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Showing posts from January, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: BONHOEFFER - Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

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Christians and other moralists are sometimes quick to preach comfortable ethics that can be followed with a sense of certainty and righteousness during peace-time.  We do not often get to be so mouthy in the face of unmasked evil.  We rarely see into the world of persecution.
This is the first biography in decades to give us a glimpse into Germany's own Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and theologian who was hung on Hitler's order, just before the defeat of Nazi Germany.
How did a man of deep faith and conviction move from being a pacifist with a penchant for Gandhi to a double agent working towards the assassination of Adolf Hitler?  He did not rescind his faith, but embraced it all costs with humility and deep conviction.
This is a must read for all champions of social justice, particularly those who feel conflicted by the inaction and naivety of comfortable Christianity.  You will find plenty of inspiration to drive you deeper into becoming a disciplined follower of Jesus Chr…

DEEP ROOTS

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Throughout the changes of your life, what truths will remain?Which values will survive the transitions and grow into something? How much is dependent on God’s hand in the changes you experience?As your life is scattered and thrown into new situations, understand that it is God’s hand at work in the pressures and rapid movements of life.He uses diaspora to move you to a people and place where you can thrive.He gives you a place where you can lay down your life willingly.
Are you like the guy James described who looks in the mirror and walks away unchanged?He sees the mess staring back and feels bad.It’s sometimes easier to walk away from the mirror than to clean up the mess.
Jesus said you cannot have two masters.Has following Jesus been in competition with other interests and passions?You will eventually love one and hate the other.Following Jesus requires that we take up a cross.Self-denial and dying to self characterize discipleship.
The seed is supposed to be buried in dirt and die. I…

DIASPORA GENERATION

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Young adults are leaving the local church in extraordinary numbers. We all have friends who decided that the snooze button was their answer to the Sunday morning dilemma.
Drew Dyck[i] is the author of ‘Generation Ex-Christian’. In Christianity Today he wrote:
Some striking mile markers appear on the road through young adulthood: leaving for college, getting the first job and apartment, starting a career, getting married—and, for many people today, walking away from the Christian faith.A few years ago, shortly after college, I was in my studio apartment with a friend and fellow pastor's kid. After some small talk over dinner, he announced, "I'm not a Christian anymore. I don't know what happened. I just left it."An image flashed into my mind from the last time I had seen him. It was at a Promise Keepers rally. I remembered watching him worship, eyes pinched shut with one slender arm skyward.How did his family react to his decision? I asked. His eyes turned to the g…

SCATTERED BY GOD'S HAND

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The term diaspora (a scattering or sowing of seeds) is used to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture.
The Greek word diaspora literally means a ‘scattering or sowing of seed’.How has your life experienced diaspora? What can you identify as the seed in your life and how has the hand of God scattered it?
Jesus told a story that speaks to a process that happens throughout the seasons of our life. It is a story that our agrarian friends in Essex and Kent Counties can relate to.
Luke 8:(The Message)5-8 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. Some of it fell on the road; it was tramped down and the birds ate it. Other seed fell in the gravel; it sprouted, but withered because it didn't have good roots. Other seed fell in the weeds; the weeds grew with it and strangled it. Other seed fell in rich earth and produce…

CHANGE WILL COME

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I am interested in the movement and migration of people. Very few people stay fixed in one place for a lifetime. World history tells many stories of beginning, exile, idea, exodus, exploration and conquest.
Your history and life story includes a similar pattern.  
From your beginning as a zygote you have been on the move chasing ideas and sources of comfort. While change is continuous, there are a few basics that we will always want to include.
Everyone wants something to eat.A comfortable place to sleep makes the next day better; and we want something worthwhile to do tomorrow.
Who does not want a few other people to share life with? Even the hermit who chooses to live alone can reference distant relationships in their past. One of our church neighbors lives alone in a small, dilapidated house.When you have a rare conversation with him, he often will talk about his aged mother and the landlady he is in love with.Neither of them are a regular part of his life, but they define him.They are…

PEACEMAKERS & PUNCHING BAGS

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I remember Pastor Ken Gill once saying something to the effect that “if you stick your neck out you are more likely to get your face slapped.”
The implication is that action will lead to reaction.  Whether we like it or not, following Jesus comes at a cost.  Jesus often said things that indicated it would cost us everything, but would be so worth it in the end. 
The last two Beatitudes are about sticking our neck out and the consequence of doing so.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Often the path to peace comes at a great price.  Injustice and insult await those who follow God’s call to be p…

CATASTROPHES, CALAMITIES & CASUALTIES

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Near the end of his days on the earth, Jesus talked to the disciples about how things would be in the days to come.
Matthew 24:6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
These words were at the front door of his crucifixion and centuries of persecution for his followers.  Jesus said that war is inevitable but his followers don’t need to be fear-mongers.  Until the end of the age there will be catastrophes, calamities and casualties.  But don’t get focused on that—understand that the world is going through a process that will lead to the birth of a new kind of kingdom.  The King is coming back and will bring a reign of peace to the entire world.
If anyone thinks that Christians are overly dramatic about the state of world affairs,…

EVERY 'ONE' HAS A WAR

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The world has always known war and conflict.  When there were only two people in existence in the Garden of Eden, sin brought conflict into their lives.  


The cursed effects transferred to their children.  The first murder happened when their son Cain killed his brother Abel.  Cain lived his life as an exiled refugee from his own people.
According to Globalsecurity.org[i]there are presently 36 conflicts raging in the world.  This includes wars, insurgencies, civil unrest, genocides, etc.
The Nobel Prize website indicates that the form of war today is shifting.
War did not decline during the course of the 20th century, but there were some remarkable changes regarding the types of war that were fought.  From 1900 to 1910, wars of all categories were represented rather evenly, whereas from 1990 to 2000 most were civil wars.  Today there are few interstate wars with clearly defined parties, but civil wars have become increasingly internationalized.  Few internal wars today take place without …

TOO MUCH TURKEY, NOT ENOUGH HOSPITALITY

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Having just come through the holidays, my body is feeling sluggish from too many sweets and not enough exercise.I find myself looking forward to a return to normal eating and lifestyle.My body requires a healthy way to live.
It is the same in the life of the church.If we live with an excess of whipped cream, our health suffers over time.
The holidays are also times of hospitality, but usually to our favored friends and family.We spend extra time with them, usually with good intentions and gift-giving.
But could we sustain the holiday lifestyle year-round and remain healthy?
In Corinth, Paul was concerned with members of the church who lived with an abundance of food and likely sat with their family and a few favored friends.Every gathering on the Lord’s Day was treated like a holiday, not a holy day.
1 Corinthians 11:17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there…

PARENTS WHO LOVE GOD

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The act of child dedication is an expression of your desire to invite God into the process of parenting.As fathers and mothers we realize that we need God’s help to be wise and loving in our care of children.The very basis of parenting is demonstrated in the Godhead with the Father and Son.The prophets also describe God showing mother-like care of the young.
As parents, you have within you the image of God.Is it any wonder that Jesus was so receptive to children and outspoken on the danger of offending little ones?As parents, we need to learn to build our families on the basis of love, not fear.
The best parenting combines loving approval with measured boundaries.It is the role of parents to provide a reasonable way of living to their children.As the child matures, we launch them towards independence and self-reliance.
No matter how much your own childhood and upbringing affected you, a relationship with God can give you the opportunity to learn new ways of living and parenting.
When God …