Sun’s going down
Erin Go Bragh tobacco Knob Creek 9 Year bourbon
Happy Father’s Day!
View from the deck where we’re staying right now in Prescott, AZ.
Finished up the final track and published a little EP today.
One time, I was visiting a mainstream, large, influential American Evangelical church for a mid-week special service.
They had invited a denominational leader to come and speak.
He said in his talk–which I will not dignify by calling it a sermon–that he believed in capital punishment. With a gleam in his eye and a delighted smile, he said if it was up to him, he would “line them up and fry ‘em three-at-a-time!”
This was met with laughter, applause, and even cheers.
Then a worship song.
I knew then that the church and its leadership in America are so sick, and so twisted in on ourselves, that we have lost sight of the heart of Jesus.
The gods we worship are preference and privilege, comfort, cliques, and convenience, along with the evil spirits of nationalism and military might.
Much of the church as we see it is a shell of a thing, an empty form, having long rejected the lordship of Christ and actively quenched the Spirit.
It’s easy to see:
where tears of compassion have been replaced with condescension and anger,
where tender-hearted pleading has been supplanted by top-down dictates,
where kind, patient conversation has been subverted by orders to speak only what is allowed by a select few,
where the word “justice” is met with suspicion,
where the the poor know they will be blamed for their plight,
where the segregation of language and culture are maintained,
where the appeal to fear is made so much more than the declaration of hope,
and ESPECIALLY where’s there’s little interest in speaking about Jesus, learning about Jesus, and walking with Jesus in every day life,
and ESPECIALLY where the radical, non-violent, forgiving way of the Cross is dismissed as “not practical” and “unrealistic,”
…the glory of God has left the Temple.
But I believe our God pours fresh water into dry riverbeds.
There is a Rock that quenches the thirst of those in the wilderness.
There is a holy habitation that will not be demolished, before which the gates of hell must dissolve.
Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash
Happy Monday of Easter Week, friends! I’m giving Royal Yacht a try and so far I like it!
A prayer for today from my Anglican tradition–in hopes it will be a blessing:
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast may be made worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Resurrection of God-come-to-as-us-one-of-us–
can only be
the Declaration: no one else has to die– not one– to right the world, humanity is healed, true Light will always scatter the darkness,
the Proclamation: self-preservation is wholly unnecessary because the Holy One never saw corruption, entrusting instead of defending,
the Announcement: there is no King but Christ, making many nations one multi-lingual people of Redemption, answering to no State but Love, in Word, Spirit, Divinity,
the Hope: humanity destined for divination, Creation-cosmos, restored at last!
Angels sing with Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve,
–as we weep from relief, falling into the eternal rest of mercy and grace–
Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God!
To know you and to be known by you is to find you All in All,
forever and without end.
Photo by Jordan Wozniak
The profound goodness of God on display in the mystery of Holy Week is too deep to articulate with words. I can only direct my heart God in all the gratitude I have, and ask God in his grace to grant me more. Thank you, Lord, for the unending depths of your love.
In my experience, it seems the default position of many Christians towards their siblings in Christ is one of distrust.
Often, there are good reasons for this.
Other times, it’s really about a lack of faith in the power and provision of God in Christ–by the Spirit–to see us through relational risk and disagreement.
Either way, God calls his people toward a kind of Spirit-powered love that results in well-founded mutual confidence over and against underlying, anxious suspicion.
It is not so much about simply trusting people more per se, but rather a deeper entrusting of ourselves and our Christian family to Christ, so that confidence is built on the demonstrated desire for one another to have–above all–greater communion with Christ, in the non-violent, non-coercive, truthful-yet-graceful way of Christ.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
All anyone truly has is the love of God in Jesus Christ and that love is everything, more than enough.
New vehicle. Hover-1 Alpha.
Why discuss potentially controversial topics in church?
📖1) To educate the Church in light of the Gospel – in other words, to examine real-life, important issues in light of the teachings of Jesus, and together ask what then we can do with the Spirit’s help. Anything less is to undermine the total Lordship of Christ in our lives, and put an arbitrary limit on our discipleship.
