KDs are designed/developed/inspired/mused/auto-suggested/indigested to make folks think; an especially uncommon experience among Democrats, Republicans, and jingoistic mainline denominationalists who continue to discourage dissent with their ever-threatening thought police.
Four decades ago,
I'd never go to coffee hour after worship and sit with geezers; because they
talked OCDily about prescriptions, aches, pains, and pills as they longed for
the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
After a decade +1 of
eligibility without joining AARP, I now sit with 'em and exchange notes.
what's behind 'em in the cabinets don't lie.
inevitable is spirit; or as a senior wrote in my 8th grade yearbook that
continues to challenge moi, "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live!"
"Behold, I make all things new!"
He talked about
never losing the flexibility to stretch and make room for the new and better
and improved and possible like new wineskins.
I think a big
part of what He meant is it's possible to remain vibrant and zest-filled and
positively anticipatory and adventurous and learning and discovering and
psyched for life and, uh, stuff like that no matter what it says on the birth
God's grace for the opportunity/responsibility like Solomon in 1 Kings 3,
I counsel lots of folks; including pastors being beaten up by churchgoers
only coincidentally connected to Jesus transferring their...
well as parochial.
pastor blurted out during a session, "You don't sound like a
"Thanks," I replied.
"Don't you want to know why I think that?"
I responded, "but if you insist..."
"I've never heard many Presbyterian clergy talk so much about Jesus and
the Holy Spirit and..."
"I guess you've caught me on a good
He went on,
"Really, you come off, sometimes, like a Pentecostal or..."
"I'm having a hard enough time trying to be a Christian without thinking
too much about if I'm coming off as a Presbyterian or Pentecostal or..."
As you know, I've
been scratching the surface of the book more than reading books about it...lately.
I haven't found
too much about being denominational in it; but I have discovered lots about
People who talk
more about being Presbyterian
or Catholic or
Baptist or Lutheran or Methodist or Charismatic or Mainline or Pentecostal or, uh, whatever concern me.
It's a Matthew 23
and especially 23:37ff. and John 17 thing; and if you're still talking
more about denominational stuff than just
Jesus, my guess is you're not very familiar with those texts.
No wonder Jesus
told Nicodemus that some folks gotta be born...
Yeah, read John
3; especially if you're still talking about your denominational, sectarian,
cultic, or whatever identity
more than just Jesus.
That is, of
course, if you still wanna try or regenerate what that senior wrote in my
8th grade yearbook.
I just heard
about a denominationalist more than a just
Jesus guy who spent 20 minutes at the table explaining why
non-members of his franchise can't take the sacrament with 'em.
Jesus came to
mind: "Come to Me,...all...everyone..."
Now I know why
Jesus never talked about denominations.
I guess some
people just need to be born all over again and from above before they can
grow up about...
"Contrary to what professing Christians like to think,
many of God's people
are not willing to walk in perfect agreement with Him, and
explain why so many believers do not have the power of the
Spirit, the peace of the Spirit, and many of the other
qualities, gifts, and benefits which
the Spirit of God brings."
Actually, if it
weren't for the silly clothes, pathological thing with Mary,
transubstantiation, and celibacy, I think I'd fit in; having studied there and always coveted their fidelities to
Biblical Christology and ethics as well as education not divorced from, uh,
Biblical Christology and ethics.
God knows they've been a lot truer
to Him than...
Of course, my
mommy always thought I'd eventually be the president of the most
renowned/notorious seminary in our franchise; and considering who's been
If it weren't for
squandering the appropriate stepping stones through my own stupidity and sins,
ya never know; especially considering who's been installed since...
How do you know
on that below this KD.
I am who I am and
I am where I am supposed to be in Belvidere, Illinois.
While I miss some
dear friends in those squandered stepping stones on my way from the high
steeples and ivy-covered towers to Boone County, I've never felt better in my
life or ministry.
Deep into my 8th
year, every day hasn't been a hot fudge sundae.
