Author Archives: Robin

February 15, 2010

Luke 9:33  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
 
This is at the scene of the transfiguration. Look it up if you want details of the story. It is a big moment in the ministry of Jesus and something we remember annually on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In the midst of this big deal we have a statement of comic relief where Peter says something stupid and Luke points it out for us. Maybe this is Luke’s (God’s) way of reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. Lent can be a heavy time of repentance and contrition. It can weigh on us like the effects of this never-ending winter. We need to be mindful of these things. But maybe not too mindful. It’s OK that Peter makes his silly comment. Jesus doesn’t reprove him or make fun of him. He just moves on and we get to shake our heads at Peter. Maybe it’s OK for us to accept that sometimes we don’t know what we are saying and to laugh it off and move on. So, get your ashes if you’ve a mind to and remember that “dust you are and to dust you shall return.” But also remember that you can still walk down the mountain with Jesus even when you don’t know what you are saying. 
 
Don

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November 2, 2009

1 John 1:8 “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense.”

None of us would ever think to claim that we are perfect. We all recognize that as arrogance. But perhaps we claim to be free from sin by our silence. How often do we truly confess our shortcomings and faults to God let alone another person? In her book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, Ruth Haley Barton suggests,

“Confession is the endgame in the self-examination process, but it is the part we shrink from most. Confession requires the willingness to acknowledge and take responsibility not only for the outward manifestations of our sin but also for the inner dynamics that produced the sinful or negative behaviors. Confession requires us to say our failure out loud to ourselves, to God and to the person(s) we have hurt and to take steps to renounce it for Christ’s sake, even making restitution if that is needed.” (103)

If we are not involved with confession at some level maybe we are claiming to be without sin. Maybe this week God is calling you to explore confession on a deeper level.

Don

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October 26. 2009

1 Thessalonians 5:23 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In our journey through Spiritual Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton we have reached the chapter on “Honoring the Body.” Early in the chapter she makes this confession:

“I, too, needed to face the fact that rather than caring for my body as I would any other highly valued gift, I had been using it for my own ends, to the point that it was now protesting. I hadn’t been paying much attention to what I ate, so there was far too much sugar and junk food in my diet. Rather than getting enough rest, I had become quite dependent on caffeine for additional energy. I had never considered the importance of drinking enough water. And, as a busy parent juggling the demands of home and family plus church and career, I thought that I didn’t have enough time or energy to exercise or engage in physical activities that I enjoyed. Just as the angel gave Elijah very concrete instructions about eating, drinking, and sleeping (1 Kings 19:5-9), I needed specific guidance for how to care for my body as a part of my spiritual practice and as preparation for the rigors of the spiritual journey into which I was being invited.” (79)

As Paul reminds us in the above passage, God’s care and concern for us includes our spirits, souls and bodies.  Is God saying something to you about your body? Is God saying something to you through your body? Might be something to listen for this week.

Don

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October 18, 2009

Romans 8:27 “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”

Ever been at a loss for words? Sometimes we encounter things that are either so wonderful or so horrible that we can’t find words that adequately express our reaction to them. Sometimes these become places of prayer. We want to bring them before God but we don’t know what to say. In the passage above Paul tells his friends in Rome not to be overly concerned when they can’t find the words to pray. He says that God actually does the praying for us. If we bring our hearts to God, God will make the prayer happen. This is a mystery but it may be one worth exploring this week.

Don

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October 12, 2009

Hebrews 4:12 “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey.”

We have all heard of the horrors of bulimia. A person takes in food but doesn’t let it stay in them to digest. They go through the act of eating but don’t get the benefits of the nutrition. Then there is anorexia where people avoid the food altogether. Maybe we do the same thing with God. We avoid slowing down and spending time listening for God through bible reading, or we read quickly and move on to the next thing without ever letting what we’ve read sink in and become part of us. The verse above promises that God will do a deep work in our hearts and lives if we let God’s word settle in us long enough to become part of our inner reality. Of course, we have to stop and be still long enough for this to happen (see last week’s Afterthought), but it may not take as long as you think. After all, once we are done eating our bodies digest the food often without us giving it another thought. Maybe God does the same. Maybe this is the week to find out.

Don

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October 4, 2009

Mark 6:31 “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”

I thought this type of busyness was a product of modern life, but it happened even to Jesus and the disciples. When you are too busy to eat, you are too busy! Jesus’ answer was to get away; to stop, be still and quiet, to listen. Ruth Haley Barton in her book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation says of silence and solitude:

We choose to unplug not only from the constant stimulation of life in the company of others but also from our own addiction to noise, words and activity. It creates a space for listening to the knowings that go beyond words and feeling no pressure at all to put the depths of the human soul into words (pg 32).

