Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

We are in Sydney preparing to fly to Brisbane this afternoon. We had planned to go down town last night to see the fireworks, but when we started hearing and seeing the reports of how many people (million plus) would be in a relatively small space we decided to stay put. We had a nice evening enjoying the wonderful 80ish degree weather; we got some food and ate it beside the pool. I fell asleep a long time before midnight; I had been up since around 4 a.m.

It’s a little after 7 this morning, January 1, which is about 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve for you. I think I have pretty well adjusted to the time change. From what I’ve read it is easier to adjust going to this way than the other; we’ll see.

I hope to check in with you later from Brisbane.

Tassie II

I’m up early this morning – it’s about 4.30 on Monday here, which is early Sunday afternoon where you are. I hope you had a good time of worship.

We arrived in Tasmania mid-morning on Saturday. It was a strange but good feeling to return to this unusually beautiful place. We picked up a rental car (van) at the airport. I managed to stay left on the road and not hit anyone. We were amused by many of the road signs (see slide show).

After picking up the van we headed for Eaglehawk Neck, a beautiful place about an hour from Hobart. We got some fish and chips at a little place called Dunalley. The guy who cooked the fish and chips came out and talked to us; another interesting guy with lots of theories on cultural difference between Americans and Australians.

The room we had in Tasmania was wonderful. It has a great view of the Tasman Sea and was very comfortable for all of us. As I write I can hear the tide rolling in and see the sky becoming light. We could have stayed here a lot longer...

Saturday evening we got a few things at a little general store in Murdunna and had a nice home cooked meal in our room. We also spent some time exploring on the beach. It was a really nice evening. Good memories were made. It’s hard to put in words really.

Sunday morning we made our way into Hobart to worship with the Eastern Shore Church of Christ. When we walked in the building we were warmly welcomed, and in a matter of seconds I came face to face with Leigh, the young man mentioned in the previous post.

Worship was simple and familiar. It was neat to take communion and be reminded that we are all connected to one another no matter where in the world we are. The church is not much larger than it was when I was here, but it’s a different set of people. Some have died; some have moved on; some have fallen away.

The highlight of our time here was Sunday afternoon. Leigh and his wife Carol insisted that we come to their house for Sunday lunch. It was such a wonderful time of fellowship and remembrance. Leigh was a teenager when I was here. It was interesting to hear him tell things that deeply impressed him than I have long forgotten. We used to run together, and he quickly pulled out an old race number and a photo from one of our races together (see slide show for the photo).

A couple of the things Leigh mentioned were how when I had the youth over to my place that I always made popcorn and insisted that it be served with Pepsi. He also said that he remembered very clearly the words I spoke to him when he asked to be baptized. He asked me if I remembered. I said, “no.” He said, “You said, ‘It’s about time!’” We laughed. It is really hard to describe how Leigh’s spiritual formation made me feel.

After our time with Leigh and Carol we went up Mount Wellington and then over to the little neighborhood (Lindisfarne) where I lived for 2 years. It was a strange feeling walking the streets of this little village nearly 25 years later. We went to the grocery store around the corner from my flat and bought some things to cook for our (late) evening meal.

After enjoying that meal we spent the rest of daylight on the beach. More precious memories.

Later this morning we fly back to Sydney. I hope to upload this post from there.

[And obviously I did!]

Saturday, December 29, 2007


We are in Tasmania! I’ll have much more to say later, along with some pictures.

It is Sunday afternoon here, and we are eating with a young man and his family. He has wireless internet in his house! How cool (and convenient for me). I baptized this man when he was a boy. It is amazing to see him today: four kids and a leader in the church.

We had a nice time of worship this morning, and I will have more to say about that later.

I should be able to post again sometime tomorrow.

Blessings to all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Evening in Sydney

We arrived in Sydney about 4.30 Friday evening. The 10+ hour flight was ok. We experienced turbulence for about the first 2 hours, but the air finally smoothed out. The pilot climbed up and down the sky looking for “good” air. We ended up at 40,000 feet for a lot of the trip. We flew on an Airbus 330. (The flight to Honolulu was on a Boeing 767.)

We cleared immigration and customs fairly quickly and were met with beautiful sunny skies and a temperature in the low 80s (26 degrees Celsius – Australia and New Zealand use the metric system). We waited for our bus to take us to the hotel and met some interesting characters. I met a Ukrainian guy, and we chatted about Russia and Turkey.

