't want to use Windows.  I even sent them copies of the EULA.  They, of course, stated that I was not entitled to a refund because I purchased the laptop with Vista already installed.  I explained that, yes, the laptop had Vista installed, but I didn't have to accept to use it, according to the EULA.  This back-an…

A Sore Spot

Matthew 22.1-14. Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.  When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’  But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.  Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town.  And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor.  Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’  So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was f…

Test...

I am just testing this new blog site. I have used it in the past but didn't like it too much because it was rather slow in editing and uploading changes. It seems a bit quicker now.

A Couple of Quotes

Both from the same source.  Can you guess who it is?
You will realize that doctrines are inventions of the human mind, as it tries to penetrate the mystery of God.  You will realize that Scripture itself is the work of human minds, recording the example and teaching of Jesus.  Thus it is not what you believe that matters; it is how you respond with your heart and your actions.  It is not believing in Christ that matters; it is becoming like him.

~~~~~~~~

There are some who call themselves Christian, and who attend worship regularly, yet perform no Christian actions in their daily lives.  There are others who do not call themselves Christian, and who never attend worship, yet perform many Christian actions in their daily lives.  Which of these two groups are the better disciples of Christ?  Some would say that believing in Christ and worshiping him is what matters for salvation.  But this is not what Jesus himself said.  His teaching was almost entirely concerned with action, and with the…

Quote

'God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone but also on the trees and in the flowers clouds and stars.'

Martin Luther

A Glimpse of the Ultimate Future

Isaiah 11.1-9. Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.  And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  He will delight in obeying the Lord.  He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.  He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.  The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.  He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.  The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.  The cow will graze near the bear.  The cub and the calf will lie down together.  The lion will eat hay like a cow.  The baby will play safely near the hole o…

Are we hungry?

John 6.35. 'I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again.  Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'
But...

But what about those who are hungry?  What about those who are thirsty?  Aren't all of us who follow Jesus in a constant state of being hungry and thirsty?  Don't we (always) long for more?  Or, is that the problem?  Are we the product of our culture?  Perhaps, we aren't content with what we have?  Maybe we have been so deluged with materialism (the concept that we need more, better, etc.) that we can't seem to find satisfaction with what Christ has fed us?

Peace be with you.

OD

The OS Problem

I recently purchased a new laptop.  It's a Gateway M-6843.  It's wonderful!  The very first thing I did, of course, was install Ubuntu 8.04.1.  I plugged in the laptop and booted from the Ubuntu CD and clicked the install icon.  After about a week, I saw this blog detailing how this person got a refund from HP because he didn't want to use Windows Vista.  So, I started the process with Gateway.  It's been about a week and it's going to be a long process.  Customer Support at Gateway gave me the run-around so I am in the process of writing a letter to the Corporate Office.

The reason for all of this is because of the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) from Microsoft.  According to the EULA, if I choose not to use Vista, I should contact the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM, in my case this would be Gateway) for a refund or credit.  But this begs the question: Why don't people get this option before buying the system?  That is, instead of having the customer

Quote

[For] every act of evil there are a dozen acts of goodness in our world that go unnoticed.  It is only because the evil deeds are less common that they are 'news'.  It is only because we believe that people should be good that we despair when they are not.  Indeed, if people condoned the evil, we would be justified in losing hope.  But most of the world does not.  We know that we are meant for better.

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu

Political Signposts

I've been trying lately to describe why I like the Democratic party better than the Republican party and it's been difficult.  I just don't seem to have the right words.  But, I'm going to try.  Also, I have to emphasize that I do not believe that the answers to the questions I raise lie within any political party.  I am fully aware that the grace of God is the hope of creation (Romans 8).  My struggles are about which party best points to that hope.

I guess it all starts with a way of seeing.  In a very broad brush stroke, I have come to see things as 'very good'.  I see all created things, at the deepest possible level, filled with the Life and Light of God.  As St John wrote, 'God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it' (1.3-5).

In our place in histor…

Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh is the ancient Celtic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season.  It is a festival filled with community gatherings, horse races, reunions with distant family and friends, the blessing of fields, fairs, trading, bonfires, dancing and celebration.

Now, when the days grow visibly shorter and the sun seems to decline, the crops ripen.  So too, when we work for justice, when we have expended huge energies to bring about change, the results often come only when the tides of enthusiasm and urgency seem to be ebbing.  When the marching and the shouting die away, public opinion quietly shifts.

