Is there Enough to go Around?

Is there Enough to go Around?

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

The text is Mark 5:21-43

Is there enough to go around?

“A great crowd gathered around Jesus.” Somebody once counted as many as five thousand (not including women and children). The crowd followed him “like sheep without a shepherd” and “pressed in on him.” Obviously, there was no way for him to minister to so many people. Faces blurred together. Names would be forgotten. Obviously, someone’s needs were bound to be overlooked in the mix.

Is there enough to go around?

Time was short and running out quickly. Jesus had to move fast. The word “immediately” appears no less than 41 times in Mark’s gospel; 3 of those times are in today’s reading alone. Jesus is always in a hurry. No one could expect one man to be “All things to all people.” Obviously, some people would have to wait until Jesus came back through town next time… except that…

View original 2,268 more words

Mythbusting: “It all depends on you”

Mythbusting: “It all depends on you”

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

The text is Mark 4:26-34.

We’re going to do a little bit of “myth-busting” this morning. And the “myth” we’re going to “bust” today is this: It all depends on you.

This is one of the great myths of modern society. It says that we are the masters of our own destiny. It says that, through the power of reason and technology, we can answer any question and solve any problem. If only we would put our mind to it, there is nothing we cannot do.

Like any good myth, there is some truth to this one: We humans, corporately and individually, certainly have a role to play in the unfolding plan of destiny. Reason and technology are wonderful things that give us insight into the way things are and how they might be made better. Hard work and determination have their place, and are necessary to apply the truths…

View original 1,278 more words

Jesus Moved My Cheese

Jesus Moved My Cheese

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

The text is Mark 3:20-35.

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (a.k.a. the Unforgivable Sin).

Today we’ve got another one of those “clobber passages” from the Bible that tend to make people nervous when they read them.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, his family, and the religious scribes, “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”.

People are terrified at thought that there could even be any such thing as an “eternal” or “unforgiveable sin”. We don’t want to believe there is anything we could do, say, or think that might put us forever beyond the reach of God’s grace. This question is especially important for us Reformed Protestants, who believe so firmly that we are saved “by grace, through faith” and not…

View original 1,620 more words

God is Still Speaking

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

"Beneath the noice, below the din, I hear voice, it's whispering in science and in medicine. I was a stranger, you took me in." -U2, Miracle Drug By Peter Neill (Flickr: u2-1 CC BY License) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons “Beneath the noice, below the din, I hear voice, it’s whispering in science and in medicine. I was a stranger, you took me in.” -U2, Miracle Drug
By Peter Neill (Flickr: u2-1 CC BY License) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been interesting to note the dramatic increase in the number of Christian talk radio stations over the last two decades or so. When I was a kid in the 1980s and 90s, we didn’t have anything like that in my town. There was one Christian radio station a few towns over, but it was just far enough away that I couldn’t get the signal at my house, but would start to hear it as I drove into school in the morning.

Since then, evangelical subculture has grown much bigger, so it’s not at all uncommon anymore to have one or more Christian stations on the dial. Every…

View original 1,339 more words

Seek Ye First the Rat Park

Hey there Superfriends and Blogofans!

I’m delighted to report that I have an article that’s just been published for Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice. The article is a theological piece I’ve been working on for the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Task Force on Drug Policy Reform.

Check it out at their site:

Seek Ye First the Rat Park

Preventing drug abuse and treating addiction on a societal level means ‘building a Rat Park’ for humans. The solution to the drug problem is not more incarceration or military intervention, but the pursuit of shalom and the kingdom of God. As our communities begin to reflect the love of the Triune God, with resources invested in community development, social justice, substance abuse prevention, medical care, education, and treatment, we will be creating avenues toward healing human pain, rather than simply numbing it with addictive behavior or chemicals.

Click here to read the full article

The Eye of the Hurricane

The Eye of the Hurricane

J. Barrett Lee:

“For Christians, the connection between God and Christ is so deep and powerful that it forms the foundation upon which the entire universe is being built. This divine oneness is the central fact of reality; everything else exists because of it. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “as we are one”, and he prays that the members of his Church would be bound together with that very same metaphysical unity.”

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

“Sometimes God calms the storm. And sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child.”

I first heard these words from one of my personal heroes: the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, who made headlines in 2003 as the first openly gay man to be ordained bishop in the Episcopal Church.

In the wake of his election and the ensuing controversy, Bishop Gene was made the object of numerous injustices: he was smeared with slanderous lies about his moral character, he was the only bishop not to be invited to a global gathering of Anglican bishops, and he even received death threats. On the night of his ordination, Bishop Gene had to wear a bullet-proof vest underneath his liturgical vestments because he had just received an anonymous letter that contained a photograph of Gene with his partner and a message that read, “I have a bullet for both of your…

View original 1,535 more words

Freezing a Fire, Bottling a River, & Catching the Wind in a Net

Freezing a Fire, Bottling a River, & Catching the Wind in a Net

J. Barrett Lee:

Today’s sermon from North Presbyterian Church.
“The Trinity is the womb from which the cosmos is born.”

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

The text is John 15:9-17.

Have you ever tried to freeze a fire? How about catching the wind in a net? How about bottling a river?

If you have, my guess is that it didn’t work very well. If you try to freeze a fire, it goes out and ceases to be fire, because it is in the very nature of fire to burn.

In the same way, you can bottle the water from a river, but you can’t bottle the wind or the river itself because it is the nature of rivers to be in motion. A river that doesn’t flow is a lake.

The comedian Mitch Hedberg once remarked that he really liked escalators “because they never break down… they just become stairs. You’ll never see a sign that says ‘Escalator temporarily out of order’; it’ll just say, ‘Escalator…

View original 1,234 more words