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Jesus puts us in the difficult places

You may wonder, or maybe not, where I get my ideas for what I blog about. This blog is mainly about how we as Christians can live out justice in our world. Sometimes I have other topics that I address, but in general as I read the news or religous publications I look for things that catch my eye and then I talk about it. And so it is that I can upon this article.

It is about the importance of faith to those who are gay. It is a great article that defines the real issue about where churches stand homesexuality. "According to its website, more liberal denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a civil-rights matter. They generally believe it is a fixed, unchosen, normal, natural and morally neutral sexual orientation for a minority of adults.

More conservative denominations and Christians tend to view homosexuality as a profound evil. They generally believe it is changeable, chosen, abnormal, unnatural and immoral behavior, regardless of the nature of the relat…

Scandal alert: St. Philip's Youth Minister is getting arrested...sort of

Thats right. On October 28th I will be arrested at St. Philip's! For good. But not permanently. I am participating in a fundraiser for MDA and Jerry's Kids. I am raising money to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy in all of its many forms. If you do not know about md, it is a nasty disease that eats away at your muscular system and makes your generally weak and unable to function. Unfortunately many of the people that face the disease are children. The money not only goes to find a cure for the different forms of this disease but also for camps and retreats for those who are suffering. This is one way we can be the Church for a group of people who are probably often forgotten in the shuffle. If you are interested in helping out, here is my link: https://www.joinmda.org/roundrock2010/youth


And yes, on October 28th I will be arrested at St. Philip's around lunch time. You are welcome to come watch me get taken to 'jail.'


Thank you and God bless,

David …

A Prayer for today...

God I am struggling today. Something bad has happened and I don't know how to feel about it. I don't understand why people turn to violence when they are hurting. I want to be angry at him but I know that is not your way. I pray for his family and for his soul, have mercy upon him. Lord I pray for the people at UT who are scared, I pray for the parents that are worried about their children.

Lord I pray for myself and for your people that we might be forgiven for what we have not done to teach this world about your love. Help us to comfort those who suffer and to bring your kingdom to our world. God give us patience, understanding and love to all those who need us today.

In Christ's holy name, Amen.

A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O…

Social Networking and Christianity

This last Sunday at junior high youth we discussed being a Christian in a social networking world. This is an extremely important conversation that we need to have as a Christian because there is no direct scripture correlation to social networking. I can’t image the writers of scripture understanding facebook or half of the short hand that we tend to use today.

We have to use the principles that we learn from scripture in addition to our tradition, reason and experience through the help of the holy spirit to figure out what we are to do with things like this. Facebook, twitter, etc… are just tools. They are neither evil nor good, but can be used greatly for each. At youth we came up with our 10 commandments of social networking:
1. Don’t put something you wouldn’t want your mom reading.
2. Only get a facebook when your parents are ok with it.
3. Protect your login info!
4. Be kind! No put downs
5. Don’t spread rumors
6. Never tell your location
7. Leave your contact informati…

Music Tames the Savage Beast Within

http://wimp.com/remarkableexperience/

Watch the video. Music I believe is a direct link to our souls. If music can have that effect on a German soldier, what can musical worship do to you?

A Student's Prayer

Dear God,

I leave today and I am a little nervous, but mostly excited.  Lord you gave Solomon wisdom to make the right decisions; I could use a little wisdom as I head away from home.  I know there will be lots of temptations, so go ahead and deliver me from those too.  I am gonna make new friends right?  Because most of mine are going in different directions and I don't know if those relationships will be the same anymore.  Take care of my parents because they are having a hard time with me growing up.  Help me be patient with them as I am anxious to do my own thing.  I do love them and I thank you for the lessons of life and faith that they have taught me.  Jesus, help me see this journey through your eyes as an opportunity to increase your kingdom through my actions in love you and loving my neighbor.  I am going to mess up, so please be patient with me and provide lots of forgiveness. I promise to try and hang out with you each day, but I will probably be distracted from time…

Teens and Worship

This past Sunday our fearless leader, Dr. Dale Schultz spoke about passionate worship and you. He shared that the most important part should redefine worship for you. Worship is dynamic when our hearts are tuned to God. The two most important worship experiences of my life were very different. One was rockin praise With Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. The other was an Anglican worship, high Church, liturgical experience. The point is, style doesn't matter if your heart is there. We all need worship, but especially you youth out there need worship. Our souls call out for the divine and if we are not giving our hearts to worship on a regular basis we become dry.  The kind of dry of a person walking through a desert who needs water.  What does worship feel like when we are devoted to God?  "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,  it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy."  Isaiah 35:1.…
I have been thinking about the concept of radical hospitality today as it pertains to our youth program.  The teenage years are an important time in the life of a person, and it is one of the most important times for faith development.  Something like 90 percent of the people who become Christians do so before the age of 18. It is a big deal we create a home for the young people in our Church.

In the last couple of years we have struggled to get our younger youth to commit to our youth group.  I believe it is vital for us to reach out to as many youth as possible and so starting this fall we are making some changes that I believe will allow our hopitallty be radical to teenagers in this important time.

We will have a separate night for the Junior High and the Senior High.  The reasoning for this is so that we can have activities that are tailored for each group.  Sunday nights will be focused on Junior High and Wednesday nights will be focused on Senior High.  To foster …

Saturday in Germany

It has truly been an amazing two days here in Berlin.  So much has happened and I do not even know how to put it in words. 

On Thursday I participated  in the Church and Society discussion in preparation for legislation.  There were several legislations on genocide and extrajudicial killings, but the discussion centered around the idea of giving Pastor's the right to perform same sex marriages in states and countries where it is legal for such things to happen.  After a lively debate, the legislation was recommended for affirmation by the general legislative body.

