Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sermon Audio: John 3:1-21.

I Blogged the sermon from John 3:1-21 last week. I Blogged it when the sound guy told that the recording didn't work. But last week, he pressed the right button, and now I have a recording. I'm pleased about that, because it is a record of the sermon at Junior's Baptism -- something that he can listen to years later (should he desire).

Click HERE to listen.

(Right Click to download. It's 21 minutes.)

Pic by Yvette Gallardo D'Elia

Mother's Day 5/5: We Rejoice and we Mourn.

Guest Blogger: Lynda Kong from Christ Church NYC.
Mother’s Day Talk: "The Paradox of Our Christian Identity."

On this Mother’s Day we rejoice and we mourn with women everywhere, with mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, and nieces.

The NY Times website yesterday had a beautiful photo of a young mother in Myanmar. Here in the midst of the devastation of the cyclone, was a young mother caring for her baby, her hand was touching his arm, and her face was smiling and crying at the same time.

So we rejoice and we mourn with others, in just the right way, the way that our Lord Jesus Himself has done and continues to do for us.

Have you an comments?

Pic by Le Papa Tanga. (not the NY Times Pic)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mother's Day 4/5: So what do we do?

Guest Blogger: Lynda Kong (Our Women's Ministry Director).
Mother’s Day Talk: "The Paradox of Our Christian Identity."

So what do we do?

For those of us who tend to be easily discouraged, easily angered, losing in our battles frequently:

God calls us to see the steady, streaming light that His Spirit sends us, and to walk in it. Even if we feel as though we cannot walk, but that we can only crawl or even less, we can only sit, so long as we are facing towards God, that is evidence of His Spirit at work within us.

And even in our weakness, God calls us to look outside of ourselves and join our family members in bringing more beauty and joy and justice to our city and workplaces. This would be “faith in the minor key.”

For those of us who tend to be too much on the strong and confident side those of us who have the right answers and who might judge others, those of us who are afraid to show weakness on any level:

God calls us to recognize that we too are fundamentally in need of His fresh mercies every day, and in need of our family members who have much to offer us and teach us.

We need to ask God to show us how to listen better, how to be more patient with someone who’s different from us, how to lovingly walk together with someone who needs the right kind of strength from us. This right kind of strength is “faith in the major key.”

This is 4/5. Final post coming.

Feel free to comment. Let Lynda (and me) know your thoughts...

Pic by acampm1.

Mother's Day 3/5: Faith in the Minor and Major Keys

Guest Blogger: Lynda Kong (Our Women's Ministry Director).
Mother’s Day Talk: "The Paradox of Our Christian Identity."

Our Christian life can also be a paradox – having two dimensions:
  • On the one side is poverty of spirit, sense of need, fragility, personal guilt, sense of sin and suffering – what David Powlison calls ‘Faith in the Minor Key’.
  • On the other side of the Christian life is vibrancy, boldness, strength, conviction, purpose, and vision – ‘Faith in the Major Key’.
It’s this wild identity where we experience both the fragility and struggle and the joy and confidence at the same time. Our lives don’t fall into neat and tidy categories, but rather, our lives are messy, broken, yet held very dearly by the living God Himself. So we are groping in darkness and yet also bathed with the continuous, streaming light of this living God.

We know some people who are too much on the fragile and discouraged side. We know other people who are too much on the strong and confident side. And yet, Jesus was both fragile and strong, and in just the right way.

And that’s what we’re meant to be, as we are united with Jesus in His death and resurrection life: We grieve over the brokenness in our lives, but we grieve with joy always, because we are in the gentle hands of a comforting God.

And we are exuberant and vibrantly bold, at the same time keenly sensitive to others who are suffering.

We do both, so that someone who’s struggling can walk in and be comfortable with us, and also someone who’s celebrating can walk in and be comfortable with us.

That’s what it means for us to live out our calling as being family members, called by God’s Spirit Himself.

Pic by Danny.

Mother's Day 2/5: A Radically New Kind of Spiritual Family

Guest Blogger: Lynda Kong (Our Women's Ministry Director).
Mother’s Day Talk: "The Paradox of Our Christian Identity."

