AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Blogcritics DATE: 5/31/2005 09:42:00 PM ----- BODY: I have discovered a great way to increase traffic on your blog! It's call blogcritics. It's a site where bloggers post articles that can be linked to books, magazine articles, news articles, books, movies, almost anything you can imagine. Blogcritics uses lists from Amazon for you to link your article to. When people read your article, they see your name and blog address. The more visibility you and your blog address get, the more chances you have of people visting your blog.

I posted my Memorial Day post from this site to the blogcritics site this morning -- adding the codes for different books folks can read to get more information about the things I mentioned.

Read my post to blogcritics here.

If you would like to be a contributor to blogcritics . click here.

Check out blogcritics!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Memorial Day Reflections 2005 DATE: 5/30/2005 08:43:00 AM ----- BODY:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


This poem – although it was written by a Candaian soldier and physician John McCrae and has become a symbol for the Candian Holiday Remembrance Day,is a beutifully written and moving tribute to those who have given their lives for their country – and very fitting for Memorial Day. I memorised “In Flanders Fields” in the 5th grade – and it has stuck with me ever since. It was a favorite of my Dad’s – a pilot in World War II - - and, I am sure, of many veterans.

On this Memorial Day – as members of the Armed Forces continue to lose their lives in Iraq – there may be questions of the best way to honor those who have died serving their country and those who continue to serve -- but who at any moment may give their lives. This is an important issue for me – just as it is for so many others. I personally have known many who have served – from my Dad and so many of his friends and others I know who served in World War II – to members of my Church and friends who served in the Korean War – to my brother in law (Rob’s dad) and so many others I know who served in Viet Nam – to friends and sons and daughters of friends who have served or are now serving in Iraq.

One way is to support the active troops themselves and their families – regardless of how we feel about war – particularly the war in Iraq – itself. As Jim Wallis of Sojourners wrote in a recent issue of SojoMail:

Even those of us who advocate nonviolence must recognize the humanity of those who, for many reasons, made the hard choice to join the armed forces. As we protest a war and an occupation that has claimed as many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians' lives, we must have compassion for the suffering experienced on all sides.


The human tragedy of war is great. Look at the figures Wallis quotes in his article:

Well over 1 million soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 11, 2001, according to the Pentagon. A full third of those million have served more than once. In addition to the 1,600-plus soldiers who have been killed in Iraq, more than 12,000 troops have been wounded and needed to seek medical treatment. Soldiers who have suffered psychologically are more difficult to count - and often more difficult to treat


If you know families of active military, reserves, or National Guard currently serving in Iraq – let them know you are there for them and want to help them. If you know anyone who has served and is now home, let him or her know of your appreciation and take time to listen to him or her.

Wallis’ article continues to raise the problems of vets who return home after serving. You can read Wallis’ article here.

Being available to help and support active troops and their families is one way to honor those who have died. It is one way of celebrating Memorial Day. Remembering those who have died in prayer is another way – as is praying for those who continue to serve.

On this Memorial Day I offer the following prayer from my tradition – the Presbyterian Church (USA). This prayer is part of our Book of Common Worship:

Righteous God, you rule the nations.
Guard brave men and women
who risk themselves in battle for their country.
Give them compassion for enemies
who also fight for patriotic causes.
Keep our sons and daughters from hate that hardens,
or from scorekeeping with human lives.
Though they must be at war,
let them live for peace, as eager for agreement as for victory.
Encourage them as they encourage one another,
and never let hard duty separate them
from loyalty to your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Until next time – Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: The Reforming Problem DATE: 5/27/2005 02:55:00 PM ----- BODY: David over at Jolly Blogger has a great post on what he considers to be "the difficulty of being always reformed."

I am not sure who is reading my blog, so if anyone needs some information about what this whole "reformed" thing is you can click here for an article from WikiPedia.

As Daved sees it, when we say "the reformed church is always reforming," or, as David notes the more "highbrow" say:"ecclesia semper reformans, semper reformanda", we come upon something that is easy to talk about -- but hard to put into practice.

This is how he puts it:

This is one of those things that sounds like a great idea until someone actually tries to do it.


Why is it hard to put into practice?

David has many fine points in his post that I am not going to go over here -- I hope you go to his post and read it. For me, the problem is that:

1. Reforming is not always a good thing
2. Not reforming is not always a good thing.


In other words, reforming just for the sake of reforming is wrong. There need to be reasons -- Scriptural reasons -- for the change. Reforming simply to "appeal to a new generation" is not a valid reason for reform. However, saying we will never reform and never even considering change might be refusing to go in new directions God truly wants us to go. If we always reformed with every new idea that came along we might lose our particular identity and witness as a the church. But if we always refused to reform we might not be listening to God's will. Without reform all Christians might still be worshipping in the same way and doing the same things -- or -- to take it even further -- without reform we might not be Christians in the first place!

