“The Commitment Of A Lifetime”


A Meditation for 23 August, 2015, the 13th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B), based on 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10 – 11) 22 – 30, 41 – 43; Ephesians 6: 10 – 20; and John 6: 56 – 69


I wanted to focus on something else for the rest of the week so I went ahead and jotted down these thoughts for next Sunday.


Someone once said, I think, that there are teaching sermons and there are preaching sermons and that one has to be careful not to get the two mixed up. I also think that there are sermons that you write for those seeking Christ and sermons that you write for those who have found Him. And these two you definitely don’t want to get mixed up.

Because the person who is seeking Christ is apt to turn away if they know that the road that they wish to walk is going to be very, very rough and the person who has found Christ doesn’t really need to be reminded of that same fact.

How many individuals were there at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee? How many were there at the end? And how many people, having found Christ, are willing to help those still seeking Him? How many people, having found Christ, think that everything is complete and they don’t have to do anything?

I am not much of a theologian and I have always had a hard time with those who, having declared that they are Christian, do little or nothing afterwards; in fact, they only time that they seem to be a Christian is on a Sunday morning during worship or at a time of their own convenience.

And quite honestly, those seem to be the predominant Christians in today’s society. They have made the declaration and, for them, that is the end of the story, nothing else matters. They will do very little to understand the Bible, except when it suits their purpose; they will do very little to carry out what is proclaimed as the tasks of those who claim to be God’s people; and they most certainly would not recognize Jesus Christ if He should happen to appear at their doorstep one day.

And I will also be honest when I say that such Christians, giving them the benefit of the doubt, are the primary reason that 1) I almost left the church several years ago and 2) so many people are not willing to seek Christ today.

In the end, it is what Paul told the Ephesians and what Solomon said to God so many years ago. “Truth, righteousness, peace, and faith” are the way of God and those are the means, the tools by which we will show others what Christ is about.

Something I wrote and said a few years ago still remains true today:

  1. We must make sure that everyone understands what is in the Bible, what is not in the Bible, and what it all means.
  2. We must also make sure that what we say and do is based on what is in the Bible and the result of our study and understanding (with modification, from “First, Read The Manual; then . . . “)

And something that I have used on a number of occasions comes from Timothy Zimmer. In his book, “Letters of a C. O. from Prison,” he wrote,

We say, many of us, that such and such a condition is evil, that such and such a goal is good; this the spirit which binds us, not in commitment, but in the possibility of commitment. For it is what comes after the good and evil have been defined and agreed upon that determines the grain of activism. Do we practice what we preach? Or, do we, advocating peace, resort to violence in our advocacy? And advocating freedom, refuse to face the real threat to our security which freedom brings? And advocating love, hate the haters more than they hate us? . . . If we preach love and freedom and peace, we must first love, be free, be peaceful — or better yet not preach at all but let love and peace and freedom speak for themselves in our actions. (“Letters of a C. O. from Prison”, Timothy W. L. Zimmer (1969, The Judson Press), page 36 – 37)

And Solomon pointed out that as long as we live our lives with the commitment that we have made, God will also continue his commitment as well.

So we say to those who have made the commitment, who have chosen to walk with Christ, “Yes, this will be hard and it will not be easy at first. But it will get easier and there will be those who will benefit because we were there for them.”

For those who are seeking Christ we also say, “Yes, this is a hard road to walk but you don’t have to walk it. There are other alternatives but there is no guarantee that those alternatives will help you find what you seek. But when you choose to walk with Christ, in a commitment that lasts a lifetime, you do not walk alone, for we will be with you and Christ will be with all of us. And as we walk together, the world will know and the world will change.”

“Achieving Wisdom”


A Meditation for 16 August, 2015, the 12th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B), based on 1 Kings 2: 10 – 12, 3: 3 – 14; Ephesians 5: 15 – 20; and John 6: 51 – 58

And there is Paul telling the Ephesians to wake up and climb out of their coffin. The last time that I used this reading (“What Does The Future Hold?”) I pointed out that this was a very interesting way to talk about thinking outside the box.

The first thing that Solomon asked for was wisdom; he knew that everything else would come if he had wisdom.

The powers that be could not understand what Jesus was saying. They were so hung up on the the current situation that it was almost impossible for them to see what was going on. And I am not entirely sure that they would have know what to do if they did know what was going on.

It is very much the same today. We focus on the present so much that we have no way of seeing or even envisioning what may take place tomorrow. We have been so concerned about our students not learning anything we have forgotten that the achievement of learning requires teaching them how to learn, not simply understanding untold number of facts.