I haven't had a
raise in four years which translates as annual deductions and I'll never
be reimbursed for unused days off, study leave, or vacation.
hatreds/dysfunctions/feuds have been transferred to...
Dang, I inherited
Control needs on
polity, and...just about everything.
Great staff and
remnant and immediately installed predecessor-pastor; buuuuuuut...
people who should feel guilty will feel...
Uh, they're gone.
started to grow in/through/for Him in unprecedented ways in every way and...
The great staff
and faithful remnant that I inherited have stayed.
legacy of returning Jesus, the Bible, and prayer to the forefront of
First's life and ministry provided a solid rock foundation to build upon
for the future.
cooperation, encouragement, affirmation, advocacy, and applause for all of our
musical ministries; and as anybody will tell ya who's ever endured those
It's fun as well
I praise the Lord
for the privilege to be one of the undershepherds
on the corner of Lincoln and Main...for now.
Unless God writes
it in the sky (see below) or Rome changes the rules...
I stay because I
am who I am and I am where I am supposed to be in Belvidere, Illinois.
Sure, I miss
being closer to my parents and sister and pizza; and it can be very lonely for
a Jets, Giants, and Yankees fan in Chicagoland and Packerville.
sacrifices that I'm making for...
I've never felt more at home
than I am right now.
like our presbytery!
Don't share that
last confession with...
So I'm staying
for three reasons: (1) call; (2) commitment to my favorite Special Olympian
Billy's sister, dad, and mom about staying together for good as his friend/brother and eventual
guardian; and (3) choice.
Have you ever
heard of Dave Ramsey?
If you've ever
had problems with plastic like I had before meeting him, you gotta get to know
Financial Peace University and look for a Ramsey course near you!
Led by a very
special woman in our family of faith, I took the course and it changed my
attitudes about and management of money from reckless to responsible.
Yet, I'll never
forget the first Q&A after the first several videos; as someone
asked/commented and most nodded with the same curiosity, "Doesn't he have
another shirt besides that blue one? He wears it for every lesson!"
It brings to mind
how Mother Teresa responded to the Protestant who shared my concern about
the Mary thing for RCs: "We would not have Jesus if it weren't for
Mary...One day you will come to love her like Jesus loved her."
It's not about
what we wear or how much we have or where we are or what went on before or
what's even happening now...as long as we are who we are where we are supposed
to be...for the love of
"Is not life more than...?"
Blessings and Love!
Scratching the Surface
Brief and Incomplete Guide to Finding the Right Job)
George Carlin joked, “Most people don’t know what they’re
doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.”
When it comes to finding the right job, it’s
Unless we’re “called” to it, any job can be a
bummer; conversely, if “called” to it, any job can enhance personal esteem and
satisfaction while overcoming the inconveniences and disappointments attached
to any job/occupation/vocation.
When we’re doing what He has designed us to
do, He is honored, people are helped, and we feel whole, happy, and secure.
While this is a brief, incomplete, and
indicative not exhaustive guide to finding/discovering the right job, I’ve
found four signposts on the path to finding/discovering what He has designed us
to do: feelings, facts, friends, and faith.
Feelings, facts, friends, and faith combine
to confirm call; conversely, if conflicts or contradictions emerge in feelings,
facts, friends, and faith, it may not be the right job.
How do you feel about it?
Do you feel the job honors Him, helps people,
and inspires personal wholeness, happiness, and security?
Naturally, feelings can be misleading –
prompted by auto-suggestion or emotional, intellectual, and spiritual
indigestion; so, again, remember, it’s important to consider feelings along
with facts, friends, and faith.
Can you do it?
Whether you can do something by His
design/gifting is more crucial than or prerequisite to wanting to
do something by preference; simply, “It’s not really a matter of whether you want
to do it. Can you do it?”
Even if you can do it, should you do it?
Remember, it’s important to consider facts along
with feelings, friends, and faith.
What do your friends say about it?
Do they confirm or contradict your sense of
Remember, it’s important to consider friends along
with feelings, facts, and faith.
