The Rev

Freshly tapped thoughts on life and God

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We live in a time when people are always talking about how “blessed” they are. Typically that is in reference to their financial well-being. Yet, when we spend time reading the Scriptures, this image of “blessed” is not really what we see emerge.

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There’s nothing worse as a pastor when you’re having a lousy day (or few days) and you have a “weak” moment publicly. You know, one of those moments where you feel the flesh waking up. Your face heats up, your pulse quickens, your fists clench, and you know what is about to happen. You know you’re about say something you will later regret. Your mind is screaming, “NO! Stop! Run!” Your flesh is screaming out, “I will destroy. Right here, right now, I will destroy.”

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On Wednesdays, I share what passage I’m thinking about and meditating on during the week. This week, it’s John 16:1-15.

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*NOTE: This is the second in a series on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s, The Essentials of our Faith. Scriptural proofs can be found elsewhere. These posts will focus on the “why” and the impact of these statements in our lives.

I think the argument can be made that no person in the history of the world has had as much of an impact as Jesus of Nazareth. We mark time before and after him (yes, I know that CE/BCE are the now the primary means of marking time, but they are the same as BC and AD). It is safe to say that no other person has had as much written about him or has been studied so thoroughly. His birth, life, and death have been studied, debated, and marveled at. Jesus is a name that brings a reaction in those who hear the name and in those who say the name. Regardless of your worldview, everyone must admit that this Jesus of Nazareth, was at the very least a remarkable individual.

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I’ve been in full time ministry for nearly 20 years. I can’t count the number of friends who have burned out in ministry. They reach a place of complete exhaustion, desperation, hopelessness, cynicism, or depression that drives them to walk away from their calling. It’s usually some combination of these things and more.

There seems to be one particular trait that is cuts across all these people in their burn out. They were afraid to rest and refused to rest so they could control everything.

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On Wednesdays, I am publishing the passage of Scripture that I am spending time meditating on during the week. This week I have been meditating on Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV & MSG).

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*NOTE: This is the first in a series on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s, The Essentials of our Faith. Scriptural proofs can be found elsewhere. These posts will focus on the “why” and the impact of these statements in our lives.

The culture of the Bible was one of great diversity. Pluralism was the norm. In many ways biblical culture reflects our own. There were beliefs in many different gods and there were as many religions as there were clans. The book of Genesis starts with the words, “In the beginning God created…” When Moses penned these words he was doing so to begin to identify and differentiate the God from the gods.

I am more convinced than ever that to be a Christian is to be a missionary. Yet, we don’t think very much about this reality. We don’t consider the fact that if we are following Jesus it necessarily means that we are on mission.

I took this summer to think more and talk less. I did quite a bit of observing, watching, and listening. It was really helpful for me to simply be quiet. My natural posture is to speak. But, sometimes that needs to be tempered and set aside to listen and pay attention.

This week I was once again reminded that our world is shattered and radically corrupted. I was reminded because our systems that are designed to protect the most vulnerable fail. I was reminded because once again violence, which we glorify, metastasized in real life causing real pain and real suffering. I was reminded again that our culture doesn’t value the lives of women and children.

A few years ago I was thinking about integrity. Integrity is a concept that people talk much about but don’t really live out. I’m often surprised by the lack of integrity most people have.

You know that time when you watch a television show and it shakes you up a bit? Sometimes works of fiction do that to me (A Brave New World rocked my world). Sometimes it’s reading history. Other times it is talking with a new friend. In this particular moment, it was a television show.

I’m not an expert. I’m not even close to being an expert. I have a son whose 15 and a daughter who is 13. Both of them are excelling as students. They each have passions that they are pursuing with zeal. I think both of them are becoming good people. They have friends, they respect adults, they are both people that my wife and I enjoy being around.

When I was on staff with a large college ministry we spent a lot of talking about how to help college guys become men. We did men’s retreats every year. There was a very specific model that we thought these men had to fit in; tough, rugged, and macho.

We also spent a lot of time trying to teach college girls to be women. This focused a lot on their outward appearance teaching them to dress modestly so they didn’t cause the “men” to “stumble.”

When I read the Scriptures there is nothing more satisfying or exciting to me than when I see the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I love how the whole story fits together. Particularly, I like hearing the echoes of the Psalms ring out in the epistles.