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Archive for May, 2010

Its been almost thirty years since I moved to Chicago, but there are still parts of Rhode Island that will never leave me. With summer upon us my mind drifts back east with thoughts of things Rhode Island. Lila Delman real estate has live web cams trained on some  of my favorite ocean spots…Narragansett…Galilee…Watch Hill…

http://www.liladelman.com/watchhill-beach-web-cam.aspx

Narragansett is a beautiful town, perched beside the ocean. The camera is trained on the town beach looking across Ocean Road and the sea wall. You can watch the bathers, the surfers, and those who are just sitting on the sea wall. To sit on the sea wall is one of the most peaceful things there is to do…instant meditation.

Watch Hill is an elite summer colony in the town of Westerly. The camera is aimed across a bay. The best time to watch is sunset as the sun reflects in the water.

Galilee is a small fishing village just down the road from Narragansett. The camera is trained on the channel between the breakwaters, and all day long you can watch the small fishing boats come and go. And of course, there’s the Block Island boat. Block Island is a beautiful place 13 miles off the coast. If you watch long enough, you’ll see the ferry. It goes every couple of hours in the summer. In the lower left hand corner of the picture, you’ll see a sign that says George’s. Oh, George’s!!!    Chowdah…clear, red, or white…fried clams…lobstah roll…a porch that faces the ocean up a flight of stairs…ice cold  ‘Gansetts…summer in Rhode Island…beyond compare.
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Haiti

When the earthquake happened in Haiti, everyone rallied to the cause…for a little while, and then they stopped. They still need help. The situation there is deplorable. There is little food, medicine, or safe water. David Hayward, of naked pastor, has been there all week with a group from AIM…Adventures In Missions…who have started a church to church program. David and his group were sent to write and photograph so conditions could be documented. David has 81 pictures on his facebook page…worth looking at.

All the major denominations have people there, but they need lots more help. Why not see if your church would like to adopt a sister church in Haiti. Or perhaps you would like to help one of the orphanages. An orphanage David wrote about needs only $95USD/day to operate. Or maybe you’d just like to give a donation on your own. Jesus said that whatever we did for the least of those in the Kingdom, we did to Him.  Jesus is in Haiti and He’s hungry…won’t you feed Him?

http://adventures.org/haiti/churchtochurch.asp

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Gay Christians

The discussion this week on nakedpastor.com  was about homosexuality…again. I must say, it stayed civil for a change. There was no name calling…no one was personally condemned to hell. This is a subject that grieves me. The homosexual community has been abused by the church at large. Gay people have been refused admittance to some churches. Even if it were a sin to be homosexual, and I emphatically do not believe it is, why expect them to “straighten up” before they walk in the door? Why not treat homosexuals like anyone else? Let them hear the gospel…let them decide where they are in their lives. Several years ago I was involved in a church that decided to reach out to the gay community…it was in the midst of a gay area. The church was burned to the ground over it. It was an overt act of hate. The arsonist was never found, but it was suspected that a closeted member of the church was at fault.

We are called to love one another no matter what. Acts10:28 states”…God hath shown me that I should not call any man unclean.” Now, they were talking about not being in the company of non Jews, but I think its applicable here. Yes, we all know the clobber verses, and none of them refer to a loving, monogamous relationship between people of the same-sex. Why not leave the homosexuals alone? Invite them to church and love them. The Holy Spirit is quite capable of letting people know if they are off track. Anyone who is a committed Christian and submits themselves daily according to Romans 12:1&2, will certainly know if they’re treading where they should not. Putting them on the defensive will impede their hearing. If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same-sex. Meantime…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…and let the homosexuals work out theirs.

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In Christ, there is no male nor female. Those in the church are considered to be “in Christ”. Why then does the evangelical church make a huge distinction? Women are second class citizens in the church. They are expected to obey their husbands or, if they are single, their pastors. How many female pastors are there in the evangelical church? Are those women who have powerful ministries ordained or are they just being allowed to teach by their husbands?  Except for one here and there, women aren’t recognized nor are their spiritual gifts…unless, of course, they are being exploited to make a male pastor look good. That happens, too.

With women not recognized or allowed to function in their full spiritual capacity, half the body of Christ is left not functioning. I see women who have accepted their lot stoically…others who have moved into a mainline denomination where they are allowed, in fact welcomed, to function…others who have gone to New Thought churches where there is no discrimination…others still, who have left the institutional church and minister independently. What a dilemma for someone to know God has told her to do something and to have her pastor or husband tell her she can’t because she is female. The world is denied her unique gifts.

There are some people in this world who need to be ministered to by a woman. And some of them are men. This presents a problem for some people. I’ve handled it by not ever being alone with a male needing ministry. Counselling can be done in a back corner of a restaurant during a slow time. It works well. But its bigger than not being alone with a man (of course male pastors minister to women alone all the time). It’s the whole control thing. Women are no longer chattel and they now have educations, so the old biblical injunctions, or the reasons for them, are no longer valid.

In Christ, there is no male nor female, but there is in the church. Does that mean the church does not consider women to be In Christ?

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The Still Small Voice

My journey away from church was lonely at first…very lonely.I needed  a spiritual practice to fill the void. Just before I left, I had taken the Mastery In Ministry course and became familiar with Centering Prayer…a form of contemplative meditation. To be truthful, sitting in meditation for 20 min. at a time was gruelling. My mind worked overtime and it just wouldn’t shut up! So, I used Psalm 103 to quiet everything down. It went something like this: Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and ALL that is within me, bless His holy name. That means you, worry wart…the agenda is blessing God, not worrying, so get with it…you, yeh, you, anger, I don’t care WHAT someone did to you, we are blessing the Lord…daydreamer, attention!!!…I know a vacation by the ocean sounds yummy, but right now we’re blessing the Lord…ALL OF YOU, SHUT UP!!!…this is not time for the committee to meet…we ARE blessing the Lord. You get the picture…all this just to begin to meditate.

One day I was looking through the books in a resale shop. I ran across hard cover copies of  “Practicing The Presence” and “The Art of Meditation”… both by Joel Goldsmith. They were 25 cents apiece, so I couldn’t leave them there. I was familiar with Goldsmith, I had one of his books, but he seemed to be talking way over my head. He had started out as a Christian Scientist but then became a Christian mystic. I started to read “Practicing the Presence” and something marvelous happened. His method of contemplation is a little different from Centering Prayer and a lot less tedious, I might add. First, you look at all the things that are bothering you…the things you feel you are lacking. Then, you find scripture to address your needs…”The Lord is my shepherd…I have everything I need”  “Seek first the Kingdom of God…and all these things shall be added unto you”. Once you have your head straightened out you go into meditation…either with a question(it won’t necessarily be answered in your meditation) or just with “your grace is sufficient”. Just get quiet for 2 or 3 minutes…you’ll know when you’re through…and then go about your day. Every so often, throughout the day, take a couple of minutes and get quiet…”your grace is sufficient”. Before long you will hear the still small voice on a regular basis and your relationship with the Divine will become rich and deep.

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After The Fire…

“…but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:  12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”(1Kings 19:11&12)

We were told that the excitement of worship and praise was a move of God…that the Bible was a living thing, the Word of God…that the pastor and the leadership were the anointed of God there to bring us TRUTH…that we couldn’t trust our own hearing…the Bible and the leaders would show us the way. And now we are churchless, a sin, they say. We are forsaking the assembly…How do we hear God? What do we do? We know that God told us to get out of the church…they say it was the devil. So we pray…we read our bibles…we even go to visit another church so we can worship…it seems that God isn’t there. They told us if we weren’t where God wanted us He would leave us…we would grieve the Holy Spirit and He would retreat. We must have made a grave mistake…perhaps we shouldn’t have left…we can’t go crawling back, besides …we know what’s going on there…it isn’t right…where is God? Was He only in the worship and praise? God lives in the praises of His people we were told…can’t I praise Him where I am? Can we only hear God if we are in a certain assigned place? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit dwell in my heart? Did He really leave?…  And then one day…perhaps you were taking a walk…looking at the flowers…marvelling at the wonders of creation…there was a nudge in your soul and then another…and then perhaps a word or two…”are you talking to me?… Who ARE you?…what do you want?”…and the answer comes…”Be still and know that I AM”…”you are my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.”

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Unchurched

And so we left the institutional church. Now what? First there’s that hollow feeling mixed with guilt on the first Sunday you don’t go to church. You try to read the paper but you can’t concentrate. You’ve always gone out for brunch so you think that will help, but you run into a couple of groups who are at brunch after church and you almost break down in tears. You feel like a kid not invited to a birthday party. You know that your friends will be at your favorite restaurant and that you’re not there. You’d better rush home …surely they’ll call. The afternoon wears on…no-one calls. You’ve served this community for several years…it was time to move on…time to get out of there…can’t the rest of them see what’s happening? You run into one of them at the market. You’ve shared joys and sorrows, raised your kids together, served on committees together, laughed and cried and gone on vacation together. They give a cautious, distant greeting and then excuse themselves quickly to run a phantom errand. How can this have happened? I thought we were friends. Who will I pray with? Who will I study with? It takes a while for the reality to set in. They were only “church buddies”…now that you have left they no longer know you.


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