Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘scripture’

theology-cartoon

Theology is a word I have mostly avoided until starting quarter three of the Hillsong Ministry School at Restore Church, Havre de Grace. I mean, it’s not a “bad” word,  it just seems, on the front end, as being one of those words coupled with “religion,” which has gotten a pretty bad rap in recent years.

But honestly, theology is just a study of the divine, a study of God, a study of the big questions and how they impact our every day life. In some form or another, we have all grappled with some of the big questions: forgiveness, sin, justice, salvation, etc. And as we engage with others, we will be asked along the way, “why do you believe what you believe?” And if we have spent any time at all studying or searching (as in research) for the answers, we are theologians too. So, for this season, I will be embracing this idea of being capable of theological curiosity and adventure. 🙂

The biggest impact of a big topic that has impacted my life directly is my understanding of the sovereignty of God. This simple truth has sustained me through the loss of my husband and the a host of circumstances that could be perceived as negatives. From Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” to Isaiah 14:24, “The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, . . . ” God is God.

Another personal study I took upon myself was many years ago as I search for the “secret place” of God, referenced in Psalm 91. I wanted to “hear” from God and I wanted to “dwell” with God and so I went looking. And although I could not live there 24/7, I did have a taste of heaven and entered for that Holy of Holies.

If we don’t pursue understanding through study, we may actually mislead others or worse, allow ourselves to be misled. I remember, as a younger Christian worrying about teaching that could take me off the mark. For instance, I followed a very popular but conservative teacher who was adamant that theater and music when “performed” in a church service was not worship but prideful etc. Another time, I remember visiting a church that called on the congregation to imagine that a microphone stand was Satan and to laugh at it [him]. And during the heyday of charismatic movement, there were many many abuses of implied miracles like gold dust manifesting from the hands of the anointed.

The Bible remains the foundation (having stood the test of time) for any study and from it, we can build our understanding and confirm our faith. I like the idea of the Canon of Scripture being translated as a “measuring rod.” That makes a lot of sense. But in order for the Bible to be a successful measuring rod, there must be understanding and, I think, wisdom. The tendency by many is to cherry pick the Bible for the parts that support an intention and discount the rest. This is flawed theology. But one thing I have learned with certainty from my lead pastor, Jess Bousa, the bible must be read in the light of the culture in which it was written. It will never be true for our culture if it was not true for them. On the other hand, there were cultural biases for them, that cannot be overlayed our own, like dietary laws, punishments, and medical assessments, just to name a few. We must be willing to reason together.

In the end, we must embrace and acknowledge the power, existence, and revelation that comes through the Presence of the Holy Spirit, all of which will/should align with the Bible. Let us take care not to blast and judge others before we have searched diligently for common ground first.

The Bible is a tool for personal study, personal revelation, and, like an onion, has layers within it. What we learn at first blush is different than what we learn after multiple readings, corroborating commentary, and preaching/teaching. It’s a living, breathing process.

Read Full Post »

Start here.

To be faith-full is to believe. . . . in something or someone.

What do I believe? Or you?

Essentially, there is always something people fall back on. For some folks, it’s an amorphous universe while for others, it’s ego alone, and for still others, it’s God or Allah or Buddha. In any these cases, there is still prayer and there is communication that materializes out of a core of understanding or a set of assumptions about the created world and/or the spirit realm.

Through scripture, those who follow and believe in the One God and ultimately, in the Christ who came from that God to complete a covenant/contract, we are given some ways to discover where we land on the continuum of faith and belief. For instance:

FaithLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. [Romans 12:9-18, NIV]

Prayer manifests more readily out of one of these practices or attitudes. In fact, prayer comes naturally as a by-product of these behaviors. But if this is not our characteristic way, then we may have to be more intentional and more conscious of choosing to pray, of asking for transformation into a man or woman of faith.

Read Full Post »

Come. It’s an invitation. Come see. Come along and be a part. Please come (don’t stay behind). Come with us. But it can also be a command: Come! Come here. Come on. Come away. Move! Why do I resist this word? Why do I want to go the other way? Why retreat?

Revelation 22:17, 20 b
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. . . Come Lord Jesus. 

It’s a commitment to come along. It means walking or running forward. Anything else is a decrease or standing still.