Our shuttle bus driver was a typical fun-loving Aussie bloke (guy). He entertained us as we drove to the hotel. The boys sat up front and enjoyed their first of experience of driving on the left side of the road. The bus driver later met us and helped us figure out how to get downtown; really nice guy who went beyond his responsibilities.

After a little clean-up we walked to a subway station and made our way to the heart of Sydney, the Circular Quay. We hopped off the subway and immediately found ourselves in the invigorating environment of the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city on a stunningly beautiful evening. We slowly walked over to the world famous Opera House. Later we had some fish and chips, and after 21 hours of “awake time” for me, we headed back to the hotel via the subway. Zzzzzzz

I slept about 5 hours. I got up around 3.30 this morning (Saturday), which would have been 11.30 Friday morning for you. I hope to get my body “swung around” in the next day or so. Everyone else seems to be doing well; they are still asleep.

We leave for Tasmania at 8 this morning, and we’ll be down there for a couple of days. We are renting a van, so pray for our safety. “Stay left; stay left; stay left!” I am pretty excited about returning to Tasmania and worshiping with the church that really began my education about ministry.

Here are a few photos from last night.

I am doubtful about my ability to post for the next couple of days. I will still write, so we may all have some catching up to do at the first of the week.

Have a blessed Sunday, and please know that I think of you constantly (in a sabbatical, non-stressful way, of course).

Visiting the Past

As I write this we are crossing the International Dateline, moving from Thursday to Friday in an instant. Even though we moved quickly, instantly, into the future, missing most of Thursday, this trip is really about the past. It’s going to be a quick trip to my past, and I get to take my family with me.

I lived in Hobart, Tasmania (island state of Australia) from 1981-1983. I graduated from Lipscomb in June of ’81 and flew to Hobart in July. I traveled and lived with another Lipscomb grad, Paul Stubblefield. We worked with the Eastern Shore Church of Christ as “apprentices.” It was a wonderful formative experience. I learned a lot. The people there were very helpful and probably a lot more tolerant than I realized at the time. I was young and full of zeal and other things, mainly myself. Anyway, as usual, God works in us and through us in spite of us. We plan to worship with the Eastern Shore church on Sunday. I have not kept up with them very well and don’t know who is still there. I tried to inform them that I am coming, but I’m not sure that got my email.

When I lived in Tasmania I also managed to spend some time in Sydney. I was there 2-3 times for various reasons. Kedra came over with a group of students from Lipscomb in the summer of 1982 to help churches in Sydney, so I have very pleasant memories. We spent 3 weeks together there, and then she came to Tasmania for a little while as well. My parents came to Tasmania at about the same time; they all flew back to the U.S. together.

I also spent a little time in Queensland around the city of Brisbane. It is a beautiful place. We are going there for a couple of days, following a couple of days in Tasmania. We plan to visit the Australian Zoo (I wish the Croc Hunter was still alive!) among other things. I hope also to journey out to places like Toowomba and Gympie, places with churches that I visited in the early 80s. They grow a lot of pineapple in Queensland. I remember it being incredibly good! I hope to try it again.

Our trip to Oz (Australia) will be quick; that is by design. I want to have a little more time to spend in New Zealand, where we spent more time (1985-1989) and still have a fair amount of contact.

[Now on the ground in Sydney. More later.]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hey, Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?

Let the time confusion begin. My watch allows me to keep 2 times zones, so I am going to leave one on Indiana time and other on local time. Right now I am in a hotel lobby in Honolulu; it’s 3.30 a.m. here. Today we fly to Sydney, Australia, where, right now it is 12.30 a.m. Friday. We cross the International Dateline sometime today and arrive in Sydney Friday evening. So we leave Honolulu Thursday morning at 8 a.m. and arrive in Sydney late Friday afternoon, but it’s only a 10 hour flight. Can you say Jet Lag?

Yesterday was good. We left the house around 2 a.m. We picked up Matthew S. and Mark R.; Mark went along to keep Matthew company. That was nice, wasn’t it? We took the church van, due to the number of people and bags. Matthew and Mark (we had Luke in the van as well) threatened to take the van to certain places and take pictures and then demand money for the pictures not to be shown, so if you see any pictures of the church van in places where you would not expect a church van, then you know what is going on. Ha ha ha.

