“The berries. I realize the answer to who I am lies in that handful of poisonous fruit. IF I held them out to save Peeta because I knew I would be shunned if I came back without him, then I am despicable. If I held them out because I loved him, I am still self-centered, although forgivable. But if I held them out to defy the Capitol. I am someone of worth. The trouble is, I don’t know exactly waht was going on inside me at that moment. Could it be the people in the districts are right? That it was an act of rebellion, even if it was an unconcscious one? Because, deep down, I must know it isn’t enough to keep myself, or my family, or my friends alive by running away.” Catching Fire 118

…interesting how Katniss yearns for something she doesn’t even understand.I think this is part of the human condition–what are we yearning for and we need it…

I’m not crazy…

Ok, I guess that is debatable…I mean who else thinks that establishing a church through Sci Fi/Fantasy is their calling?

But often I think that this is the message I want to get out…I’m Christian, not Crazy.

Just because I believe in God

Just because I try (and fail and then try again) to put God’s love and hospitality into practice does not make me an extremist, bigot, loony or uneducated person. In fact it doesn’t make me liberal/conservative, rich/poor, smart/dumb, etc. That’s the point. ImageChristianity is supposed to be noncontextual (for an ironic moment watch a pastor talk about how bigotry succeeds at being ultimately noncontexual as well http://gawker.com/5953357/missouri-pastors-fiery-speech-against-equal-rights-for-homosexuals-has-stunning-twist-ending)

Christianity should be without context. And when I say I’m Christian, I would love for that to mean that I think outside the box, not that I am stereotypical (cause I’m not)

When I say I’m Christian, that means that the most important thing to me is God’s graciousness, and when I look at the world, it is hard for me to think that we were a random happenstance of nature. And the fact that I was created and I, in turn, try to create things, is an important part to figuring out my life…

It does not mean I’m going to push my beliefs on you, that I hate everyone else out there or I’m going to be judgmental–it simply means that to me, God enriches my life….

That is all….

Money=Symbol

I still remember when the stock market was falling. I had just decided (luckily) to stay another year in school, and the market was doing horribly, and everyone was running around like chickens with their heads cut off saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” no wait…that’s chicken little. ImageThey were actually saying “The market is falling, the market is falling” which of course just made the panic and therefore the downturn of the market worse…

2 things get me about this

1. If someone with authority had just said, Stop, calm down, let’s take the time to think about this–instead of throwing money at the situation as quickly as possible things might have gone better (and I am totally bipartisan in my blame here)

2. Money is not what we think it is…

Anyone remember when gas was under a dollar a gallon? When I was 10 (that would be 19yrs ago–yes you may do the math of how old I am 🙂 ) I remember gas sometimes being as cheap as $.89

And when I asked my congregation if they can remember one cent candy, most of them could (alas that was before my time) ImageThe point being that a dollar is not really a dollar, and that money is just a symbol.

To us it means status (yes)Image but its more than that, we trust the value of the dollar, to us it means security something we can depend on. But you know what? Money is not security. People like to think about money in the bank, or land ownership as guarentees. People like to talk about job security (is there such a thing). Heck, we even have a system of money that is named Social Security.

Do you know that our dollars aren’t backed by silver anymore? It used to be money was the symbol of the silver that backed it up in the treasury–now its backed up by nothing.

So what I have a question, what makes money an effective symbol? Probably its quantifiable and tangible nature. We have put a piece of paper out to symbolize commerce, and so we are able to better conceptualize it.

This is why tithing is so important, it isn’t just about giving money to the church–its about your relationship with God. If you give money to God regularly, then you are going think about God whenever you deal with money, hence changing the very way we deal with money in the day to day–it changes the symbol. (Maybe this is why research shows the only way money makes you happy is if you give it away see amazing TED Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html for more)

Now…what if God was our security? What if we depended not on pieces of paper but on God to bring us through. What if we, in essence bank of God.Image

How much God do you have on you?

Do you have enough to get you through the week?

Can you share some God with me today?

Need more God, better go back to the bank (Church) where theres enough God to go around..

As the church, are we “generating interest” in God? Are we growing our funds? Are we accruing more God through our actions?

Image

Because after all, God doesn’t grow on trees…

PS Scripture Matthew 19, note 2 things 1. When the man is foolish, Jesus loves him first before he responds in ANY other way, Jesus loves him & 2. Jesus promises to increase everything a hundredfold–which is great because it clues us in to the fact that this love isn’t really quantifiable…hundredfold is a better interpretation than a hundred, because it isn’t exact, it is more a SYMBOL of what is going happen (besides who can handle a hundred spouses, speaking as a married woman who finds polygamy BIblical yet crazy, I couldn’t even handle two 😉

Anyway, the point being, Possessions are just symbols

17As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Re-reading Harry Potter

 

In Chapter 24 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry makes his cataclysmic decision to go after the horcruxes, he begins to sound like Dumbledore.

 

He speaks simply, directly and with authority

 

He thanks people, retains information, and still acts in empathy and sympathy with Griphook and Ollivander.

 

 

He becomes quite …dare I say… pastoral in his demeanor….

Interesting….

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know what I believe….

When I worked at the Psychiatric Hospital as a chaplain, one of the things I would do as often as possible was a Spiritual Assessment: Basically to get a feel of someone, their faith, and how it may or may not support them.

 

 

One of the questions was “Do you feel hope?”

 

And more than once the answer I got was, “no, not really, maybe someday I will.”

 

i.e. I’m hoping for hope

 

To me, this is the essence of the Christian question….

 

When a father brings his son in Mark 9 to be healed, Jesus says he can only be healed by belief, and the father says “I believe, help my unbelief”

 

 

 

In PCUSA we have a great deal of rules and order. We have systemized theology so that we have a complete (well complete as humans get get) picture–we put all our information about God out on the table, and we desperately try to leave nothing out. Why? 

 

 

Because we don’t know everything, so we hang on tightly to those things we do know.

 

Image

 

Two things about this

 

1. Church is for unbelievers: Its for those who don’t know whats going on, and the more we make church for unbelievers the more successful church will be 

 

2. Church is for faith: Faith is not something you can hang onto–one minute you are walking on water, the next you are sinking fast. However, Church is a place to hold onto faith when you yourself don’t have any. We don’t have to believe all the time, because Jesus does. And we can both believe in Christ and not believe at the same time–>I don’t know what I believe

 

 

What an honest statement. I don’t know what I believe….

Image

 

 

I believe in love

 

I believe that bad things happen in the world

 

I believe in discipline

 

I believe in human brokenness

 

 

I believe in being a good person

 

 

I believe I can’t do it alone

I believe life is a miracle, every single time

 

 

I believe in relationships

 

I believe in science, math and the order of the world

 

I believe that someone is behind the ordering of it (most of the time)

 

I believe that there are intangibles that are as important as tangibles

 

I believe there are connections that are beyond desciption

 

I believe that humans have a purpose

 

I believe in God

 

I believe that good and evil both exist, and there is a struggle between them

 

I believe that I can’t understand that struggle

 

and I believe that God would never leave us hanging and alone ie I believe in Christ and the Holy Spirit

 

I believe that God is a particular person, not a nameless entity, I believe that we have complete free will and that God controls everything

 

I believe in auxi morons

 

I believe that God is timeless, and that often we mess things up by trying to constrain God with time (time travel anyone?)

 

I believe that most of the time I believe all this, and I believe the the church helps me when I believe…and when I don’t….

 

But I believe in hope, and if you don’t have hope, I believe you should hope for it! (Isn’t that what waiting for Christ is? Hoping for Hope!)

 

Voldemort “The old argum…

Voldemort “The old argument’ he said softly. ‘But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous prononuncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore.’ ‘Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places,’ suggested Dumbledor.” Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince (British ed.) 415

Voldemort, looking for love in all the wrong places 🙂

Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing, you ask who that may be, Christ Jesus it is him. The Lord of hosts his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle. And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We shall not fear for God has willed for his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness Grim, we tremble not at him. His rage we can endure–we know his doom is sure. One little word will fell him. “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

“Conversion doesn’t hap…

“Conversion doesn’t happen by forcing people to believe things the same way you do. I figure if Jesus meets us wherever we are (whether it be at a well, in the tree or on a cross), then we should do the same. Do you know what happens when you force someone to run when they can’t keep up? They fall. You don’t want to cause someone to fall by forcing them into a belief they don’t have. If someone has doubts or is an aetheist/agnostic you have to meet them there and let them reach the next step through loving them wherever they are. That’s what Jesus did.”–Pastor Katy Stenta

 A good ministry moment today. 

Soul Beauty

Embracing God and self identity, that’s what is about folks!

the beautiful changes...

In a world where too much ugliness happens every day–much of it on the internet for millions of eyes to see–let’s take a moment and celebrate how one young woman has transformed a moment of ugliness into one of beauty.

It all started when this photo, taken without the subject’s knowledge, was posted on a website that invited mocking and cruel comments.

Then this happened:

“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled 🙂 However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I…

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Shannon A Thompson

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