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Bill and The Star and Them and Us

Several years ago I saw an older guy eating breakfast alone at a week-long national event. I asked if I could join him, told him my name. He smiled, looked around, said his name was Bill. We had a great week of breakfasts together, talking about anything and everything and sharing stories and generally carrying on together.

On the last day of the event I inadvertently learned he was Bishop William Grove…THE Bishop William Grove.

He has very recently given me his expressed permission to share with you here something he wrote within the context of last Sunday being Epiphany [if that word’s not familiar, jump back to my blog from Sunday, January 6th for details]—

Many people in the world live in daily fear of their government. That has not been the experience of Americans who through free elections, choose those who will govern them.

In nearly ninety years of life, I do not remember ever fearing our government. But I confess that I fear it now.

And it deeply saddens me that self styled Evangelical Christians form the strongest base of support for this government that frightens me.

In my understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, we are called to welcome the stranger, the refugee and the immigrant in the name of the One who said “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” [Matthew 25:35]

There is an insidious form of Christian heresy sweeping our land, supporting a dangerous government to protect white America. Never did we so need to watch for the Star.

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Two Questions for Both Speakers & Listeners

Here’s another gem from Ken Jeong‘s interview in the January 21, 2019 issue of Time magazine —

The interviewer asked about his upcoming Neflix special, noting that it “has a lot of sincere moments, especially about your wife Tran Ho’s facing breast cancer. Is stand-up a place where there’s room to get serious?”

He answered, “Yes. I wanted to do something very different from my old stand-up, which was joke-based. I wanted this to be real. That coincides with today’s stand-up comedy.

“Comics like Hannah Gadsby or Ali Wong exemplify how you can do deeply personal work in a stand-up format. It wasn’t like that 20 years ago.”

My 2 Questions for preachers and teachers/trainers/presenters and people who listen to us:

Do you agree with him about that change?

If so, how much of one’s own “deeply personal” material belongs in sermons,  lessons, etc.?

As always, get hold of me in any of our usual ways.

See you back here tomorrow.

A Question for Preachers

You might recognize Ken Jeong from Crazy Rich Asians. Before acting, he was an MD who became a stand-up comedian.

“I never have a set order, but I know where to add certain bits or improvise,” he says of his times on stage in the January 21, 2019 issue of Time magazine. “What I love about stand-up is that you can just roll with it like jazz and see where it takes you.”

I have a question for preachers: how’s that compare to the way you practice your craft?

Looking forward to hearing from you in any of our usual ways, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

You and The Nun

Anthony Lane, writing a review of The Nun

“What is happening in your soul?” she is asked.

“Nothing,” she replies.

— That’s in the January 14, 2019 issue of The New Yorker.

 

The early Methodists, and some still today —

“How is it with your soul?” they asked.

— That’s part of being in Covenant Group/Class Meeting/Prayer Band Meeting/Small Group/Life Group. The name changes, the significance remains.

 

Good questions.

What’s your answer today?

Why Bother with Bible Study?

“There’s so much else going on,” he said to me, “so many important issues and problems, I mean, really, why even bother with Bible Study?”

It was the beginning of an interesting conversation.

At some point I referenced some great lines by our old friend John Wesley. It’s my pleasure to actually quote them for you here, from the Preface to his book of Standard Sermons.

They speak for themselves —

I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air.

I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity!

I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore.

God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven.

He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book!

At any price, give me the book of God!

I have it: here is knowledge enough for me.

— I was wrong; I said that Mr. Wesley’s words “speak for themselves” when in fact they speak for me as well. 

You, too?

You Can’t Make Both

“You can make progress or you can make excuses,” writes Chris Hogan. “You can’t make both.”

Which are you making today?

Which do want to make this week?

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made, said an old friend of ours. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. (Philippians 3:12-14)

I think Chris Hogan and St. Paul would agree: “You can make progress or you can makes excuses. You can’t make both.”

Spend Your Life

“Spend your life living,” says my t-shirt from a recent youth ministry event.

No, that’s not true.

“Spend your life living,” says the New Testament in an obscure book, The Letter to the Breadarians.

No, that’s not true either.

“Spend your life living,” says the current ad campaign for an insurance company.

That is true.

Let me run that by you again: “Spend your life living,” says the current ad campaign for an insurance company.

An. Insurance. Company.

Shouldn’t that be something we not only say as part of The Body of Christ, but shouldn’t that be we exemplify?

I have come so that you may have life, more and better life than you ever imagined, says Jesus in John 10:10.

That is very true.

So Christian, “Spend your life living” today!