What is the pace of your life saying about what you value? When is the last time you took time to be alone and still in the presence of God? What would that be like? Maybe this is the week to find out.

Don

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September 28, 2009

Mark 10:51 Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”

The above is Jesus’ response to Bartimaeus, a blind beggar he met along the road. The needs of a blind beggar should be pretty apparent, so why does Jesus ask? The only reason I can think of is that Jesus wants to interact with this person on a deeper level than just that of miracle worker. He wants the opportunity to hear the man open himself at the level of his deepest needs and desires. Maybe that is what he wants with us also. If Jesus asked you this question what would be your response? Ruth Haley Barton in her book Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (pg 24) comments on this:

Now if I had been in Bartimaeus’s shoes, I might have gotten a little impatient with a question whose answer is so obvious. “What do you mean, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Isn’t it obvious? And besides, this is getting a little personal, don’t you think? We don’t know each other that well!” But on another level, the level where the spiritual journey is unfolding, it is a question that penetrates to the very core of our being. And it is very, very personal. It brings us face to face with our humanness, our vulnerability, our need. If we let it, such a question strips away the layers of pretense and superficiality to expose what is truest within us. And that is a very tender place indeed.

Live with the question “what do you want Jesus to do for you?” this week. Don’t be satisfied with your first response but ask it over and over on different days in different settings. You might be surprised at what you find.

Don

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September 21, 2009

Revelation 21:6 “The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”

I believe that it is part of Christianity to make our political decisions an act of living out the faith. As I’ve tried to be more responsible about this during the past eight years that I’ve been a pastor. I have listened (sometimes more than others) to the way issues are presented in the media. One approach I have taken is to listen to MSNBC immediately followed by some time on Fox News. Both organizations present themselves as objective journalists, but you go away from each with the impression that whatever issue was being discussed has a very clear right side and wrong side. They sometimes have data to support their conclusions, but sometimes statements are just thrown out that are assumed to be self-evident. Check out the health-care debate as an example. So, whom do you believe? It is a fundamental concern of life; this matter of what is “dependable and accurate.” We are bombarded with hundreds of messages daily. Which are worth paying attention to? Which can be trusted? Christians have professed that the bible, despite the difficult things in it, contains truth about God that can be relied upon. Many people dismiss this idea without ever thoughtfully reading the bible. We just completed reading the New Testament together here at Logan. At one chapter a day, which usually takes only about 5 minutes to read, the whole New Testament can be completed in 8.5 months. Wouldn’t that be worthwhile if you found things that were “dependable and accurate” about God and life? Why not give it a try this week?

Don

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September 14, 2009

Revelation 17:9 “But don’t drop your guard. Use your head. The seven heads are seven hills; they are where the woman sits.”

As we complete our reading of the New Testament at Logan we find ourselves in Revelation. This book is one wild ride and people have done many creative and powerful things in their interpretation of it through the centuries. The above passage indicates that certain things are thinly veiled references to the Roman Empire, the force threatening the original readers of this book. The woman is called “the whore of Babylon” in other places. The idea is that a spirit of domination permeates our world. It is the desire to conquer and impose one’s own will. It can be found in Babylon or Assyria or Persia or Rome or the Third Reich. It is the power that opposes God by saying we are the elite and therefore deserve our lion’s share of influence and material goods. It is seductive, luring us to believe in our own superiority. It is also the force that is overcome by Christ in the narrative of Revelation. Ultimately, each of us is called to place our allegiance either in these worldly powers or in the power of servanthood displayed in the death and resurrection of Christ. Look around you this week. What powers do you see? With whom have you allied yourself?

Don

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September 8, 2009

Revelation 10:10 “I went up to the Angel and said, “Give me the little book.” He said, “Take it, then eat it.”

If you’ve been reading along with the congregation through the New Testament you know we are getting near the end–but what an ending! The book of Revelation is filled with bizarre images that leave us wondering what is going on. But sometimes these images make a visceral connection with us, as I’m sure they were meant to do for the original readers. The verse above has to do with eating a book. This makes me think of “the word” expressed in the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word.” We take in (eat) the word when we read the bible or hear a sermon. We also very literally eat (take in) the word in the celebration of communion. Christ wishes to penetrate the depths of our being- mind, body and spirit. We have countless opportunities to read the bible but we need to make a special effort to celebrate communion with a church family. Maybe this would be a way to let God deeper into your heart. We celebrate communion the first Sunday of each month and every church celebrates it at sometime or other. Find a place to take in the word of God with others.

Don

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