Posts Tagged ‘church’

This is the fourth post of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 8, Proverbs 3:13-18, and Ephesians 1:17-19. Today we are looking towards the scripture for Sunday (Romans 5:1-11)

Psalm 8

Another one of the aren’t we awesome scriptures…and…by we, I mean the God that we believe in. If God gave us dominion over the works of God’s hands and all things have been put under our feet, what does that say about climate change, celebrating profit over relationship, and the unwillingness to follow God? One of my parishioners asked this question and I had never thought about this in this way, “If we are supposed to have dominion, is God mad that we haven’t learned to control tornadoes yet?” What do we mean when we say dominion, does that mean we’re in control, but God is in control, but when is God calling us to control? Questions, Questions, Questions.

Proverbs 3:13-18

My daughter’s name is the Greek word for wisdom, so I like the scripture. It makes me think about preservation of the truth and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. You can know a lot of stuff but if it doesn’t affect your life it certainly isn’t wisdom. That idea draws me to people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and others giving away a lot of their money to help others. That seems wise to me, even biblical, if only everyone lived by the knowledge they had.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Another prayer for wisdom and revelation. I can only imagine that you don’t have wisdom without revelation. If there is no “AHA!” moment, then I’m not sure there can be understanding of or acknowledgement of the greatness of God and others.


Pastor Greg


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[DISCLAIMER: So I like to take my time off and I like writing my sermon on Thursday, it’s my rhythm. I am realizing though that I may only be blogging Monday-Thursday every day. I will post the sermon from Sunday as well. I’m still figuring out how all this works but I’m liking the reading, I hope you’re liking the reflection.]

This is the start of week 2 in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 48, Joel 2:18-29, and 1 Corinthians 2:1-11. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 2:1-21)

Psalm 48

I’m not sure if it’s just me today but this just seems to be a call to walk around and look at the cool stuff God created, which is nice…I guess. It just doesn’t seem to be jiving with the great ends theme. Maybe, exhibition of Kingdom of Heaven to the world, but not really. I’d be open to someone helping me out on this one.

Joel 2:18-29

This is a weird pericope, most of it has to do with God not letting the Israelites be a laughing stock anymore, God saying, “you know all that stuff I did to you, well…sorry, how about I fill your threshing floor and we’ll be straight. Right?” Then the last two verses are the verses that Peter quotes in his speech on Pentecost. Maybe God is sheltering and nurturing God’s children but it kind of just sounds like an abuser who says, “No really, I’ll change this time.” These passages are hard for me.

1 Corinthians 2:1-11

It’s a rough day for me. Based on the title of this section “True Wisdom of God” I guess it fits in “the preservation of the truth” category, but it also says, we don’t really know the truth, God does. Well. That’s. Just. Awesome.

Better luck tomorrow.


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[DISCLAIMER: Young energetic pastor is still completely nerding out and inviting you along.]
Last week we began looking at, dissecting, and celebrating the Great Ends of the Church that are lined out in the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA). They can be found in the Book of Order, here they are:

F-1.0304 The Great Ends of the Church

The great ends of the Church are:

the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;

the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;

the maintenance of divine worship;

the preservation of the truth;

the promotion of social righteousness; and

the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

We will be taking one end each Sunday, this Sunday, May 26 we will be looking at “the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.” We will also have a time for the Tabitha Hospice to share how they respond to this “great end”.
Over this period of time, the Men’s Bible Study (Thursday, 6:30 AM at Janie’s Confections) will be diving head long into this subject. We will be following a book called Consultations on Common Texts engaging daily with the Bible. We also will (or those that would like) be journaling through these texts as we read them with the Great Ends of the Church in mind.
I invite you to join with us on this quest to look at the history of the PC(USA) and the calling to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. I will be posting the readings for the week each Monday morning so you follow along. I will also attempt to journal here through the texts. I will also be cross posting this on my blog (NebraskaBolt.wordpress.com) and would welcome any comments or thoughts as we travel this journey together.
The way the scriptures are set up, the selections for Monday-Wednesday reflect on the previous week and the selections from Thursday-Saturday are preparing for the upcoming Sunday. (I know it’s a little confusing, but you’ll get the hang of it.)
The scriptures for this week are:

Monday, May 20

Psalm 48

Joel 2:18-29

1 Corinthians 2:1-11

Tuesday, May 21

Psalm 48

Ezekiel 11:14-25

1 Corinthians 2:12-16

Wednesday, May 22

Psalm 48

Numbers 24:1-14

Luke 1:26-38

Thursday, May 23

Psalm 8

Proverbs 3:13-18

Ephesians 1:17-19

Friday, May 24

Psalm 8

Proverbs 3:19-26

Ephesians 4:1-6

Saturday, May 25

Psalm 8

Proverbs 4:1-9

Luke 2:41-52

Sunday, May 24 Trinity Sunday

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Psalm 8

Romans 5:1-5

John 16:12-15

My plan for Sunday, May 26 is to preach on Romans 5:1-5.

I think this could be a great opportunity for us, as a church body, to learn and study together.


Pastor Greg

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This is the third post in a series where I will be journaling through the Consultations on the Common Texts while preaching a sermon series on the “Great Ends of the Church”. Here’s the plan.

