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Can’t Light a Candle This Way, part 2 of 2.

[NOTE: If you haven’t read my blog from yesterday, please scroll down and start there.]

An old song: “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.”

Hard to do that with an empty matchbook.

I wonder what that’s like when people are counting on us for help, for guidance, for a listening heart, but nope, the matchbooks of our souls are empty.

Someone reaches for us, and we’re not there.

How can we correct that?

What are some ways we can be replenished?

Can’t Light a Candle This Way, part 1 of 2

The acolyte was on the way to light the altar candles.

The acolyte came over and stopped by where I was standing and singing along with the congregation.

“Joe, look!”

I looked.

I saw.

The flame had gone out on The Candle Lighter Thing the acolyte was carrying.

“No problem! Matches right here,” I said, reaching to a shelf in the pulpit.

Grabbed the matchbook.

Flipped it open.

No matches.



Why would someone use up all  the matches and put the empty matchbook carefully back where it had been?

Even more importantly, why do we do that same thing with so much else in life?




Wouldn’t That Make God Smile?


I mis-read, or more accurately mis-guessed at, a word I couldn’t see.

We were in the middle of a worship service, praying A Covenant Prayer in The Wesleyan Tradition. There was a screen I was reading, but part of it was obscured by light fixture hanging down from the ceiling.

So it was that rather than reading “Let me be employed by thee, or laid aside for thee,” I heard my voice through the PA system pray these words: “Let me be enjoyed by thee” and I stopped speaking.

It was one of those Oops Moments.

Or was it?

Psalm 19:14 says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord.”

If we’re “pleasing in [God’s] sight,” wouldn’t that make God smile?

Either way, Yes or No, it’s an answer with implications.

Is what we’re saying and doing today pleasing God?

Blindness and Dementia and You and Me

Kenneth Carder. 

Cannot say enough good about him.

He’s a United Methodist Bishop whom I quoted in my doctoral dissertation.

We’ve since become online friends.

I’d love for you and me to be able to sit down with him in real life for coffee.

He recently wrote this of an event that happened while he was he was serving that weekend in a care facility, and it’s with his gracious permission that I share this with you — 

Worship at Bethany Sunday centered around John 9 and the story of the man who was born blind. The hymns included “Blessed Assurance,” “Amazing Grace,” Open My Eyes,” and “Be Thou My Vision.”

During our intercessory prayer time, I asked residents for prayer requests. A man who is blind and always sings the hymns with gusto, requested prayer for “those who aren’t blind but can’t see.”

He got it! Suddenly, the miracle was repeated in our midst!

A blind man with dementia opened our eyes!

— By the grace of God, may we live with eyes wide open today. May we see. May we understand. May we make a difference in and for the Kindom of Christ.

May we? Yes, we may.

Shall we? That’s up to us.

(and when I wrote “Kindom” three paragraphs above, it wasn’t a typo.)



There is nothing I can add to these nine things Thom Rainer has posted. Nothing.

He writes —

Another church closed. This church had unbelievable potential. Indeed, it had its own “glory days,” but only for a season. But, 10 years ago, few would have predicted this church’s closure. Today, it is but another statistic in the ecclesiastical graveyard.

I know. We don’t compromise doctrine. I know. We must never say we will change God’s Word.

But many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

— So here is his one of his nine suggestions —

We must become houses of prayer. Stated simply, we are doing too much in our own power. We are really busy, but we are not doing the business of God.

All Truth

Several asked about the singer in my blog here a couple of days this week and where I heard of him.

Quick, easy answer: I read about him in a sidebar piece in a catalog of “noteworthy goods,” as its cover says. (You get these things in the mail, too…where DO they get our contact info?!)

The two quotes I cited here on Wednesday and Friday came from there. Found their way to you through me because of their truths. Gotta admit I’ve been kinda busy this week and haven’t taken time to even check him out on youtube.

As I’ve mentioned before, somewhere along the way I was taught that “all truth is God’s truth.” Maybe it was a pastor, maybe it was a teacher, maybe it was a line from a song.

If you’re looking for something more scholarly on “all truth is God’s truth,” from a non-United Methodist Christian comes this:

Augustine, the greatest theologian of the first millennium, expresses it in several places. In his On Christian Doctrine, for example, he writes, “Nay, but let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master…” (II.18). The medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas developed the idea in more detail in his theological and philosophical works.

The idea, then, was obviously represented by the most important pre-Reformation theologians. But what about the Reformation itself? Was this idea rejected at that time? No.

John Calvin picked up where Augustine and Aquinas left off. In his commentary on Titus 1:12, for example, Calvin states: “All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just, we ought not to reject it; for it has come from God.” He expands on this idea in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator.

If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears (II.2.15, emphasis mine).

So is the statement “All truth is God’s truth” non-Reformed? Only if John Calvin is “non-Reformed.” Calvin was able to assert, “All truth is God’s truth,” while also asserting the doctrine of sola scriptura because the doctrine of sola scriptura does not say that all truths are found in the Bible.

The doctrine of sola scriptura, in a nutshell, asserts that Scripture is our sole source of normative, infallible apostolic revelation and that “all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible with enough clarity that the ordinary believer can find them there and understand.” 

The truths that are not found in the Bible (e.g. the date of your birth, the structure of protein molecules) are not necessary for salvation.  

If you’d like an even bigger heapin’ helpin’ from this same source:

See you back here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, be watching for more of God’s truth wherever you are, wherever you go.


These Ancestors

“I have these ancestors on my shoulders that I don’t want to disappoint,” says Gregory Porter.

(If you haven’t read my blog from two days ago and wonder who this Porter guy is, scroll down to Wednesday’s “Not on Nonsense” blog and come right back.)

(Good, you’re back!)

You and I have our own ancestors, too.

Some we know by name.

Some we haven’t met yet.

Most are in the crowd that Hebrews 12:1 tells us about, when it says traditionally that we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. The Message version of The Bible tells us they are all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on.

Couple that with Wednesday’s line from Gregory Porter, “I don’t want to blow my gift on nonsense,” and let’s get going.

Let’s not disappoint either our Lord or “these ancestors” in our great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on today.