Reform definately has it's place. But it has to be done carefully -- and prayerfully. And -- in my opinion -- each reform does not have to be for everyone. Not everyone followed the original reformers (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, etc.) -- and not everyone has to follow each reform. In fact, David at Jolly Blogger and I will not agree on everything -- we represent 2 different branches of the Presbyterian Church -- but we can still get along -- learn from each other -- read each other's blogs -- and give the message of Christ to the world.

So -- reforming has it's place. But reforming is not the answer at all times -- and neither is not reforming. On matters of reform, we need to pray for God to lead us -- study scripture -- listen to what God is saying -- and listen to each other.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A Good Sermon Quote DATE: 5/26/2005 06:42:00 AM ----- BODY: Last week I (and others) blogged about preaching -- giving our opinions on the question of whether we should preach to believers or non believers. I really liked the response I got from Rev. Mike :

The answer is that we trust the text, preach it, and then when the Spirit speaks, he speaks to whomever he speaks.


Anyway -- I came across a great quote about sermons this morning. I found it on Andrew Careaga's Bloggedy Blog. He had seen it on Richard Hall's blog -- connexions.

Here's the quote:

“A sermon should be like a woman’s skirt: short enough to arouse one’s interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”


Somehow I don't think my Homeletics professors at Columbia Theological Seminary would have put it quite that way -- but I like it!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Daily Scripture Passage DATE: 5/25/2005 06:41:00 AM ----- BODY: I have added another new item to my sidebar -- a daily passage from the New International Version of the Bible. This is provided by the International Bible Society and is updated daily. I've put it directly underneath the "Good News" heading on my sidebar.

The International Bible Society has the Java Script Code for several translations you can add to your site, along with RSS feeds you can add to your RSS feeder.

If you want to add this feature to your blog of website, or have it delivered into your RSS feeder, click here for the instructions and script.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Daily Catechism DATE: 5/24/2005 05:33:00 AM ----- BODY: I have added something new to my sidebar -- a Daily Question from either the Westminster Shorter Catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism. Both of these speak to what Christians believe and are important documents of the Reformed tradition.

The Daily Question (today's is from the Heidelberg Catechism)will appear in the "Devotional Materials" section of my sidebar. (I go through the Confessions in the Book Of Confessions of the Presbyterian Church, USA, of which the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism are a part, every day as part of my devotional time, so that seemed to be the logical place to put the Daily Question.)

You can go through each Catachism twice a year following the Daily Question.

Thanks to Tim Challies for providing this service and the script for the Daily Question.

If you have a blog or web site and would like to add the Daily Question to your site, you can get the script here.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Trinity Sunday DATE: 5/22/2005 06:25:00 PM ----- BODY: Today is Trinity Sunday -- the Sunday after Pentecost when many churches celebrate The Doctrine Of The Trinity - the fact that we believe God to be three in one -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Doctrine of the Trinity was officially adopted at the First Council of Nicea in 325. In early Christian thought there was much debate about the different natures of God -- and how they were related. Were there 3 different gods -- or one? The Council of Nicea met to discuss these and other issues about the nature of God. The result was -- among other things -- the Doctrine of the Trinity.

While the Doctrine of the Trinity is not easy to understand or expalin (legend has it that St. Patrick used the 3 leaves of a clover to help explain the Trinity)it is a vital doctrine because it helps us understand what we believe about the very nature of God.

There are many ways to celebrate the Trinitarian nature of God. I would like to offer this prayer from my tradition -- the Presbyterian Church (USA):

Gracious Father,
giver of all good things:
For our home on earth
and for your unfailing mercy,
we give you thanks.

Christ, our Redeemer:
For your sacrifice on the cross
and rising from death that we might live,
we give you thanks and praise.

Holy Spirit, giver of life:
For your abiding presence in our lives
and for comforting and guiding us,
we give you thanks, praise, and glory.

O triune God:
To you be glory and praise
now and forever. Amen.



Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A Triperspectival Sermon DATE: 5/22/2005 05:56:00 PM ----- BODY: I told you I would do it!

I said in my post early last week that the word triperspectival
would appear in my sermon for today. And it did -- in the title and several places throughout the sermon!

I have just gotten around to posting today's sermon. It's based on Genesis 1:1-2:4(a)), II Corinthians 13:11-13, and Matthew 28:16-20, and is an attempt to make the Doctrine of the Trinity more "heart stuff" than "head stuff".

Here's part of the sermon:

Many of you know that my nephew, Rob, works for Campus Crusade for Christ in Orlando, Florida. He has a Blog (that’s short for Web Log – a place on the Internet where he posts about different things – and people can log on to his Blog and read the information he’s sharing. I also have a Blog.) Anyway – Rob posted on his blog the other day about a new word he had learned from one of his co workers. The word is: Triperspectival
(If you want to know how to spell it look in your bulletins – it’s in my sermon title.)
I’ll define the word the way Rob did – because it is so new there are no dictionary definitions.
The way Rob defined it – triperspectival means talking about something from 3 different but related perspectives. Or triperspectival means that you can't fully understand one without an idea of the other two.
The more I thought about this new word Rob had learned the more I thought “that’s what the Doctrine of the Trinity is all about!”
It’s triperspectival!