And the relationship that I have with her has many paradoxical elements as well:

There is a duty and obligation to care for one another, but it’s a duty that arises out of love; There are times of feeling distant, and yet a great joy and pleasure in being together; There is an inability to communicate well, because we don’t speak the same language, but also a desire to move towards knowing each other more deeply.

This kind of mother/daughter relationship is itself a picture of the kind of family relationship that we have with one another as Christians, because God has called us, in giving us the Spirit of His Son Jesus, into a radically new kind of spiritual family.

More to Come (This is 2/5 Posts)...


Monday, May 26, 2008

Mother's Day 1/5: A Paradox of Weakness and Strength

Guest Blogger: Lynda Kong from Christ Church NYC.
Mother’s Day Talk: "The Paradox of Our Christian Identity."

Today is Mother’s Day (May 11), so I’d like to tell you a little about my mother, and then share some thoughts on the nature of our Christian life together.

My mother was raised in the rural village in Guangzhou, China, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. When she was 15 years old, her father, who was an intellectual and the mayor of her village, was arrested by the Communists and taken to exile in Siberia. My mother practically never saw her father again.

She then met and married my father, and together they had four children. They brought us to New York City, when my mother was almost exactly the age that I am now, to start over in a foreign land, not speaking one word of English. And for the next 25 or so years, she worked in a garment factory, a sweatshop, near Canal Street, earning less than $20 a day.

She suffered through much fragility and anguish, with great physical frailty. But she did this with strength and endurance, always able to take care of the needs of the moment. Hers was a steady labor of love for me and my brother and sisters, as she held out the hope that our lives would be better than hers.

Now, while my mother is not yet a follower of Jesus, I have seen in her some Christian characteristics - fragility and suffering, courage and great joy.

Her life is a paradox of weakness and strength.

More to Come (This is 1/5 Posts)...

Pic by Danpea.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Awe: Towards an understanding.

Someone emailed me:
I have been thinking quite a bit about 'the fear of the Lord'. Do you think this 'fear' could be compared to or have some similarity to 'awe' or is that a cop-out?
My answer:

I would say fear would have to include awe, but it has to be more than awe. I am in awe before the beauty of a quiet lake, but I am in awe in front of a tornado with an entirely different effect on the heart. I think that people talk about God as though he is only the former, and never the latter.

What do you all think?

Is 'awe' (which is commonly said) a cop out for describing the 'Fear of the Lord'?

Pic by A Guy with A Camera.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mother’s Day Talk: “The Paradox of Our Christian Identity”

Next week, I am going to have a Guest Blogger.

Her name is Lynda Kong, and she is the Women's Ministry Director at Christ Church NYC. She addressed our congregation on Mother's Day (May 11). My own mother was at church that morning, and found Lynda's message very moving and helpful. So I wanted you all to read it.

Here is the beginning to get you ready:
Today is Mother’s Day, so I’d like to tell you a little about my mother, and then share some thoughts on the nature of our Christian life together.

My mother was raised in the rural village in Guangzhou, China, during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. When she was 15 years old, her father, who was an intellectual and the mayor of her village, was arrested by the Communists and taken to exile in Siberia. My mother practically never saw her father again.
Would you like to read more?

Yes or No?

We begin in earnest next Monday.

Pic of kids in Guangzhou in 2007. From Nico in China.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Born Twice #10: What are the effects of New Birth?

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
This is the final post. Read all posts HERE (from the bottom)

And what effect does New Birth have on a person's life?

Well, there are millions of wonderful effects -- being rescued by God is but one of them.

But one mentioned here in John 3 is that a person in Christ has the chance to be radically honest about their life and sin. They can radically pursue a New Life, starting up their life in a fresh way. V17- They know that Jesus did not come bent on condemning them. But on saving them. And they have Jesus as a demonstration of this.

And because they can rest in the knowledge that they are loved and accepted by the one who matters most, they can let their lives be 'exposed'.

Oscar Wilde once said:

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

A person in Christ is able to take off their mask, and still tell the truth. At least, they ought to!

They are able to say to God - 'Tell me how you want me to live my life. I've been determining how to live my life. But now, you determine it.'

V20-21 - A Christian does not have to avoid the light. But they can come to the light, knowing that what they do will be acceptable to the God who has dealt with their life.