Where is God in it?
Is God leading you to it?
Will it honor Him and help people?
When a friend told Fred Rogers – yes, Mister
Rogers – that he was considering moving from one church to another, Fred
wrote to him, “By now I wonder if there has been a decision about your
move. Please know that I’ve been
thinking about you all. All that matters
is your motives. God will lead the
way. You know that.”
A faith-filled call will be consistent
with Christianity’s confession and conduct as personified in Jesus and
prescribed in Holy Scripture.
Take many moments to read meditatively Romans
12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4.
If feelings, facts, friends, and faith are in
agreement, go for it!
Finally, a word from Basil Pennington: “The fundamental
Christian vocation lies in intimacy with Christ-God…God does not really care
what way we choose, so long as we do choose a way to grow in His love and
choose it for love of Him…We should always and in all things seek to do God’s
will, to please Him.”
you still looking for a different way
to do church?
you tired of the SOSO RELIGION?
you put off by posers in pews, politics, and pulpits?
you searching for something/Someone real,
timely, and true to…?
our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main!
I'll never forget
going to see the Broadway production of Stephen Schwartz's Pippin with my female French professor back
in 1972; featuring the original cast directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse
that included Ben Vereen, Jill Clayburgh, Leland Palmer, Irene Ryan, John
Rubinstein, Ann Reinking, and so many rising stars of stage and screen.
And I'll never
forget the ooooooohs and
swooning sighs in the audience as
well as in the seat next to me as Clayburgh and Rubinstein sang Love Song.
Though it ain't
Jill and John, the next video will, uh, help, uh, illustrate, uh, what, uh,..
romantic stuff from the guy who wrote Godspell.
Bible is full of romance with Solomon's Song
of Songs at the top of the hit parade.
If it weren't in
the Bible for reasons that I picked up while scratching the surface, it could/would have been picked up by a scriptwriter for
AMC, FX, HBO, or Showtime.
real, and even erotic in describing courtship, celebrating a satisfying sexual
relationship, and marriage with the four essential emotional, intellectual,
spiritual, and physical components.
conclusions about sex for a believer can be reached by a contextual reading of
First, there is
monogamous marital intent: "My heart is your captive..."
conclusion of Genesis echoed by Jesus is confirmed throughout the book without
exception: "Haven't you read that in the beginning God created humanity
male and female? Don't you remember what the story of creation tells us
about marriage? 'For this reason, a man will leave his mother and father
and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' What God has
brought together, let no one separate.'"
Third, the best
time for sex is within the covenant of marriage - not before or apart from the
covenant of marriage - between a woman and man who acknowledge God as Source,
Starter, Sovereign, and Savior: "I charge you not to excite your love
until it is ready...Don't stir a fire in your heart too soon..."
component of marriage is a gift from God for wife and husband; moreover, along
with the emotional and intellectual and spiritual components, it is an
essential component of marriage.
As long as both
wife and husband are able, they are expected to be willing.
Whether it's this
book or Proverbs or the apostle or common sense related to human behavior, it's
undeniably clear that a woman and man called to spend the rest of their lives
together in marital bliss have an emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and
sexual bond and passion for each other; desiring and not denying the
celebration of that emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual bond.
Let me be crude.
If they ain't,
A healthy and
balanced marriage - emphasizing, again, both wife and husband being able - will
include all four components; and if any component is missing, the marriage is
not healthy or balanced and vulnerable.
That's a big part
of what this book says and it is confirmed within the context of the whole
Surely, I'm not
suggesting this one book or these few paragraphs just scratching the surface of it are comprehensive to the subject of sex in marriage; but I am saying He's saying through
this book confirmed by the rest of the book that a healthy marital sex life is
one of the best barometers of a marriage's health as confirmation of God being
the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior of the marriage.
Bluntly, as I
recall Barth writing, "A divorce only occurs where a marriage never
context of this book within the context of the whole book, marriage includes
If not, not!
