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Worship Philosophy, Why do I do what I do?

There are a lot of misunderstandings that circle around among churches about worship and worship style.  It has become a large controversy in the church at large.  Many churches struggle with moving from a very traditional service to a more contemporary service in hopes of attracting new people.  And that's legitimate.  However worship is not merely about the genre of music or the style.  Worship is an experience we have as we gather that helps us connect deeply with God and express our love to God.  Worship involves reflecting corporately on God, contemplating as a congregation on God's character and what God has done for us personally and in the Christian community at large.

So why do I choose the music I do?

St Francis UMC has chosen to practice a hybrid service that involves a variety of musical genres bridging its history and its future.  We keep elements of a traditional liturgical service and blend those elements with more contemporary features.  For example: we still …

The Mission of God, Pentecost

Sermon Acts 2.1-21

 God is on a mission…

 What do we mean when we say that someone is on a mission? Steve Totushek, Dan’s cousin used to comment about Dan when he was walking around the greenhouses determined to get as much done as possible… “Dan is on a mission” He noted the urgency, action and purpose in his steps and said, “Dan is on a mission.”

 I have seen Dan when he’s on a mission... his head is at least six inches ahead of the rest of his body guiding the body forward. I want us to use that as our image. God is at least 6 inches ahead of the church guiding the body forward. In the same way, we might say God is on a mission. God is at work, acting with urgency and purpose. We often say that God has a mission for our church but it is more accurate to say that God is on a mission and we as God’s people are invited to join Him in that mission.

God is on a mission to rescue people from the captivity of sin, a mission to restore us in relation to himself and others, God is…

4 Common Myths About Christian Feminists and Egalitarians.

Frequently Jezebel is a label that many Christian women receive if they believe in the full equality of men and women in the home and church or if they consider themselves Christian Feminists.  Both feminism and egalitarianism are labels that are vastly misunderstood in the church and have had their meanings co opted by opponents who define them as in some sense women who are out for power over men, unwilling to submit to authority, men haters and those who would support abortion.  In reality this is not true.  These are myths.

1.  Are feminists and egalitarians out for power over men?

Often I hear feminists and egalitarians described as those who have a Jezebel Spirit.  The Jezebel Spirit is described as someone who seeks control over passive men who are unable to speak up for themselves and are seduced by women to give over control of their lives.  Such women are considered dangerous to the church and home.  In reality, as women and men develop emotional and spiritual maturity, t…

Mercy Wavier for Unauthorized Immigrants

I've been wrestling in prayer sometimes all night long praying for unauthorized immigrants who are here without the necessary paperwork to help them live lives in the light.  Many have citizen children and citizen spouses.  Some have spouses who are permanent residents and citizen children.  Some have children who are legally here through the DACA program, renewable every two years.  Whatever the case, there are literally millions of children and families who are affected by deportation and removal.   
Things have heated up due to how the current administration is responding to unauthorized immigrants.  I've read stories of moms or dads being deported who have no other offenses than that they are here without papers.  Some have orders of removal but are otherwise good citizens who pay taxes, contribute to the community, attend churches and care for their families.

There have been some changes of focus lately due to the expanding of ICE's priorities.  Under the Obama admini…

Genesis, Syria and the Sin System... Lamenting and Seeking.

Today as I contemplate the horror of the war in Syria, I have nowhere to go but to the scriptures that tell the story of how sin entered the world and produced the disease we now see.   I am troubled and I lament the loss of life and the affect on the innocent victims of the sin system.  We are all in some sense captive and in need of deliverance.  May the power of the Lord give us strength and courage as we seek to be the salt and light in a very, very dark world.  I've been praying for Syria for some time now triggered by the plight of refugee women in particular.  My prayers have been extended to the people as a whole who are refugees, victims of oppression and war--who have lost homes, family, lives.  And I turn to Genesis to explain the sin system and the remedy promised in Christ.

Genesis 3:16-18

In Genesis 3:16-18, we read about what happened after human beings ate from the fruit of the forbidden tree.  Most often these verses are applied in an individualistic way specific…

The Fig Tree, and The Temple and Hearing Jesus Today

Mark 11:12-22  tells us the remarkable account of the fig tree and the temple.  These stories are strung together to teach us a number of things about how our faith might be hi-jacked to represent not the character, image and heart of God but nationalism and earthly systems of power, oppression and corruption.

As Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, he notices a fig tree and examines it to see if there is fruit.  Finding no fruit, he curses it, saying, "may no one eat fruit from you again."  What's going on?  Why would Jesus do this?  What does he have against fig trees?  The cursing of the fig tree is a prophetic act that hints at what might happen in Jerusalem.

When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem he makes his way to the temple.  Actually, if you look at verse 11, you will notice that Jesus had been to the temple the night before but returned to where he was staying because it was late.  I find this curious, wondering if he took note of what was occurring in the temple and wha…

Caring For The Vulnerable Among Us--The Widow, The Orphan, The Foreigner

Who are the poor in scripture and how are they to be treated among the community of God's people? As believers and those who believe the Bible is our guide, we might examine the many stories, and passages in the Bible to find our way through the various conundrums our society faces.  Especially as believers, we have a great and holy call to be agents of God and healers of a sin-sick world.

The group I wish to examine in the Bible are the widows, orphans and foreigners.  They are described as the vulnerable ones who need the extra support and focus from God's people.  They are also the ones whom God has said that He himself would defend.

Who are the widows?  Widows often become poor or socially vulnerable due to the loss of a husband.  This could apply to women who are divorced and raising small children, to women who are emotionally abandoned through abuse and neglect by a spouse.  These are women whose husbands have died and are now vulnerable in the community.

Who are the …