NOW -- I can't take away the cultural cringe factor, and the ‘alien factor’ may remain. But it's important to know that a Christian is not just a sincere person, nor a person who simply contributes to society. And pays her taxes. And is nice to other people. They may be all of that.

But a Christian is a person who says: What happened to Junior last Monday, that has happened to me - I have been anew born from God.

And that has changed and shaped and colored everything!


Are you still reading?
Comments? (Thanks Benjamin -- I will respond soon!)

Pic on Flickr by !!sahrivi!!.

Born Twice #9: How does God bring about New Birth?

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Two questions:

First, How does God do that? How does he bring about New Birth?

The answer in our text is in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
It is the radical grace of God - in the giving of his Son - that gives a person a new birth.

The word 'so' means 'in this way'? The ESV offers a translation "For this is how God loved the world...". In what way?

The illustration that Jesus uses for how he 'gave' his one and only son is in V14:
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus chooses an obscure text in Numbers 21. The Israelites, because of their sin, were bitten by poisonous snakes, and God commands Moses to make a bronze snake, put it up on a pole, lift it up and when the people looked at it, they were healed.

Jesus draws the parallel to his own death. Just as the snake was lifted up, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.

Lifted up onto the cross.

Just as a mother hurts and bleeds and struggles to give birth to a child (I saw it on Monday), so Jesus hurt and bled and struggled in order to give new life. When we stare at Christ and his death, and his new birth in Resurrection - that is, when we believe in him - we will be healed.

What happened to Nicodemus?

In John 19:39, Nicodemus' goes to the cross to collect Jesus' Body. He goes to were Jesus was 'lifted up'. And we must go there too in repentance, and faith.

What does the Apostle Peter (in Acts 2) say on the day of Pentecost - to people cut to the heart.
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Pic on Flickr by BullyRook.

Born Twice #8: All of God. All of Grace.

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Third Conclusion - a New Birth is an activity only of God!

What do we mean by that?

Did Junior choose to be born? There is an obvious answer to that. No, he didn't! Of course not.

Have you thought about this? The most basic reality in our life - the breath in our lungs, and the life we have - this is not something we chose. Laurel did all the work with Junior. We talk regularly about controlling our lives, but at its foundation, life is a the choice of another.

Not one person alive in this room chose to be alive.

And so it is with being born a second time: God reaches lives and HE rescues US. We do not rescue ourselves. Indeed we cannot rescue ourselves.

What does Psalm 40 say?
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and he set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
Only God can save a person.

It is all of grace.

And yes, that is a self take from Wife just before she gave birth. She calls it: "The Belly and The Boy".

Interlude... 1 Minute of YouTube Joy.

A friend of mine in Australia sent me this commercial. 'Tis V. Funny.

The Little Man will turn 4 in the summer. Do you have a 4 year old?

What have we to look forward to?


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Born Twice #7: To not Trivialize Sin.

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Here is the Second Conclusion -- a New Birth ceases to trivialize the deep reality of sin that is at the core of every human heart.

Comedian Dennis Miller was asked if he was 'Born again'. He said:
No, I'm not. Excuse me for getting it right the first time.
The Bible said that no one gets it right the first time. Everyone born is part of the problem. We all know pain. We have experienced pain. We have inflicted pain. It always hurts.

See, we tend to think of sin at best as a flu that needs a little treatment. Or at worst, that sin is a cancer presently eating away at the body.

But Sin is like a cancer having already claimed a life. Even as we live, we are already 'dead in our sins', the Bible says. And the only way out of it is a whole new birth: a Resurrection with Jesus.

Sin, therefore, is treated with the seriousness that it 'deserves'.

Pic by Word Freak. Only a few St Ives people will 'get' why I chose a bent fork as the pic! :)

Born Twice #6: The Blue Screen of death

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Let's draw 3 conclusions, and ask 2 questions. This may help us all to know what it means to for someone to be Christian.

First conclusion - This is deeply radical!

The Christian is not simply getting a little religion to round off a good life. The Human life is not 'an otherwise good product' that needs a lick of paint.

The human life needs to be completely remade. And this is radical.

If I can switch metaphors to make the same point: Sin has turned the human heart into the 'Blue Screen of Death'. And the computer needs a new hard drive, not just a dust down.