🤝2) To encourage the faithful – there will always be pressure to conform to the world’s ways of thinking, doing, being in regards to controversial topics. Speaking about them openly with Christ at the center allows us to encourage one another to be conformed to Christ.
🌐3) To engage the world – our witness and worship is public. Speaking truth and bringing the Gospel to bear on controversial and important topics is an important way to proclaim Christ’s engagement with and sovereignty over all things.
🕊4) To entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit – when confront controversy openly together, in a spirit of truth, charity, and clarity, we are acting in faith that the Holy Spirit will indeed guide us into all truth and keep the Church of Christ together—not because we agree about everything, but because we are united in the love of Christ.
When we are found in Christ, his light becomes our light. His Spirit becomes our Spirit. We partake of the exact same divine nature as we are filled with the fullness of God the Holy Spirit.
A clay pipe can very inexpensively obtained from Pipes & Cigars. I got this one as a Christmas present this year. It offers a great, pure-flavored smoke, with some caveats:
First, the bowl gets super hot, so be careful if–as I do–you have a habit of holding the bowl. You will have to adjust to grasping the stem in order to keep from burning your fingers.
Second, since the entire thing is made out of clay, I found clenching as I am doing in photo to initially be not very pleasant due to the chalky texture of the material. I will say after some practice I’ve gotten pretty used to it. I don’t think it’s ever going to be as comfortable as other materials, but you figure it out, and if you’re not a big clencher it’s even less of a deal.
There’s something very pure, unassuming, and honest about a clay pipe; the simplicity coupled with a quality, consistent smoke is what I find attractive.
Replaced battery in my aging laptop… Been a loooooong time since I’ve done anything like this. Very cool that it was overall very easy. Are Dells still built like this? If so I’ll stick with them for my next laptop…
In last Sunday’s sermon, I tried to work out the distinction between capability (raw power) and credibility (real authority), and to communicate the transforming power and authenticity of Jesus' divine love.
The point is: while we can’t always trust every earthly authority and power has a corrupting effect on fallen humanity, the Good News is that God in Christ is always trustworthy.
You can trust his love for you and for the world.
A brief outline of my spiritual journey though theological “phases”:
Childlike faith in God in Christ, interrupted by:
Fear-based “conversion”, leading to:
Semi-fundamentalism, which (due to the faithful way my parents discipled me in the grace and love of Christ as the fulfillment of the law) didn’t last too long because of an instilled resistance to letter-of-the-law thinking which opened the door to:
A desperately relieved re-discovery of the grace of God in Christ, which I found articulated most clearly by Reformation Christianity, which in turn formed me in:
A sacramental understanding of how God ordinarily communicates himself, a profound mystery that I found pervades all of life, and I understood to be articulated by the Church Fathers, who are presently convincing me of:
The truly cosmic implications of a God that is not simply a being but Being itself, that loves humans by becoming a human–Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary–, that defeats death by dying on a cross, that lives to give life via union with him, in his Spirit.
Through it all there has always been an undeniable charismatic/mystical experience of God walking with me in a million ways:
sometimes through intentional practices
sometimes in unexpected breakthroughs
sometimes through the right word from the just right person at the just right time
always somehow intertwined with his Church…
…guiding me always and only to Jesus.
It is not as if I am developing a greater/ deeper understanding of Jesus' “part” in God’s plan. I am only ever more convinced Jesus is God’s plan. Jesus' way is God’s way. Union with Christ isn’t an aspect of life, it is life itself.
And what a journey it is…here’s the thing…I find the news to be better and better the more I believe the simple teachings of Jesus:
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand”
“Blessed are meek”
“Turn the other cheek”
“I have come to give life and life abundant”
“I will draw all men to myself”
(obviously I could go on)
I mean it’s almost too good to be true but somehow I believe it so deeply
Here’s last Sunday’s sermon for those that might be interested, in which I attempt to consider the recent terrorist attack on the Capitol building in light the of day’s Scriptures, and particular in light of how our baptism joins every Christian to the vocation of Christ.