I am a little concerned about the three legislations about gay and lesbian marriage.  First I need to say that I struggle with the issue of Christianity and homosexuality.  The Biblical witness is pretty clear on its stance that it is a sin.  But there are many things in the Biblical witness that we have faithfully struggled with and decided through reason, experience and tradition that we would not follow the scripture …

Welcome to Germany

I finished my trek across the Atlantic at about 11am (4am central standard time) when I arrived at the Estrella in Berlin. Nothing too exciting from the flights, except for being extremely cold while flying across the ocean and getting maybe one hour of sleep.  That's ok because I don't feel jet-lagged at all even after my 4 hour nap.

After checking in and registering I decided to do some unguided sight seeing.  Without a map. Not a word of German in my vocab.  (OK well danke does count!)  It wasn't a total failure as I enjoyed walking around seeing the differences in the way this city is laid out compared to cities in the US.  I really wanted to enjoy some good German food (this was our only meal not taken care of) but I could not even read the signs to see what I was ordering and I was shy about jumping up and asking the person.  So that was a fail and I was a little disapointed in myself that I ended up eating at McDonalds.  Fly across the ocean to eat at McDonalds. I d…

Bahamas Arrival

We made it safe and sound and are staying at St. Micheal's United Methodist Church at the grace of the congregation and Rev. Stubbs. We met the staff of BMH, Matt, Abe, Sarah and KP. We are looking forward to a great week of fun and hard work. Tomorrow is our excursion day that includes a trip to Fincastle Fort, the Straw Market, lunch at a local restaurant and wait for it...Paradise island. Look for updates each day!

An end to my sermon but not the end...

From Ellissa Slape:

As I pulled into the HEB on 620, the rain was coming down in sheets. An elderly lady loaded down with bags, barely covered with a rain poncho made her way towards O’Connor. I quickly exited the parking lot, drove up beside her and asked if I could give her a ride home. She simply replied, “No English” and kept walking. Although I don’t speak Spanish, I was able to communicate that I would like to give her a ride home. Cautiously, she agreed. I drove her home and we said our good-byes.

I didn’t even go back to the store. I kept thinking about your sermon last Sunday. This was my freedom. I was able to help someone from another culture that spoke another language without wondering if I “should’ or even “could”. The more I thought about it, not only was it my “Freedom”, but also my “Responsibility” as a Christian. We often get so caught up in our own lives and take our own freedom for granted we forget our responsibility to others.

What is your story of Fr…

Free at Last, Free at Last!

Martin Luther King Jr. was free to lead a violent rebellion against an oppressive state.  He was free, and many of us, if we lived in a society that treated us like the way the US treated the African American community would respond with violence.  But King was a Christian.  And he had finer understanding of that than I think just about anyone else had in the 20th century.

King was free to live out violently.  Instead he listened to Christ's words and chose a path of active non violence that changed a country.

That was King's story.  What is your story of living responsibly free? How are you making a difference? How are you writing the end of my sermon?

New Wine into Old Wine Skins

Mark 2:22: And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.

What a curious scripture we have here today.  I ran across this in my daily reading and I began pondering on it.  Jesus is talking about the sabbath with the Pharisees and then all the sudden he pulls out two pithy statements about new patches on old cloaks and new wine in old wine skins.  Curious indeed.

The religious powers that be of Jesus day where the Pharisees.  They were the keepers of the law and they kept to it very strictly.  Jesus is bringing a fresh, new way of experiencing God that if was kept to this old way of doing religion would make the wineskin burst.  There are two challenges to us in this scripture.  The first is the fact that we can't let our faith get stale.  Anyone who has exercised can tell you that you can not keep doing the same exercises in the same way if yo…

World Cup Greatness

I have been captured by the world cup this year! I could not help but be captivated by the US team that has faced adversity but persevered.  In their second game, the referees disallowed a goal that should have counted and given the US a win.  That goal and another goal in the third game almost cost them a chance to advance.  Instead, with less than three minutes left in the game the US was able to score a goal, allowing them not only a chance to advance but to win their pool.  Perseverance.  The team lived it, and we as Christian can learn a little something from their actions.

This life that we live is full of hard knocks, difficult times that leave us questioning how it is that we can continue.  Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament, understood adversity.  In speaking to his student Timothy he says: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the …

The Way Forward

The world can change. We can change. I truly believe this, and I think that it is an important concept of Christianity.  There are many Christian world views, but one of the most common is the idea that the world is the way the is and that is how its going to be.  This idea was the dominant theme for Medieval Christianity.  The King was the King because God made him that way.  The surf was poor, because God had made him that way.

We still have vestiges of this thought in our current spirituality.  In popular Christianity, the entire goal has become to 'convert' or 'save' souls for the afterlife and not worry too much about changing the world.  I believe that if we examine some things that Jesus said we will see that Jesus was not just about life eternal after death, but in creating a kingdom of God on Earth through divinely inspired human actions.

One example is something we all are probably familiar with, the Lord's prayer (where Jesus says pray this). Christ says…

Thoughts on Hell

Hell is not a subject that is talked about very much these days, but I believe we need to understand hell, to understand what Jesus wants us to do with our lives.  Jesus talks about hell many times.  Let me rephrase that, Jesus is translated as using the word hell many times.  Lets check out a few verses shall we? First lets look at the sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5:22, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." And a few verses later, 5:30, "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." 

The Greek word used is geena transliterated as Gehenna which is an actual, physical place south of Jerusalem.  Most Christians when they see the word hel…