AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Spiritual Disiciplines DATE: 2/27/2005 02:07:00 PM ----- BODY: A lot of times during Lent we hear people talk about the "spiritual disiciplines" of prayer, study, worship, fasting, etc. Here's soemething Henri Nouwen wrote about spiritual discipline:

Discipline is the other side of discipleship.Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathonwithout ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports.Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better.
Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentratedeffort to create the space and time where God can become ourmaster and where we can respond freely to God's guidance.

Until next time -- Shalom! Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Recycling Gifts DATE: 2/25/2005 07:17:00 AM ----- BODY: I got this article from Daily Wisdom and found it to be thoughtful and true -- yet also humorous. A good way to communicate something that is important for us to remember! Read it here.
Until next time -- Shalom! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Protecting Life DATE: 2/24/2005 06:23:00 PM ----- BODY:
"My message to both parties - to both liberals and conservatives - is that protecting life is indeed a seamless garment. Protecting unborn life is important. Opposing unjust wars that take human life is important. And supporting anti-poverty programs that provide adequate support for mothers and children in poverty is important. Neither party gets it right; each has perhaps half of the answer. My message and my challenge are to bring them together."
This quote is from Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner's magazine and author of several books -- most recently the best selling God's Politics. The quote is from an article he wrote in the weekly Sojourners e-zine -- An Open Letter To Chuck Colson. Apparently Chuck Colson had criticisized some of Jim's writings and statements. Jim contends that -- among other things -- he does not join ranks comepletely with liberals or conservatives -- but sees life -- all of life -- as a precious gift from God -- and we need to work to protect life in every way we can.
Read the article here.
I like the way Jim thinks.
What do you think?
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Life On The Edge DATE: 2/24/2005 06:56:00 AM ----- BODY: The entry for today in Goshen College's Lent 2005 Devotional Blog is some thoughts on Romans 5:1-11. (I've linked to Eugene Peterson's translation because that is the translation that is referenced in the entry, but not the one given at the beginning of the entry!) It's about "life on the edge" -- how God is with us if we will let ourselves trust God enough to "live on the edge" of life instead of in a "comfort zone".
Here's a "teaser" from the entry:
" Put another way, a hiker knows that some of the most breathtaking views are found along the sharp drop-offs of the mountainside and at the peak. From a distance of even 10 or 15 feet these views can be spectacular. But if we are willing to take the last few dangerous steps toward the edge, the view expands dramatically as the ground in front of us falls out of our immediate sight."
Check it out!
Until next tme -- Shalom! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: RLP does it again! DATE: 2/23/2005 09:26:00 PM ----- BODY:

Gordon Atkinson -- the Real Live Preacher -- has written another essay for the The Christian Century. Read the essay -- which is actually a journal entry he made of a trip to a mountain in Colorado. It is a wonderfully written expression of his love for nature, his love for life, and his faith in God.
Until next time -- Shalom! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: I'm A Christian DATE: 2/22/2005 09:28:00 PM ----- BODY: My brother - in - law sent me this writing by Maya Angelou.
As with everything I have read by Ms. Angelou, I found it beautifully meaningful.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,"
Now I'm found and forgiven.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need CHRIST to be my guide.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
and need His strength to carry on.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
and need God to clean my mess.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
but, God believes I am worth it.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain,
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say . . . "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
who received God's good grace, somehow.

~Maya Angelou~

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: ALL MY CHILDREN DATE: 2/22/2005 07:05:00 PM ----- BODY:

Actually, Sally and I don't have any children -- but we have had dogs ever since we got married 21 years ago! The dogs came with the marriage -- Sally had 2 dogs -- Treasure, a Cock A Poo -- and Tammy, and Maltese. Throughout our marriage we have had dogs -- Chelsea was a Golden Retriever, Katie a big fluffy white dog we rescured from the pound.
This is our current batch.
This is Buster.

Buster is a 7 year old part Silky Terrior. His mother was supposed to be a purebred Silky -- but his Dad must have jumped the fence -- because he is much bi
gger than most Silky's! Buster is "my dog".
This is Rascal.
Rascal is a 6 year old Shitz Tsu. True to his breed, he is demanding, ferociious, has to be the "top dog" -- but is extreemly devoted. He is "Sally's dog".
Then there is Hallie.
Hallie is a 5 year old, 5 pound Maltese. Actually her name is Hallelujah -- but Sally did not want me running through the neighborhood yelling "Hallelujah" if she ever got out -- so call her Hallie. She is also very much "Sally's dog".
So there are my children.
When people ask me how many children we have -- my standard response is -- "We have 3 dogs we treat like children!"
Until next time -- Shalom! BIll
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: ADDICTED TO BROADBAND DATE: 2/18/2005 09:23:00 PM ----- BODY: I was reading my e-mail this morning when the phone rang.
I jumped -- it startled me.
"How is the phone ringing when I'm reading my e-mail?"
Then I remembered.
My Bell South DSL modem came yesterday -- and I am now enjoying broadband!
I must admit -- I love it! The speed -- the fact I can talk on the phone and be online -- it's amazing!
How did I ever get along without it?
I am quickly becoming a broadband addict!