Today’s scriptures are Psalm 29, Ezekiel 3:12-21, and Luke 9:18-27. Today we are reflecting on the scripture from Sunday (Acts 16:16-34)

Psalm 29

Verse 7 says, “the voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.” In terms of the upcoming Pentecost Sunday I’m intrigued by Psalm 29’s varied expressions of the voice of the Lord and how that relates to proclamation of the gospel. St. Francis of Assisi has a famous quote, “preach the gospel always, use words if necessary.” As we are called to proclaim I wonder if we limit how we do that or what proclamation even means. Is a casserole delivery or a hug just as much proclamation as any sermon? I think it is, but in a different way. In our world that is ever changing and the lecture style of communication is waning, how do preachers and the church own and intentionally proclaim the gospel to the world?

Ezekiel 3:12-21

Wow! No pressure! God lifts Ezekiel and takes him to live with exiles to tell him that if he doesn’t proclaim God’s word to people they will die and so will he. Yikes! It makes me think of that Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” It seems that God is telling Ezekiel if you here something from me, you MUST share it, even if it’s not going to be easy. That’s a challenge. How to tell people things without them thinking you’re a self-righteous jerk or crazy. I know that’s a little extreme, but as someone who stands in a pulpit and proclaims the gospel weekly it’s hard.

Luke 9:18-27

“Who do you say that I am?” That’s a tough question. If you look in the media it might appear that Jesus is judgmental, hateful, violent, and aggressive. There’s a saying, “You might be the only Jesus someone ever meets.” As we proclaim the gospel our actions do the talking, if we say one thing on Sunday morning and do something else on Monday that says something about we say Jesus is. Those that are able to be consistent every day of the week are the one’s Christ is talking about in verse 27, “But truly I tell you, there are standing here who will not tast death before they see the Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is around us always and we can have glimpse of it, if we look and we can share that message with all we meet.

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I was in tears watching this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer, because I resonate with it so vividly. The vulnerability of asking, the fear of asking, the trust of asking.

As a pastor, and due to the influence of people like Landon Whitsitt, I’m starting to see myself as an artist. I remember something a friend of mine, and musician, Aisea Taimani, said one time. “As an artist when you perform, you are placing your heart into the hands of the crowd. If they don’t like or accept your art, it feels as if they don’t accept you.”

When I was 22, and thinking about working with youth one of my mentors said to me, “That’s nice and all…I guess, but when are you going to get a real job?” It hurt, it still hurts.

My art is finding the right questions and seeking the answers, when I see my church, the thing that I have devoted my life to, continue to tell pastors who feel called to non-traditional ministries, called to become like 8-Foot Brides, to “GET A JOB!” it makes me crazy, I’m also terrified to ask for help, I’m also too proud to pass a hat, I also wonder what I’m missing.

I’m a pastor in a local church, I feel called here, I also feel called to create spaces for people to seek the questions and to hold on to the answers. Trying to settle into the idea that I am “the pastor” of a church is pretty terrifying, for a lot of reasons. One of the things that terrifies me the most is my congregation is in the midst of a transformation process. A process that they have been in since fall of 2010. It’s from the Center of Parish Development, and I’m honestly having some trouble with it, mostly because it seems as if it is focused on getting new members into the pews on Sunday morning. It has pro-ported to guarantee church growth. That holy grail that all churches seem to be looking for, or at least those in the PC(USA).

My discomfort with the curriculum is growing as the Vision Team and I wrestle with the questions posed. The discomfort come from the fact that the questions are the wrong questions. The questions may have worked 20 years ago, but not today. The idea that we will have the right music, the right preacher (gulp!), the right children’s program, etc., etc. that will magically attract young people and their families to join us on Sunday morning is a myth. The more I experience, the more I believe that. People, young and old, are looking for something, they are looking for meaning and many find that meaning in things that occur outside Sunday morning worship.

My comfort is that the people, young and old, on the Vision Team see that they are the wrong questions and I feel as if we are starting to develop something, something is germinating under the surface, and I pray will blossom into more questions, questions of “Why not?” rather than stumbling blocks of “that’s not the way we do it.”

Right now I am crowd surfing, I am diving into, full force, this community and they are holding me, guiding me, and together we beginning the intimate and holy process of seeing one another.

Together we will take the plunge. Come with us.

In this day and age, where sermons, books, podcasts, music, movies, TV shows, study aids, and the Bible are only a few clicks away streaming live all the time and communities are being formed virtually and growing physically, organically, and outside the bounds of the way it’s always been.

What instead of asking, “How can we make worship more inviting?” we asked, “Is Sunday morning worship the most important thing we do?”

What if instead of the question, “How do we get people to go to church?” we asked, “How do we let people go to church?”

What are the questions we should be asking?

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Here is a fascinating blog about church structures, the comment section is also really full of ideas. I wonder if some of the died in the wool Presbyterians could embrace a more ad hoc approach to leadership?

I guess we’ll see.

Killing Church Committees and Other Reflections on Church Organization.

via Killing Church Committees and Other Reflections on Church Organization.

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Today was just like most Sundays in my life, I got up and took TLO to church to hear Beloved preach. She was awesome as usual and TLO showed her support of the newly crowned Big East Tournament Champion West Virginia Mountaineers. Then some other stuff happened:

TLO Celebrating WVU's Big East Tournament Championship

Arty Foot Shot

TLO's Foot

Voodoo Doughnuts

Our Little Ewok



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