Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year’s Resolutions and Loving Your Enemy

What resolutions do you have for this New Year?

* * *

Here is our passage for the week, Matthew 5:43-48.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Some questions to stimulate your thinking:

  • What is your first impression of this passage?
  • Do you pray for your enemies?
  • Do you pray for those who persecute you by spreading gossip and lies about you?
  • What is the point about God causing the sun to shine on the good and the bad?
  • How can we get out of our "love those who love you" comfort zone?
  • How far can we go with our own perfection?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

How'd it go for you?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Caption This!

Feel free to continue the other post, but, possibly, just for a little fun on the side...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Truth, Christmas Letters, Christmas Cheer, and Various Ramblings

OK, just have some fun this week, or be serious if you want. I’ll give some good reading material to start you off.

Here is interesting statement from Zosima in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. It relates to what we have been saying about truth and authenticity.

Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself.

From Garrison Keillor (thanks to Mike Cope):

I love reading Christmas newsletters in which the writer bursts the bonds of modesty and comes forth with one gilt-edged paragraph after another: ‘Tara was top scorer on the Lady Cougars soccer team and won the lead role in the college production of Antigone, which by the way they are performing in the original Greek. Her essay on chaos theory as an investment strategy will be in the next issue of Fortune magazine, the same week she’ll appear as a model in Vogue. How she does what she does and still makes Phi Beta Kappa is a wonderment to us all. And, yes, she is still volunteering at the homeless shelter.’

This is rough on us whose children are not paragons. Most children aren’t. A great many teenage children go through periods when they loathe you and go around slamming doors and playing psychotic music and saying things like ‘I wish I had never been born,’ which is a red-hot needle stuck under your fingernail. One must be very selective, writing about them for the annual newsletter: ‘Sean is becoming very much his own person and is unafraid to express himself. He is a lively presence in our family and his love of music is a thing to behold.’

I come from Minnesota, where it’s considered shameful to be shameless, where modesty is always in fashion, where self-promotion is looked at askance. Give us a gold trophy and we will have it bronzed so you won’t think that we think we’re special. There are no Donald Trumps in Minnesota: We strangled them all in their cribs. A football player who likes to do his special dance after scoring a touchdown is something of a freak.

To read all of Keillor’s piece click HERE

So what do you think of Christmas Letters? Do you send them/get them?

Have any Christmas memories/stories you want to share this week?

Do you like Christmas? Why or Why not?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are You Kiddin’ Me?

These words of Jesus, found in Matthew 5:38-42, may be some of the most difficult to practice:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Some questions:
  • As you read this what are the first things that come to your mind?
  • How is God present in this passage? How does it reflect his character?
  • How does God "model" this for us?
  • What does this look like in a fallen world of evil?
  • Can this be done?
  • Do you teach your children this?
  • Is Jesus promoting pacifism?

* * *

What else in on your mind this week?

I really am interested in your thoughts, and I would like to encourage others (read-but-don’t-post folks) to jump in this week and let us know what’s on your mind.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Watch Your Mouth!

Today’s Baby Dedication was really neat. Gary did a great job of putting it together. His words, along with the words of the Elders, were powerful and helpful. The whole assembly made me proud to be a part of such a wonderful church.

Here is the preaching text for Sunday the 10th of December:

Matthew 5:33-37

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your `Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ `No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Some questions for you:

What is your first impression?

Can you think of similar texts in the Bible?

Why do people feel the need to say, “I swear on a stack of Bibles, on my Momma’s grave, etc.?” Is that parallel to what Jesus is saying?

We all tend to exaggerate/embellish things, some more than others. Is this wrong? Why? When?

What do you think Jesus is really getting at with these words?

How does speech affect community?

Tony and I ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on Saturday. I won’t bore the uninterested with thoughts about that in this post, but If you want to read more about it, click on the link Tecumseh Marathon Experience.