Our flight from Indy to Chicago was on time and smooth. We had a 3 hour layover in Chicago, which wasn’t too bad. Then the flight to Chicago to Honolulu, slightly delayed, went well also; it was just long (nearly 9 hours). Not much to report really, which is the way we want our flights to be.

It is such a blessing being together with the 5 people in this world that I love the most. What a wonderful thing is unfolding. I am not worthy but extremely thankful!

Please pray for us. We'll remember you in prayer as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Made it Half Way

On the ground in Hawaii. Left at 2 a.m. Very tired.

Everything went very well. I'll have 10 hours on the flight to Sydney tomorrow to talk about it.

Check back later.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

Wow, how the times change. Just a few short years ago Kedra and I would have been up trying to hold the kids off while we prepared the family room for the mad dash to see what Santa brought to our four kids. When Lester and Luke were younger they would often wake us up during the 4 o’ clock hour. Good, precious, blessed memories!

Today it is almost 7 a.m. No one else is up; Lester is not here. I am blogging on Christmas morning. I’m ok with all that, though I am fighting a tinge of sadness. The possible sadness is quickly overcome by the present joy.

Lester is getting married in August (the 9th), so Christmas customs have changed, which is fine. We had our usual great meal last night. Kedra makes the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. The blessed bird is surrounded by all the things that bring it even more glory.

Following our meal we exchanged all of our gifts last night. We usually do some on Christmas eve and then some on Christmas morning, but Lester went to be with Maddie’s family last night. He will celebrate Christmas with them this morning and then return this afternoon to the large gathering at my parents.

Yesterday the boys and I went our annual Christmas eve road trip. We usually spend 3-4 hours driving around in the country. This year we chose western Lawrence and eastern Martin county.

We were looking for and found Padanaram. Here are some links that describe a little about it.

Little History

Interesting Message Board

Brief Description and Stats

Interesting place.

The last place we stopped was at the fire tower in Martin State Forest. We climbed about half way up as the sun was setting. It was a very nice way to end one of my favorite afternoons of the entire year. I love my 3 sons and the time that I spend with them. [I love Rebecca dearly as well, but I don’t think she would “get” the driving around in the country thing.]

Today will be an unusual Christmas. We’ll do the usual gathering this afternoon, but this morning we all have to finish packing for the trip to Oz and NZ. We leave at 2 a.m. in the morning. We fly out of Indy at 6 to Chicago. Then about 8 we leave for Honolulu, an 8-9 hour flight. We'll overnight there and then leave early the next morning for Sydney, a 10+ hour flight. I'll do my best to post somewhere along the way...

The other night we all gathered in the family room to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Would you think less of me if I told you that I had never watched this movie before? Ha ha. Well, I hadn’t. I really enjoyed watching it. It has a powerful message. I think of its message on this day, the day the world celebrates Christ’s birth. What would have happened if he had not come to us? Think about that for a little while and then thank God that he did come. Emmanuel.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Today I worshiped with the Bryantsville Church of Christ. I planned to get there about 3 minutes before it started. Otherwise I knew that Ken W. would persuade me to speak. The man is persuasive; it only took 3 minutes of me saying, "No. no. no. no. no." The next thing I know I am planning a sermon!

It was OK. It didn’t seem like work. I just told of my sabbatical plans. I then read Luke 2:1-20 and talked briefly about the simplicity of God entering the world. Mary was simple; the birthplace was simple; the shepherds were simple. This is the not the script I would have written. I would have had an educated women; the Christ child would have been born in the best hospital; and I would have had a big press conference.

What are we to make of this entry? I think it shows that God is interested in the mundane, the simple acts of service. See Matthew 25:31 ff.

I really enjoyed being with the 20 or so who gathered this morning. The building is beautiful, and they had candles and poinsettias everywhere. The song leader led a bunch of nice Christmas carols.

Their order of worship is different, and the way they commune is interesting. Always trying to amuse myself, as I watched communion unfold I silently coined the term “speed communion.” They offered thanks for the bread, and then another guy offered thanks for the juice. Then a couple of guys brought the bread, followed by a couple with the juice. I wonder what the origin of this practice is?

It’s funny what you hear when you walk in as a visitor/stranger. I heard people whispering, “Who is that?” Others, who knew, whispered back, “That’s the preacher at the Mitchell Church of Christ.”

