Browsing articles from "May, 2011"
May 13, 2011

Active and Effective

How do you become active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
That is the question 2 Peter 1:1-21 is working on.
Around the year 100 Christians asked themselves: Is Jesus really going to come back anytime soon? Not only did they question their faith but it became inactive and ineffective. The church is in constant need of revitalization. The author of today’s passage uses Peter’s authority of an eye-witness to support his pep-talk. Geoffrey Black shares his thoughts about Vital Churches.

May 12, 2011

Two Very Different Kinds Of Mormons

Can my Mormon friends please take a look at this and tell me what they think: Generation Gap – Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, and the two very different strains of Mormonism they represent.
Having lived in Utah Valley for a little over three years now I can see how this makes sense. What do you think?

May 12, 2011

Extended Church Family

“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church…”, starts the third paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed. Catholic in this sense has nothing to do with today’s Roman Catholic Church. In today’s Reading 1 Peter 5:1-14 Rome is referred to as “Babylon” and the parish there cannot claim authority over others but individuals send encouraging letters to “sister churches”. “Catholic” is just another word for “Ecumenical”. So the catholic church we are looking at here is the body of Christ in its entirety, not limited to a specific branch of Christianity.
Here is the good news: Christians are never alone: “Be firm in your faith and resist him, because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings.”
Your extended church family has your back – not matter what.

May 11, 2011

Peter’s Nirvana

Seriously, sometimes there are texts, that I just do not enjoy reading due to the flow of their language. The Epistles of Peter are prime examples of that. The same holds true for tweeting celebrities. Mashable lists Celebrities on Twitter: 30 Famous First Tweets. I follow many of them, because I enjoy their style. One I would never consider following is the @dalailama. Everyday he tweets a quote of himself that sounds like today’s: “When our intentions are good, we are stronger and have greater self-confidence.”
Maybe I am just not the kinda guy to enjoy words of wisdom. Now today’s reading 1 Peter 4:1-19 is full of stuff like that: “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.”
Guess who thoroughly enjoyed the reading of Peter’s Nirvana. Yeah, right:

May 10, 2011

Believe out Loud

Believe out Loud
came out with this wonderful new video for mothers day:

And: Today the Presbyterian Church (USA) will most likely cross the threshold on a vote to change language in our constitution that, for more than a decade, has required ordained leadership in the church to hold a position of fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. If you would like to track the most up-to-date results of voting you can follow Bruce Reyes-Chow on twitter and or follow the twitter hashtags: #10a or #pcusa.

May 10, 2011

Meeting Disruptors

Julie Rains has found that few participants tend to dominate and drag out meetings. Who are they?

The Storytellers
They share a story that conveys a concept in a way that traditional methods do not. But they tell and retell the same story, making the same analogy to every new situation that arises.

The Unprepared
Their job, they think, is simply to respond to points in the meeting without forethought. They mistakenly believe that gut reactions are the best and that thoughtful reflection has no place in an action-oriented world.

The Point-Makers
They make strong, well-reasoned cases for certain ideas. Their points could benefit productivity except that they are asserted and restated over and over, over and over.

The Complainers
These employees bring up a past mistake or problem, which may have been relevant at one time but is not pertinent to the discussion at hand. The wrong occurred years ago and root causes that led to the problem have been addressed.

The Detailers
They provide minute details of their work areas at every single meeting. They anticipate and then answer questions that will never be asked.

The Question-Askers
They combine the worst of the unprepared and the detailers as well as the point-makers and complainers. These people seem to be a blank slate in terms of organizational experience and domain knowledge.

Have you ever experienced some of those?

May 10, 2011

Interfaith Marriages

Being married to someone with a different religion can be both enriching and challenging.

Yesterday’s reading suggested for Christian slaves to accept their heathen masters’ authority.
Today’s reading 1 Peter 3:1-22 starts: “In the same way you wives must submit yourselves to your husbands”
– You best win them for Christ if you don’t try to proselytize them but show them God’s unconditional love for all!

The same applies to Christian husbands with non-Christian wives: “In the same way you husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you.”
– Treat them with respect, because you are no better than they are.

May 9, 2011

Annoying Germans

ProfessorBainbridge, if you think The Spiegel speaks for the Germans you must also think The New York Times speaks for the Americans. I don’t think so. Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle officially and clearly welcomed “the news that Osama bin Laden would never again be able to perpetrate such acts of terrorism.”
Concerning the infamous impact Germany had on the history of the 21st century please refer to my sermon on Yom HaShoah.
– The German people are stuck with the sin of the Holocaust for three to four generations, i.e. my grandkids will be free.
– The German constitution does not allow foreign wars because this people knows how destructive they can be on the world stage.

May 9, 2011

Persecution of Christians

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government agency’s annual report on violations of religious rights added Egypt on Thursday to the list of the world’s 14 worst violators. The situation there for religious minorities, especially Coptic Christians, has deteriorated markedly, even since former President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February, the report said. China also is on the list of worst violators, compiled by the Commission on International Religious Freedom, and in his opening remarks as he released the report, commission Chairman Leonard Leo accused China of trying to hack into the commission’s emails.

Today’s passage 1 Peter 2:1-25 shows signs of the persecutions under Domitian‘s reign (89-96) or Trajan‘s (98-117). The author tries hard to make his congregation remain calm even though he knows it is wrong:
“Your conduct among the heathen should be so good that when they accuse you of being evildoers, they will have to recognize your good deeds and so praise God on the Day of his coming. For the sake of the Lord submit yourselves to every human authority: to the Emperor, who is the supreme authority, and to the governors, who have been appointed by him to punish the evildoers and to praise those who do good. For God wants you to silence the ignorant talk of foolish people by the good things you do. Live as free people; do not, however, use your freedom to cover up any evil, but live as God’s slaves. Respect everyone, love other believers, honor God, and respect the Emperor. 18 You servants must submit yourselves to your masters and show them complete respect, not only to those who are kind and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. God will bless you for this, if you endure the pain of undeserved suffering because you are conscious of his will.”

Verse 17 even became the motto for the fifth thesis of the Barmen Declaration, opposing Hitler’s rise to power from an evangelical perspective. Can you sense the difference between “fear” and “honor” when it comes to God and Führer:

5. “Fear God. Honor the Emperor.” 1 Peter 2:17
Scripture tells us that by divine appointment the State, in this still unredeemed world in which also the Church is situated, has the task of maintaining justice and peace, so far as human discernment and human ability make this possible, by means of the threat and use of force. The Church acknowledges with gratitude and reverence toward God the benefit of this, his appointment. It draws attention to God’s Dominion [Reich], God’s commandment and justice, and with these the responsibility of those who rule and those who are ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word, by which God upholds all things.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the State should and could become the sole and total order of human life and so fulfill the vocation of the Church as well.
We reject the false doctrine that beyond its special commission the Church should and could take on the nature, tasks and dignity which belong to the State and thus become itself an organ of the State.

May 8, 2011

Be holy because I am holy

First of there is no way Peter really wrote this letter. Almost all references to the Hebrew Bible are taken from the Greek Septuagiant translation instead of the Hebrew text which is hard to imagine such a Judaeo-Christian preacher as Peter would have done. Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13 is the traditional code name for persecuted Christians in Rome which points to a way later date. The beginning of the letter is directed to congregations in Asia Minor which were certainly not established prior to the 80s.

So here we are – again – 4 generations and 1 continent away from Peter and Paul with Christians struggling in an anti-Christian environment invoking their heroes of faith. Elegantly they picture Peter to refer to Hebrew Scripture a lot – twice in today’s reading 1 Peter 1:1-25:
Verse 16 The scripture says, “Be holy because I am holy.” refers to the Holiness Code which I’ve already blogged about.
Verses 24-25 quote Psalm 103: As the scripture says, “All human beings are like grass, and all their glory is like wild flowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

Solace to those who are looking for peace!