Friday, May 13, 2022

Scriptures to Live By


Scripture to Live By – Selected readings

Isaiah 55:8-11

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Hosea 6:6

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
    the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

1 John 4:7-12

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Galatians 5:6b

The only thing that counts is faith working through love.

Galatians 3:28

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:11

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.

James 3:17-18

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Acts 10:34-36

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ - he is Lord of all.

Mark 12:29-31

29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

John 13:34-35

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

On “Judgement”

Matthew 7:1-2

1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

Luke 6:37-38a

37 “Do not judge and you will not be judged; do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven; 38 give and it will be given to you.”

Romans 2:1

Therefore, you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Prayer for Creation - a Poem

 This past Sunday, May 8, 2022, a member of the congregation I serve preached on Creation Care and the EarthKeepers movement in the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. She asked me to pray early in the service and I assumed she wanted me to pray for Creation. I wrote this poem for that purpose. 


A Prayer for Creation - A Poem

Oh God, you who creates from overflowing love

Your Spirit swept across the waters –

was it an easy breeze or a category five hurricane?

When the lands were brought forth

was it a violent upwelling or a gentle push?

When you put your hands into the moist clay

to form adam and you breathed Spirit into us

 did you know what we would do

to the garden, to the earth, to your creation?


Do you see what we have done and do you cry?

Deforestation for marginal crops

Waters filled with all of our wastes

          We’ve burned the fossil fuels, remnants of your past creation,

now temperatures are rising on earth

and in our hearts as we fight each other

          We’ve sucked all the water out of the ground

Lakes, streams, rivers, reservoirs run dry

and we’ve torn up the earth for the minerals we adore

          The creatures that swim in your waters

                   that fly in your atmosphere

                   that crawl and creep and wiggle and slither on your good earth . . .

                             we have extinguished or are nearing extinction

As one singer once sang, we’ve paved paradise

          and put up parking lots and theme parks and office buildings

                   because we can and we are greedy and

                             we’ve misread your blessing of dominion


Forgive us! Help our unbelief and show us your way

          of living together in peace

                   of honoring all you have created

                             of working together to restore what we have destroyed.

          Open our eyes to see all we have done

                   unstop our ears to hear the cries of creation

          lift the veil that clouds our understanding

                   for your creation waits with eager longing

          Give us your heart of creating and loving and caring


Keep us ever faithful to you, O God

          Remind us of the covenant of the Rainbow

                   and the covenant of stewardship

                             and the covenant of the Cross

          May your Spirit once again blow across and renew creation

                   and breathe into our lives that we may renew

                             ourselves in your love


May your Spirit fall afresh upon us in the name

          of your Son, who lives with and within us

          the one who shows us your Way of Life

                   Jesus, the Resurrected and Living Christ. Amen and amen.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Believer's Baptism, Infant Baptism, or Both?

Infant baptism, believer's baptism, or both?

Theology talk and a long post ahead.

Today, a door to door evangelist came over. He was an open-carry kind of guy - openly carrying his Bible. 😉 I noticed a Gideon's Logo on the Bible. We happened to be outside when he came over and he approached me. He introduced himself as Gary and I introduced myself and told him I was the pastor of the church behind me. He asked me if I knew I was going to heaven or not when I died. I asked him if he knew how to bring heaven to earth as Jesus taught us to pray. ("Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.") He said something to the effect of taking Jesus to everyone so they will convert. Agreeing, I wished him a good day, hoping to send him on his way.

He then changed the subject and asked me if I did infant baptism, knowing how I would answer. (FYI, this is not the first time this entire scenario has happened in my life.) I, of course, said "Yes."

He then proceeded to ask me to show him in the Bible were infants were baptized. I mentioned Cornelius' family in Acts 10 (verses 47 & 48). He said there no babies were mentioned, that Paul said "How are people to believe if there is no one to teach them?" and that we can't teach babies the Gospel and therefore they can't be baptized. I mentioned that we are to raise our children up in faith, that baptism was God's gift, and the text doesn't say babies in the household weren't there. (Is that a double negative?)

I also mentioned that the vast majority of Christians for 2,000 years practice infant baptism. The church in the 100's and 200's was baptizing children and they would have received that tradition from the apostles. The Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, and 3 of the 4 branches of Reformation Protestantism (Lutherans, Calvanist, and Church of England) practice infant baptism. (The exception is the Anabaptist churches which became the Baptist churches (???), the Amish, the Mennonite, and the Church of the Brethren.)

I then wished him a good day and he, getting no where with me, said that we will have to disagree and walked off.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against "Believers Baptism". I was baptized in the Disciples of Christ denomination in 7th grade after confessing my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I became a Methodist in 1980 and fully embrace the Grace and Gift of God in baptism of all people, infants included. The service of baptism includes a covenant where parents, sponsors, and the church promise to raise the child in faith so that they in turn will take the baptismal convent on for themselves.

In 21 years of ministry, I have also done baptisms for teenagers and adults. So, in other words, I have done both.

I have many friends on Facebook who are clergy. They are mostly United Methodist and Lutherans. Some, however, are clergy in churches that espouse "Believers Baptism". I am anxious to hear from everyone about this experience. ✝️