And we as a society are quite willing to accept the words of a few self-appointed individuals as the truth and we do so without questioning or in face of the fact that what they are saying is not truth.

And quite honestly, many of those who espouse to be our religious leaders today, who tell us we need to live in a Christian society (while they themselves do not), would probably not recognize Jesus or would say that he doesn’t know what He is talking about, just as their 1st century counter-parts did.

And in the end, it does not matter what someone else tells you to think; it is what you decide to think that counts. But that means that you must study, you must seek, and you must be open to the whole world.

As I said, the first thing that Solomon sought when he became King was wisdom because that would give him the tools he needed to achieve other things.

How do we go about achieving that wisdom? It is by asking questions and seeking answers, not simply accepting what others tell you to say and/or do. Granted, if your teacher tells you early on that 1 and 1 is 2, it would be a good idea to accept that as the truth but you can always test the question but using a calculator to confirm the addition. Ultimately, of course, you have to do the calculations and trust the answers but that is part of the process of achieving wisdom.

Wisdom starts with some basic knowledge but to achieve wisdom you have to go beyond the basic information. Jesus gave everyone the same basic information and showed everyone how to get it; it was then and is now up to the individual to finish the task. We are pushed to think outside the box when we seek wisdom, the same wisdom that allowed Solomon to be one of the great Kings of Israel. But more than that, this gives us opportunities to further the Kingdom of God in ways that we may never know otherwise.

The Situation Today


DrTony:

I am re-blogging this post from a little over four years ago because things really haven’t changed all that much. In fact, the amount of money being spent on political campaigns has probably increased and the needs that I described in this post are probably still the same.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Heart On The Left:

I posted this on my Facebook page earlier today but since not everyone who reads this blog is my friend on Facebook, I figured I would post it here as well.
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In the New York Times this morning it was reported that President Obama has raised almost 90 million dollars for his relection campaign.

The Washington Post reported that Mitt Romney raised over 18 million dollars in the last three months. He has more than double the money of his closest competitor (Michele Bachman).

That means that, conservatively, some people or corporations have given over 100 million dollars for an election.

If there ever was a better example of the problems with this country, this has to be it. How many people would have been feed if this money had been directed toward the food banks and feeding ministries of this country? Over 1000 children are now receiving free…

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“The Hardest Thing In The World”


A Meditation for 9 August, 2015, the 11th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B), based on 2 Samuel 18: 5 – 9, 31 – 33; Ephesians 4: 25 – 5: 2; and John 6: 35, 41 – 51

What is the hardest thing in the world to do? I was going to say that growing old may very well be one such thing but that is something that we cannot avoid doing. Still, accepting the challenge of growing old and keeping pace with the world can be very hard.

It is quite easy, I think, to stay with the ideas that you developed when you were young and life was easy. But life and society keeps on changing and the ideas of our youth may become quickly outdated. That doesn’t mean that we need to go with the flow, as it were, because it can be very difficult keeping up. But we also need to know that things do change.

This morning I was listening to the news and one analyst pointed out that the existence of Twitter had changed the political landscape. Were it not for Twitter, many of us would have waken on Saturday, August 8th, to hear the comments on one person. As it were, the use of Twitter took us past the initial comments and onto the reaction and action. Now, for the record, I don’t have a Twitter account though I do have a Facebook account (and I get as much news from my Facebook as I do from television and radio).

This is not to say that we all need a Twitter account nor do we need to get on Facebook but it does say that we need to realize that the world outside our own walls may be a little bit different from the world we live in. And this leads us to contradictions.

Michael Lerner, in his book “The Left Hand of God”, pointed out that we are constantly in conflict with what we perceive to be the values of society and our own values. At times, the two seem mutually exclusive and we do not know how we can be successful in society while at the same time maintaining our own core values. We seek a solution that will allow us to succeed in today’s society while holding onto our own values; we desperately want someone to show us a way to achieve success without sacrificing our souls (adapted from “The Vision Of Hope”).

We are quite willing to accept the ideas of others without questioning simply because what is said, truthful or not, fits within our view of the world. And we cannot understand what is happening in the world when it does not fit our view of world, especially when it has been reinforced by the words, thoughts, and actions of others.

The church today is not exempt from this struggle. Many people, if pressed, would say that they don’t understand what is happening to the church today but only because they still see the church in terms of what it was when they were younger. It is perhaps hard, if not difficult, to even think of the church being more than just a one or two hour event on Sunday with perhaps an occasional social event once a month. They cannot see that the church existing outside the walls of the building or allowing others to even enter “their” church. Those are things that are simply not done.