And here is more:

Through the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit - the Triune God - God is always at work in our lives - always creating and re-creating us - always loving us - always working for peace among us - and always strengthening and guiding us.
To fully understand God we have to have an understanding of this triune nature of God.
We can not fully understand God if we only see God as a creator.
We can not fully understand God if we only see God as a loving God.
We can not fully understand God is we only see God as a strength and guide for our lives.
We have to see God as the creating, loving, and strengthening God that God is to fully understand God.
We have to see all three natures of God to fully understand God.
We have to understand the Doctrine of the Trinity to fully understand God.
The nature of God is triperspectival – we have to understand all 3 to truly understand each one.


You can read the entire triperspectival sermon here.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: When Tragedy Strikes DATE: 5/22/2005 05:31:00 AM ----- BODY: My nephew Rob posted about attending the funeral of a co-workers daughter. The post stirred up a lot of emotions in me -- and others.

Here's a part of Rob's post:

She was 18. She's been on mission trips, had a lot of friends who really loved her, and a family that is in a lot of pain.

Nicole had been driving for 3 weeks. She didn't have on her seat belt Saturday. She met Jesus face to face moments after being thrown from her car as it rolled down the highway at 70+ mph.

It's tough to see teens have to weep, wail, mourn, and grieve like that. It's tough to see a mother lean into a coffin to kiss her daughter for the last time.


As I responded to Rob's post, it is tough indeed to be in situations such as these. Part of my resonse to his post was:

No death or funeral is easy -- but funerals such as the one you posted about are extreemly hard. Your faith and your head says one thing and your heart says another.


No matter how strong our faith, we are all human.
No matter how strong our faith we all have emotions.
No matter how strong our faith we all grieve when loved ones die -- especially under particualarly tragic circustances.
No matter how stong our faith we all have questions.
In this case, Nicole was not wearing a seat belt. Would wearing one have saved her life? Maybe -- but we can not be sure. Questions such as these are common -- human nature -- when we are faced with events such as the tragic death of a young girl. I know many families who -- under similar circumstances - have had very similar questions. Some have had their faith in God strengthened -- others have seemed to turn away from God.

What are the answers to such questions?
That's the problem -- there are no easy answers.
All you can do is pray.
Try to be open to the praying, supportive community of believers who are there for you.
Try to be a part of the praying, supportive community of beleivers for the others who are hurting.

Yes -- death hurts. Even in the midst of rejoicing in the eternal life we have in Christ -- we still hurt and grieve. But -- even though we might not feel it at the moment -- God is with us -- and we can reach out to each other.

I will keep Rob, Nicloe's family, and their friends in my prayers.
Maybe you can join me in that. That way at least the praying community of bleieivers will expand some!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Mongerism Books DATE: 5/21/2005 01:13:00 PM ----- BODY: Most bloggers I know are avid readers, also. I fall into that catagory. I love to read -- and whenever I find books at discounted prices I go into a buying frenzy!
It's not really that bad -- but you get the point. I enjoy reading good books.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

I found out about Mongerism Books today and put an icon on my sidebar to advertise the site. They have a lot of Christian books -- books on theology, preaching, doctrinal books, reference books, books by classic Christian authors, and books on the Christian life -- at greatly reduced prices. They also have other media -- CDs, DVDs, and more.

If you like books as much as I do, check out Mongerism Books.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: The Week In The News DATE: 5/20/2005 08:43:00 PM ----- BODY: 2 of the news items that have caught my attention this week are:

1. The Newsweek "report" of the desecraton of the Quaran
2. The attempt to end use of the fillibuster in Congress


1. Newsweek magazine made the headlines this week for a brief mention in the "Periscope" section of it's May 9 edition that US Soldiers holding Muslim prisoners at Guantanimo Bay, Cuba had desecrated the Quaran in an attempt to get confessions from the Muslims. This report sparked riots in many parts of the Muslim world deadly riots broke out. In Afghanistan at least 17 Afghans were killed and dozens injured. US troops were put in harm's way. Now the story has been called into question -- and Newsweek has retracted it.
Why could Newsweek have not done some better investigating in the first place?
No one seems to know.
What we do know is that once again a news source has misinformed the public -- this time with deadly consequences.
Will the media begin to be more careful about the stories it runs?
I somehow doubt it.
The real problem, as I see it, is that people in positions to inform the public should be very careful with the information they dispense. The public is not in the position to check out stories like the media is, and depends on the media to give them correct information.

2. Congress is debating doing away with the fillibuster. This would be, in my opinion, a mistake. The fillibuster is one way to get opinions that are contrary to the majority opinion expressed. Without the filibuster the people who have the majority opinion can have their opinion acted on without much interference from those who disagree with them.
I believe we need the filibuster to ensure that diffenent opinions are at least heard.

