Nursing Home Adventures - "I'm Jehovah God!"

So I walk into Heritage on Saturday, and on my way to the rec room I see a lady I'd seen several times, maybe said hi to once or twice.  This time she seems a lot more open, so I stop and chat with her for a while.

"So, what's your name?"
"What a nice name!"
"Mickayla Jehovah God."
"Do you know who Jehovah God is?"
"I'm Jehovah God."

And it kinda went on like that until I had to go.  I asked her if she made the world, but she said no, Jesus did that.  Division of labor I guess.

About 20 minutes later the service started.  I opened with a prayer for the service, in particular that God would be present in our worship.  We start up the first hymn, and look who walks in- none other than Jehovah God Herself!  (I guess the real God has a sense of humor.)  She seems to be enjoying herself, until we finished the song and first reading and started the Psalm.

"All right everyone, we're going to worship the Lord by reading Psalm 145 together-"
"No.  Psalm 150."
"Um.  Let's all read Psalm 145, and-"
"No.  Psalm 82.  That's the one with Jehovah God in it."
"Well.  Let's all turn to page 4 and-"
"No.  Page 3."

Well, we went ahead and read Psalm 145, during or after which Jehovah God left the service.  Kinda scared by the fact that God left in the middle of church... we must be doing something wrong...

Fortunately the real God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth who did make the world and everything in it, stayed with us the whole time, and we had a wonderful service.

It got me thinking, though.  What would happen if God did speak up in the middle of service?  Usually He's pretty quiet and polite, which is pretty astounding given that we walk into His house every week and basically do whatever we want.  If He did speak up in Church, I reckon He'd be at least as annoying as His counterpart at Heritage.  And probably a lot less funny.

Well, pray for her, and pray that God does speak up at Heritage, and that we have the patience to listen.

(In other news, pictures from Heritage are up!  Check them out on Facebook and become a fan of Heritage while you're at it!)

Taking a Break

I'm going to be taking a break from blogging, at least for the month of September; very likely much longer.  Increased responsibilities at Heritage and prep for GRE is taking up most of my free time.  Thank you all for reading, God bless, and I hope to be back as soon as I can!

Taking a break

I'm going to be taking a break from blogging, at least for the month of September; very likely much longer.  Increased responsibilities at Heritage and prep for GRE is taking up most of my free time.  Thank you all for reading, God bless, and I hope to be back as soon as I can!

What’s Your Bible Style?

While I was doing missions work in [Bolivia] this past summer, the following was posted on []’s Facebook page:

 “Are you a bible cover kind of person? Do you have notes in your margins? Do you use a highlighter? Do you love leather-bound? We're curious!
Check out our Bible Cover Closeout Sale! Grab some great savings on some bible covers that won't be around too much longer!”

Now, if I wanted to, I could rant about how CBD probably wasn’t actually curious about whether I mark up my Bible with a highlighter or with sheep’s blood, or about the commercialization of Evangelical Christianity in general and the Bible in particular, and what a shame it is to the Church.

But I won’t (even though I kinda want to).  Because- honestly?  I think it’s pretty cool that there are so many different styles of Bibles out there.  Whatever it says about the hearts of the people who manufacture them, it attests to the staying power of the Bible after so many centuries.  I don’t know how I feel about using Bibles as “self-expression” (not that I’m not guilty of it myself), but if it teaches people to think of their Bibles as much a part of them as the music they listen to, and their faith as much a factor in their public identity as the clothes they wear, then I’m satisfied.  And I also think it’s a massive blessing that Bibles made today are so convenient to carry around and read- if that encourages knowledge of God’s Word (it has form e), I’m all for it.

So- how about you?  What’s your “Bible style?”  What have you found is the most convenient way for you to “read, hear, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” God’s Word?

What translation do you use?  Do you use a study or reference Bible?
What’s your physical Bible like?  Is it big or small?  Leather, hardcover, softcover?
Do you use a Bible cover?  What’s it made of?
Do you mark up your Bible?  Do you use pen, pencil, highlighter, or sheep’s blood? (kidding about the sheep’s blood… maybe)
Where do you keep your Bible?  Do you carry it with you ([highly recommended])?  In a pocket?  In a purse or backpack?  Do you balance it on your head?