Well -- just wanted the world to know! Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: VALENTINE'S DAY DATE: 2/14/2005 07:48:00 PM ----- BODY: Love is in the air!
Card companies, candy makers, jewelry stores and flower shops are rejoicing!
It's February 14th -- Valentine's Day!
I hope everyone has their the presents and flowers bought for their "special person" -- it's late in the day now! (8:00 PM EST).
But -- in case you thought Hallmark, or a candy company, or a jewelry company of FTD "invented" Valentine's Day -- you might be interested in knowing that there may have actually been a Saint Valentine (although that is much debated) -- and there was a Christian writer of the first century -- Valentinius -- who wrote of the joys of love.
A friend e-mailed me this interesting way of looking at John 3:16.


Happy Valentine's Day!
Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: WHERE'S YOUR CROSS? DATE: 2/09/2005 08:25:00 PM ----- BODY: Maybe you've seen someone today with a cross smeared on their foreheads.
Maybe you have one yourself.
If so, you may know that today is Ash Wednesday -- the first day in the Season of Lent. I blogged yesterday about Lent -- and gave some information about it. Many Christians begin the Season of Lent going to services and having a cross of ashes drawn upon their foreheads as a sign of repentance. The ashes are usually from palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday service that have been burned.
Many see Lent as a time of commitment and giving up things.
I like to see it as a time of commitment and adding things to our lives instead of givning things up -- like more prayer time, more Bible Study, or more time to serve others.
So -- did you get a cross today?
I can envision a commercial like the "Where's your mustache" commercial for milk -- only this one would have someone who had been to a Ash Wednesday service and had the cross on their forehead -- and they ask --
"Where's your cross"? -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: STARTING EARLY? DATE: 2/08/2005 01:08:00 PM ----- BODY: Today is Shrove Tuesday -- the day before the church Season of Lent begins on AshWedensday.
Lent is the most solemn season in the Christian year as Christians focus on the death of Christ upon the cross for our sins. The solemnity continues for 40 days and concludes with the services for
Holy Week -- including the services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday. The service for Easter breaks the 40 days of solemnity and begins the great celebration of the resurrection of Christ that marks the Easter Sesaon.
Shrove Tuesday has historically been a day for festive activity -- getting the festiviity out of your sustem before Lent begins. This is how the traditions of Mardi Gras began. I'll be joining the congregation of a local Episcopal Church for a pancake supper tonight. The tradition of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday began because people would throw out syrup, butter, flour and other sweet things when Lent began -- so they would eat pancakes the day before.
Maybe you are wondering -- isn't all this a little early this year?
Well, yea -- about as early as it can be.
But there's a reason.
Lent -- and all the days around it -- is tied to Holy Week and Easter. Holy Week is the week Christ was crucified -- Easter the day of the Resurrection. The events of Holy Week and Eater occurred during the Jewish celebration of the Passover. The celebrations of the two -- Passover and Easter -- always occur at the same time. Pasove, like most Jewish celebrations, is clebrated by a Lunar Calendar. The celebration begins around the full moon after the Vernal Equinox, or the first day of Spring.
So -- Easter has historically been celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox -- or a simpler way to put it is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring. This year Easter is March 27 -- so Ash Wednesday is February 9.
I'll blog more about the meaning of Lent, and ways to reflect upon what Christ has done for us -- tomorrow -- but for now -- enjoy Shrove Tuesday -- and eat some pancakes for me! Until next time -- Peace! Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: MORE SUPER THAN THE BOWL DATE: 2/05/2005 07:40:00 PM ----- BODY: Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday -- but it is also Transfiguration Sunday – the Sunday before the start of the Season of Lent. I'll blog about Lent next week -- and explain why the dates of Transfiguration Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, the days of Holy Week, and Easter change from year to year -- but first things first. Some churches use the Sunday before Lent to celebrate the event that occured when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up Mount Hermon and was “transfigured” – or changed before their eyes – and they saw the glory of Jesus – saw Moses and Elijah talking to Him – and heard the voice of God.

Transfiguration Sunday is not a big deal in many churches – and yet the message of Transfiguration Sunday is an important one.

The Gospel passages that relate the event of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36) occur at the midpoint of Jesus' ministry. The “clouds” were hanging low over his ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees were making it increasingly difficult for him. His disciples bickered continually. And he began to talk to them about suffering, Jerusalem, and the cross. He talked about saving one's life by losing it. At this point in His ministry, Jesus took the leaders of the disciple band -- Peter, James, and John -- away from the others. He led them up to the winding hill to the top of Mount Hermon, and there on the mountaintop something happened.

We can never get a scientific explanation of what occurred, but it is called a Transfiguration -- which means "change" or "metamorphosis."

We do know Moses and Elijah appeared.

Jesus' face shone in a way they had never seen it.

His garments glistened and it hurt their eyes.

And God spoke, saying:

"This is my beloved son . . . Do not be afraid."

This encounter turned Peter, James, and John inside out.

It changed their lives and they were never quite the same ever again.