Both of these stories touch some of the more essential tenents of democarcy. Democracy depends upon a public that is informed with the correct information. Demorcarcy also depends upon everyone at least being listened to. Without these, democracy is at risk.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: From My Perspective: To Whom Do We Preach? DATE: 5/19/2005 08:37:00 PM ----- BODY: Several bloggers -- Adrian Warnack and Jollyblogger, to name a few -- have had a discussion in The Blogdom Of God and the League of Reformed Bloggers groups about who we preach to.

The question is -- do we preach to non believers or to believers?

I would have to say that I agree with a number of posts I have now read that we preach to both non believers and believers.

Preaching needs to speak to non believers in the hopes that they will become believers.

Preaching needs to speak to belivers in hopes that they will be strengthened in their beliefs.

It is not an either / or propostion -- but a both / and.

Every time I preach I pray that if someone has not come to believe in Christ, that God would somehow speak to them through my words. I also pray everyone who believes will have their faith strengthened through what God says to them in my sermon.

Preaching is one of the most awesome responsibilities anyone faces. Every week I look at the passages I plan to preach on for that Sunday and wonder --

What does the congregation need to hear?
What word can I share with them that will give them a better understanding of God's will for their lives and the world?
How can I connect God to their experiences -- theier lives?


These are not easy questions -- and do not have easy answers. The best I can do is study the passage -- pray -- study some more -- pray some more -- study some more -- pray, pray, pray -- then write what I feel God is saying.

And hope that it is truly what God is saying.

And pray that what I say will somehow speak to others -- including those who believe in Christ and those who don't.

Until next tme -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Click For A Chance To Win A DVD DATE: 5/18/2005 08:18:00 PM ----- BODY: May Giveaway

Tim Challies at Challies Dot Comis having a contest -- and the prize is the DVDs pictured above -- The History & Theology of Calvinism DVD set -- and the movie Luther on DVD.

The rules of the contest are simple -- all you have to do is click on the pictures and you will be taken to his blog -- where you can enter to win. Also -- when you go to the contest from this site -- I will get credit for sending you -- giving me a greater chance to win!

So -- help yourself (and me)! Click on the picture!

But hurry -- dealine is midnight May 19 (tomorrow night)!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: My Other Groups DATE: 5/17/2005 05:05:00 PM ----- BODY: Last night I blogged about being a part of the Homespun Bloggers . I have now updated my sidebar to show other groups I am a part of, and other groups I am "following" -- which means I do not actually belong or contribute but like to read the posts of those who do belong.

Going down the sidebar you come to the heading: Groups I Am A Part Of. Along with Homespun Bloggers you will find links for The Evangelical Aggregator, Blogs4God, Pro Life Blogs, The Blogdom of God, The League of Reformed Bloggers, and The North State Blogs.

You will note that some of these (The Blogdom of God, The League of Reformed Bloggers) have the "blogroll" -- or list of others who are a part of that group. As I pointed out in last night's post, Homespun Bloggers also has a "blogroll". The ones who do not have a "blogroll" are ones I could not find the script for adding the "blogroll" to my site!

To access these groups, you can click on their names in this post, click on their names in the sidebar, or -- in some cases -- (Homespun Bloggers, The Evangelical Aggregator,Pro Life Blogs
and The Blogdom of God) I have icons at the bottom of the sidebar that link to them.

Go ahead -- click on the names in this post, the names on the sidebar -- or the icons -- and see what "my groups" are all about!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Homespun Bloggers DATE: 5/16/2005 09:02:00 PM ----- BODY: I am now officially a member of the Homespun Bloggers -- a group of bloggers who have joined together to -- as they say on their membership page:

allow amateur bloggers to provide support (both moral and traffic related) to one another.


They have technical support (something I need a lot of), and perodically post "best of" blogs of their members.

I appreciate them letting me join -- and am looking forward to being a part.

There are several ways to link to Homespun Bloggers from this page.

1. You can click on the words Homespun Bloggers in this post -- they are linked to the homepage.

2. You can click on the Homespun Bloggers icon in my icon section of my sidebar.

3. You can click on the name Homespun Bloggers under the heading "Groups I'm A Part Of" section of my sidebar.

You can link to other members of the Homespun Bloggers by clicking on the names in the blogroll underHomespun Bloggers under the heading "Groups I'm A Part Of" section of my sidebar.

Check them out -- and tell them Rev Bill sent you!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Learning Something New: Triperspectival DATE: 5/16/2005 05:42:00 AM ----- BODY: Well -- let's start the week with a new word:

triperspectival


As my nephew Rob explains, triperspectival basically means talking about something from 3 different but related perspectives. Or triperspectival means that you can't fully understand one without an idea of the other two.

I'm blogging this to help out Rob with his quest to corner the Google market on triperspectival, and also besause I think I just found a great illustration for my sermon for Trinity Sunday! Look for something triperspectival in a sermon on my Sermon Blog site next weekend!