Let me be even
According to the
book, marriage must include sex along with or as measurement of the emotional,
intellectual, and spiritual bond.
Not good sex.
It's right there
in the book!
One more thing.
Like other books
in the Bible, the Song of
Songs may use romance and marriage as a metaphor for God's lavish
love and marital-like commitment to His people and vice versa.
fidelity includes total commitment to each other.
God proved His
part by total commitment to us in Jesus.
We prove our part
by our total commitment to Him - emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and
It works either
Either way, it's
a very, very, very inclusively big match made in heaven.
"We have too many gods...We have too much theology...We
have too much religion...
God isn't in there by Himself.
He says, 'If I'm not in your heart by Myself, I won't work.'
When Jesus Christ has everything cleansed from
the temple and dwells there alone,
He will work."
"Christians do not believe in works righteousness; because it's impossible
to work hard enough to earn eternal life in heaven."
He was asked,
"Then how can I know for sure that I'm going to heaven after I die?"
The old monk
"What do you mean Jesus?"
"We believe heaven is graced upon us through faith in Jesus."
"If heaven is graced upon us rather than earned by us, why does the
Bible talk so much about righteous works?"
"What we say and do is an expression of what we believe and what we
believe determines destiny."
"Are you saying we show signs or proof or evidence or fruit of being
"Can you say more about that?"
cannot improve upon what has already been revealed to you in Jesus and Holy
"But I need you to tell me more about what that means."
"We're already talking too much."
"Elegant speech sounds odd when it comes from a
I spend lots of
time with churchgoers getting beaten up by churchgoers.
"I can't believe they behave so..."
"Their behavior betrays what they really believe."
"One who is obedient will have answered prayers and stand beside the
Crucified in sure faith. This is the way our Lord went to His cross -
obedient unto death."
The spiritual is easily
differentiated from the natural.
"Faith without works is do-do."
(Real Life Version)
Pope Benedict XVI
First one...in a
speculation; mostly suspicious, slanderous, and stupid.
take; apart from him being 86 which kinda seems like a good time to...
He's gonna live
out the rest of these aka his/His days in a monastery.
He's gonna pray.
Read the Bible.
"As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O
"I'm a monk..., and the strangest thing happened in my
monastery. We had a visit...
He stayed overnight, but he slipped away very early in the
morning. When the
monks woke up, they found graffiti all over the cloister
walls...One word -
TRIVIA - TRIVIA - TRIVIA
Words upon words...spoken and written...total confusion...
I cried out, 'Stop! Stop!'
I was only adding
words to words."
I'm trying to
keep a vow of silence as taught to me so long ago by Trappists at Assumption
Abbey in Ava, Missouri.
doesn't mean not speaking; but rather saying what you mean and meaning what you
distractions and vanities.
Or as Lapsley and
Hanson tried to convince seminarians, "When in doubt, shut up!"
"Don't say anything you don't mean...You only make things worse when you
lay down a smoke screen of pious talk...You don't make your words true by
embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more
religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you
manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong."
Getting back to
distinguishing who's natural
from who's spiritual,
religions about Jesus are wordy while relationships with
Him/His are Wordy.
For as long as I
can remember, I've always been told to read each text of the Bible within the
context of the entire Bible.
That means to
read each verse within the context of the chapter within the context of the
book within the context of the testament within the context of the Bible so that we don't end up going down
some rabbit trail of irrelevance, irreverence, and error.
There's a real
danger in reading some texts out of context and building an entire theology,
spirituality, life, and ministry around them.
let's compare Isaiah 2:4 ("Hammer your swords into sickles") to Joel
3:10 ("Hammer your sickles into swords").