It's important to note that Nicodemus is a good man: No doubt he pays his taxes, contributes to the economy, and is sincere. He is moral and religious. But Jesus says: "You too need to be born again".

We tend to think of 'born again' people as people who claim religious or moral ground. But Jesus comment is a challenge to morality and to religion, not an affirmation of it. Nicodemus has morality and religion in spades, but Jesus says - Even YOU need to be born from above!

No matter what you are or what have done, you have to start at Ground Zero with God. It’s one of the beautiful things about Christianity: It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Gentile; male or female; slave or free; black or white; rich or poor; Republican or Democrat -- every has to start at the beginning.

And that's radical.

Personally, I think its incredible that 'Blue Screen of Death' has a HUGE Wikipedia Entry. Don't you?

Born Twice #5: From the Outside In, and from the Inside Out

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

And then the punch in V10: Jesus answered him,
Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
Jesus is saying - if you had understood your Jewish Bible, you'd understand this: In Ezekiel 36:24-27, God promised that for his people to be saved (for them to see the Kingdom), they would need to have their sins washed with water(Symbolized by baptism) and they need to have God's Spirit placed in them.

That is, they would need a new forgiveness coming from 'Outside In' (God's washing of sins). And they would need a new motivation coming from the 'Inside Out' (God giving new hearts moved and ready to obey him).

And coupled this with Ezekiel 37:11-14, where God describes the Resurrection promised to Israel (A second birth for the nation), Nicodemus ought to have known what Jesus was referring to.

To be sure, Junior went through birth for the first time last Monday. And I went through it some 30+ years ago.

But according to Jesus, neither Junior nor I will ever see the powerful and beautiful rule of God; the love of God, nor the justice of God without also having a birth from above.

This is an astounding thought. It's a sobering thought.

Let's draw 3 conclusions, and ask 2 questions, and this may help us all to know what it means to for someone to be Christian.

Pic by Peter Kim.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Born Twice #4: A late night decaf coffee with Jesus

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Nicodemus (V1) comes to Jesus under the cover of night (Perhaps a little afraid of being seen with Jesus.) So they get together for a late decaf coffee. Nicodemus is a good man who keeps the law (a Pharisee). He says V2: "We know that you are from God". The plural ‘we’ suggests that he is representing a group who think that Jesus is also moral and good. So he is there perhaps to make a deal with Jesus, since Jesus is getting popular. Nicodemus is therefore diplomatic and generous: V2
Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God.
Jesus in virtually interrupts him and shoots straight. It's late, and there's no point in chit-chat. V3
Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
Jesus clearly says "Being born from above" - i.e. being born of God. But Nicodemus just hears that he has to be born. So he assumes that it is again. V4

"How can a senior citizen like me re-enter my mother's birth canal and uterus?! I can't even get into the backseat of a taxi without help these days, and you want me to be born all over again?!"

It is doubtful that Nicodemus actually took Jesus literally. He's poking fun at Jesus' comment.

If Jesus detected the shtick, he lets it slide and so repeats what he had just said in V5. He expands on it, making clear he's talking about a re-birth from the Spirit.

As he was talking, a gust of wind slams the door and so Jesus says, V8 "Did you hear that? The wind blows here and there, but you never really know where it comes from, or where it may go next. God's Spirit is like that, Nicodemus. He is uncontrollable. Sometimes he comes with gale-force strength, sometime with breeze. But when the Spirit blows into your heart, you are made new from the inside out- Fresh and young like a newborn baby."

Art by F. Alexandre Bida.

Born Twice #3: Restarting...

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

After examining Jesus words: it would seem being 'born again' is about a person's life being totally restarted in and by Jesus. And not just re-modelled with morality. It's about one's life being resurrected. Resurrected from the dead. Resurrected from sin. It's about being rebooted. Being rebooted from God. Re-starting.

Just as 'Junior' was born of Laurel (and not of himself), so a Christian is someone born of God (and not of him or herself).

And it's not about being moral. (In fact it's a challenge to morality.) And it's not about being religious (Being religious can be a way to avoid this 'restart'.)

Now, if that seems weird, or it is mystery to you, then Nicodemus is your man. For Nicodemus no doubt worked up a sweat trying to understand what Jesus was talking about. So let's see if we can too. The irony is that the first ever conversation about being 'born again' was a 'cultural divide moment'. It would seem that not a lot has changed.