The opening remarks were not recorded, but here’s the relevant section from my manuscript:
I think we have all felt acute distress in the past week, and understandably so. Not only has the pandemic continued to cause all kinds of death, destruction and suffering in our city and state, but we witnessed what has been described by experts as a violent, terrorist attack on our nation’s Capitol building by a politically and religiously motivated mob.
This is a time that calls for clarity and directness from Christian leaders and from the Church. So I have tried to choose all of my words for this message with special care and precision. I have sought counsel and prayer. I do not intend or wish to offend in any way. However, I do want speak truthfully and candidly. I watched in horror—live—as the mob grew more and more restless, ultimately overrunning the police and breaking in the building to disturb the legitimate democratic process. And I was so dismayed to see several images of those in the crowd carrying banners that said “Jesus Saves,” along with the so-called “Christian flag,” crosses, and many other Christian symbols and sayings. The crowd held banners proclaiming “Jesus is my Savior. Trump is my President.” To be clear, the increasingly close association of the Christian faith with American nationalism and partisan extremes is precisely why it is important for us to address this specific event as a church family…
Here’s a link to the complete manuscript.
Beyond Burger night!
In truth, then, God became a man and provided another beginning (ἀρχή), a second nativity (γένεσις), for human nature, which, through the vehicle of suffering, ends in the pleasure of the life to come.
St. Maximus the Confessor
Just recently decided to give Microsoft ToDo a shot for organizing all my GTD lists…and what do you know, there’s an official setup guide!
“Moderation or the middle ground is not always the loci of righteousness.”
- Esau McCaulley, Reading While Black
I am deeply saddened that some think what happened yesterday at the Capitol is in any way after the pattern of Christ.
There is no biblical justification for what we have just witnessed as a nation.
The kind of rhetoric we are hearing that emboldens and not-even-so-subtly condones violence is deeply immoral.
It is disturbing to see such blatant evil so widely accepted and even celebrated.
Meanwhile the pandemic continues to ravage our state.
So I was grateful to be with my church family yesterday evening, masked and socially distanced, but nevertheless together. We gathered in worship to celebrate the light of Epiphany, Jesus Christ himself, come to give true and lasting peace to all those that will receive it.
We prayed this prayer for times of social conflict or distress from the Book of Common Prayer together, and I commend it to you:
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among us, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend to one another, and in homelessness, loneliness, or exile befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may strengthen one another, until the disciplines and testing of these days are ended, and you again give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
To this prayer I add: Come, Lord Jesus.
2020 brought much about the Church in America into the light.
Turns out, we’re even worse off than we perhaps thought in terms of our continued tolerance and even embrace of various “isms” at odds with Christianity: racism, sexism, classism, nationalism, consumerism, and anti-intellectualism stand out to me.
As I see it, the above mentioned ideologies are far worse and more immediate compromises of the Church’s faithfulness than the mostly vaguely defined “cultural Marxism” and “Critical Race Theory.” (Nevertheless these are certainly not exempt from robust evaluation in light of the Gospel.)
That said, now that these things are out in the open, the discussion has deepened.
This can be the beginning of justice and change and healing.
Yes, it is hard, painful. Discouraging, even humiliating sometimes.
But we can say with confidence that the Spirit of Truth is at work in his people.
As we open ourselves to his leading, we will leave our previously held commitments to self-advancement and self-preservation behind.
As we keep our eyes focused on the Jesus presented to us by the Gospel of witness of the Church throughout the centuries, his image will become more clear in us and through us.
As we persevere through the discomfort of revelation and transformation, we’ll find comfort and strength and satisfaction in the promise of a prize much greater than the power that’s so intoxicatingly difficult to let go of in the present.
As our desire for union with God in Christ is renewed, all things contrary to him will fall away, because the fulfilment of this desire is the promise guaranteed by the Resurrection.
The gates of the “isms” will not prevail against the Church of God.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash