Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Look what came in the mailbox II

Normally, I don't like proof texting (using scripture out of context to make a point), however this was cute and thought provoking.Interview of Jesus about the Church

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

God's Heart Revelaed

Saw this song/video on the web and had to share

GoD and DoG

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grace is it Cheap or Costly

Right now, I'm working through 40 Days with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It's taking more than 40 days, because I haven't been able to do the devotion ever day, and that's okay.  His comments are deep and thought provoking.  Taking my time means I don't pull a brain muscle.

For the last two days, the topic has been cheap grace.  I'm wondering if the church in the days since the Reformation has made grace so cheap and easy, that it is no longer a treasure?  When the pastor announces the forgiveness of sins during worship, do you feel something?  Or is it a "yeah, whatever, I can get this at anytime." feeling?

Grace has a cost.  The Grace we receive cost Jesus his very life.  The Grace we receive expects something of us.  Cheap grace doesn't expect a transformation, doesn't expect repentance, doesn't expect anything of you.  God's Grace not only expects repentance and transformation, it gives you the ability to make the change.

I forgot whether it was during training for prison chaplaincy or for a seminary class, but on a video a man convicted of sexual abuse said, "Don't be too quick to forgive me."  I recall thinking, he seemed to ask for a chance to live with his guilt, to truly feel the pain and understand what he had done.

During my ministry, I've met with many people in county jails and state prisons.  One individual stole money and forged checks from his parents and friends.  When I met with him behind bars, we got to talking about the 7th commandment:  You shall not steal.  For the next several months, we talked about his crime, what "made him do it", and the like.  After a while, he was hungry to hear God's word of forgiveness.  He realized the pain inflicted on others because he was feeling the pinch.  He took the courageous step of writing a letter to his mom, friends, and others.  He apologized without asking for their forgiveness.  He knew he could never do enough to balance the wrong he committed.  Now, by living with his sin and feeling racked with guilt was he able to really hear God's good news of grace and be transformed.  No longer cocky, a humility came upon him that has not left.  He found his higher power in Christ Jesus.

Ponder the cost of Grace.  Ponder what Jesus paid and how much God loves you.  This is what makes grace so grand.  God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved.  You have been saved for a reason; please don't cheapen God's grace.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What's in a title?

For a few years, I've been interested in the differences between titles of clergy mostly pastor vs minister.    For some the titles are interchangeable for protestant clergy.  I've always chaffed from one title more than the other and lately I've pondered if what people call me is a "tell" of what they expect of me in my role.

So I went to Merriam-Websters online dictionary to learn the origins of the words.  Here's what I learned: 

Pastor:  Etymology Middle English pastour, from Anglo-French, from Latin pastor herdsman,
Minister:  Etymology: Middle English ministre, from Anglo-French, from Latin minister servant

The job description for clergy in the parish requires both leading and serving.  With all the issues before the church, does it matter if the ordained leader is seen primarily as the shepherd rather than servant or vice versa?

Personally, I prefer the title pastor.  The herdsman had goals and visions for the flock.  We need to go here for water, graze here for food.  The goals and visions ensured the needs of the flock were met.

Minister is a servant who tends to the wants and the needs of others.  A minister might speak and make a request, but the master could always say, Your request is noted, and ignored.

I am called to do both duties, I think seeing myself primarily as Pastor frees me to take the long view of events, encourage others to share in the ministry of meeting needs, and be an advocate for justice.