More to come...

Pic by Peter Kim.

Born Twice #2: We may as well be aliens

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

And so we have this culture divide. An 'Us' Verses 'Them' divide.

If any of you are not Christian; or you are not sure; or even if you are consider yourself only 'religious', then you probably do not understand your crazy in-laws... the ones who call themselves 'born-again'.

And if you are Christian, you are concerned for your family, or your friends. They don't understand what being a follower of Jesus means to you. They call your faith a 'phase' in your 20s, a 'security blanket' in your 40s, 'Conservatism' in your 60s.

And there you both are, sitting and staring at each other thinking: We are so much alike -- same gene-pool; same race. But sometimes, we may as well be aliens.

The way to (at least) understand the divide is to know what Jesus meant in V3:
'No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.'
Jesus is the one who put the phrase on our cultural map. So it's important to let him define his own phrase. So don't go with just what you think. Or what you were brought up with. Or your crazy in-laws. And certainly don't go with what the media say.

Let Jesus have his word.

Pic by Peter Kim.

Born Twice #1: Born to be an Easy target

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

It’s extraordinary, for me, that the text set for this particular Sunday is: 'You must be born from above'. So for more than one reason I have been thinking about birth and new birth all week! :)

I received an email this week reminding me of what I already knew: That the phrase ‘born-again-Christian’ has an enormous cultural cringe factor, especially here in the US.

Jimmy Carter made much of being 'born again' in his 1976 bid for presidency. Born-Again Christians have recently been cast into what appears to be a ‘voting-block’ called ‘evangelicals’. But no one is really sure what the word means anymore! Which is a pity to my mind.

And so 'Born-Again’s' have become easy targets: American Writer -- PJ O’Rourke:

Making fun of born-again Christians is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope.

English Journalist -- Katherine Whitehorn:

Why do born-again people so often make you wish they'd never been born the first time?

But more needs to be said..

Photo by Peter Kim.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Junior to get Baptized

From the story of The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40):

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?'

I'm preaching on being born again from John 3. So Mike Jensen suggested in the comments that Junior be baptized this Sunday. Wife and I got to thinking. All the Grandparents are here, so why not do it? The senior minister agreed. AC will bring the bowl. And there's water on tap at the church, and plenty of people to pray with him.

And so Junior will, God willing, be baptized this Sunday. He will be 5 days old.

(If you are interested, I posted a while back on why we baptize our kids.)


Junior gets LOST

And on Day 3, Junior is introduced to the BEST.SHOW.EVER.


(What would be a contender?)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sermon Help: 'Junior' has to do it all again?

You are not going to believe this: The reading in the lectionary for Sunday (and the text assigned for me to preach) is John 3:1-18: Being Born Again!

Now, 'Junior' went through it once last on Monday. And apparently, he has to do it all again sometime soon! If not, Jesus says that he will not see the kingdom of God, which is a sobering thought.

Here is the exchange:

Jesus answered him [Nicodemus], 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"

Good point, Nicodemus.

So... Some Questions:

  • What is the connection with 'seeing the kingdom of God' and 'being born' a second time?
  • Is it a metaphor? How does the metaphor work? What is Jesus referring to?
  • How is birth a good image of becoming a Christian?
  • Why should we 'not marvel' at this? (it seems marvelous to me!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


God gave us a healthy baby boy in New York City at 7:41PM on May 12th. 8 pounds, 5 ounces of joy (3.75kgs). Mom is doing very well.

Now, for the purposes of this Blog, I can't call him 'The Little Man', for this name is already taken. And I certainly won't be calling him 'The Little Lady', for other obvious reasons. I couldn't call him 'The Littler Man', which is way too comparative. I toyed with 'The Boy Wonder', but we did not give birth to Batman's sidekick.

He shall hence force, on this Blog, be known simply as "Junior".

If you would like his real name, then I do apologize: I have to actually know you. So become a friend on Facebook, or email me. But let me assure you of this: it was not one of the names nixed. (There are also a few pictures on Facebook.)

Isn't Psalm 127 a good one?

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Pic is of The Little Man meeting Junior for the first time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Absolutely the last Baby Name to be Nixed


Johnny Cash. Live. 1968. Top Song. Top Song. Worth a Viewing.

