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Fruitcake 
Monday, November 28, 2005, 06:13 PM
I like fruitcakes. I think partly it is due to the yearly arrival of the one sent by my wife's eccentric aunt in Texas. I liked her and fruitcake was very appropriate reminder of such a fun, sweet and unconventional person. I enjoyed thinking about her while eating some of the fruit and nut gooey goodness she sent.

I was reminded of fruit and nuts when I was searching for a bumper sticker I wanted to use in yesterday's sermon. In addition to the one I was looking for, I found this one:

God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts

The fruit of the Spirit (singular, there is only one spiritual fruit in Galatians 5:22.) is a fine list of virtues. And who wants a religious nut?

But our definition of religious nut, usually depends on our own place on the religious spectrum rather than God's perspective. Folks whose religious views loom larger in their lives than in ours are easily dismissed as nuts.

Yet maybe we need nuts. Religious nuts have borne fruit: the abolition of slavery (goodness?), civil rights (love?), peace (peace!?), rejection of torture (gentleness?), consumer and worker protection (self-control?) and social security (kindness?).

Perhaps, with fruit and nuts all mixed together, God likes fruitcake too.

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Thanksgiving Grace 
Monday, November 21, 2005, 06:10 PM - Extra Christy, Prayers
Saying grace is a part of our family Thanksgiving tradition. While we pause for grace before our family meals throughout the year, the prayer before the Thanksgiving meal has a wider perspective; covering the preceding and coming year rather than just the joys and concerns of the day.

Of course, grace isn't just a name of a short prayer before a meal. In the Bible the word usually translated “grace” is charis, which literally means “gift”. (The “c” has a “k” sound, if you are reading aloud.)

We find grace in this New Testament benediction:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.— 2 Corinthians 13:14


The grace (gift) of Jesus Christ is the gift of eternal life, salvation from sin and the curse of sin: death.

So grace has come to mean a prayer that gives thanks for the gift of food which allows us to live on earth just as the grace of Christ allows us to live eternally in heaven.

It is good to have this little prayer, which grows large on Thanksgiving, to remind us with joy not only of the gifts of food that nourishes us for the day, but of the gift of Christ which sustains us for all time and eternity. That is a wider perspective worthy of great Thanksgiving.

Hoping you enjoy grace on Thanksgiving and forever,

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Who's Watching You? 
Monday, November 14, 2005, 06:06 PM
A quote that didn't get into the sermon yesterday was from the Aurora Greenway character played by Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment”:

Work like you don't need the money, love like your heart has never been broken, and dance like no one is watching.

The theory that problems come from other people is especially attractive to those who look to economic environment, cultural conventions, or family failures as the sources of an individual's unhappiness. Such thinking makes it tempting to shout “Amen” to Aurora's movie line. Yet for Christians it is incomplete. A similar idea is in Colossians 3:23:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...

It is not enough for Christians to free themselves of the fears of an empty wallet, a broken heart, or social embarrassment, although it might be a good step on the way to a more faithful life. But Christians cannot stop there; for then they would be living only for themselves…and a self-indulgent life can be more destructive than living for others.

Christians live for God. Our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever according to our church's teachings. Thinking of God as our employer when we work, our model for our love and our partner when we dance can help us be free both of oppressive expectations of others and the excess of our own desires and passions.

Hoping you will save God a dance…


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The Fear of Working Out 
Monday, November 7, 2005, 05:55 PM
A small part of the message yesterday was a quote from Philippians 2:12 & 13,

...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

You may have considered that the free gift of salvation calls for some response and may have worried about the proper one. (A embossed thank you note with blue-black ink seems inadequate.)

Well I have good news, better, and best news! The good news is that fear and trembling of working out the meaning of salvation is part of God's plan! If you are unsure of your faith journey, finding your way through detours and delays, you are normal! So banish all those thoughts of spiritual inadequacy.

The better news is that you have been given another day's extension on the task of growing into the person God is calling you to be. Thanks be to God, who considers not where you've been, or even where you are, but where you are going. What's your workout plan today?

The best news is that you are not alone. For it is not you that is working on this lifetime workout program but God! Like a patient personal trainer, God meets you every day for your spiritual work out. Be attentive to the opportunities to exercise your faith, you and God are equal to any fearful task...including being faithful.

Hoping you and God have a good workout today!




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Halloween for Christians? 
Monday, October 31, 2005, 03:29 PM
While both heaven and hell are part of our theology, many of the traditional Halloween trappings don't fit well with the purpose of our church. We don't celebrate death, the underworld, or spirits other than the Holy One. Ours is a resurrection faith in Jesus Christ, not a descent into hell with ghosts, goblins, and ghouls.

So states an article in our Ideas church publication which goes on to discuss various alternatives to the ghouls and goodies theme of today.

As a father and a pastor, I've been asked about Christians and Halloween over the years. Here are some of my thoughts on this day.

Making fun of demons and scary things might be a good thing for Christians to do...Romans 8:38-39 tell us demons can not defeat the power of God's love.

It is the only neighborhood celebration we have any more. Folks come out and actually meet and talk to their neighbors. This might be example of God turning evil to good. Again we turn to Romans 8:28

There is medium (some translations add “witch” as a section heading) and talking to the dead in the Bible. Found in 1 Samuel 28 it seems to imply it is a lack of faith and trust in God and God's prophets that makes people turn to mediums.

Even though we know that Halloween is all in good fun, Christians should not confuse folks who are new to the faith. Our freedom shouldn't be the cause of another losing her or his way. Paul explains this in Corinthians 8.

Hoping you find God's good in everything that crosses your path….

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