Sunday, January 18, 2015

Who Do You Say I Am?





A hat tip to Adam Hamilton and the sermon series I've been posting about. And another hat tip to PixTeller, a free site with tools that allowed me to put the quote on a background and share it here. What a great quote. A question we must all answer for ourselves.

Matthew 16:12-16 Living Bible (TLB)

12 Then at last they understood that by yeast he meant the wrong teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 13 When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who are the people saying am?”14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; some, Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”15 Then he asked them, “Who do you think I am?”16 Simon Peter answered, “The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Did He or Didn't He?


Here on Mercy, I’ve written posts based on thoughts and topics piqued by Adam Hamilton. I’ve  thought about/meant to write many more posts based on things I’ve read that he authored (Why?) and sermons that he preached. On the Church of the Resurrection website, where he is senior pastor, there is a vast collection of sermon archives dating back to 1999.

This new year, as part of my goal of getting more structured in my “devotions”, I decided I would listen to sermons (by Adam Hamilton, Nadia Bolz-Weber and Greg Boyd) AND read the Bible (Book of Common Prayer reading plan) while exercising at the gym. Talk about multitasking. So far, so good. Well….so far, pretty good. Not a failure, not a raging success. Still plugging along.

So, I randomly picked a sermon series from last January called Jesus: Myth, Madman or Messiah and listened to the first sermon in the series, “Searching for the Historical Jesus.” I listened to it twice. Learned a thing or two and picked up a different perspective about the historical Jesus. From the sermon notes available on the website:


Let’s begin with an easy question, as there is great consensus even among secular scholars,agnostics and atheists that Jesus actually lived. He was a real, historical person. Dr. Louise Antony, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts and a noted atheist stated,“I don't personally know a single atheist who would deny that Jesus existed.” Bart Ehrman, a popular agnostic writer and professor at the University of North Carolina recently wrote a book called, Did Jesus Exist? in which he offers an emphatic yes....

Well, isn’t that cool? And if you want to read a short writing by Bart Ehrman on Huffington Post discussing why he is sure Jesus existed, click HERE.

More from the sermon:

I finished reading Zealot last week. Aslan lays out the premise of the book,
writing: “In the end, there are only two hard historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth upon which we can confidently rely: the first is that Jesus was a Jew who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine...the second is that Rome crucified him for doing so.”

To watch a 27 minute Huffington post video of Aslan discussing his views about Jesus, click HERE.

Another New Year’s goal...to post more frequently on this blog. In order to do that (and also fit in living my life/exercising/and working at a challenging and full time plus some job) I’ve got to be less picky. This post feels a bit unfinished and unpolished. In the past, I would save it in draft form and plan a series…..which most of the time never actually came to fruition.  


So here it is...as it is. There is fodder for those who might want to read/listen to a bit more. I have intentions to write more about the sermon because it piqued many thoughts and insights. We’ll see if that happens.  For now...I’ve gotta’ get moving and get ready for work.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

That's Not Okay.....


Emily, my youngest daughter, is in the Netherlands!! She is there with a group from school fulfilling her foreign language requirement before graduation. That is the official reason. The unofficial reason is wanderlust and a desire to see the world. They spent the first day in Amsterdam and then on to three weeks at a small Christian college in Ede. She is living in an apartment with 6 Dutch college girls. You can read about her adventures here and here.

And while you are there, read some of the other posts about her life at college, her nannying, her musings on faith. She is the fruit of my womb and I may be partial….but she is a special young women who has an anointing on her life. I am so proud of her!!

In her post, she talks about some of the impressions Dutch students have of Americans….

It has been fun to talk about the differences and assumptions about the other countries. I have concluded that most Dutch students assume that the United States is comprised of New York (meaning the city, completely disregard that it is an entire state), California and Disney World. Which is fair of them because I probably would have assumed that all of The Netherlands is Amsterdam. I also have been asked about 14 times whether I own a gun.

So the general impression of America, at least by this group of students, is that as a country, we are okay with a 21 year old college student owning a gun. And for many Americans that would be perfectly okay. Many Americans are “gun people.” That is how Terry Rutledge, the father in law of Veronica Rutledge, the young mother who was recently shot dead by her two year old son in an Idaho Walmart, described his family. Gun people.

I recently read an opinion piece by Nicole Plyler Fisk another mother whose child could have easily become a statistic, too. She says…..

Veronica’s father-in-law, Terry Rutledge, has expressed anger at those who portray Veronica, who had taken classes and was licensed to carry, “as irresponsible.” In doing so, he misses a key point: it’s not just “irresponsible” gun owners who are ruining and losing lives to gun violence; the “responsible” gun owners are right there with them. When you walk through life with such a lethal weapon on or near you (Terry Rutledge says his son and daughter-in-law “carried one every day of their lives”) you run the inordinate risk of doing harm not only to yourself but also to others. Human beings are not designed to be on alert the way Rutledge-style gun enthusiasts need to be on alert (i.e. never a distracted moment).

And therein lies the rub. At what point does the right to carry a concealed weapon impose on the rights of others? This was a responsible gun owner, a responsible mother, a brilliant scientific researcher and yet, somehow, this woman was shot dead in the electronics department by her toddler. What is especially troublesome is that this could have just as easily been another shopper standing nearby. It could have been me grabbing a new flash drive….or Emily on a late night mascara run to the local Walmart.

And that’s not okay….it’s just not.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

What I want to be when I grow up


I am in the process of figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Nevermind that I am already almost old.. I’ve let life bounce me along - REacting instead of acting.

Cathy Walker posted the following on Facebook today-

“Be an atmosphere changer…..be the thermostat not the thermometer.”

I’ve mostly been the thermometer; rarely, the thermostat. And I’ve just kind of bobbed along in the sea of life.  

This past year, in an effort to help Emily cover college expenses, I started an etsy shop and relaunched a craft business from yesteryear. It was not a success. If you are interested, you can read about it on my other blog, It’s Personal.

Even though I have all kinds of ideas and the best of intentions, I’ve pretty much ignored this blog. I haven’t done much organized reading. I haven’t journaled or smashbooked or studied the Bible.. (Damn, I’m feeling more and more like a loser) I’ve focused too much of my attention on the never ending (NEVER ENDING, I tell you) list of chores and errands. That is going to stop!  

So for the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been assessing my coulda’, woulda,’ shoulda’s. I’ve come across all kinds of suggestions about goals/resolutions/missions. Some are very helpful. Some are idealistic. Some are just dumb.

In my web travels, I came upon the following list from Pope Francis. He did not frame these suggestions in the context of New Year’s Resolutions but rather as his “do these ten things” pre-Christmas advice to Vatican employees. I like some of them a lot and decided to share them here on Mercy. .

– “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

– “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

– “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

– “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

– “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

– “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

– “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

– “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

– “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Radical Views on Facebook....


I have friends on Facebook who are far right and far left; ultra-conservative and ultra-liberal; polar opposites of each other. The stuff they post on their walls supports their radical views.


Yes, both sides have radical views.


I am thankful for the folks who tend to hang out in the middle and are more moderate in the opinions, status updates and links that they share. I believe that the truth usually lies somewhere around the middle of the radical opinions voiced by the two opposite ends of the spectrum.  Both ends tend to see only through the lens of their own worldview, rarely stepping out of character, but it seems to me that the ones on the right have the most ridiculous, biased, “are you kidding me” ideas.


Today one of these far righters posted a link to an article that talked about the third mosque bombing in Sweden. The site is “israelnationalnews.com”


"People saw a man throwing something burning at the building," police in Uppsala, where the latest arson took place, said in a statement quoted by AFP. They added that the mosque in eastern Sweden did not catch fire and that the suspect had left behind "a text on the door expressing contempt for religion."


The slur on the door said, “Go home Muslim shit.”

Although the article did not reek of bias, the opinions expressed in the comments were disgusting.

And meanwhile on Facebook, there was high-fiving about a place of worship being vandalized.

Really?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wishing you a Merry Christmas

I haven’t posted anything about the Christmas Wars this year which is my usual holiday tradition. So here is my a day late and a dollar short snippet….


Have you read about the grumpy guy who, in true Grinch-like fashion, disrupted an entire plane full of travelers because he was irate that the ticket agent and a flight attendant wished him a “Merry Christmas?” He was eventually booted from the plane amidst cheers from fellow passengers.


Really, bud, you need to just chill. I know airline travel sucks and I’ve seen grumpy, surly, scowling, seasoned travelers when I’ve traveled. They have that “don’t eff with me” demeanor. Perhaps you are one of those guys. We aren’t privy to the private details of your life that might have added to the duress brought on by the cheerfulness of the staff who had to work on the holiday. Still, you don’t get points for being bright since you should realize airlines just don’t mess around anymore. Toe the line or you are off the plane….or arrested!

Really, we all need to chill. Accept the holiday greetings (whatever form they take) as a gesture of goodwill and peace on earth. That is something we can surely all agree are in too short of supply during the holidays and all the year long…..


Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ann Voskamp - a treasure

I need to type fast because I have a lot to say and it is already three minutes past the time I should be up and moving toward my final goal for this morning.  My goal this morning? Clocking in before my start time (instead of shortly after.) Nobody is really watching. I am allowed to be independent like that because I have willingly taken on a lion’s share of work and I have permission and the willingness to stay long after my normal clock out time. 

A department within our larger department is in transition. There is a lot I could say about that, but I won’t.  We really aren't supposed to talk specifics about our job on social media. Well, I really think it is probably more that we are not allowed to talk TRASH about our job on social media.  No problem….about this situation, I have no trash to talk.  


It is very challenging. As they say in PC speak, it is one of those “opportunities to grow.”  I should take notes so I can write about it….my methodology, my thought process…..the life jacket systems that are keeping me from drowning. Ad lib, ad hoc, systems …… improvising as I go along. I’m  pedaling….or should I say paddling…..as fast as I can.  


But that is not what I wanted to write about this morning. l wanted to write about someone named Ann Voskamp. You may be familiar with her but I wasn't. She is a repeat NY Times best selling author. Mother, wife to a farmer, home schooler, missionary, Christian, blogger, photographer, author, baker, hard worker. She has a way with words unlike most...any?....I have read before.  Using them in peculiar ways and places in her prose. Pairing unlikely words together in a sentence. Sometimes a phrase takes me aback.  A sharp inhale of resonating recognition. “Wow,” I think to myself. “Profound,” I silently whisper.  

Somehow her blog comes to my AOL email. I can’t remember how I ended up on her website. I vaguely remember it was via Pinterest….and she had something free that I wanted.  The price….sign up for her mailing list. I am so glad I did.  She “waxes poetic” several times a week in my in box. 


I encourage you to check out her blog, her ministries, (scroll down to the bottom for links to ministries like Compassion and the Esther Initiative and more) and her books.