If I can figure out how to pronounce it! :)

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A Pentecost Prayer DATE: 5/15/2005 02:43:00 PM ----- BODY: Today is the Day of Pentecost -- one of the most important, if not neglected and misunderstood, days in the Christian year. Pentecost is the third most important day in the Christian year -- only lacking in importance to Christmas and Easter. It is the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (as the passage in Acts 2 has it -- the Gospel of John has Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon them in one of the post -
resurrection appearances). The event in Acts 2 is considered the birth of the the church by many because it was the first time after the Jesus' ascension that the disciples acted decisively and began to spread the news of God's actions through Jesus. Pentecost is indeed an important day!

Pentecost -- like Easter -- is what is called a "moveable feast" because the date changes every year. Pentecost is celebrated 8 weeks after Easter, so as the date of Easter changes every year, so does the date of Pentecost.

But -- Pentecost is not given a lot of attention in many churches now. If it is mentioned, many times it is only with a passing reference. Even many churches that condiser themselves "Pentecostal" fail to really grasp what happened at Pentecost.

Fist of all -- why is Penctecost not celebrated?

Well -- I am not really sure -- although it could be that some feel the Holy Spirit is something almost dangerously powerful -- good if viewed from a distance like a caged lion or tiger but scary if we are too close to it. Also Christmas and Easter have their marketable qualities -- which Pentecost does not have. I have never seen a "Happy Pentecost" card!

But -- what about the misunderstanding of Pentecost?

Some think that at Pentecost the disciples began "speaking in tongues" -- or speaking in unintelligible but ecstatic speech (the spiritual gift of glossolalia). While I do not argue that glossolalia is not a spiritual gift, I do not think that the event at Pentecost was a case of glossolalia.

Look at Acts 2:1-13:

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”



Verse 4 seems to say that the Holy Spirit gave them the abillity to speak in other languages -- and verses 5-12 seems to indicate that these languages were understood by others who were gathered in Jerusalem from many countries for the Jewish celebration of Shavuot (or Pentecost to the Greek speaking Jews). So -- to me -- this is not a case of glossolalia as much as it was a case of the disciples given the ability to speak in languages they had not been able to speak in before so others could hear about what God had done through Jesus Christ.

So -- Pentecost is a very important day for Christians! Maybe we all should seek out ways to become more -- do I dare say it -- "pentecostal"! Or at least more in tune with the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives!

For more about Pentecost, click here for the article on Pentecost from WikiPedia and here for the text of my sermon from this morning.

I want to offer a prayer for Pentecost from my faith tradition. This is a Litany For Pentecost from the Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church (USA):

Christ has gathered the church in unity through the Spirit.
With sure hope, let us pray: Lord, hear our prayer.
Maker of all things,
in the beginning, you created heaven and earth.
In the fullness of time, you restored all things in Christ.
Renew our world, in this day, with your grace and mercy.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Life of the world,
you breathed life into the flesh you created.
Now, by your Spirit, breathe new life into the children of earth.
Turn hatred into love, sorrow into joy, and war into peace.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Lover of concord,
you desire the unity of all Christians.
Set aflame the whole church with the fire of your Spirit.
Unite us to stand in the world as a sign of your love.

Lord, hear our prayer.

God of compassion,
through your Spirit you supply every human need.
Heal the sick, and comfort the distressed.
Befriend the friendless, and help the helpless.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Source of peace,
your Spirit restores our anxious spirits.
In our labor, give us rest;
in our temptation, strength;
in our sadness, consolation.

Lord, hear our prayer.


Amen!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: God Is Not A Republican Or A Democrat DATE: 5/14/2005 03:59:00 PM ----- BODY: It seems that my blog is increasingly becoming a place where I post about the problems I see happen when political parties try to say that "God is on their side" and if you do not agree with them, you are not Christian. Well, that's ok -- because I believe this is a subject that needs to be addressed.

It also seems that I am commening a lot about what Jim Wallis of Sojourners is writing. That's ok too -- I like what Wallis writes and the way Wallis pushes me to think about the theological implications of things.

All this leads me to --

I was reading the article by Jim Wallis in this weeks Sojomail ( with an intro like I just gave I'm sure you knew what was coming :) ) about the dangers of polical parties claiming to be "God's party". It is an excellent article. Here Wallis cites the problems at East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC as an example of what can happen when you begin believing that "God is on your side". You may remember that this was the Church I blogged about several days ago where several members claimed they were forced to leave because they did not agree with the pastor on political issues. (You can read that previous post here.)

Wallis concludes the article with these words:

The Republican Party is not God's own party, as the Religious Right and some Republican leaders seem to be suggesting. And, of course, neither is the Democratic Party. We must say it again and again until it is heard and understood: God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious communities for its political agenda, it makes a terrible mistake. God's politics challenge all our politics. Our faith must not be narrowed to the agenda of one political party.


You can read Wallis' article here. -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Pentecost Sermon: 2005 DATE: 5/14/2005 02:54:00 PM ----- BODY: I have finished writing and have posted my sermon for tomorrow -- The Day Of Pentecost (also Graduates Sunday for us at Wentworth Presbyterian)-- on my sermon blog. It's based on Acts 2:1-21, 1 Corinthians 12:3(b)-12, and John 20:19-23.

The sermon is about needing the Holy Spirit inside of us to do things "smarter" -- to do ministry better.

Here is a part of the sermon:

So many things seem to be “smarter” these days – from watches that automatically set themselves by the National Atomic Time Institute to small cards you can swipe at a gas pump and get gas to “intelligent” building controls that can control the buildings energy, security, and communications needs – going as far as automatically turning off lights when a room is empty.
What makes these things “smarter”?
Usually it’s a “chip” – something put inside the gadget – or whatever – that transforms it and gives it the ability to do something it could not do before.
What can be – in us – to make us “more intelligent” - smarter – able to do new things – as a Church?
Just buy books on Church growth or doing a demographic study of the neighborhood?
These are good – but first – we need something new and different inside us – like a “gadget” needs a “chip” inside it.
We need the Holy Spirit inside us.
Only by the Holy Spirit can we

GET SMARTER ----
GET SMARTER



Read the sermon here
.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill

Until next time --Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: More Friday Fun DATE: 5/13/2005 08:27:00 AM ----- BODY: OK -- before I get to work -- I'll share one more fun thing I found today.

If you are a football fan (like my nephew Rob and I are)this might be fun. You can do the math here and -- starting with the number of complete NFL games you watch a week during the regular season -- come up with your age.

Hey -- I did it and it works!

Grab a calculator and work this out as you go:

1. First thing, pick the number of complete NFL games you normally watch in one week of the regular season. (Please pick more than one but less than ten).

2. Multiply this number by 2

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add, 1755. If you
haven't had your birthday yet, add 1754.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. You should
have a three digit number now.

The first digit of this was your original number (How many NFL games
per week you watch).

The next two numbers are…

Your age.


Pretty cool -- huh?

I know this works -- the guys at Footballguys told me so!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A Case Of Agreeing To Disagree? DATE: 5/13/2005 07:56:00 AM ----- BODY:



OK -- a little humor for a Friday.

With all my posts about grace and agreeing to disagree this week, I couldn't help but chuckle at this article from the New York Times today. It seems that Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich are actually working together on something. Newt is actually speaking in favor of Hillary for President. It strikes me as odd -- but I guess stranger things have happened.

Is this a case of agreeing to disagree?

Maybe -- but then again -- knowing these 2 -- maybe not!

There are some things I am very cynical about! :)

To read the article, click here.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Be An Instrument Of Grace DATE: 5/12/2005 05:35:00 AM ----- BODY: I know that since I don't have any children -- I can be an expert on telling others how to raise theirs :) -- but I came across this article on showing grace that can apply to dealing with children and adults.

Let me set the stage for you.

A woman's five year old daughter has hit a young playmate with a broom.
What does the woman do?
Like most parents, (and like I would probably do in that case) she "goes off the deep end".
Then she does something I might not have done.
She prays.
And when she prays -- this is the response she gets:

I began a silent prayer. “Oh, Lord, help me think of something I can say that will have an impact -- something that will reach through to her.”
It took a minute to hear his answer. In that time, I’d already begun formulating a new lecture. I decided to describe for her the steps involved in giving someone stitches. But the Lord stopped me cold.
I always know when he’s talking to me in the midst of a crisis, because what he says runs so sharply counter to what I’m thinking. This occasion was no different.
He whispered, Grace.
And then, because I was so confused, he whispered it again. Grace.
I wanted to fight his voice, but I couldn’t. While I struggled, he continued to reveal himself to me.
She wants to be forgiven.
She’s ready to come to Me.
You’re standing in the way.
That last one did it. I had a vision of my daughter, reaching for the outstretched arms of Jesus -- and me standing between them, blocking her every move.


You can read the entire story here.

Wow!
Being an instrument of God's grace!
Not easy -- but something to work for -- to pray for.
The next time you feel ready to get angry and upset at someone, do 2 things:

1. Pray about it
2. Think about being an instrument of grace instead.


And I will try to remember to do the same! :)

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Security Alerts? DATE: 5/11/2005 07:39:00 AM ----- BODY: This just in --
USA Today is reporting that former Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge has stated that at times there were disagreements over the level of security alert the country needs to be under.

Does this mean that even the Sesamee Street characters don't get along?

:)

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Agree To Disagree II: Let's Just Act Like Christians ... DATE: 5/11/2005 05:28:00 AM ----- BODY: A few weeks ago I posted about an article I had read by Jim Wallis of Sojourners about agreeing to disagree and not feeling like your way is the only way. (You can read that post here.)

I ended that post with:

Agree to disagree. Hold true to your own beliefs and what you feel God calling you to do, and honor what others feel God calling them to do. It's not easy -- so let's pray for strength to do this!