Been busy organizing and packing this afternoon and evening.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Study Shows Marathons Aren’t Likely to Kill You


I haven’t said much about running for a while. Why? Well, I know most of you don’t understand or care (ha ha), and I have been a little injured.

I can’t remember if I mentioned it or not, but on the Tuesday before I ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon I fell really hard onto the garage floor, banging my knee. I couldn’t walk on it for a few minutes, but eventually I got it to work. The next morning I went for a 4 mile run; it kinda hurt, so I didn’t run anymore until the marathon.

During the marathon it hurt pretty bad. I was encouraged to stop at 6 miles by two trusted friends, but I didn’t. I know, I know. How dumb can you be to run 26 miles on rough, hilly trails with your knee hurting and against the advice of friends? I won’t even try to explain it. After the marathon my knee continued to hurt. I ran 3 miles a few days later, and it hurt. I waited a week; ran again; still hurt. Saw Bev (Dr. Kerr). She did her stuff, and it seemed to help, but I still had problems.

The good news is that I took off a little time, but I have been able to run the last couple of days with no pain. Yippee! I don’t know, however, if I can catch up and get enough miles in to run the Mountain Mist 50K on January 26th. Tony and I are entered, so I am going to give it my best. Training Down Under will be fun but difficult to get really long runs in. Oh well...


Today Kedra and I did a little shopping in Bloomington, after sending Lester off to Monroe City to see his future wife; he’ll return Sunday afternoon. We got quite a lot accomplished, especially in the area of getting things for our Down Under Adventure. I managed to stay in the car for a couple of stops. Why is Kedra so quickly agreeable for me to do so?

I think we are getting geared up for the big trip. We leave at 2 a.m. on Wednesday. My beloved nephew Matthew is going to take us to the airport. I won’t tell you what he did that makes him willing to do this in return for me not telling. JUST KIDDING! He is just being his usual good servant-hearted self.

Yesterday I helped Lester smoke his first couple of racks of ribs. It was quite a rite of passage. He did very well. We complicated the matter by trying cherry wood for the first time instead of hickory, plus I was gone a lot of the time. There were a few temperature issues, but it all turned all very well.

Yesterday Darrin C. and I met with someone to move further along with our plan for Capstone Ministries to help a single mom go to college. We soon will begin looking for candidates for our “scholarship.”

Here, in part, is our rough draft document:

Capstone Ministries, Inc. (Capstone) is a Christian non-profit corporation which exists to partner with the Mitchell and surrounding community to serve people in need. Capstone desires to identify and support a candidate for a degree program at Oakland City University-Bedford (OCU-B).

The Capstone Ministries Scholarship would provide financial assistance, mentoring, and other assistance for someone who has encountered obstacles to continuing their education. Providing help with the costs of childcare and transportation is the first priority of the scholarship, other assistance is likely depending upon the needs of the recipient.

Who Can Apply?

For an individual to be considered as a candidate for the Capstone Ministries Scholarship Program, such individual:
• must reside within the Mitchell Community School district
• must display adequate intent and capability for pursuit of a degree through OCU-B
• must have and be able to identify financial and practical obstacles to enrollment and pursuit of a degree at OCU-B
• if selected for the scholarship, must be willing to be involved with a caring community of mentors for support, counsel, and accountability
• must be able and willing to enroll at OCU-B for the Fall 2008 semester

Other Considerations
• The scholarship will be for one academic year, renewable for up to four years.
• Mid-semester and post-semester evaluations will be conducted and will determine whether the scholarship will be renewed for the next academic year.
• A lack of High School diploma does not eliminate you from consideration if you are able to obtain a G.E.D. prior to August 2008.

We are looking to make this an incarnational approach, where we really enter this person’s world and she ours. The design is for us to surround her with two accountability/encouragement groups. One will be a group of Christian women in a church context, and the other group will be formed on campus.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turkish Cloned Sheep and Other Thoughts

I wonder if it will be ok to sacrifice cloned sheep? Turkey just announced their successful attempt at sheep cloning, as Muslims are getting ready to sacrifice lambs.

I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of days working on the finalization of the Greece/Turkey portion of my travels; still not finished. There is so much to consider and so much to figure out. I’ve been working through a biblical atlas and a modern atlas, trying to figure out what the modern names are for ancient places. I am learning much about geography.