When I accepted the truth of Christ as the unique being He is, I did not fully understand the implications, but I did hear the call to participate in the God Presence anyway. It was quite simple, just these words, “Come … and drink.” And these words, “Come Lord Jesus.” And with my willingness to move forward, Christ moved closer to me into a mutual embrace.

Thirty-three years ago, a friend asked me to read the New Testament as an exercise, an acting exercise if you will. In the same way that an actor should read a script for the first time, I was asked to put these words, “if this were true,” at the beginning of the text and suspend all judgments until the end. It was in this way that I heard the invitation as well as the command, to come. Like stepping through a door, I knew I would be entering a different world. For awhile, I tried to straddle the threshold, but in the end, there is only, “come” and then a decision. It’s only after the decision that a person can really know, grow, and change. Even Yoda had it right, “Do… or do not. There is no try.”

I began this particular journaling/blogging walk through the scriptures back in 2009. It’s been a very slow investigation and yet quite revealing. Of course, there have been lost days and lost verses, so I assumed I would just start over again once I finished. But is there a point? Have I lost the momentum? Am I too scattered?

I felt an actual resistance to reaching the end of Revelation. That is, until I read that same call, that allure to drawing closer, the beckoning voice of the Holy Spirit with a promise of more and deeper. Come.

What will that look like? I don’t know. But I must go.

Last week, I went to Hershey Park (amusement park) and in an uncharacteristic and spontaneous moment, I agreed to ride a roller coaster with which I was totally unfamiliar. I did not know how fast it would go or how steep it would climb or drop. I had not been watching it while walking around the park looking for my family. We met up at the entrance of the ride and they said, “Come on Mom,” and I went. It was terrifying. But I survived, as we mostly do. I screamed, I prayed, I closed my eyes, I opened my eyes. I experienced a mini-life.

God does not intend for me to know much about the ride. He just wants me to come along.

Read Full Post »

To my faithful readers and subscribers as well as those who are new to my writing, I wanted to give you a heads up that I will be taking a break from my systematic walk through the New Testament in order to do a Lenten series.

As I considered where to begin, I imagined Jesus’s 40 days in the desert. Although it is often called his time of temptation, I believe he was seeking confirmation and enlightenment, communion with the Father, and focus for the days beyond. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, I will be doing the same, based on a series of scriptures taken from the Old Testament and the New.

Please join me on this daily journey, a type of discipline, a quest for understanding.

Some years ago, a dear priest friend of mine always said that Lent should be a time of letting go, a fasting, if you will, from some of the life’s luxuries but it is also a time for adding things of the spirit, time devoted to the things of God.

This is my Lenten offering to God and to you.

Read Full Post »

Mortimer's First Garden

While some folks may focus in on the correct/rebuke others portion of this verse, I’m much more drawn to the idea of talking, sharing with people with “great patience.” With patience as the umbrella, even a correction would be done with utmost concern and gentleness. That makes sense.

II Timothy 4:2
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

I hate “sparring” about verses in the Bible. Face it, there are tons of people who know the scriptures a lot better than I do and they have committed themselves to memorizing hunks of useful phrases, ready to debunk (correct/rebuke) and possibly even “expose” me and my understanding or interpretation of the words. I don’t go there anymore.

But I’m thinking today that “preach the Word” may actually mean “preach Jesus” moreso than expound on scriptures. For me, that means to speak about Jesus and his life, to explain the concept of a Christ in this world, to share the impact of Jesus and His Holy Spirit within me, to give the gift of what I personally know. When I add the words from scripture to my personal story, when I share how those words helped me understand the truth of the Christ in my life, then it’s a package of love. I am not a leader/teacher/preacher. I am no Timothy. I am just a follower of that Way.

But, what is preaching? Is it part of my role at all? Is it just proclaiming, teaching, exhorting, advocating, and admonishing or can it be all of these things? When I purposefully add “patience” to any of these definitions, the tenor of the words is much softened. It’s more like explaining or story-telling to a child, spoken with patience and even love. It’s not self-edifying, it’s not deprecating or sanctimonious. It’s not screaming or challenging. It’s not clever. That other kind of preaching/teaching is incompatible with patience, or at least, in my mind, they are not easily partnered together.

Jesus is patient; has been and will be throughout time. God is patient. Love is patient.

The other day, I read a cute story to some kids at the library in which Mortimer the mouse planted a seed and was quite disgruntled the next day when there was nothing to show for it. We all know that seeds take time to sprout. Why aren’t we as loving and patient with the Word?

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: