Archive for December, 2011

Imprint Free Blue Box

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Uncategorized
 
Remember when we hit 3000 fans we’re going to do another Blue Box™ giveaway!! Blue Boxes are filled with free samples, offers, & information on the very latest products!

Make sure to spread the word!

When we hit 3000 fans, I’ll put up a form to be filled out to receive a box.

Julep, Julep, Where Are You?

Posted: December 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Lately Julep has really dropped the ball on their shipping practices. They have not been putting in postal codes. So that means very delayed mailings to their canadian customers. It’s been three weeks right now for one package from them.

 

I am not impressed.

This book is based on the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28 that states “to go and make disciples of all nations”. As Christians we are all charged with this commission, but how do we go about doing that in today’s world?

Rev. Ronnie Floyd tells readers that we need to think differently about being Christian. He tells us that God wants us to have an active faith, which is more than just going to church, paying our tithes.

Rev. Floyd tells us that in the world today we are living in a time of emergency. As our scripture tell us to be awake and aware as we do not know the time when our Lord will come, but we must be awak. Rev. Floyd points out that we have not been awake with our faith, instead God finds us asleep. There are millions of people who do not know of God, let alone out Scripture.

This book is not about sitting back and learning theory, instead it is about taking action. Rev. Floyd writes in an easy to understand manner. The book reads much like you are listening to a conversation. Within the chapters he alternates between using a story like method and adding some historical facts. The one thing that kept me coming back to this book to read another chapter was Rev. Floyd’s style of writing.

This is something we must do, we do not have a choice in this. Once we decide to follow Christ we are charged with helping others to come to Christ. The book is filled with personal story. The reader is able to see that Rev. Floyd has struggled with the Great Commission. Rev. Floyd doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, instead he lays out a plan of enacting the Great Commission within our own churches.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Message: PeaceP…

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Message: Peace

Peace: The strength to hold on.

 

Let Us Pray,

 

Dear God, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable onto you. Amen

         

I wanted to begin to today with telling you a story, a story that we might not understand.

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,'” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?'”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.'”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ’cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.”

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”[1]

We sing the familiar hymn lyrics:

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,

Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father, brothers all are we,

Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony.

But what would we have done in that situation? Facing danger, a threat? Are we able to walk with our brothers and sisters in perfect harmony? When we hear the story of a man who reached out such as Diaz, it is hard to understand. Why would someone risk their own safety?

If we go back to our scriptures we have other instances of people acting in unexpected ways. We have the history of people who are hard to understand. In our reading from Mark we are introduced to John the Baptist. It is hard to understand John the Baptist.

Close your eyes for a minute, picture the scene we are in the wilderness,  there is a locust and wild honey eating, wild-eyed prophet-of-doom wearing clothing made of camel’s hair and yelling out “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”. John spoke of the coming of the Lord, of judgement and of repentance and forgiveness. A wild-haired prophet, with a message for the masses. 

 

Compared to this reading from the Gospel of Mark, our first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, is clearly the preferable one to preach on. After all, the shepard gathering in the lambs provide one of the most beautiful and comforting images in the Bible, artists have painted this imagery for thousands of years, Christmas cards have been made with that image, the shepard and lamb together peacefully. It is a symbol rich in meaning that no one has to explain to us. Deep in our hearts, we already long for such peace and gentleness in the world that surrounds us.

 

It’s not just a pretty Christmas card picture, though. Isaiah promises a time when the world will be ruled by justice and righteousness, and the poor and the meek of the earth will get their due; in fact, all of life will be transformed so that peace will reign and there will be no more hurting, on God’s holy mountain and throughout all of God’s beautiful creation. Can we even imagine such a thing?

 

For Isaiah's people, our ancestors in faith, this hope rests in a ruler who will be a surprise, "a shoot from the stump of Jesse." Our reading from Isaiah tells us that “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.” Isaiah even the mountains tremble, God is just that powerful.

 

Isaiah addresses the situation of the people of Judah they are a people always remembering their past, the better times. They remember  David, the great king, who represented the glory days of Israel, the zenith of their power and prestige, the moment they most loved to recall and the way they loved to think of themselves, and the hope they held onto for their future. But all of this glory and security and success had been cut off, cut down, taken away. The great empire of Assyria, which had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, marched right to the gates of Jerusalem. The descendants of David’s glorious kingdom knew the bitterness of conquest and exile, of constant threat and war. Life was violent and unfair, the people were suffering, and they had to wonder if God had left them on their own. Can we see parts of ourselves echoed in people of Judah?