In Greece I am staying in Athens for a few days. I am definitely going to Thessalonika for a couple of days. While there I will try figure out how to get to ancient Berea. The Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians, you know. It’s less than a hour away.

A lot of my time in these places will be unstructured, so I will have to figure out how to get around. That alone could be interesting. I am still working on getting to Corinth and Philippi. All these places were not in my original plans, but they are relatively close to where I am going to be and seem “doable.”

In Turkey I have a lot of things set. I have a private guide for the 7 Churches of Asia Minor, and I have a few days set aside to experience Ephesus. I will be based in Kusadasi, which seems like a neat place. I have several days in Istanbul, which is ancient Constantinople. At lot of early church stuff took place there. From there I will do a few things, like go to Nicea where some very important church councils took place. The one in 325 is very important, and then one in 787, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, dealt with the use of icons. I am also trying to figure out how to get to Troas and Troy.

We are trying to get ready for the first trip. In light of Eastern trip (Russia, Greece, and Turkey) the one to Australia and New Zealand seems fairly easy, but there is still a lot of stuff to do. I think the next few days are going to be fairly active getting ready to go back to where we’ve been. I’ve let my other trip overshadow this first one, but it’s now time to begin focusing on it.

I am still finding myself wanting to hurry and rush. I’ve been doing it for so long...

It reminds me of the Alabama song, I’m in a Hurry to Get Things Done (But Don’t Know Why)

I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why

Sabbath is the answer, and this sabbatical, I think, is going to help me see that I don’t have live like this.

Be still and know.
Be still.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Evening

It’s been a good day. I am beginning to understand what is taking place. I wrote this in my sabbatical journal:

I am beginning to sense that a true break is happening, not just a few days.

I spent some time this morning experiencing The Holy Trinity icon. You can see it on this page and read about it by clicking on one of the links to your right. A couple of years ago I wrote a paper about the Orthodox church and their use of icons. I read it today and then spent some significant time in Being Still and Knowing. It was good, very good. I end that paper with this quote, which talks about the 3 “angels” from left to right:

Behind the Father is his house, with “many dwelling places.” Psalm 84 sings, “How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord Sabaoth. My heart longs, even faints, for the house of the Lord.” Before the dawn of earthly time, it was already in the Father’s mind to prepare such a place for his children.

Behind the Son, a tree. Eden’s Tree of Life or Calvary’s Tree of Death? The oak of Mamre, yes, but more.

Behind the angel of the Spirit, a holy mountain, where his still small voice can be more clearly heard. Perhaps it is the secret place of the Most High; a lonely place, where each us retreats from time to time.

Above all else, however, it is the peaceable conversation that speaks most to me, and the relaxed, unhurried quality of the three beings. When I was a child, I would awaken and hear the voices of my parents in the next room. It gave me a sense of security, knowing they were there, talking just out of sight. Much more comforting is the conversation of the Three, the voice of Holy Wisdom, speaking, perhaps from time to time, my name.

I’ve been cleaning and reworking my home office. It has been really relaxing and enjoyable. I plan on spending a lot of good time here in the next 3 months, at least when I am in the country. Today I spent some time figuring out how to best use my time in Russia. I want to see all of Andrei Rublev’s icons; they are all located in the The State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. I hope also to journey out to Sergiev Posad to the see the monastery pictured on this page. This is where Rublev was in the 1400s when he “wrote” (painted) the Holy Trinity icon.

I have also spent a fair amount of time tweaking the Greece and Turkey portion of my trip. I have a meeting tomorrow with the travel agent. I’ve been reading the book of Acts. I get so excited to think that I will see so many of the places that are mentioned in it.

A Few More Thoughts on Sabbath Keeping

Here are a few more thoughts from Mark Buchanan’s The Rest of God

The tricky thing about Sabbath, though, is it’s a form of rest unlike sleep. Sleep is so needed that, defied too long, our bodies inevitably, even violently, force the issue. Sleep eventually waylays all fugitives. It catches you and has its way with you.

Sabbath won’t do that. Resisted, it backs off. Spurned, it flees. It’s easy to skirt or defy Sabbath, to manufacture cheap substitutes in its place—and to do all that, initially, without noticeable damage, and sometimes, briefly, with admirable results. It’s easy, in other words, to spend most of your life breaking Sabbath and never figure out that this is a part of the reason your work’s unsatisfying, your friendships patchy, your leisure threadbare, your vacations exhausting.
[p. 61]

Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness. [ p. 3]

Isaiah undoubtedly would agree.

