Category Archives: Bible

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

We have a Zoom meeting scheduled for the Wednesday Evening Bible Study at 6:15 p.m. We’ll be looking at the fifth chapter of Luke. Here are the details:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://bit.ly/2BTwgBn
Meeting ID: 931 9116 5788
Password: 67410

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,93191165788#,,,,0#,,67410# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,93191165788#,,,,0#,,67410# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York) or
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 931 9116 5788
Password: 67410

Please note that I have set up separate meetings for the Communion Service and the Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke.

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

We have a Zoom meeting scheduled for the Wednesday Evening Bible Study at 6:15 p.m. We’ll be looking at the fifth chapter of Luke. Here are the details:

Join Zoom Meeting
https://bit.ly/2BTwgBn
Meeting ID: 931 9116 5788
Password: 67410

One tap mobile
+16699006833,,93191165788#,,,,0#,,67410# US (San Jose)
+12532158782,,93191165788#,,,,0#,,67410# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York) or
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 931 9116 5788
Password: 67410

Wednesday Evening Activities

I’m someone who regularly loses the invitation to Zoom meetings, so I’m reposting this information:

We have Wednesday evening Holy Communion tonight at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening Bible Study will follow at 6:15 p.m. To keep things simple, I’m just going to use the same Zoom meeting, but you can come and go as you please. Here’s the information to log on, let me know if you need tech support.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://bit.ly/2Wdiguc
Meeting ID: 918 7453 9985
Password: 67410

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,91874539985#,,1#,67410# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,91874539985#,,1#,67410# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 918 7453 9985
Password: 67410

A Devotion from Rev. Rick Saylor

A few days ago in the Great Plains Conference daily email there was a devotion from your former pastor, Rick Saylor. With his permission I’m sharing it here.

Being troubled has taken on a life of its own in these pandemic times. It creates various intense emotions and disturbances. Mental preoccupations and confusion as well as a general sense of unsettledness. Everyone is living with being troubled in one way or another. It’s a new global normal! And we struggle with managing our “troubles” and our inner reactions to them like never before.
 
Our Judeao-Christian Biblical tradition often addresses human troubles, fears and anxieties with realism yet hope. A familiar verse of the Gospels addressing human difficulty records Jesus saying “let not your hearts be troubled.” Note he addresses our hearts not our minds. Troubles will always create stress and conflict in our thinking. It’s the way of things. But Jesus points to our hearts – the core of our being and the essence of who we are. He seems to be saying do not let your God given self, your identity, your spirit be “troubled” – Greek word “tapassestho” – which translated may mean don’t let the essence of who you are (your heart) be “stirred up, disturbed, unsettled or thrown into confusion.”
 
Jesus is appealing to our higher nature – our better angels if you will – to rise above being troubled – by being “trustful.” “Believe in God, believe in me” are the next words of the verse. Jesus says believe in me, believe beyond you, in times of overwhelming difficulties that a power of love and benevolence holds me, holds you, holds the world. Even now in this global COVID-19 pandemic. So, choose trust not troubles as your inner default. A trust that affirms who you are and who’s you are, that is a reality beyond any troubles and any experience of “being troubled.”

Zoom Bible Study

Our Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke begins this coming Wednesday (May 13, 2020). If all goes well, we’ll cover Luke 1:1-38. If all doesn’t go well, we’ll still manage to greet everyone and get everyone acclimated to Zoom.

Here’s your formal invitation to our Zoom Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke, please note that if you can call in from your phone if you want (long distance charges may apply):

Topic: Gospel of Luke Bible Study
Time: May 13, 2020 06:15 PM Central Time

Join Zoom Meeting
https://bit.ly/2Wdiguc
Meeting ID: 918 7453 9985
Password: 67410

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,91874539985#,,1#,67410# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,91874539985#,,1#,67410# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 918 7453 9985
Password: 67410

Please feel free to call, text, or email me if you have any questions.

When the World Falls Apart

I’ve made Psalm 46 part of my regimen for daily devotions. I’ve found that for this Psalm, and for many parts of the Bible, I prefer the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to the Common English Bible (CEB). However, for the second verse of this Psalm, I’ve found the CEB invaluable. I’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s Psalm 46 from the NRSV:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Selah [1]

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

This Psalm has a lot to say to my heart in the midst of a crisis, but even more when I consider the meaning of the first part of the second verse. As the CEB puts it: “That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart.” This phase isn’t meant literally (although that would also apply), but figuratively, the way we usually use it. We need not be afraid even when the world falls apart. “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.” [2] Psalm 46 has offered me a great deal of solace; I hope and pray that the same might be true for you.


[1] The exact meaning of Selah (which has been left untranslated in Hebrew) is not known, but a bit of instruction as to how the Psalm was to be sung in ancient Israel.
[2] From A Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada.

Free Bible App

Those of you who like to read the Bible on your phone might consider the “Our Bible” app. It available on iOS and Android for free at www.ourbibleapp.com. What I love about this app is that it has the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) and the CEB (Common English Bible) translations that we use in worship. This is an inclusive, LGBTQ+ affirming alternative to the YouVersion Bible App.

Verses: When You Give to the Poor

2 “Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. — Matthew 6:2-4 (CEB)

Dave Ramsey vs. Jesus Christ

Jenny and I have taken Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University.” It helped us a great deal, and it made a lasting change in our lives. But there were parts I was uncomfortable with because he encouraged people to move beyond good stewardship and to aim for great wealth. This came to mind recently because Dave tweeted:

“If you do rich people stuff, eventually you will be rich. If you do poor people stuff, you will eventually be poor.” [1]

I don’t think it’s that simple. Certainly, if you do “rich people stuff” like being born into wealth and privilege or inheriting a fortune, you will be rich. But the world is filled with too much inequity for everyone to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps—especially since some people don’t have boots. Furthermore, the above statement seems to imply that the financial state we find ourselves in is the financial state we’ve earned, even if that were true it would still be problematic. Long before twitter, Jesus Christ said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20, NRSV)

and a few verses later,

“But Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24, NRSV)

Wealth is not one of the goals of the Christian life. We are called to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, but storing up treasure for ourselves in this life is not the way of Jesus Christ. We are instead called to be good stewards that we might be good Samaritans.


[1] [1] James Martin. Twitter post, March 7, 2019, 8:02 a.m., http://bit.ly/2U3qCFc.

This Really Ticks Me Off

The horror movie “Us” is out. I Haven’t seen it, and I don’t intend to see it. But apparently, it contains a reference to Jeremiah 11:11, which reads: “Therefore, thus says the Lord, assuredly I am going to bring disaster upon them that they cannot escape; though they cry out to me, I will not listen to them” (NRSV). The use of this verse in a horror movie is is bad Biblical exegesis. The verse needs to be read in the context of the passage it’s found in, the passage needs to be read in the context of the book of Jeremiah as a whole, and the book of Jeremiah needs to be read in the context of the Old Testament. But you don’t have to do all that (though I would encourage you to do so). All you need to know is that Jeremiah 29:11 reads “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (29:11 also needs to be interpreted in context, but shares a context with 11:11.)

P.S. I didn’t find this out because I was trying to learn more about the movie, I found this out by reading an article on Slate titled “So What’s Jeremiah 11:11, Anyway?” That’s very effective click bait for a pastor.