This is indeed not easy to do.
I have a friend who -- when he sees some of us arguing over something -- loves to say:

"O -- let's just act like Christians and fight about it!"


While there is a lot of humor in this statement -- there is a lot of truth in it, also. "Agreeing to disagree" is not easy -- in church or in other parts of life. The problem is that when others see Christians arguing and fighting they begin to not believe our message of love and forgiveness. Our actions speak louder than our words.

An example of this is playing itself out in Waynesville, NC, where members of East Waynesville Baptist Church have claimed they were kicked out for voting for John Kerry. The New York Times today is reporting that the IRS is investigating the Church's tax exempt status, and that the minister -- Reverend Chan Chandler -- has resigned.

My question is -- did it have to go this far -- and be such a "public fight"?
Could the members of the Church have settled their political differences in another way -- a way that would not have made such headlines? Reverend Chandler has said that that he was not "preaching politics" -- but felt that George Bush's stand on abortion was more in line with Biblical principles than were John Kerry's . Those who oppose Reverend Chandler have said he was pushing his political agenda from the pulpit. What results from all this is a "he said -- she said" situation where nobody wins!

I can't point fingers at this situation without realising that I must also point fingers at myself. I know that I have been in the midst of some "Church fights" -- some of which have become very nasty -- that -- if I could do it over again -- I would handle differently. I think most of us have been in situations where Christian love was not shown -- and when we step back from the situation -- sometimes too late -- we can see where we were wrong.

So -- what do you do when you are in situations like this?

1. Try to see the other person's side.
2. If you can't agree with the other person -- try to "agree to disagree" -- in other words, try to work with them even though you don't agree with them.
3. Try to work out differences with others queitly and not make a "public debate" out of it.
4. If you find yourself in the midst of a fight, try to step back from it.
5. If you have found yourself acting in ways that are not loving, ask God for forgiveness, try to reconcile with the person, and move on.


Will I take my own advice here?
Probably -- sometimes -- but at other times I'm sure that I will:

"act like Christians and fight about it!"


;)

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: For Mom DATE: 5/08/2005 02:06:00 PM ----- BODY: Today is Mother's Day -- and since I can't be with my Mom, (I did send a card ;)) I will blog about her.

My Mom -- Marcene Hayes -- is one of the most loving, giving people I know! She has lived her life giving to others -- taking care of others -- and focusing on others. She and my Dad (Billy Hayes -- who died 2 years ago) have made a major impact on my life -- and it is their influence that has made me the person I am today.

I mentioned some things about Mom's influence on my life in my sermon today. (You can read the sermon here.)

My Mom and Dad were a part of what Tom Brokaw has called the "greatest generation ever" -- the generation that lived through the Great Depression and World War II -- then worked to rebuild America after the war. Her father – a Methodist minister – suffered severe depression and a nervous breakdown -- finally killing himself and her mother. Mom was pregnant with my middle sister Alexa at the time – and almost lost her in her grief over her parent’s sudden and tragic death. But Mom determined to not let the tragedy of her parents death extend into our family – and decided that being loving and caring to others – regardless of how your may be feeling – was the answer to life.

The rest of her life – to this day – has been spent caring for and loving others.

She selflessly gave of herself for me and my sisters – and when Dad became seriously ill with advanced Diabetes and Parkinson’s – and became almost immobile -- she spent several years sitting with him – waiting on him – loving him. It was almost to the point that the rest of the family was not sure that Mom’s health was good – she never got out and never did anything but sit with Dad and would not allow us to hire anyone else to help her -- but since Dad’s death she has shown us that she is perfectly able to do things – it was just that she chose not to so she could take care of Dad.

The other person was always more important to her than herself.

Doing for others was always more important to her than doing for herself.

If I am a person that cares for others – I get a lot of that from Mom! I don’t do a very good job at copying Mom in this – but I do try!

So -- Mom -- Happy Mother's Day!

I love you!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Fake or Photo? DATE: 5/07/2005 08:06:00 PM ----- BODY:



I saw a post on The Orangejack Blog about taking a quiz to see which images were real (pictures of real objects) and which were fake (computer generated images.)

Easy -- huh?

That's what I thought, too -- until I took the test.

I got 5 correct out of 10 images.

See how well you can do -- take the test!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Mother's Day Sermon DATE: 5/06/2005 11:45:00 AM ----- BODY: I just finished -- and posted -- my srmon for Sunday.

This Mother's Day sermon is based on John 17:1-11 -- focusing on Jesus' prayer for God to protect the disciples. I see this prayer for protection to be one many mothers -- and fathers alike -- pray for their children.

Here is a part of the sermon:

Mothers – and fathers too – are familiar with this request.
Any parent who has said goodbye to a son or daughter – as they leave for school, go out into the world to a career, leave for their homes after a visit – watch them as they go off to war – can imagine Jesus' deep feelings for the disciples as he prays God's protection for them.

"Holy Father, PROTECT THEM!"