Some traditions call this festival Lammas (meaning 'loaf-mass'), a time when we honor and celebrate the grain and the food that sustains our life.  In a just world, no one would go hungry.  All people would have access to good quality food - organic, fresh, local and truly nourishing.

The grain stands golden in the fields, but has not yet been gathered in.  We stand poised…

A New Expression of the Lord's Prayer

Ground of all being, Mother of life, Father of the universe,
Your name is sacred, beyond speaking.

May we know your presence,
may your longings be our longings
in heart and in action.

May there be food for the human family today
and for the whole earth community.

Forgive us the falseness of what we have done
as we forgive those who are untrue to us.

Do not forsake us in our time of conflict
but lead us into new beginnings.

For the light of life, the vitality of life, and the glory of life
are yours now and for ever.


Amen.

'It is I, be not afraid.'

I had the great pleasure of attending a two day teaching/meditation seminar with John Philip Newell.  As you recall, I have made some brief comments about his latest book, Christ of the Celts.  In one of the sessions, John Philip told a story about a 20th century Celtic teacher from France named Teilhard de Chardin who became a Christian during the first World War.  While caring for the wounded, Chardin heard deep within himself, 'Ego sum, noli timere' ( 'It is I, be not afraid' ).  He knew that it was Christ and his life changed because of the encounter.

Later, during the meditation time, we were to meditate on Isaiah 58.11 'You shall be like a garden, like a deep spring where waters never fail'.  While meditating, I saw light cascading over water.  The water appeared amber in color and the light reflecting on the many waves and ripples were every color imaginable.  As I breathed upward, I kept seeing the image and hearing 'It is I, be not afraid'.

This …

Thin Places

I have written before about thin places.  One of my longings has been to find ways of creating thin places else where.  Thin places, as you know, are those places where 'heaven' and 'earth' meet.  The place where the 'thin veil' between the two is very, very thin.

However, through my recent studies in the Celtic Christian tradition of my heritage, my vision has been changing.  The Celtic tradition is about a way of seeing.  It holds the 'everlasting pattern' in both hands -- the 'mystery of Christ' and the 'mystery of creation'.  In this tradition, there are two books -- the 'small book' (Bible) and the 'big book' (creation).  The Western Church (some would say the 'Empirical Church'), has taught us well about the Small Book but has been negligent about the Big Book.  Because of the awakening I'm experiencing within my study of Celtic Christianity, I am beginning to see that I (we) don't need to 'make&#…

Quote

The prosperity and security of one nation should not depend on the poverty and insecurity of other nations.  ~ Buddha

Songbird

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When I purchased an iPod, I found that it revolutionized my music experience.  The idea of having thousands of songs in your pocket is an amazing thing.  This isn't new, of course, but Apple has done it better than anyone else.  They dominate the market of portable music players.  The iPod has a very simple interface that makes it easy to use, even if your 'technologically challenged'.

But for a number of years I have been wanting to use my iPod with Linux, my OS of choice.  The problem comes because Apple doesn't make iTunes for Linux.  I can understand their reasoning.  There are different distributions out there and several of them have different ways of installing software.  You can't just use one type of package for all distributions (but that is something that I believe the community is working toward).  So I get it.  But that doesn't change the fact that I want to be able to listen to my music with my computer running Linux Mint 5.

There are a number of ap…

A Celtic Prayer

O Christ, there is no plant in the ground
but it is full of your virtue.

There is not form in the strand
but it is full of your blessing.

There is no life in the sea,
there is no creature in the ocean,
there is nothing in the heavens
but proclaim your goodness.

There is no bird on the wing,
there is no star in the sky,
there is nothing beneath the sun
but proclaims your goodness.
Amen.

Reflections -- 29 June 2008

'The sun rises on the just and the unjust'.  So then, does not the grace of God also shine upon the 'just and the unjust'?  Are we to limit upon whom God bestows grace?  God forbid.  God's gift of grace can not be less than God's gift of nature.  It must be more.

'The very rising of the sun each morning is a gift of God, given for the whole of creation, no less than the gift of redemption, given to restore creation to it's essential well-being'.
