Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Forgiving the Church

I've been doing a series on forgiveness to start out this year with my church. I've talked what forgiveness is, why we should forgive, praying for forgiveness and of course Christ's sacrifice to forgive. One thing I have not addressed, but am going to this Sunday is forgiveness within the context of a church community. I came across these powerful words penned by Henry Nouwen:

"When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too.

The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.

It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer."

(The picture is Rembrant's depiction of the return of the Prodigal Son)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

W's Humor

I do not know what you feel about our current President. I do not agree with everything he has done, but I find him hilarious (I do not know if that is something I want or need in a President, but it is endearing). In his last news conference he was asked what he was going to do now that his presidency is over. Bush replied, "I do not see myself in an Hawiaan shirt on a beach staring at an Ocean. Particularly since I stopped drinking!" I'm going to miss those one-liners! Maybe I can hang out with him in Waco.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2008 - The Year of Change

I know it is a little late to do a reflection on the past year since the New Year is now 10 days old. However, I think that it will take me much longer than 10 days to process, adjust, and learn from the year 2008, which Sarah and I have dubbed the year of change. 2008 was a year that I definitely will look back on as a watershed year as the events of this past year have shaped my life for years to come. This past year
  • Sarah and I got married! A great change if I do say so myself. I love my wife, I loved our wedding, and I love that we get to wake up every day together and do life together.
  • I'm going to be an uncle! My sister-in-law, Jenny, is pregnant with baby Anistan Cate Simmons! Seeing as how we will be the only family in Texas, I have a feeling that Sarah and will be close to our niece.
  • My parents moved from Beaumont to Texas City. No longer when I go "home," do I go to my hometown. It's sad because the church that first gave me my shot in ministry I am no longer a part of, or have much connection there. I am very happy for my parents as they followed what they felt like God was telling them to do. However, a month after they moved, Hurricane Ike came through Texas City (Texas City is 12 miles from Galveston). The house was ok, but many people in their church and surrounding community suffered great damage.
  • Sarah's parents moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to co-pastor a Disciples of Christ church. They previously lived in Red Oak, which is only 40 minutes from where Sarah and I live now. This will be a big change in our relationship as we will go from seeing them once or twice a month and knowing they are close, to seeing them maybe 3-4 times a year, and them being 12 hours away.
  • Sarah and I moved to Mertens, Tx as I accepted the pastor of FBC Mertens. I love our church. We had to pack up our house that we had just moved into in Waco and move out here during the middle of the semester. We went from being five minutes away from school to 40 minutes of backcountry farm road driving from school. The church is great, but has been an adjustment for us.
  • Sarah has decided to take a leave of absence from graduate school. She is selling Premier Design jewlery this semester, so if you are interested in having a show, let me know!
This is just a small list of all the joys and stresses that was the year 2008. Like I said, a watershed year for Sarah and I. I am looking forward to learning all the lessons God is going to teach us through these changes. In the mean time, one of my New Years goals is to blog at least once a week, so be looking for more blogs from me in the future!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Bible Speaks

The previous post is from my new joint blog with my Dad called, The Bible Speaks 2 Me. We are reading a chapter (or two) from the Bible each day, and either my Dad or I am commenting on it. We are also asking our churches and our blogging friends to make comments on the daily Bible study to learn from each how God is using the scripture to speak to us. After all, the Bible is a living, breathing book that we as Christians center our way of life around. I hope that you join us in this journey. I will be posting soon some reflections on 2008 and my hopes for 2009.

Genesis 8

Genesis eight continues the story of Noah and the great flood. After the forty days of rain, and the 150 days of flooding, God remembered Noah. I do not think that God ever forgot about him. How else would you explain Noah and all those animals being safe throughout the storm and flood? Verses 15 and 16 explain God's plan all along: recreation. He was going to recreated the world with those who were saved in Noah's ark. After Noah got out of the ark, his first response was worship. He built an altar and sacrificed some of the clean animals as an offering to God. That sacrifice pleased God, and God made a covenant that he would never curse the ground again. Remember in the fall of humanity, God did not curse humans, but rather the ground. Here, God is reversing the curse of the ground. And even though humans are still evil in their thoughts, God promises to not destroy life again.

Two words stand out in this passage. One is that God remembered Noah. God always remembers his faithful. The whole earth was destroyed, but God remembered Noah. There was nothing left, but God remembered Noah. God remembers you as well. Though it may not feel like it sometimes, God remembers you. The second word that stands out to me is God's grace. Even though we deserve death from birth, God gives us the grace to live, and ultimately the grace to live forever with God through Jesus Christ.

God, help us to live by your grace and the knowledge that you promised you would never forget us. Amen