And – you know – many children can understand these feelings also – especially children of older parents as they leave after a brief visit to return to their own homes – of as they leave their parents in a nursing home – or as they watch their parents being taken in for serious surgery – or as they stand by the bedside as their parents are dying –

"Holy Father, PROTECT THEM!"


You can read the sermon here.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: The Ascension DATE: 5/05/2005 08:30:00 PM ----- BODY: I noted in my post this morning that today is Ascension Day. Ascension Day is the day -- 50 days after Easter -- when the church has historically celebrated the ascension of Christ into heaven. (I say the church has historically celebrated this, because I know of very few churches who now celebrate the ascension.)

You might ask -- why is the ascension important?

I believe it is important because it reminds us of Christs' power -- rule -- and ultimate victory. The Psalms assigned for Ascension Day (Psalms 47, 68) celbrate the power of God. When we lose touch with the ascension, we lose touch with our concepts of the deity of Christ and the sovereign majesty of God.

Also -- Ascension Day gets us ready for the coming of the Spirit on The Day Of Pentecost -- just 2 Sundays away!

Wikipedia does it's typically wonderful job on Ascension Day. Clear here to read it.

Unitl next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A Prayer For America DATE: 5/05/2005 06:47:00 AM ----- BODY: Today -- Thursday, May 5 -- is the National Day Of Prayer. (It's also Ascension Day -- I'll blog about that later.)

The National Day Of Prayer is a great opportunity for people of religious faith to come together and pray for our country. We have much to be thankful for -- but much to be prayerful for, also.

I was looking over some ideas for my part in the prayer service in my community at noon today, and came across this prayer from the Presbyterian Church Book of Common Worship. I think it says what needs to be said in a beautiful way.

Almighty God,
You have given us this good land as our heritage.
Make us always remember your generosity
and constantly do your will.

Bless our land with honest industry,
sound learning,
and an honorable way of life.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance,
and from every evil way.

Make us who come from many nations
And many different languages
a united people.

Defend our liberties
and give those whom we have entrusted with the authority of government
a spirit of wisdom,
that there might be justice and peace in our land.

When times are prosperous, let our hearts be thankful; and in troubled times, do not let our trust in you fail. We ask these things through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Nothing else needs to be said!

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: Social Security And The 5th Commandment DATE: 5/05/2005 05:39:00 AM ----- BODY: This week's Sojomail
has a good article by Jim Wallis about the theological / moral implications of Social Security reform. I like what Wallis has to say! He begins:

As discussion about Social Security reform begins in the Senate Finance Committee, beware of those who tell you that God spoke to them and they have the "fix" for Social Security. To guarantee the solvency of this bedrock institution in American life will not be easy; it will require our best bipartisan thinking and collaboration. But one aspect of this debate does indeed raise some fundamental moral - and even religious - issues that we ought to consider.


He then ties Social Security to the 5th Commandment: Honor your father and mother. (Read the entire 10 Commandments here.)

Here are the highlights of his points:

1. The Judeo-Christian faith tradition has much to say about intergenerational commitments.
2. We are commanded to "Honor your father and your mother," which is linked to our own well-being and security, "so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you".
3. The constant theme is that the well-being of our parents and the next generation is spiritually connected to our own.
4. Privatizing Social Security threatens to dismantle our nation's commitment and breach a covenant held between child and parent, worker and retiree, employed and unemployed, able and disabled.
5. Social Security is about we, not me, and us, not I. It is a common thread for the common good, a tie that binds a nation's people together.
6. Social Security is an expression of national values - and for Christians, our biblical priorities.
7. Honoring the intergenerational covenant has everything to do with our society's moral behavior.


Thanks, Jim, for reminding us that this is not just a political issue!

Read his article here.

Until next time -- Peace! Bill -------- AUTHOR: revbill TITLE: A New Adventure DATE: 5/03/2005 06:16:00 AM ----- BODY: I have started 2 new things on the blogosphere.

Actually, I am just doing 1 new thing -- but it is appearing at 2 different places (sort of).

Let me explain --

I have started posting Bible Commentaries -- or Bible Studies -- at The Minor Prophet web site. If you don't know about The Minor Prophet, you should check it out. It's full of commentaries, devotional material, and Bible Studies written by a lot of different folks -- like me!

Anyway -- I started posting material there last night.

But the material is not really "there"!

I've decided to create a Bible Study Blog and then link it to my Minor Prophet Home Page. I am more familiar with the word processing features here at blogspot -- and just like the looks of it better. I have also started linking my sermons I have posted at my Sermon Blog to my Minor Prophet Home Page so they will add to the treasury of Biblical knowledge at the Minor Prophet!

So -- I now have my Bible Commentaries and Sermons at 2 different places!

You can access my Sermons and my Bible Studies by following the links at the right hand side of this site -- or by going to my Minor Prophet Home Page -- there is a link to it at the right hand side of this site or you can click on the little fellow with the minor's cap and light that says "Library".

Until next time -- Peace! Bill --------