J Philip Newell, The Book of Creation, pg. 42

New Theme

What do you think about the new theme?  I really like it.  The sole reason for the last theme was the font.  I like the dark and the nice green header.  What I like about dark themes, if not too dark, is that they seem easier to read.  A light text on a dark background seems easier on my eyes.

Anyway, I hope you like it.

Peace be with you.

OD

Linux Mint 5

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It's been a while since I did a technological (read: geek) blog, so I thought I would update you on what's going on.

As you are aware, I am a full-fledged geek by trade and passion and I have gone from Windows to Mac to Linux.  My Linux evolution went from Linspire to Mepis to PCLinuxOS to Ubuntu.  I stayed with PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu for the longest.  However, I have always read good things about another distribution called Linux Mint.  It's based on the latest Ubuntu release but with a lot of add-ons.  The latest version is called Linux Mint 5, Elyssa.  So, at the office, I downloaded the latest iso and tried it out to see how it all worked.

First of all, there are always some things I keep in mind when trying any new Linux distro, the primary thing being, 'How would the average user feel about using this OS?'  'Is it (very) simple to install?  Is it easy to use?  Is it easy to get help?  Is it easy to add or remove applications?  Is the terminal (command line) u…

Christ of the Celts - Book Review

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Do not read this book.  It will challenge you at such a deep level that you may not even consider yourself a follower of Jesus afterward.

I just finished it and I'm speechless (but yet I am trying to speak).  This book was written by J Philip Newell, the author of Listening for the Heartbeat of God. This is a small book, less than 150 pages.  But don't let the size full you.  It is extremely powerful.  As I have said before, 'Simple is better', to quote Mr Rogers.  That is what Newell does in this book.  He doesn't waste pages or time with complicated thoughts or words.  He is clear and straightfoward.  That in itself can be unnerving, especially for me.  I like big books that I have to ponder.  Well, let me tell you, there is plenty here to ponder!  Newell, an authority of the Celtic Christian tradition, calls us back to a time when Christ was embraced through various means, namely nature.  He refers to the sacredness of creation.  All creation.

At one point, close …

An Incredible Find

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What you are looking at is my latest pipe.  This is a limited edition Peterson's Mark Twain in almost perfect condition.  Peterson made almost 3000 of these in the very early 80's and then stopped manufacturing them.  It's a replica of the original Peterson pipe Twain smoked from the late 1800's until his death in 1910.  The original can be seen in the Twain Museum in Hannibal Missouri.  I have wanted one of these pipes for years.  And today, I found one at a very, very reasonable price.

From time to time, we venture into antique stores looking for bargains.  I always look for pipes but I usually only find cheap dime store pipes.  I had always hoped that I would run across an old Peterson that no one really understood what they had.  For years I searched this way and always came up short.  But not today!  At the spur of the moment, we decided to go to an antique store a little further away than normal.  They had some wrought iron fencing my wife wanted for the garden.  …

Who are we?

Who are we according to the Church, or the Bible, or tradition, or reason?  Who are we?

Some would say that we are people.  Human beings.  In the Christian tradition, most of us would probably jump to the idea that people are sinners and some are 'sinners saved by grace'.  I am starting to believe that this is only one aspect of who we have become.  But, we also become blind, deaf, enslaved, exiled, dead, etc.  All of these words describe the human condition.  Well, they describe the human condition after 'the fall'.  The problem here is at least two fold.  First, to just use one term as a catch-all for the human condition distorts our plight.  A blind person needs to be able to see, not to be freed from slavery.  Perhaps if the blind person could see she could find her own way out of the prison.  Perhaps not.  In the Western Church, we have usually stated the human condition on at least one of these words, 'sin' (some would even say 'dead').  I think th…

The Way

Several years ago, I had an epiphany (no, not the web browser). While talking with a couple of my best friends, I said, 'What if John 14.6 is referring to a journey?' And (basically) from then on, I have been seeing it that way. For those who aren't familiar with the passage, Jesus stated, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me'. The way I explained it was (roughly), 'What I'm beginning to see is that 'the way' is a 'path', 'the way' is a lifestyle, 'the way' is the way of being truly human. Now, along 'the way' we will discover some 'truth'. And as we continue on 'the way', with 'the truth', we will come into life.'