The reason Jesus took his disciples with him to that quiet place of disengagement was to prepare them to understand the crucifixion and all that would follow.

God wants us to open our eyes.

At the Transfiguration, the disciples were touched. They were changed. Thy met God on that mountain – and they were ready for the trip with Jesus.

Carlyle Marney was a Seminary professor who used to say that we need to be in church week after week. Because, Dr. Marney would say, some Sunday you are going to have an experience of God.

You won’t have that experience every week – but sometime -- when you least expect it – Dr. Marney said that you are going to have an experience as if God, the Eternal One, is going to walk down your church's aisle and sit next to you.

And you are going to be turned inside out.

So even though you may not experience this every week -- you better come on anyway because you may miss God when the Almighty decides to drop by and visit you.

Transfiguration says that God really does come and meet us where we are.

It helps us see the purpose of the journey – the trip – so we don’t miss it.

God is with us.

God meets us where we are.

And God journeys with us.

Even when reality intrudes.

W can not stay in moments of splendor and glory – but God is still with us on our trip of life – regardless of how harried it might get.

The test of any experience of God is not how it makes us feel when we are “on the mountain” with Him so to speak – but how it makes us feel in the push and shove of every day.

One thing the Transfiguration does is remind us that Jesus is with us on our journey – our trip of life – strengthening us – even in the roughest parts of our journey.
And that is an important message.
Until next time -- Peace! Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: CHIRST KNOWS NO COLOR DATE: 2/04/2005 09:31:00 PM ----- BODY: Today I saw the 2 local ministers' groups work together in a rare show of Chritian solidarity. You remember my blogs about the graffiti -- and the ministers meeting at the High School.
In our little town, there are 2 ministers groups -- the Ministerial Alliance -- composed mainly of black ministers -- and the Ministerial Fellowship -- composed mainly of white ministers. (I really hope no one is offended by my using "black" and "white" -- but I am not sure of the best way to refer to the races). I got this crazy idea about 10 years ago that maybe the 2 groups could merge -- but it never happened. It was decided that instead of merging -- each group would welcome all ministers to their meetings. We currently have 2 ministers from the Alliance at meetings of the Fellowship - and 2 from the Fellowship at the Alliance meetings. I am one of the 4 that attend both meetings.
But maybe that will change.
When I got the call about the ministers gathering at the High School this morning, I was told they were trying to get a good mix of ministers there to show support and solidarity. They got a good group there -- about 10 from the Alliance and 10 from the Fellowship. The Alliance pastors were particularly happy to see the Fellowship pastors there. It was a clear message that this was not a "black / white" issue -- but a community issue.
One of my Fellowship colleagues made the comment that the groups needed to do more together. I suggested to him that maybe he could attend the Alliance meetings -- that would at least be a start. If more ministers tried to break the barrier, the groups could work together -- work for solutions in the community -- and show a unity in Christ.
Christ knows no color.
Why should we?
Until next time -- Peace! Bill
-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: GRAFFITI BACKFIRES? DATE: 2/04/2005 02:27:00 PM ----- BODY: I blogged yesterday about racial slurs painted as graffiti on the walls of our local High School. I joined a group of local ministers that had been invited to the High School this morning. A good group of ministers from many denominations and many racial groups came to show support for the students -- give them someone to talk to - - and just let them see that the community could work together to solve problems.
It was a very positive experience.
Students from different races were greeting each other and embracing each other. Students were going out of their way to greet us and talk to us -- and let us know that whoever wrote the graffiti -- they did not represent a vast majority of the student body. The students I heard and talked to were commtted to working together.
Although the graffiti still disturbs me, I saw this morning that the students are comitted to working together to make their school better.
Maybe the whole incident will bring the community and the school together. I know it brought the ministers together.
If the writers of the graffiiti wanted to divide the school and the community, maybe their plan backfired!
Until next time -- Peace! Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: IT'S DISTURBING DATE: 2/03/2005 09:33:00 PM ----- BODY: The other day the local high school was closed because someone had written racially charged graffiti on the walls of the school. When it was found early in the morning, the Principal and County School officials called off school because they know the reaction the graffiti would invite.
While I am not sure what the graffiti said, I am told that references to the KKK and the "N" word were included.
This has disturbed a lot of folks in the community -- icluding me.
I had hoped that students were learning to get along with each other --live together -- and work together for a better commuinty. While I believe that this is true for many -- it obviously is not true for all.
And that disturbs me.
And until it is true for all, I will continue to do what I can to make it true -- and to be disturbed by the fact that it is not.
Until next time -- Peace! (and work for peace!) Bill

-------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: GOD AND LARRY KING DATE: 2/01/2005 07:18:00 AM ----- BODY: The Wittenburg Door has been one of my favorite humorous / religious magazines since I was in Seminary (over 20 years ago). It's sort of a religions Mad Magazine -- poking fun at the "religious establishment" -- and bringing our truths at the same time.
Funny -- yet provocative.
They have a post on their web site of an "interview" Larry King did with God about the tsunami. Like a lot of their other stuff it's funny -- yet true and provcative at the same time.
Check it out!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill