Posts Tagged ‘New King James Version’

It is amazing the outcry towards Mainline denoms currently. Since 1988 in Canada we have bore withness to the nastiness and visceralness directed at the United Church of Canada because of their inclusion of LGBTTQ in the holy orders of God (essentially the idea that God calls to the ministry whom God calls and humanity needs to accept in our own narrowness).

The United Church of Christ in the US has come under fire for not only ordination, but also a full “marriage” for those of the same gender.

Recently the Episcopal Church not only took the route of the UC Canada, but also has issued a liturgy to bless same gender unions; and accepted transgendered individuals into the priesthood.

The ELCA/ELCIC are dealing with upheaval for their own moves to tear down patriarchal ladders and redraw a circle of inclusion.  Same as the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in some ways the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

There are other traditions (actually smalled congregations) that are moving beyond the idea of academic qualifications for ministry, and an understanding that everyone and anyone is called to the office of the ministry (the priesthood of all believers anyone?). By removing the academic stumbling blocks all God’s children are able to affirm a call to ministry whether it is in the marketplace, social enterprise or pulpit.

But hear the earth shattering cries of heresy, apostasy, abomination…and yet we are left to ponder this story from Peter in the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 10:9-16

New King James Version (NKJV)

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”

15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

Simple point: Give up the bloody labels and know God loves everyone. Yeesh!

(because please remember it wasn’t very long ago (less than a hundred years, some less than a generation: that women; aboriginals; metis; half-breeds; non-whites– were seen as abnormalities, abominations and unable to be called by God to serve in the church as fully equal and included members…just sayin’).



Genesis 1:26-31 (NKJV)


26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.


Interesting how we view the creation myths. Some will read this as a literal 24 hour sixth day, but then when looking at the sexes, leans more on the Genesis 2 account where woman was created from man. Yet here we have the whole story of humanity, our time of gestation, birth, growth and going out…see it is not the text that is in error, it is our understanding of it.

Verses 28 to 30 tell the story of the growing into adolescences, and young adulthood. What is traditionally called “The Fall” under original sin, but really is the reflection of the human life span and what happens as we grown and challenge our surroundings, yet the blessing when we reach a certain age is that we are blessed with the world outside the walls of our parent’s house (or buying our parent’s house like this writer). That stepping out with an understanding of the world’s condition, but also a need to further discover what it means to live fruitfully, to make our way in this world and answer our calling from the Holy Mystery.

Yet in this and every instance in life, from being Spirit breathed at the point of energy creation, being conceived, being birthed, the first breath within creation to the last breath.  The whole time, God (existing in us, and us in God) states simply, “You are my child, you are blessed, you are very good, you are my beloved.” The entire essence of loving God with our everything, our neighbours as ourselves boils down to these simple poetic statements found within Day 6.

Now… Can we love?



Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611

Nederlands: bijbeluitgave 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan’s Purse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldvision Enterprises

Worldvision Enterprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew 6

Do Good to Please God

6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.[a]

What are the boundaries on giving? What is the way we are to do this? This passage in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount is jarring to our 21st century ear. Where we are used to be rewarded for our good works, or “charity” (and yes I cringe at the word C-H-A-R-I-T-Y for it implies that I know better than those I am trying to build community with, it is a power word and yes we need to acknowledge this).

So this came passage came up in the adult Sunday School class today in our discussion around Hospitality (a lifestyle for Christians is the underlying ethos of this educational series).  But the words of this passage struck me.

For it is so counter to what we are used to.

I remember as a youth pastor terminating my youth groups relationship with WorldVision, not because we did not believe in what they did (we actually still did a 30 hour famine for a non-profit), no the relationship was ended because, simply, the one that reached certain levels of donations were given rewards.

There was two things wrong with this:

1) It rewarded those of higher socio-economics

2) It built a discipleship mechanism that we are too expect to be rewarded or given something tangible for our willingness to give.