 

This area has seen harsh and difficult times. One just needs to drive down the number 11 highway to see the pain of this area, abandoned homes litter the sides of the highway. Playgrounds near vacant as the mills shut down, young families move away while they long to come back to the promised land of the Maritimes.

 

Now, the prophet Isaiah did see mighty Assyria, breathing down their necks, as God’s instrument against a faithless people, as punishment for their sins. Still, in the midst of this fear and judgment, Isaiah speaks a word of hope. No, the prophet says, God has not forgotten you. In this worst of situations, there will be an amazing turn of events: there is one who is to come, a great ruler who will have the Spirit of the Lord upon him, just like David did. He won’t rely on hearsay or appearances but he will have such a powerful spirit of wisdom and understanding that he will judge and rule in a way that all of creation will be transformed. Someone is coming, says Isaiah. Justice is coming. Deliverance is coming. Peace is coming. Hold on, he says, hold on to the dream of peace.

 

Another prophet strides onto the stage. John the Baptist this reading from Mark.  John the Baptist speaks to us about the nearness of God’s reign, and about the One who is to come. John says “Someone is coming. Get ready.” Isaiah, from Chapter 40, which begins, “‘Comfort, O comfort my people,’ says your God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins,'” and it continues with the line that Matthew quotes: “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'”

 

John preached repentance, as Jesus would, for the reign of God was at hand. But I find it significant that John is described as the one who brings good news, who calls us to prepare the way of the Lord. Someone is coming, he says, and what you do matters. Get rid of everything that’s blocking the way of the One who is to come. Get rid of greed and selfishness, of hostility and resentment, of doubt and despair. Reshape your lives and the life of your people so that the poor and those pushed to the margins are brought back into the life of the community. Strive for peace by working for justice. What you do, matters. There will be an accounting. 

 

John is recalling for the people the dream of peace that Isaiah promised, including the promise of One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord rests, Jesus, who will indeed judge in righteousness and wisdom, Jesus, the Prince of Peace. This is the season of Advent, and we too are waiting for the One who is to come. Not just waiting for Christmas to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, but waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of that beautiful dream of peace from so long ago. But what we have done will matter, and isn’t that a wonderful thing – to know that we can participate in God’s dream of peace for us? That we can repent, turn toward God and away from everything that keeps us from God, that keeps us from the peace and wisdom and righteousness of God? That we can radically re-orient our lives, clear a path, prepare the way of the Lord? That we can re-shape our lives and the life of this community, and we can reach out to the world beyond these walls, beyond our city, even beyond our nation, and speak, and live, words of peace?

 

You might say it in this way, in these days when shopping and materialism seem to have pushed the deeper meaning of this season right off our radar screen: our possessions, our toys, our stuff – worth a lot; our careers, our schedules, our agendas – really important; our power and place and security – very valuable; pushing all those things aside and making a way through the wilderness, a straight, clear path for God to come into our lives – priceless.

 

Whether we’re struggling with illness or addiction, financial setbacks or uncertainty or oppressive debt; whether we are unhappy in our work or our relationships, alienated from our family or friends, grieving a loss, or feeling broken inside; whether we are depressed or anxious, worried about our children, our partner or spouse, or our parents; whether we have suffered from violence or injustice, loneliness or despair, God is still speaking to us today, for God has not forgotten us or abandoned us – no, even now, the dream of peace is for us, too. It reminds me of Henri Nouwen saying that we are not loved by God because we are precious; we are precious because God loves us. And so, underneath the call to repent is a call to return home to the God who loves us and longs for that dream of peace to become our lived reality, not just as individuals but as all humankind, all God’s children, and all of God’s beloved and beautiful creation.

 

We believe that there is so much to be done in the days ahead, and even now. We believe that the ministry of this church is a blessing in this neighborhood and in this area; we have given ourselves to God’s mission; we proclaim and strive to live the Good News that we preach here. We invite all those who come through these doors to find a home here, and to build with us the dream of peace. But God is powerful and can do all things. God can work through us, even now.

 

For we ourselves are messengers, too, prophets, even, in the way we live our lives – in peace, in justice, in caring for the one another and for God’s good creation. God is still speaking, and we listen, and prepare the way for the One who is to come.

 

And let there be peace on earth

Dealing with the Darkness

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is a seasons of hard times. Combined financial stress and pressure with less sunlight. It makes for a dark situation.

Dealing with the Darkness.

Holiday Bliss

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Pictures showing Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of the Christmas Season

 

Holiday Bliss.

On Marines, equality, and my date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball (Part 1).

 

This showcases the real struggle out there.