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Showing posts from April, 2009

The Demise of Religion in America?

Just in the last few weeks a couple of news outlets have published material on the demise of Religious Christianity in America. One was Michael Spencer’s “The coming evangelical collapse” published in the Christian Science Monitor, and the second was Jon Meacham’s “The End of Christian America” published in Newsweek. Meacham discusses the decline of Christianity in America in general while Spencer discusses what he believes is the soon and inevitable demise of Evangelicalism in particular. I think it important to make some distinctions in what each are saying, and to perhaps even "feel good" about the conclusions they are making. What each is saying is that American faith life-styles is going through serious revisions from the past. In the past, a vast majority of Americans identified as being "Christian" -- but we know from some fairly strong research/data that many people in our country identified with Christianity only from a cultural position; in other wor

Some things to Read

The time between Easter and Pentecost is from Spring to Summer here in Wisconsin. For me, it's a time for golf, yard work, and reading! The golf game is a life-long work in progress. Yesterday I watched The Masters with Linda and got caught up in the drama that was Phil and Tiger, as well as the three way playoff that Angel Cabrera won. I felt really bad for Kenny Perry who is one of the few pros who has come to Milwaukee to the Bank Championship. All that being said, it is the game of golf that I love. I haven't made my first round of the year, but Friday this week looks good! Yard work is also a life-long work in process...but I do enjoy the outside work. My job has too much desk time attached to it, so the chance to get outside and do the work of making the yard, garden, etc...look decent is a great diversion. With lots of outdoor times, the indoor times are less and less; but at least when I do, reading is a better time spent than t.v. I've got several books

Easter For Those Along the Way

Easter is a Joy-filled and mysterious event. The picture comes from Rembrandt's collections. He captures really well (even if Renaissance people play the parts) of the scene that first morning. And it was morning that it all began. Just imagine the women's and men's surprise that Sunday morning when the grave was empty and the angel of the Lord delivered the news to them that day. And, it was to women that they first appeared. It's amazing...God chose to use those who weren't even credible in a court of law... amazing - and like most Kingdom things - upside down! But, it is evening as I write this and I am thinking of the journey of Jesus to Emmaus that first day and the companion's along the way that he reveals himself to. Here's a story written on that journey. A Companion Along the Way: Easter Sunday on the Emmaus Road by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson The gleaming cloud tops and fragrant spring air would have invigorated most travelers leaving Jerusa

Holy Saturday - The Day In Between

The Scripture Readings for today are: Psalms 95, 88, 27; Job 19:21-27; Heb 4:1-16 & Rom 8:1-11 Read the passages today, they are full of hope. I love Job 19... 25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes--I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! [Job 19:25-27 (NIV)] Today is called "Holy Saturday" (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum ), the 'day of the entombed Christ,' is a day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. It is the Apostle's Creed which says "He descended unto the dead." It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. This day between Good Friday and Easter is the end of one world and time between the complete newness of covenant inaugurated by the Resu

Good Friday, The Last Station of the Cross

A Good Friday to each of you! We come to this day to celebrate, as well as remember. If you are like me, many of you will join with Christians in remembering Christ's death on the cross. This is the final station of the cross: The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb Scripture Reading: When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. Matthew 27: 57-60 They took the body of Jesus from the cross -- he had cried out, "It is finished" and gave up his spirit to death, and from the cross they took his body to its resting place. The huge stone over the tomb is the final sign of the permanence of death. In this final act of sur

13th Station of the Cross

Our Scripture Readings today are: Psalms 55, 74; Jer 17:5-10, 14-17; Phil. 4:1-13; & John 12:27-36 We come to this Wednesday of Holy Week and stand before the Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross Scripture Reading: "It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit'; and when he had said this he breathed his last." Luke 23: 44-46 The cross brings us face to face with Jesus' suffering. He was alone -- all his disciples were gone, and only his mother and three women along with John, the beloved disciple seemingly were present. His death was agonizing and humiliating. Normally a crucified man could last for several days on a cross; but the Jewish leaders wanted his death to occur before the beginning of Sabbath. It takes six hours, and he dies mid

12th Station of the Cross

Today's Scripture Readings are: Psalms 6, 94; Jer 15:10-21; Phil 3:15-21; and John 12:20-26 On this Tuesday we stop at the 12 Station of the Cross: Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple Scripture Reading: "Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home." John 19: 25-27 This event is amazing simply because it highlights Jesus' concern for his earthly mother, Mary, during a time of excruciating pain. At the cross of Jesus were four women who loved him. It would be natural for his mother to be present. What grief and pain must have pierced her heart as she watched her son die on the cross. Go back to Jesus' birth and his presentation in the t

11th Station of the Cross

Today's readings are: Psalms 51, 69:1-23; Jer 12:1-16, Phil 3:1-14, & John 12:9-19 This is Monday of Holy Week. Today we arrive at the 11th Station of the Cross where Jesus promises His Kingdom to one of the thieves next to him while hanging on the cross. Scripture Reading: "Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23: 39-43 The thief who selfishly sought his physical salvation stands in contrast to the thief who both understood his sin and guilt, as we

Lent - Day 40, Tenth Station of the Cross

Our Scripture Readings today are: Psalms 24, 29, 103; Zechariah 9:9-12 & Zechariah 2:9-13:9; and 1 Tim 6:12-16 and Matt 21:12-17 It is Palm Sunday and therefore the final day of Lent. Beginning today and continuing thru Saturday this is called "Holy Week", in commemoration of the events surrounding the death of Christ on the cross. It's fitting therefore that we come to this station of the cross as we begin this week. The Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified Scripture: "When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Luke 23: 33-34 On the cross Jesus is still serving mankind. Think about all that God is doing on the cross with his Son. 1700 years ago, Augustine wrote these words: "As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the

Lent - Day 39: 9th Station of the Cross

Our Readings for Today are: Psalms 137, 144, 42, 43; Jere 31:27-34; Rom 11:25-36; John 11:28-44 & 12:37-50 Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem Scripture Reading: "A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!' and to the hills, ‘Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?" Luke 23: 27-31 The day before Lent ends we come to this place where Jesus prophesies even as he suffers. Less than 40 years later Jerusalem would lay in ruins...the Romans sent an army of a million to destroy the city, the temple, and the Jewish

Lent - Day 38, Stations 7 & 8 of the Cross

The Scripture Readings for today are: Psalms 22, 141, 143; Jere 29:1, 4-13; Romans 1:13-24; John 11:1-27 & 12:1-10 The two stations of the cross that we are at are: Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross Scripture: "When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha ." John 19: 6, 15-17 And, the Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross Scripture: "They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was c

Lent - Day 36, Station of The Cross

Scripture Readings for today are: Psalms 119:145-176; 128, 129, 130; Jer. 25:30-38, Rom 10:14-21 and John 10:1-18 Today we stand at the Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns Scripture Reading: "Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly." John 19: 1-3 Probably nothing is more sobering than to meditate on the scourging of Jesus and the crown of thorns on his head. The humiliation of being mocked, beaten, and the cruelty of the physical pain is not easy to sit and meditate on. One person described the scourging like this: "Pilate hoped that by having Jesus' scourged the Jews who brought him to trial might be satisfied with this punishment and stop asking for his death. Scourging was the usual kind of punishment given for disturbing the pea