Showing posts from May, 2012

Coming a blog near you

Dear Friends, For the next three weeks I will be at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota working through my third year of  my doctorate program.  So, I am going to shift gears and I will be blogging about what I am learning.  I pray this will offer two blessings.  One it is a great way for me to process and share with you.  Second, it is a great ways for you to hear a bit about what I am learning and respond in the comments.  Please, it really is okay to post a comment. Over the three weeks I will take three classes. June 4-8 is about preaching in a context.   See my last post about our geography impacting our faith. June 11-15 is about parables...stories Jesus told that challenge us, even offend us, or stories that have a sideways message. June 18-22 is a week devoted to learning more about writing my dissertation. I will try to share with you twice each week or when the spirit moves me...and the wireless internet connection allows. I appreciate your prayers...may t

Where are you from?

I grew up in Iowa.  And even though I was a city slicker (living in both Cedar Rapids and Des Moines), what most people know about Iowa is corn.  Every state is known for something.  Wisconsin has cheese or beer.  New Hampshire (where I served my first church) is known as the granite state...and having tried to dig a garden there I know full well why!  Idaho of course is linked to the potato.  Even though these images are a bit cliche and there is always more to a state than any one item, the item also points to a certain truth. In the pages of Acts we see references to some of the places where Paul penned letters that are a part of the New Testament. Acts 17 details Paul in Thessalonica...and to whom Paul will write 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Acts 18 tells of Paul in whom Paul will write 1 & 2 Corinthians. Acts 19 tells of Paul in whom Paul will write Ephesians. Within these chapters we hear hints of what was going on when Paul found


Acts 13 When you saw the blog title for today, did some names and faces fluttered through your mind?  Who are the people who bring the word 'friend' to life for you? Usually our friends are people who we can count on, trust, be honest with, and are there for us when we need them most.  Friends are the people who are a walking embodiment of the word, 'love'.  Yet, on the other hand, words often fail to fully capture or describe what a 'friend' means to us. Barnabas and Saul were friends. Barnabas in chapter 9:27  is the one who comes to Saul's defense.  Barnabas lends his credibility as a disciple to Saul, essentially saying "I will take responsibility for this person who once tried to round up early followers of Jesus like some vigilante.  I trust that his conversion is credible."  It is a huge risk for Barnabas.  It is incredibly vulnerable for them both. Which are also attributes of friends, right?  They take risks for us.  They w


Acts 12:1-16 Peter was in prison and surrounded by sixteen soldiers who were supposed to make sure he did not escape.  Asleep on one of the guards shoulders, in the middle of the night, Peter was nudged by an angel (a messenger of God).  And while Peter got up and followed, he thought it was all a dream. Outside in the cool evening air, eventually he came to his senses. Rhoda, who worked as a servant in Mary's house heard the knock on the door.  When she saw that it was Peter she was so overwhelmed with joy that...she forgot to open the gate.  She rushed back into the house.  "You'll never believe who is here...Peter!" "Nah," everyone pessimistically retorted, can't be...he was in jail. Why is it in the Bible people so often discount the witness of women?  It happened on Easter morning when the women raced back from the empty tomb to tell the good news of great joy!  It happened in the early church.  And it still happens today.  When


Acts 7:2-54 More than 1/3 of the book of Acts is speeches, confessions of faith, testimonies, talking, sermonizing, yadda, yadda, yadda. No wonder people really have not read this book of the Bible.  After the "begot" sections of Genesis, I think reading sermons are always a little dry.  For me, sermons are a "had to be there moment."  The next best alternative is to see a video of a sermon...but that will fail to capture the atmosphere of the sanctuary.  The next best alternative is to listen to the sermon...but that will fail to capture gestures.  And when all else fails, you can read a sermon and still get something wonderful out of it.  But when you view a sermon, listen to a sermon, or read a sermon the key reason why it doesn't really work is that it becomes an isolated, individualistic exercise.  It becomes about you.  A sermon is always preached in a context to a group of people.  Or as I like to say, a sermon preached in an empty sanctuary

The Wisdom of Waiting

Acts 5:33-42 After Peter and John healed the man at the Beautiful Gate, it created a ruckus in the temple.  The high priests and governing council who were in charge of keeping things calm and in control questioned Peter and John and asked them to stop performing signs.  They demanded them to stop preaching about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter said he could not do that. It was a tense moment.  To be sure, if we were in the high priests sandals and someone was out in front of our church causing a ruckus, healing people and saying we were responsible for someone's death, we would take offense at that.  We'd call the police.  We'd want them to stop saying things that hurt and made things feel out of control. Peter does not stop preaching and teaching. Again he is brought before the council. Then there is the beautiful passage above.  Gamaliel said that the best thing the council could do was wait. Wait to see if this teaching and preaching about