That was the basis for my understanding. I think I can simplify it more now. When Jesus said, 'I am the way', I think he was speaking about the 'way' of being 'truly human'. If we want to follow Je…

EfM -- Year One

Well, it's official.  The first year of Education for Ministry (EfM) is behind me.  I must say, in all honesty, that this was a great experience.  It wasn't without pain, but great nonetheless.

Why pain?

Each person that takes EfM, in his or her own way, has a theological shift.  Some of those shifts are huge and others are small.  But, at least in our group, there was some kind of theological shift.  And whether great or small, a change in one's theology almost always has some kind of pain involved.  That is, there is some cherished idea that is challenged (at least) or shattered into dust (at worst).  And a cherished belief that changes is painful.

My shift was more of a conscious decision on my part.  I remember distinctly about changing my approach to the support material.  I was sitting in our seminar and listening to the way others presented the material to the group.  (A seminar is just the local group representing all four years coming together for discussion and theo…

I Repent

I repent, I repent of my pursuit of America’s dream
I repent, I repent of living like I deserve anything
Of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
In our suburb where we’re safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent, I repent of parading my liberty
I repent, I repent of paying for what I get for free
And for the way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

[Bridge]
I repent of judging by a law that even I can’t keep
Of wearing righteousness like a disguise
To see through the planks of my own eyes

I repent, I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent, I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
By caring more of what they think than what I know of what we need
By domesticating you until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these things
I am wrong and of these things
Oh I am wrong and of these things I repent

Derek Webb; I See Things Upside Down

Grace Garden 2008

It's that time of year again. Spring is in the air, birds are singing, temperatures are warming, and gardens are being planted. Grace Garden is in full swing (or is that Spring?). We have potatoes, peas, lettuces, spinach, onions, peppers, tomatoes, herbs and flowers. Below you will find the pictures of this years beginnings. I will post an update later in the season.

[gallery]

Life-giver
Bring buds to flower
Bring rain to the earth
Bring songs to our hearts.

Renewer
May gardens become green
May beauty emerge
May dreams come to pass.

Amen

Cursillo 116

There are places in our world where heaven and earth intersect and interlock. Where the gap between the two ‘realms’ of God’s very good creation are particularly thin. In these places we can sense God’s realm, God’s dimension, God’s space, while on this earth. In these places we can touch, taste, smell, and yes, even see God’s grace in very real ways. These intersecting and interlocking places are known as ‘thin places’.

Cursillo is a thin place. Don’t let the surroundings fool you. It is a beautiful place where we can see God’s hand in very ‘ordinary’ ways. Where architects and artists, electricians and plumbers, builders and contractors, et al, have very skillfully erected a place of solace. A place where we can come together and...

...and...

...and...what?

For a lot of us, Cursillo was hardly explained. On another side, every detail was revealed. And on another side again, some of us were told something in between.

But everyone got it wrong.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me. For tho…

New Testament Eschatology -- New Testament Letters

This series has sought to provide a different view to some of the opinions some people raise regarding the Apostolic belief and teaching about the return of Jesus. Some hold that the Apostles believed and taught the early church to expect the 'end of the world' within their lifetime. 'And they were obviously wrong', is the common remark. But, I don't think that those people who hold to this view follow it all the way through. If the New Testament writers were 'obviously mistaken' in their belief and teaching, then that would mean the whole Christian church, since it's very beginning was mistaken. I find this position lamentable. Sure, I get it. The writers of the Bible were human beings and prone to error. But what if we are the ones who are wrong? I never seem to hear that as a possibility. Therefore, what we have set out to do is to see if the Apostles got it wrong or perhaps we have misunderstood them.

Our journey in this series has taken us…

New Testamanet Eschatology -- Background Question

I have received some comments and emails regarding my understanding of the 'coming' of Jesus in Matthew 24. Since this, to me, is foundational to the rest of this series, I thought I would address it now before we move on.

Basically, the question is, 'I have always been taught (or believed) that the 'coming' Jesus talked about in Matthew 24 was his 'Second Coming' at the end of time. So, I'm not so sure if I agree with your view. Can you give me some passages to help support your view?'

That's a fair question. I have not always held this view and, like so many others, have always seen the 'coming' of Jesus as the 'Second Coming' at the end of history. But, once I started looking into eschatology, I realized that there were other views out there and some were better at addressing some of my concerns. To sharpen the point, I saw other 'comings' in the Bible. Please, consider the following.
Genesis 18.13-14. 'Then t…