Taking each verse
out of context can cause more bad than good as Isaiah comes off like a dove for
God and Joel comes off like a hawk for Him. Actually, taken out of
context, some would say Isaiah is a mindless pacifist for God while Joel is an
insufferable warmonger for God.
proof-texting or taking texts out of context to build an entire theology,
spirituality, life, and ministry often do in producing irrelevance,
irreverence, and error.
reading of each of those verses or reading them in context enables us to see
how they make sense. Isaiah is talking about a day or daydream when people
get it/Him and want to get along more than get over on each other while Joel is
talking about those times when the good guys must go to war against the bad
guys to honor God and use force to enable justice being denied by the unGodly.
The truth is each
text speaks to a specific circumstance; as sometimes we promote peace to honor
God and sometimes we must go to war to honor Him.
highlights the wisdom of contextual reading of the Bible like this:
For everything that happens in life - there is a
season, a right time for everything under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die; a time to
plant, a time to collect the harvest;
A time to kill, a time to heal; a time to tear
down, a time to build up;
A time to cry, a time to laugh...
In other words,
life can be very complex; which means we must spend more and more and more time
in Him to scratch
the surface and keep scratching and digging
until we feel like we're ready to reflect His will in our thoughts, words, and
actions: "Your Word is a lamp for my steps; it lights the path before
That's why it
cannot be said enough that being Godly requires increasing intimacy with Him by
immersion into His revealed will as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy
an extraordinarily mature understanding of life's complexity and a simple
approach to it: "My advice is to remember your Creator...Remember Him...
Worship in reverence the one True God, and keep His commands."
As we've noted
before, wisdom comes from God; which is why we like to say, "Wise men
still seek Him!"
it/Him; and that's why God breathed Ecclesiastes into him for us to read,
digest, and allow to direct us through complexities with contextual reading and
remembrance of His complete revelation in Holy Scripture as perfectly
personified in Jesus.
While I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with the Lord by reading Holy Scripture
with fresh eyes and trust there's so much more to it than I can grasp right
now, four of the many dimensions of Godly wisdom caught my attention.
First, even after
being blessed by the Lord with Proverbs, which is quite a lot of wisdom for
anyone to try to handle, God revealed even more of His mind to Solomon in
Ecclesiastes. There's always more to learn; or as Jesus said,
"Behold, I make all things new!" That's why Jesus said we must
be like new wineskins; always ready to expand and stretch and make room for the
more that He has
in mind for us. Or as I've come to accept, when we think we've arrived,
it means we haven't even started.
everything is meaningless, temporary, and unsatisfying apart from God:
"Life is fleeting, like a passing mist. It is like trying to catch
hold of a breath...Pleasure, work, wealth, wine, laughter, accomplishments,
achievements,...are fleeting." Nothing lasts except our relationship
with God. Or as I've come to accept, we're going to spend more time with
God than anybody else; so establishing life's priority - Him!!! - is a no brainer.
Summarily, only God satisfies forever.
Third, as we've
noted in the startling difference between building theology, spirituality,
life, and ministry on proof-texting or contextual reading and digestion of Holy
Scripture, there are different seasons or situations demanding different
responses of fidelity. While exceptions to the rule are called exceptions
to the rule because they occur so infrequently that they are exceptions to the rule,
there are seasons or situations demanding exceptions to the rule to be
faithful. Again, citing the aforementioned, no one would doubt that the
overriding emphasis of Holy Scripture is peacemaking; yet there are times when,
as the Psalmist acknowledges, "We are for peace but they are for
war." Sadly but truly, that means faithful people sometimes not most
times must go to war to be faithful to our God who prefers for us to live in
peace with each other as a reflection of living in peace with Him.
Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior wants us to enjoy the good that He has entrusted
to us: "God has made everything beautiful for its time...There is nothing
better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; to eat and
drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God...We humans
can only stand in awe of all God has done." While never forgetting
our responsibilities to care for others in need as catalogued so well in
Matthew 25, our Lord does not deny us of feasting on the goodness entrusted to
heard wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from the mistakes that
Wisdom is just knowing how to live out
His best in our lives by reading books like Ecclesiastes, digesting them into
our souls, and praying along with trying to enflesh it in our experiences and
expressions for God's sake
which always turns out for ours as well.