But Sue is a name guaranteed to be nixed.

(H/T My Dad for this one...)


One more Baby Name to be Nixed

Jim, in the comments below, guaranteed that Anakin would be nixed. It reminded me of this poster that has graced the city these past few months. Every time I walked past it, I laughed out loud.

I might go and try 'Annie' on the missus. See how fast it gets nixed.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Baby Names guaranteed to be nixed

No kiddo just yet.

However, I do have some more baby names guaranteed to be nixed:
  • Rudy
  • Kosmo
  • Wallace
  • Judas
  • Geronimo
  • Gomer
Thank you for all the suggestions you gave me last time. Very unhelpful. Thanks.

Any more?


Friday, May 09, 2008

People at my Church #2

In a sea of negativity, its great to read something positive about Church.

Here is a correspondence between two friends from Christ Church NYC (This cut'n'paste by permission):
Laura: Did you notice that my blog and your blog had similar tones recently?
Clara: No way! Lemme check it out!
Laura: We both love CCNYC. :)
Clara: YES!
Click to Laura's Blog to read why she likes her church and why she became an Anglican.
Click to Clara's Blog to see how God answered her prayer to find church she could serve in.

Here are two parts to Laura's Post:
I looked around a bit and I found this little church plant that was meeting in a common room at the Seamen and Wayfarer's House.

And during the coffee hour on about my second visit, I was asked to usher the next week. Honestly, for a girl feeling very far from home, that was the most loving thing anyone could have asked me. I love our ministers and I love worshipping with the Book of Common Prayer, but what really sealed the deal for me were the people.

I really looked forward to the coffee hour after service each Sunday where I could talk to people who remembered my name from week to week and asked how things were going at school and genuinely listened to me explain how my students couldn't address envelopes to their own homes. I offered to become involved with student ministry (at the time we had two college students regularly attending the morning service).

And I brought Clint along when we started dating. That church has been our family, and their honest faith and emphasis on a simple, Biblical Gospel sustained me through some soul searching times and some tough questions.

I am an Anglican because, even though it can be scary to allow conversation, the tradition doesn't "major on the minors" of Christianity. The Gospel is clearly outlined in the liturgical services and their prayers and creeds.

The Bible is read out in a cycle that attempts to include as much as possible. The scriptures are held up as the most important source of knowledge about God. I can sign on to that whole heartedly. And I'll fight to defend it too.

Besides, where am I going to find a church where I don't have to fight to defend the gospel?
We thank God for Laura (and Clint), Clara and many others...

Pic is of The Little Lady flying kites in Central Park.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sermon Audio: 2 Timothy 4.

Click for the sermon on Sunday: SERMON AUDIO: 2 TIMOTHY 4.

(Listen to know why I have a picture of a lion in this post.)

Here is the question I explore:
How can I be uncompromising, and bold on the Gospel of Jesus; while still remaining tender-hearted, personal and generous to all?
I ask, because it is hard to cultivate both.

I know some religious people who are unbending and bold in their beliefs but have the social skills of a cactus. And that’s at best. At worst, of course, there are many who consider these people dangerous fundamentalists. 'There is nothing more dangerous', they say, 'than over-believing, delusional, zealots.'

On the other hand, I know plenty of religious people who are tender hearted, personal and generous to all, but have the theological backbone of a jellyfish. They may be inspiring and likable but they believe nothing concrete. And they stand for nothing concrete.

Each one of us tends to err to one side or the other. Which side are you on?

Read 2 Timothy 4 beforehand (I'm preaching from the NRSV)...

Pic on Flickr by majamom.

Very Cool Interactive Map of Middle East History

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history? Pretty much everyone. Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans...the list goes on. Who will control the Middle East today? That is a much bigger question.

Very Cool interactive map of who has controlled the Middle East for millennia.

Hats to my good friend Al Lukabyo.

PS. Can anyone else believe that the Mongols once ruled the world?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Foot Landing...

My folks turned up to NYC on Thursday to help with the arrival of the newborn (Lord willing).

On Friday, a good buddy of mine invites them to a baseball game: Yankees V Seattle.

Yankees Stadium.
Front Row.
Behind First Base.

Foot Landers.


Pic taken on an iPhone.