Isaiah 58:13-4

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD'S holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lesson from an Eagle

Did you happen to see the Eagles/Cowboys game yesterday (Sunday)? At the end a running back for the Eagles broke free and could have easily scored a touchdown, but instead he downed himself on the 1 yard line. Why? So his team could run the clock out and not allow the Cowboys to have the ball back. You can read about it HERE

I was immediately struck by how this guy gave up his own glory for the sake of the team. Gotta be a lesson in there somewhere...

Day 1 - Waiting to Remember

Speaking of things sneaking up on me, these words of Barbara Brown Taylor [Leaving Church, p. 140] caught my attention several weeks ago. She describes her own entry into the world of Sabbath. Her entry was a lot rougher than mine, so I don’t know if this is going to happen to me or not. I do suspect that the removal of a lot of busyness will allow lots of things to come back to mind. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. It also becomes the breeding ground for creativity.

If you decide to live on the fire that God has kindled inside of you instead of rushing out to find some sticks to rub together, then it does not take long for all sorts of feelings to come out of hiding . You can find yourself crying buckets of uncried tears over things you thought you had handled years ago. People you have loved and lost can show up with their ghostly lawn chairs, announcing they have nowhere else they have to be all day. While you are talking with them, you may gradually become aware of an aching leg and look down and see a bruise on your thigh that you did not know you had. How many other collisions did you ignore in your rush from here to there?

Frederick Buechner [Secrets in the Dark, p. 60] speaks of how we keep ourselves busy to avoid having to really think about our lives. Maybe there’s too much pain in the past? We turn on the TV, the radio; we do this or that. Distraction, after blessed distraction. We need escape from reality. Buechner challenges all this:

But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to the long journeys of our lives with all their twistings and turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.

So much has happened to us all over the years. So much has happened within us and through us. We are to take time to remember what we can about it and what we dare. That’s what entering the room means, I think. It means taking time to remember on purpose. It means not picking up a book for once or turning on the radio, but letting the mind journey gravely, deliberately, back through the years that have gone by but are not gone. It means a deeper, slower kind of remembering; it means remembering as searching and finding. The room is there for all of us to enter if we choose to, and the process of entering it is not unlike the process of praying, because praying too is a slow journey—a search to find the truth of our own lives at their deepest and dearest, a search to understand, to hear and to be heard.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday's Sermon

A written sermon is considerably different from an "embodied" one, but here are the words on a page that guided my words today [click on title of this post]. Sorry about "losing it" at the end today; it snuck up on me. I think lots of things are going to sneak up on me in the next few weeks. This is not a bad thing; it is a good thing.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here We Go

Well, here it is: the new sabbatical blog. It’s going to be different and will probably evolve over time, hopefully a reflection of my own personal evolution over the next 3 months.

Right now, on a Saturday evening that presents conflicting weather forecasts, I am uncertain of what our meeting tomorrow is going to be like. Tomorrow is my last day with the church for 3 months, so it is a little weird to be so uncertain about a day whose eve marks the beginning of major uncertainty for me. Oh well, such is life.

I hope you will check in here from time to time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sabbath Keeping, still?

This week we continue our thoughts about Sabbath by looking at Hebrews 4.

Hebrews 4:1-13

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Why were the Israelites to observe the Sabbath?
Why was Sabbath keeping so important to God?
What is the "rest"that we strive for?
What is Sabbath–the seventh day–rooted in?
Does this apply to us today? Why or why not?
What is the importance of faith?
Why does the writer talk about the word of God in this context?

What else is on your mind this week?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sabbath Keeping?

For the next couple of weeks I want us to think about the concept of Sabbath. We’ll begin with some very specific, maybe even startling, passages from the Old Covenant.

Exodus 31:12-17

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. "‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’"

Why are the Israelites to observe the Sabbath?
What is the connection between Sabbath keeping and holiness?
Desecration of the Sabbath required a death penalty. Why?
Why was Sabbath keeping so important to God?
What is Sabbath keeping rooted in?
Does this apply to us today? Why or why not?
How does passage fit with this statement? We are baptized believers participating in the life of God for the sake of others.

What else is on your mind this week?