These were 2 messages I found counter to the Gospel of building a just world.

But there are so many other ways in the church we perpetuate this you must receive to give, and do to get, here are a few short examples to reflect on:

1) Tax receipts: do we give to our church because we believe int he mission? Feel called? or know that we will receive a kick back at year end tax season? What if the churches lost their tax exempt status?? Would we still financially support our church?

2) Building projects and fundraisers where we do door prizes and other prize draws to “reward” those who give… what is the underlying message here?

3) How do we share our stories when we do good work? Do we celebrate the individuals or the community? Is there a difference?

4) How do we do missions? At one point (I do not know if they still do this) Samaritan’s Purse required the families and children receiving shoe boxes to have to attend church to receive the present. Is this right? Should we expect someone to do something to receive blessing?


Just points to ponder…with one final quesiton:

Are we called to charity or to justice?

Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagi...

Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is intriguing how my weekend has been flowing.  Yesterday in our home we launched a new 6 week video series from Sojourners dubbed “Justice for the Poor” where we explored “Burger King Mom” that is the hard working single parents in America, those in need and what this means for us as believers.


It brought to the forefront the idea of the cop out most Christians go to that we cannot do anything about the poor from Mark 14 (New King James Version):


The Anointing at Bethany

And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

But it is an adventure in missing the point, for it is not saying that there is nothing we can do and our world will always have poor, that we cannot build heaven here on earth we need to await the coming of Christ…so might as well be the frozen chosen.


NO! what this is saying to us, is that Jesus looks at his crew and goes look we are the poor, the masses, the sick, the healed, the rejected, the outsiders, the working classes, those that don’t fit in… you will always be able to live in community with one another within and out of the Love that is the Holy Mystery of God so do not worry over one act of compassion that looks extravagant.


This flowed into this mornings adult Bible study class on Hospitality, and this idea of sacred duty, for whomever we serve, whomever we enter into community with for short or long term is Christ which then flowed into the sermon, week twelve on the series of the Apostle’s Creed, on the idea of Jesus is ascended and sitting at the right hand of God.


The ancient Roman greeting was “Caesar is Lord” for Christians of the time, they were beyond subversive, radical, transformational in that they stated “Christ is Lord” as there greeting… for it was the claiming of citizenship in Heaven that gave this boldness. So is this an awaiting for death to enter the pearly gates? No, citizenship in Heaven was the idea of an outpost of the Empire. Where Rome used cities such as Phillipi for these outposts of citizens to transform the Empire to the Roman way, each time a Christ-like in the Christianities greeted with “Christ is Lord” they were claiming their lives and communities as outposts for Heaven here on earth. That is transforming Terra-Firma into what God originally intended by being the planted in the midst.


So are the poor always with us? Of course, they are us, we are called into community of life together, a community of life that is called to be a transformational community for those communities we exist in so that each and every person is loved, so the world is healed, so that salvation becomes more than words uttered once but is a constant journey of personal and communal transformation.


This leads to my last thing of the weekend, teaching my ministry team on what it means to Journey With… in the context of Community.

To Journey With Presentation

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

It is unique, as I have written before we Franciscans get a short shift as not being academic enough…why? Francis was more concerned with ensuring those that lived out his rule to live the Gospel Life of Jesus Christ were more pragmatic.   But it wasn’t an anti-intellect drive, rather it is an internalization of the gospel teaching and shaping one’s life and learnings around a deeper understanding of this teaching.

This has been my life, attempting to fully internalize one Gospel Teaching of Jesus:

Matthew 22:36-40

New King James Version (NKJV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

This is the passage that brought me back into the institutional church, and it is the passage that has me continually wrestling with the institutional church.  How is it that we are to love like this in community, as community, yet we do such harm to one another.
This is the lesson that my life has centered on.
So how far have I come? That is always a good question, but I think I am closer the further I move from the institutional church setting, as Francis did.