AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: WHERE IS GOD? DATE: 12/30/2004 11:43:00 AM ----- BODY: The past few days have been filled with a lot of emotions for me -- as I am sure they have been for most people. There is the joy of Christmas -- the joyous celebration of God coming into our world in Jesus Christ -- and bringing God's will for peace, justice, and love into reality But there is also the reality of the disaster in the countries around the Indian Ocean. At last count over 100,000 dead -- and more will be found, I am sure.
Many people wonder at such times why God allowed it to happen.
Many others question where God is in the midst of such a tragedy.
One of my professors in Seminary once made the statement the the threat of nuclear destruction gave people what he considered to be one of the few legitimate reasons for refusing to beleive in God. Natural disasters seem to give them another.
How could a loving, caring, all powerful God akkow these things to happen?
Where is God in the midst of such tradedy?
Well -- this is what I believe.
I believe that God does not put out His had to stop tragedy -- for what reasons I do not know and never will know. But I beleive that God is with us in the midst of tragedies -- and calls upon those who believe in Him to "be with" those who are hurting. Through prayers, money, and other actions we show God's love to those in need.
Ellie Weisel is a Jewish Hollocaust survivor who as a child spent several years in a concentration camp. In his book Night he writes about a young boy being hung by the Nazis. As the prisoners were made to march by the dead body, one asked Wiesel:
"Where is your God now?"
Weisel responded: "He is there on the gallows with the boy."
I beleive that God is with us in times of tragedy and sorrow.
And I believe that God calls us to do what we can to bring His presense in a tangible way to those who are hurting.
Until next time -- (if it is possible) Peace! Bill
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: HAVE A MARY CHRISTMAS DATE: 12/18/2004 09:19:00 PM ----- BODY:
Mary said,
Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me
just as you say. (Luke 1:38 The Message)

No -- I did not misspell Merry in the title to this post -- I am using a little play on words here -- referring to Mary the mother of Jesus.
Mary -- the teenager from Nazareth who was visited by an angel and told she would give birth to the Messiah.
Mary -- the girl barely out of childhood herself -- who gave birth to a baby who was God's own self.
Mary -- the girl who understood that she was God's servant -- God's handmaid as she put it -- and allowed God to do a miraculous thing through her.
Mary.
Full of grace, as the Catholics pray.
Mary.
Full of faith -- as I see it.
Mary.
What was it about Mary that was different from others?
Why did God choose Mary?
Maybe it was not so much a thing of God choosing Mary as it was Mary being willing to see God and be used by God.
Maybe God and Mary somehow chose each other.
I know it wounds weird -- but that's an idea I'm "playing with".
Maybe God was looking for a way to come into the world and bless us with God's will for salvation and God's kingdom of love, justice, and peace -- and needed someone willing to be used by God for God's purposes. Like Noah in the Old Testament who was willing to obey God and help God create salvation from destruction -- maybe Mary was willing to obey God and help God create the ultimate plan for salvation.
Which brings me to the "Mary Christmas" thing.
Maybe we can be more like Mary -- willing to see God at work in the world -- and ready to help God bring in God's will for love -- justice -- mercy -- peace and salvation.
Ann Weems -- a poet I read some and respect greatly -- wrote a poen in her book Kneeling In Bethlehem that conveys this thought:

Mary,
Nazareth girl,
what did you know of ethereal beings
with messages from God?
What did you know of men
when you found yourself with child?
What did you know of babies,
you, barely out of childhood yourself?
God-chosen girl;
What did you know of God
that brought you to this stable
most blessed among women?
Could it be that you had been ready
waiting
listening
for the footsteps of an angel?
Could it be that there are messages for us
if we had the faith to listen?
Faith to listen -- to watch for God -- and to work for God's kingdom and will in the world. That's what I'm praying for these days. My prayer is for anyone who might read this to have a Mary Christmas! Until next time -- Shalom! Bill
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: HELL OF A QUESTION DATE: 12/07/2004 06:23:00 AM ----- BODY: My nephew raised this question on his blog:
Is it irreverent to say that God "scared the hell" out of you?
I got to thinking (which is a scary thing in itself).
