Archive for March, 2012

More to the Story

March 29, 2012

The shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager by an armed neighborhood watch man has created quite an uproar.

What surprised me the most was the information that was left out in most accounts that I have read.

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, dated March 26th, when the police arrived, George Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a fat lip, and was bleeding from lacerations on the back of his head.  There is a witness that saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top of him.  Zimmerman was the one calling for help, according to the witness.

This information significantly changes the story.  There is still much to debate about the role that neighborhood watches play in communities, the right to bear arms, the “Stand Your Ground” laws and so on.  It is a tragedy that the young man is dead, but we really should consider all sides of the story. Sadly, Trayvon isn’t alive to tell his side, but we should still listen to what George has to say.

 

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Supreme Happiness

March 27, 2012

Rene Descartes is most famous for his line  “I think, therefore I am.”   This semester I am taking a course on his philosophical writings and I read his meditations again.  I wanted to share the concluding comments in the Third Meditation.

…I should like to pause here and spend some time in the contemplation of God; to reflect on his attributes, and to gaze with wonder and adoration on the beauty of this immense light, so far as the eye of my darkened intellect can bear it.  For just as we believe through faith that the supreme happiness of the next life consists solely in the contemplation of the divine majesty, so experience tells us that this same contemplation, albeit much less perfect, enables us to know the greatest joy of which we are capable in this life.

This quote does not make it into introductory philosophy texts.

All I can say to the passage is Amen!

This passage is quoted from:   Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch; trans : The Philosophical Writings of Descartes”  vol II,  Cambridge University Press 1984  p36

The Journey Through Life

March 26, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, March 25, 2012.

I.  Deuteronomy 8:2-7  The Journey

A.  God leads us

1.  He humbles us.

2.  He tests us.

3.  He chastens us.

When bad things are happening in our lives, it is appropriate to search for a reason.  We do not always understand, but we can always trust.

B.  Man does not live by bread alone.   Do not neglect the Word.  Remember to feed our spiritual nature.

C.  Keep the commandments of God.

D.  God is bringing us to a good land.

II.  Deuteronomy 10:12-13  Walk With God

A.  Keep the commandments of God.

B. The commandments of God are for our own good.

C.  Bonus Point: Love the stranger.  (or immigrants, verse 19)

III.  Deuteronomy 11:26-28  It is Your Choice

A.  God promises blessings if we are obedient.

B.  God warns of curses if we disobey.

Conclusion:  The journey of life goes better if we walk with God and live according to His commandments.

Spring into Summer

March 22, 2012

Officially, Spring arrived Tuesday.  The weather for the last two weeks has felt more like  summer, at least, the summers I grew up enjoying in Minnesota.  I have been greatly enjoying the 70’s and 80’s.  These temperatures are what I consider to be perfect.

It does make me wonder, if these are the temperatures in March, what will be coming in June, July and August?

Oh well, let’s not focus on that concern.  There is nothing we can do about it anyway.

Today is a beautiful day!

Grassroots Politics

March 20, 2012

I am in my fifties.  This is the first year that I have participated in the local political caucus.  I also had the opportunity to participate in the county convention.  What this experience has shown me is that there is an avenue for the average person to be involved in politics.  If you feel strongly about issues, you can bring like-minded people with you to these events and it is possible to have an impact.  You simply need to be willing to invest some of your time, energy, and a little money and you can be a part of the democratic process.

It was also surprising to me the range of opinions that were represented.  I certainly did not agree with all of them, but I recognize that everyone has a right to their opinion, and a right to be heard.  It is my hope and prayer that, in the end, right decisions will be made for our country.  It was fun to be a part of the process.  Why did I wait so many years to get involved?

Are You Open?

March 19, 2012

Here is the sermon outline from Sunday March 18th.

I.  Acts 28:23-28:  Are Our Hearts, Ears and Eyes Open to What God is Saying?

If they are, then we would understand, turn to God, and be healed.

II.  Deuteronomy 6:3-9:  Love God, and Keep His Commandments

I doubt that we understand the importance of the Word of God in our lives.  It is not necessary to take these verses literally, and to bind the scriptures to our arms and forehead, or to attach them to the doorposts of our house.  It is vital that  we regularly read the Word, discuss the Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives.  Our church offers three opportunities each week to hear, and to discuss the Word.  How much exposure are we giving ourselves to the Word?  Are our hearts open to what God is saying to us?

III.  Romans 2:25-29  Inner Jews

A true Jew, is one who is a Jew inwardly.  This means to have a heart that is open and obedient to the Word and to the Spirit.

IV.  Acts 15:28-29  Released From the Law of Moses

The Gentile converts were not required to adhere to the Law of Moses.

V. I John 2: 3-5  We Are to Keep the Commandments of Christ

The fact that we are set free from the Law of Moses does not mean that we are free to do just anything.  We should study the scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, praying that our hearts and our minds will be open to what God is saying to us.

VI.  John 14:26  The Holy Spirit Will Teach Us

The Holy Spirit will guide us into truth using the Word of God.  Still, we should be reading the Word, discussing the Word, and applying the Word to our daily lives.  This will not happen if our hearts are not open.  We must open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.  We should  pray that God will open our spiritual eyes, and ears, so that we may turn to Him, be obedient to Him, and be healed, by Him.

 

Jack-of-all-Trades

March 8, 2012

My father was a very handy man.  He enjoyed working on things and constantly had some sort of project underway.  I would frequently help him work on a whole variety of things.  I was a first-class gopher.  Go-for this, go-for that.  Hand me this, hand me that.  You get the idea.  Anyway, my father would refer to himself as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.  The idea being: that he dabbled, and was proficient in, a lot of areas, but did not consider himself a “master” of any of them.

