Thursday, May 16, 2019 2:51 PM

Future = Past + Present

Thursday, May 16, 2019 2:51 PM
Thursday, May 16, 2019 2:51 PM

Hebrew Bible scholar Susanne Sholz says, the “Bible has undoubtedly shaped culture but culture too has shaped the biblical meaning – which itself is shifting, turning and open rather than historically fixed, static and closed.” Within this paradoxical statement are some very strong implications and challenges. More importantly, I believe there is an implied underlying message of caution regarding the use of scriptural verses as slogans for current moral agendas.

Some readers might think there is legitimate reason to discard the Bible as our solid foundation due to perceived limitations of human writers and their use of past or outdated expressions. However, rather than discarding certain portions of God’s Word meant to guide the reader, by faith, we see God’s Word as inspired by the Paraclete (Holy Spirit). It is only through Divine revelation of hermeneutical context that we will understand.

As the Church seeks to live authentically, may God empower us to genuinely engage and appropriate scripture, without using it as motivation or support for promotion of personal views. Let us seek to understand, acknowledge, embody and amplify social ethics that positively exemplify God’s message for all.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 (CEB)

– – Linda I. McDaniel

Thursday, May 9, 2019 4:01 PM

Thursday, May 9, 2019 4:01 PM
Thursday, May 9, 2019 4:01 PM

I am reading NT Wright’s biography of Paul right now as a part of my devotional routine. It has been helpful to me to pair this book with my reading of Acts for sermon preparation and a small group that I lead on Tuesday mornings.

Early on in the book when reflecting on Saul’s conversion story and the hope which filled Saul’s heart as a zealous Jew, Wright says, “Hope and Optimism are not the same thing. The optimist looks at the world and feels good about the way it’s going. Things are looking up. Everything is going to be all right. But hope, at least as conceived within the Jewish and then the early Christian world, was quite different. Hope could be, and often was, a dogged and deliberate choice when the world seemed dark. It depended not on a feeling about the way things were or the way they were moving, but on faith, faith in the one God.” (p 45)

Wright goes on to say that Hope in this sense is not a feeling but is rather a virtue. In fact, Hope is one of the three theological virtues in Christian tradition. We live in a world where unsubstantiated and over zealous optimism has harmed lives and weakened relationships. We live in a world that desperately needs the HOPE that is made possible through the person and work of Jesus Christ. I wonder what the world might look like if the cliché phrases of blind optimism were replaced by proclamations of deep, powerful, and transformational hope?

As we seek to live faithfully this week, may we strive to offer the virtue of Hope, in the name of Jesus, to all that we meet.

In Christ, Will

Friday, May 3, 2019 4:15 PM

Friday, May 3, 2019 4:15 PM
Friday, May 3, 2019 4:15 PM

When we moved to our new home in Chattanooga, I put out three birdfeeders in our backyard. Throughout this past year, I have seen many variety of birds visit my feeders. There have been bluebirds, eastern towhee, chickadees, cardinals, robins, European starling, brown-headed cowbirds, catbirds, red-wing blackbirds, a common grackle, an Indigo bunting, yellow finches, a downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, and red-bellied woodpecker.

I might mention there have been rabbits, chipmunks, opossums, raccoons, and of course squirrels, that have also gathered for a meal at the Gooden feeders. Judy and I had a red tailed hawk stop by for a few moments. The other critters were not too pleased by his presence.
I was on the porch the other evening, enjoying these variety of birds coming and going from the feeders and I was reminded of what Jesus said: “If you decide for God, living a life of God worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at meal-times or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, or to your outer appearance, than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds...Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now. Don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:25-26,34 The Message)
Disconnect a while! Take time today to enjoy God’s wonderful and beautiful creation. If God cares so much for these creatures, how much more God cares for you!

Oh, guess what just flew by? A bald-headed eagle. Amazing! Simply amazing!

Blessings on your day! – Mark Gooden

Friday, April 26, 2019 8:26 AM

Transforming

Friday, April 26, 2019 8:26 AM
Friday, April 26, 2019 8:26 AM

If we were Jewish people, we would still be in the middle of the Passover celebration.

Passover is an eight-day festival and it is the celebration that we Christians have come to call Easter. Although Easter is always on a Sunday for us, and we celebrate with a Holy Week that begins on Palm Sunday, Passover is set by the phase of the moon. Passover this year began on Friday, April 19 and will end on Saturday, April 27. The two days at the beginning of Passover and the two days at the end are very holy days. No work is to be done on these four days.

The first Passover brought the ultimate freedom of Israel – freedom out of bondage in Egypt. They look upon the Passover as the nation of Israel receiving a new beginning or new birth. Life was transformed for them. Things would never be the same for them as long as they followed God who saved them. That is what God did for us through Christ during that Passover Festival a little over 2000 years ago. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, he set us free and gave us a new beginning, a transformation from sin to life in Christ.

Brennan Manning puts it this way: “The Christian lives in Christ and Christ in the Christian through the Holy Spirit. We are empowered to live new lives where sin has no place. If we do not, we frustrate the power of the paschal mystery by our refusal of faith in the power. How often are Christians unwilling to believe that they have been transformed.”
Passover/Easter is the event where God has brought freedom from slavery, transformed sinner to saint and brought life from death. At Easter time this year lets ask, “Are we Christians really living into this transforming power of God?” If so, “how are our lives transformed?” And, “how are we transforming the world?”
     Geaux Tigers, Barry

Thursday, April 18, 2019 2:43 PM

RE - Affirming Our Faith

Thursday, April 18, 2019 2:43 PM
Thursday, April 18, 2019 2:43 PM

RE - Affirming Our Faith

A recent discussion about the Apostles’ Creed reminded me of a church member’s stated resistance towards reciting the creed. His concerns were over the words, “we believe in the holy catholic church…” The sincerity of this brother was clear as he said, “I honestly struggle with those words and cannot (in good conscience) say that I believe in {the holy catholic church}.”

I expressed gratitude for such honest, contemplative sharing of his observations. We agreed that reciting with others, the words of the creed, was a time of reaffirming and giving substance to our faith. Further prayerful discussion led us beyond the creed’s affirmations about God and the identity of believers, and allowed us to focus on the community of the people of God. I noted that the word “catholic” was not capitalized, nor meant to signify the name of the church.

Rather, the emphasis was/is placed on the nature of the Body of Christ as being holy and universal – We are part of the family of God who shares an unbroken line of communion…

Together, let us continue to strongly affirm our faith. Whenever there is a deficient view of the Church, may God resolve questions within our minds with divine answers in our hearts!

– Linda I. McDaniel

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