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Sunday, December 11, 2022

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Sunday, November 6, 2022

Keeping the Sabbath: Listening to God's Plan  /  Matthew 1:18-24 


4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


Do we consider our labor and work good? Can we see God’s plans in our work?  Or is work something we muddle through until we can be entertained or numbed? 

Do we consider ourselves co-laborers with God? Or do I think that my salvation is my work? My identity? Am I working for me and me alone? 

Are we faithful to the plans of God in the rhythm of rest and work? Does my exhale give me time with God to know His plans and my inhale give me time to act upon it?  


From Sabbath, a quote from Friar Rolheiser: 
"We know God not just in our conscious awareness and in prayer, but also in a deep inchoate way, by participating with Him in building this world by growing things, building things, carving things, creating things, cleaning things, painting things, writing things, raising children, nursing bodies, teaching others, consoling others, humoring others struggling with others, and loving others work, like prayer, is a privileged way to get know God because when we work we are toiling in partnership with Him. (23)"  Sabbath:  When we practice ceasing in the way God intends, we touch the very ground of our being. We experience ourselves to be creatures in the presence of our Creator, beloved children who are cared for and loved as human beings rather than doing beings. To experience ourselves cherished for who we are while not achieving anything or doing anything to earn the air we breathe is a revelation each and every Sabbath. (23)"

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Keeping the Sabbath: Trusting God  /  Matthew 1:1-11 


Some signs of burn-out are: 
--A disinterest in the vital things of your life Does it feel overwhelming to work out, read your Bible, sit and be calm, to make a good meal, enjoy your work? 

--Taking on projects/assignments/activities only to quit part way through Do you add because of guilt and then quit because you are overwhelmed? 

--When a nap does not solve our problems and no amount of sleep makes you “feel” better.  The age old “I’m fine, I’m fine – nothing to see here I just need a vacation”. 

--Adding constantly instead of evaluating what you are doing and why in your life If your adage is “more is better” and less feels lacking, we may be covering up burn-out. 


Do I trust God with the direction of my life on a daily basis? 

Do I trust God’s plans? 

Do I trust God enough so that I can cease striving? 

Can I trust the movement of God in my life? 


Wayne Mueller is quoted by Ruth Haley Barton in her book on the Sabbath as illustrating the need for ceasing in nature (God’s other creation). He says this: 

"Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy. If certain plant species, for example do not live dormant in the winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring. If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die. If dormancy continues to be prevented, the entire species will die. A period of rest- in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce-is not a human psychological convenience; it is a spirited and biological necessity. A lack of dormancy produces confusion and erosion in the life force. (21)"

Sunday, September 4, 2022

"The Practice of Discernment: Commitment to God"  Ecclesiastes 5

"It you attempt to act and do for others or for the world without deepening your own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity to love, you will not have anything to give others.  You will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of your own obsessions, your aggressivity, your ambitions, your delusions and ends and means…"–Thomas Merton 


What does it mean to commit our entire lives to God? When we claim Jesus is Lord over all does that mean Lord over all of your life? Our money, our time, our relationships, our sexual identity and activities, our entertainment, our ministries, our spiritual gifts, etc. ?


What does it look like to have God direct your day? If you look at your day, how much of your commitments are because of God?  That is hard to answer, but dig deeper than the “what” and ask the “why”. Why do I do what I do? Is it because God has led me to those things? Am I over committed to the things of this world and then hope God fits in? 

What part of your life are you not committing to Jesus? God, you can have my heart, but not my money. You can have my dreams, but not my time. You can have my salvation, but please don’t direct my days. 


"Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong."


“Guard” is “keep” in Hebrew. It does not mean be defensive or watch, but shamar as an imperative means it is a command to keep.  “Go” as in “when you go to the house of God” (bait Ha’Mikdosh) is yalak which is a directional movement towards God. In other words, make it a priority to seek God in worship. Keep going back to worship and understand why you go to worship. Don’t just go to rattle off a list of needs or offer a sacrifice to get out of trouble or to check a box, but actually listen to what God has to say. This is important because shema “to hear” in Hebrew is not a passive thing.