Those who heard Jesus speak of the Bread of Life and what that meant had a hard time understanding what He was saying because they saw Jesus only in terms of being Joseph’s son. They saw a carpenter’s son and carpenter’s sons were not capable of profound statements. And this carpenter’s son had a habit of being with the wrong people of society. Clearly, Jesus had no business proclaiming any sort of message about the meaning of life and our relationship with God.

Today, our problem isn’t that we that we don’t understand what Jesus said two thousand years ago; it is that we think that those words only applied two thousand years ago. The hardest thing in the world is to understand that is our view that needs to change; the message is still the same.

We cannot preach the Gospel message unless we are willing to understand that is a message for all the people. And we cannot force people to accept the message unless we are willing to live a life as the early church lived, one in which all are accepted. We cannot follow Christ if we are not willing to go out into the world. And that is the hardest thing in the world to do, to leave the life and world that we would like to be in and go out into the world that needs our presence.

An On-going Culture of War


DrTony:

I am re-blogging this post from 2008 simply because I think there are some who would like us to be in another war. And on the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think we really need to think about what a war today might be like.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Heart On The Left:

It was Robert E. Lee who, following the battle of Fredericksburg stated that “it is fortunate that war is so terrible – lest we should grow fond of it.” He also wrote in a letter to his wife on Christmas Day, 1862, “What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world! I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. … My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.”

clip_image002[5]In a saying that has been passed down through the ages, we are reminded that nobody…

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TO THE SCIENTIST, SPACE ENTHUSIAST, THE SEEKER, THE LOVER OF TRUTH, REVELATION OF TRUTH, EVIDENCE, INGREDIENCE OF LIFE


DrTony:

This was worth re-blogging. Besides, in one sense, I am one of those to whom it was addressed (as are all those who read it).

Originally posted on Full Of Roses Inspirationals:

ELEMENTS

From the very beginning of creation
He set in place with care and patients
The very ingredients of life
Elements Scattered as treasures
Mysteries bringing pleasures
Such as the precious metal gold
Gases with stories yet to be told
Super Novas, big bangs, creation, change
The universe, galaxies, planets, solar systems
Life on a mission
To reveal, astonish, commission
Gifts waiting to behold
If one looks deep a story will be told
Finger prints left behind
Of one yes, hiding, longing for you to find
The widening of your heart, an expansion of your mind
The blue prints of your life, by the power He emits
Giving elements

Revelation 4:11
Verse Concepts
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”

2 Kings 19:15
Verse Concepts
Hezekiah prayed…

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“Which Path Will You Take?”


A Meditation for 2 August, 2015, the 10th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B), based on 2 Samuel 11: 26 – 12: 13, Ephesians 4: 1 – 16, and John 6: 24 – 35

When the first “Cosmos” television series concluded, Carl Sagan suggested that society was at a crossroads. One path lead to the exploration of the universe and beyond; the other path lead to death and destruction through violence and war. At that time, we were still technically in the Cold War and President Reagan’s rhetoric did not help an image of some sort of nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Of course, shortly thereafter, the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Soviet-style communism. Much to the dismay of many, I don’t think that we can create President Reagan for this outcome. Oh, I don’t doubt that he had a part in it but I don’t think that increasing military spending will ever be the answer because, sooner or later, you end up having to justify all that spending and that means going to war.

It is now some forty years later and we are again, I think, at another crossroads. And while one path perhaps leads to new discoveries, the other is still a path that leads to destruction. We are a society that still believes that the answer to violence is violence and we are becoming a society where concern for the other person is minimized. It seems to me that the rich and powerful will do whatever is necessary to hold onto what they have and to continue getting more, no matter what the consequences of their actions might be. And if we continue on this path, if we continue to hold onto the notion that we must hold onto what we have and gather more, then there will come a time, when there won’t be anything left.

Think about it; if one person gathered up all the resources in the world for themselves and allowed no one else to have anything, either nothing would get done or the other people would rise up in revolt.

The time is now to make a decision, not to try and gather everything we can for ourselves (and Jesus told at least parable about the outcome of such actions) but rather to insure that everyone has enough. And we have to realize that all the material stuff that you gather but will never use can never provide the solace and comfort that your spirit and soul needs.

And if your spirit and soul are not comfortable, there is no way that you can discover new things or seek new ideas.

Jesus spoke of the Bread of Life, the food that would feed your spirit. What we have to do is find ways to feed the spirit and soul of the people. We don’t have to lead them to Christ but show them the way. We cannot force people to follow Christ but we can show them the way.

So, as we come to these crossroads, we have to make a choice. One will give us a good life but it is a life that will be limited; the other choice will lead to a good life that goes beyond what we can see or envision. Which path do we take?