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The Audiences of Jesus

When you read the Gospels carefully, you discover some great insights concerning the audience to whom Jesus speaks. There are four types of audiences addressed in Jesus’s ministry: (a) His opponents, (b) the crowds, (c) the disciples, (d) the Apostles. I want to briefly explore the final three audiences and reflect on why this matters.
“The Apostles” Jesus’s very first disciples were “taken” from John the Baptizer’s group of disciples; Andrew (and probably John), then Andrew recruited his brother, Simon Peter. Soon after, Jesus called someone else from the same hometown as Andrew: Philip, who then brought his brother, Nathaniel (John 1:35-48). We see in these, and with others, Jesus used a network of relationships that already existed (e.g., brothers: Andrew and Simon Peter, John and James), business partners (Peter and Andrew fished together with James and John, Lk 5:10), while the others almost certainly would have known each other because they lived in the same towns (Capernaum and …
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A New Year, A New You

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I’ve been praying and reflecting much lately on a very difficult topic: surrender. One dictionary says that surrender means “to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.” Of one thing we can be certain: Jesus demanded and expected utter surrender. For example, he told the crowds: “If anyone wants to become my fol…

Some thoughts on when Jesus was born

“Keep the Christ in Christmas.” “Remember the reason for the season.” How much do you really know about the celebration of Jesus’s birth? The term, “Christmas,” is an Old English expression for “Mass of Christ” (Cristes Maesse). The Western and Eastern Churches disagree over the exact time of Christmas. In the Western Church, Christmas time (or “Christmastide”) begins on December 25 and ends on January 6 (the Day of Epiphany). Hence, this is the origin of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”     No one knows the precise date of Jesus’s birth because for the first few centuries of the Church, no one seemed to care when it happened. Before 525, there was no official date adopted by the Western church. The first reference to the birth of Jesus on Dec 25th might come from Theophilus of Antioch (171-183). Some ancient authors agreed; others disagreed.       It was not uncommon for ancient authors to date Jesus’s birth in association with the vernal equinox (or some other association with the Sun)…

A momentous day in the history of Christianity approaches

I recently received the results from a DNA test that I submitted to It says that I’m almost 90% British, which explains why I’ve always been an Anglophile! I’m working on my British accent, but it’s horrible. And while I’m practicing my accent, I began exploring my genealogy (again). It’s made me think about all of my ancestors and what flows in my blood. Besides discovering that I’m related to David Crockett (which is pretty cool), I’ve discovered other things that my ancestors did. One, while a Private in the Confederate army, was captured during the Civil War and was released (or escaped!) and then had tons of kids. I can’t imagine what I don’t know about my ancestors. I can’t imagine how many of my mannerisms and features have been passed down to me without my knowledge.
The Church is like that, too. So many people have no idea that we believe things and do things within churches that have been passed down to us from our spiritual ancestors. For example, on Tuesday, O…

My greatest struggle

I’ve never written a blog like this before because I’ve never wanted this blog to be about me. But, I feel compelled to compose this now for some reason. Maybe it’ll help me; maybe it’ll help someone else.
I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I’ve had it for years. It affects me every single day. I’ve been through therapy. I’ve read books and listened to lectures. Yes, I’ve prayed about it. I pray about it nearly every single day, in fact, because I live in a low-grade constant fear and anxious state.
PTSD is a debilitating anxiety disorder caused by an intense, traumatic experience (or experiences). It actually re-wires the neural networks in your brain, so that the brain becomes “hot-wired” to freak out. This is called having “triggers.” It’s where your brain responds before your pre-frontal cortex (where your consciousness does its work) can respond to the situation. You can feel the blood leave your head, a panic attack, or gorgonizing anxiety and then think, “what happened…

What if life wasn't what you thought it was?

Imagine if you overheard two people talking about life. They were both tired. One complained and complained about how much things didn’t go the way she wanted. She was forced to get up early to go to work. People screamed at her. She had to do exercises. The other person somewhat liked it. There was real camaraderie among the people where they lived. Yet, she, too, didn’t like that life wasn’t what she expected. She didn’t know why so many things happened that caused her pain, even if she did seem to get stronger because she trained so much.
What difference would it make if you were to walk up to these two people talking and say, “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. Did you know that you’re in a boot camp? You’re in the Army: this is Basic Combat Training. Did you know that the reason why you’re going through all this stuff is because people are trying to get you prepared for battle?”
See what a difference proper context and perspective can make? It’s like that about our liv…

"I'm about to teach about!" My response.

In August or September, I am going to lead our Sunday School class in a series of lessons on homosexuality. I’m starting to realize that the Wesleyan Quadrilateral that I fell in love with is not so lovable when you have to apply it to real issues. I’m having trouble drawing a box around this one and, of course, I’m starting to learn that God never stays in my boxes. So what do you think about homosexuality and how do you defend your position on that?
All humans are welcome into the family of Church X. This means that every person, no matter the person’s race, education, sexual orientation, or background is welcome to participate in the ministries of Church X. All are sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Yet, once one becomes a disciple of Jesus, that person reorients her/his entire lifestyle to the teachings of Jesus because He is Lord (= ”boss”). Therefore, we at Church X commit to doing our best to obey the teachings of Jesus (and the early Christians).
Jesus taught (as e…