I've decided that -- for the moment -- I believe that is is not irreverent to say the God "scared the hell" out of you. In fact, I believe -- for now -- that it just might be very appropriate to say that "scaring the hell out of you" is God's work and will.
See if you can follow my argument here:
1. God created us for relationships with Him and others (Genesis 1)
2. Sin (and hell) are the results of broken relationships with God and others (Genesis 3)
3. God is continually working for our salvation -- the restoring of those relationships we were created for -- and victory over sin (and hell).
So -- if "the hell" has been scared out of you -- and you are letting God work in your life for salvation and restored relationships (instead of trying to live your own way which leads only to sin and hell) -- then that is a good thing -- and certainly the will of God -- and even the work of God.
So -- no -- it is not irreverant to say that God "scared the hell" out of you -- actually it is a very appropriate theological concept.
Or at least that's my opinion.
For now.
Glad I cleared that up for you.
Until next time -- Peace! Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: LOVE IS DATE: 12/05/2004 06:07:00 AM ----- BODY:
And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son full of grace and truth. John 1:14
A lesson to be learned for Advent: learn to love -- not just talk about love -- but love.
God’s coming into the world through Jesus Christ is the special event we celebrate in the seasons of Advent and Christmas. This event shows us who God is. As John puts it in John 1:14 – we see God’s glory in Christ. In Christ we see that God is not distant or far away – but has come among us to share in our lives – our joys – our celebrations – as well as our pain and our heartache.
God’s coming into the world through Christ also shows us who we can be. We can see the true nature of God in God’s love for us – and we can share God’s nature with others as we become the loving people God has called us to be.
Gordon Atkinson is a Baptist minister in Texas who publishes a web log – or a “blog” – that I visit a lot. If you have never read it, it is certaily worth a read.
He also published a book of his blog entries. One of the entries in his book covers how love is not feelings – but actions. I like this idea. We love when we show love – when we act in loving ways – not when we talk about love or even feel love. In fact it is at those times that we may not really feel loving – but act in love anyway – that we capture the true nature of God. It’s those times we reach out to those who are not like us -- or those who may have hurt us – or those we may disagree with -- and say – in actions and words -- “God loves you and so do I” – that we capture the true nature of love.
Centuries ago St. Irenaeus wrote:
“The Son of God became a son of man –
so that the sons and daughters of men
could become sons and daughters of God.”
God showed His love when He came into the world through Christ. We celebrate God’s love when we share His love with others.
Have a glorious – blessed – and loving – Advent and Christmas!
Until next time -- Peace! Bill
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: RECONCILIATION DATE: 12/04/2004 09:00:00 AM ----- BODY: I have not taken the time I need -- or want -- for my Blog lately. I don't know why -- I enjoy it -- I guess I've been busy. 2 cataract surgeries, going to South Carolina for Thanksgiving, Church members having serious surgeries, going to help my wife at Pottery Shows, and -- o yea -- ministry at the Church and the Outreach Center -- leaves me pretty tired by the end of the day. Not that I dont enjoy all those things -- I do -- and would not give them up for anything -- it just explains why I have not blogged lately.
What brings me back to the Blog?
I came across an article in Sojourners weekly e-mail that interested me. A lot of stuff in Sojourners interest me -- I like their stand on religious / moral / political affairs. Anyway -- this particular article was entitled The Power Of Reconciliation -- and was a very moving story of how Jim Wallis, editor of Soujourners, and Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ disagreed sharply and publicly over the role of religion in the public arena -- but finally reconciled with each other and even began to support each other's work -- even though they did not completely agree.
I e-mailed it to my nephew, Rob, who works for Campus Crusade. He blogged about it -- and also directed those who read his blog (a great read if you have never read it) to a blog of a friend of his. The message of reconciliation this article brings is spreading in both liberal and conservative circles -- which I find to be a wonderful, marvelous thing!
I found this article to be a moving story of how Christians can support each other even if they do not agree -- and how God wills for us all to be reconciled to each other.
In the midst of a very busy Advent, that is an important lesson for me -- and all of us - to remember. Until next time (whichI hope will not be long) -- Peace! Bill
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