My normal carry-around Bible is a combination King James Version Bible, KJV Apocrypha, and 1928 Book of Common Prayer, with cross-references, leather bound, from the [Anglican Parishes Association].  I prefer to read the Bible in the context of prayer, so having the Prayer Book with me is very helpful.  It’s not very tall, but because it’s three books bound together, the spine is massive.  It’s black, genuine leather, because the only other option was hardcover, which I find is not very durable for carrying around every day (the spine moves vertically and breaks).

I put my Bible in a cheap polyester cover from CBD.  Out of reverence for God’s Word, I try to keep my physical Bible in the best shape possible; but this Bible was way too expensive and hence not getting replaced any time soon, so large parts of it are currently being held together by duct tape.

I prefer not to mark up my Bible (I end up marking too much and cluttering the page), but I use the pages of notes in the back for writing down prayers and liturgical texts I use regularly, as well as the Shorter Ending of Mark, which isn’t in the KJV.

I always balance it on my head- when it’s not in my hand or stuffed in my backpack.

As you can see, my Bible is pretty boring and old-fashioned- I’m not into these neon-rainbow-colored Bibles and alligator leather covers, or whatever it is people use nowadays.  In fact, despite what I said above, I think that focusing on the outward appearance of your Bible leads to a very unbiblical vanity.  Nevertheless, if you’re serious about hearing from God in the Holy Scriptures, you also need to think seriously about how best to develop that habit- which doesn’t mean finding a “cool” or “hip” Bible (there’s no such thing, in the eyes of the world), but figuring out how to remove any obstacles (eg, imagine trying to fit the Bible above in your backpack) that stand in your way.

So- what about you?  What’s your Bible like, and how does it help you "read, hear, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the Word of the Lord?

Kings and Priests, continued

Continuing from my last post, let’s consider the Eucharist.  The Eucharist isn’t something that the priest does for the people- as if we needed anything besides Christ’s death on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving,” and that’s what it is- a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for what Jesus has already done for us.  We all offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, not just the dudes with “Father” or “Pastor” before their name.

But what if we all did communion wherever we want, whenever we want, and each offered up our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, not regarding what our neighbor did?  Communion at home, communion at Sunday School, communion in our rooms, alone.  There’d be no community in communion!

So what do we do instead?  We choose one person to stand up and represent us, so to speak, before God, by taking all our thoughts and feelings and gathering them up into one prayer of thanksgiving.  He reminds us what we’re doing and why it’s important, which keeps us from taking the focus off of Christ and onto our own thoughts or ideas or problems or sins.   We all join him in offering the sacrifice, and we all receive the fruits of Christ’s Sacrifice.

And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.
-Didache 14:1

Kings and Priests

Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 1:5-6)

In verse 4, John addresses his letter to “the churches which are in Asia.”  The letter isn’t written to the bishops, priests, or pastors in the congregations, but to the congregations themselves.  Through his blood, Jesus has made, not just clergy, but every member of the Church “kings and priests.”

Notice, though, that Scripture never calls any individual Christian a “king” or a “priest.”  Look through the whole New Testament, and you’ll never find anything like that (but if you do, please tell me!).  We are kings and priests because of our membership in Christ’s Body.  I am not a king; we are kings.  I am not a priest; we are priests.

That’s why there are people in the Church who exercise a more strongly priestly or kingly role than others.  They rule over the household of God.  They deliver God’s messages to His people and present their prayers to Him.  It’s easy to look at those people and say, “Those are the priests.  Those are the princes of the Church.  All the rest of us, we’re just lowly laypeople.  They preach the Gospel; we listen.  They forgive sins; we receive forgiveness.”

But it’s not that they’re priests because we’re not.  They’re priests because we’re all priests- we’re all filled with Christ’s priesthood, just brimming over with it, and we’d be a chaotic mess if we didn’t have leaders to guide and organize our priesthood.  Ministers fail when they use their authority to beat their congregation into submission; a priest’s goal should instead be to remind his congregation of their priesthood, and teach them how to use it.

‎"If we are called priests, it is not in order to keep the priestly function in our hands and exclude the rest from it....If we are priests, we are such as priests of the priestly people, for the sake of the priesthood of the whole body."
-Leslie Newbigin


Tuesday Prayer

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
3 John 2

Sometimes I get to thinking that God only wants to hear my "spiritual" prayers, the ones about salvation and overcoming sin and things like that.  This verse tells me otherwise... Anyway, how can I pray for you?


Nursing Home Adventures - It Begins!

Well, as many of you know, I help run my church's nursing home ministry, which we started in late February.  Because it was received so well by the residents at Heritage Nursing Home, we decided to start doing services there every week in the Fall.  Basically, we don't see this as starting a "ministry," but as a new church plant.  So, this Saturday at 9:30AM was the first official service of Heritage Anglican Church.  We had a great time of prayer, singing, and Scripture reading and teaching, as well as lay distribution of the Holy Communion.

Everything went very smoothly- even, by God's grace, my sermon.  In the weeks before Advent we're going to be preaching a series of sermons adapted from the First Book of Homilies, a book of sermons authorized for use by the Church of England in the 16th century.  They were written during the Reformation, and are intended explain basic Evangelical doctrine- creation, sin, grace, faith, good works, etc.- to people who may be Christians, but don't have as clear an understanding of Biblical teaching as they should.  This is exactly the spiritual state of many of the people at Heritage, and I'm excited to bring the Word of God to them in this way.

One cute little anecdote.  As usual, before the service started I went to get "Lillian," a very demented old German lady who lives on the second floor.  When I told her, Wir gehen in die Kirche, im Ersten Stock, wollen Sie gehen? ("We're going to church, on the first floor, do you want to come?"), she answered, "Ja," but then got up and went to the wall, where she sat down on her knees and started mumbling to herself.  It took me a few moments to realize she was praying!  The nurse and I had a good laugh over that- but it also gives me hope that God is reaching out to her despite her worn-out mind.

Why Women Should Teach

(or, In Which I Offend Everybody I Didn't Offend Last Time)

I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

1 Timothy 2:12

Some churches explain this verse away and make it mean almost nothing at all to the Church today.  This can’t be right- at least I can’t convince myself- because “all scripture-” not just the parts we like- “is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching.” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Other churches make this verse out to mean that it is wrong for a woman to impart spiritual knowledge at all.  Some churches won’t even sing hymns written by women (unfortunately I can’t find the link I had in mind).

But again- “all Scripture is profitable for teaching,” even the parts of Scripture written by women, such as the Song of Deborah, the Song of Hannah (when I googled it, "List of Hannah Montana Songs" was one of the first things to come up....), and my personal favorite, the Song of Mary, which is traditionally sung every day at Evening Prayer.

No women teachers at all?  Whatever Paul, and whatever the Holy Spirit, meant in 1 Timothy, it can’t possibly be that.

Seeing God

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.
(Revelation 1:4-5)

This is a similar greeting to Paul's classic "grace and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:2), but John adds the Holy Spirit and turns it into a Trinitarian greeting.

"Jesus" is obviously, well, Jesus.  The Son of God.  You know Him (I hope).

"The seven Spirits" are the one Holy Spirit of God.  He is called "seven Spirits" because "seven" in the cultures of the Bible symbolizes fullness and perfection.  I've seen it translated "sevenfold Spirit."

That leaves the Father.  "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come" most naturally would seem to refer to Jesus.  "He cometh with clouds," John says a little later (v 7).  In all of Revelation- no, in all of Scripture- Jesus is the Coming One.  The people of the Old Covenant looked forward to His first coming, and the people of the New Covenant are still watching for his second coming.  But in this passage, the One "which is to come" must be the Father, not Jesus.

Why?  Because the Father comes with Jesus.  Jesus is the presence of the Father in Creation.  If you want to know God, the only way is through Jesus.

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.