As I matured, my skill-set turned out very differently from my father’s.  Oh, I know how to use a hammer, or a wrench, and I can manage some things around the house or garage, but my skills are nothing like those of my father.

I am a minister, and a teacher.  Currently, I am the pastor of a church, teach at a community college, lead a campus ministry,  am enrolled in graduate school, maintain a blog, teach ministry classes, mentor a young minister,  exercise regularly, help around the house, and try to have a life.

Perhaps I did learn something from my father.

I am not specialized, but generalized.

The problem with doing so many things is that you cannot devote as much time to any of them as you would if you were doing fewer things.  There is only so much time after all.  So the question becomes; do you continue to spread yourself around, doing what you can do, or do you reduce your commitments, and focus on doing fewer things, better?

That is a question that each one must answer for themselves.

As Is: No Warranty

March 6, 2012

We recently purchased a used car from a dealership. It was impressed on us several times as we were signing the papers that the car is sold As Is: No Warranty

I understand.

The dealership does not want to be responsible for things that may go wrong once the vehicle leaves the parking lot.  With an older car things can be on the verge of breaking.  If you start to make exceptions, it becomes expensive very, very, quickly.

However, I wonder how much the dealer is aware of existing problems?  Do they sell vehicles with known defects, hoping that you won’t notice until after you have signed the papers and paid the price?

Our most recent purchase had a door that will not unlock with a key, and it needs a new water pump.  I did not notice these things until after the purchase.

Was the dealer aware???  We smelled coolant on the first day, but did not notice any drips, so maybe it was just starting to go bad.  It is possible that they were not aware of the problem.  The cost of the part is not great, but on this particular model the repair is labor intensive.  The door lock?  It is the driver’s side door, and they were aware of the problem.  Their advice to me was not to lock the door.  I currently am unlocking the door from the passenger side.

Next time, I will need to remember the old saying “Buyer Beware!”

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit

March 5, 2012

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday, March 4, 2012.

I.  Acts 3:19 Repentance

A,  The first and primary form of repentance is to turn away from sin and towards God through faith in Jesus.  Our initial salvation, being born again, is where we need to start.

B.  As we grow in the Lord, God will reveal areas in our life that we need to change.  As the Holy Spirit reveals things to us, we should repent, and change our behavior.  This is an ongoing process of the Word of God, and the Spirit of God in our lives.

C.  There are times when we are serving God faithfully, but we need the strength of the Lord to renew us in our innermost beings. We turn away from the cares and concerns of the world and focus our eyes on Jesus.

All of these times of repentance can be wonderful times of refreshing and renewal.  If we are in need of additional strength and power to live out our Christian lives, there is another avenue available to us.

II.  Acts 1:4-8  The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The disciples are promised that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them.  The purpose of the power is the proclamation of the gospel.

III.  Acts 2:1-4  The Initial Outpouring

On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is poured out.  There is the sound of a rushing, mighty wind, cloven tongues of fire, and they all begin to speak in tongues as the Spirit gives them utterance.

IV.  Acts 2:5-11 A Sign to Unbelievers.

On the day of initial outpouring, some of the disciples are speaking in foreign human languages that are understood by those who are in the vicinity.  This is a powerful sign to unbelievers of the power of God.

V.  Acts 2:38-41  The Promise is to All

Peter preaches a message and over three thousand are saved. He mentions that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all.

VI.  Additional Accounts

A.  Acts 10: 44-48:  As the gospel is preached by Peter to the Gentiles for the very first time, the Holy Spirit is poured out and they speak in tongues even as Peter is still speaking.

B.  Acts 19:1-6:  Twelve men speak in tongues and prophecy after Paul tells them about faith in Jesus, lays hands on them and prays.

In these accounts there is no mention of either wind, or tongues of fire.

VII.  I Corinthians 14:1-5  Comparison of Tongues and Prophecy

Our focus today is on the gift of tongues.  There are three distinct gifts of tongues.  One is when a person speaks in a human language that they do not know, but is known by the people who hear the message.  This is a sign to unbelievers.  The second is when a message is given in tongues, and then an interpretation is also given.  This is for the strengthening of the faith of believers.  The third and most common is when we use the gift of tongues as a prayer language.  We speak to God without the barrier of human language.  The Holy Spirit prays with us, and through us.  This form is for the strengthening of the individual. People who have received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit should use their prayer language regularly. It is given to us to use, for our benefit. So that we may be strengthened to serve.

VIII.  Luke 11:9-13  Our Confidence is in our Heavenly Father

If we ask God for the Holy Spirit, He will not give us something that is bad instead.  We can trust that the experience is real, and from God.

You do not have to have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to be saved.  No one will make you ask God for this gift.  It is not a requirement, but an opportunity, that is presented to all believers.  If you desire to seek this gift, you can ask your heavenly Father.  People receive this gift in a number of ways.  The experience of individuals seeking the gift may vary.  It may happen quickly, or it may tarry, but if we are open to the power of God, we too, may receive this gift.

Tragedy

March 1, 2012

There has been tragic news recently.  The school shootings in Ohio and the deadly storms in the mid-west are two examples of bad things that can happen to unsuspecting people.  It is my firm belief that God is able to help people face whatever problems, or tragedies, may come their way.  The Spirit of God can bring comfort, wisdom and strength to face any situation.

My prayers are with those people who have suffered loss in this past week.