That major teaching God tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy:  She-ma yisrael, (adonai eloheinu, adonai echad)

Hear O Israel. That “hear” is a command. 



Sunday, August 28, 2022

"The Practice of Discernment: When the World is Not As It Should Be"  Ecclesiastes 4

Viktor Frankl

Here is his quote that I love: 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”


Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: 

I saw the tears of the oppressed— 
    and they have no comforter; 
power was on the side of their oppressors— 
    and they have no comforter.


“Again”, in the Hebrew is “so I returned” - shuwb in Hebrew. I came back to the reality of the world. 


“Comforter” is a similar word to the word for Holy Spirit as ruah, but it is nacham which means breathe or comfort, but here it is a Pial participle meaning “one who is characterized by comfort” translated Comforter. 


Sunday, July 24, 2022

"The Family of God: Emotional Cut-off"   Galatians 5:13-26 

Systems Theory or Family Systems Theory

Dr. Murray Bowan -

Dr. Friedman -


Main focus of sermon:

Freedom in Christ is “to not be locked in to predetermined reactions or behaviors based on the world” 


Books mentioned for Bowen's System Theory:

"Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue" by Edwin H Friedman

"Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" by Peter Scazzero


Podcast - Ruth Haley Barton Transforming Life Center Season 16


(H)ow people manage their unresolved emotional issues with parents, siblings, and other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them. Emotional contact can be reduced by moving away from family and rarely going home, or it can be reduced by staying in physical contact with family but avoiding sensitive issues. Relationships may look “better” if people cutoff to manage them, but the problems are dormant, not resolved. 


“Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” (Barclay)


Sunday, July 10, 2022


"The Family of God: Family Emotional Process"      Galatians 3:1-14; 23-29

Systems Theory or Family Systems Theory

Dr. Murray Bowan -

Dr. Friedman -

Ruth Haley Barton and Steve Cuss on Systems Theory

Ruth Haley Barton quote from podcast - Season 16; Episode 6
“People are never really dealing with just the situation they are in currently in”. 


Verse 1
Foolish is anoétos which means “lack of understanding” not that someone is stupid, rather they are not reasoning the matter.

Then he used this rare word baskainó: to slander, hence by ext. to bewitch. This is the only time that word is used in the entire NT. 


Verses 6-7

"So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham." 

It is through pistis: faith that he was logizomai – credited with faithfulness and was justified dikaioó: shown to be righteous, declare righteous.

Verses 28-29

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. "

The Babylonian Talmud includes a morning blessing to be recited by every Jewish man, thanking God

for not creating him a gentile, a slave, or a woman (Menahoth 43b):

Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-loh asani goy,  

Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-loh asani emet, 
Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-loh asani ish-sha, 


Reflection Questions:

Where am I in the situation  - what’s going on inside of me 

What is happening with the other person  

What is going on between us  

What Am I bringing from my family of origin that are hindrances or assets?


Sunday, July 3, 2022

"The Family of God: Differentiation of Self" Galations 2:6-24

Systems Theory or Family Systems Theory

Dr. Murray Bowan -

Dr. Friedman -

Dr. Murray Bowen Quotes

"Individuals vary in their susceptibility to the ‘group think’ and groups vary in the amount of pressure they exert for their conformity”.  


“Well differentiated self recognizes the dependence upon others but can stay calm with out. In other words, we know how to depend on those around us without being co-dependent with one another.”  


Greek notes and verses:

For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. (Galatians 2:8) 

energeó: to be at work, to work, to do


“When Cephas (or Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11). 

anthistémi: to set against, i.e. withstand

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” 

(Galatians 2:19-21)


(Galatians 2:14)     orthopodeó: means to walk in accordance with God’s


Ending questions:

  1. Ask God to show us where we are in the situation 

  2. What is happening with the other person 

  3. What is going on between us 

  4. What happened before we showed up. 

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