Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunday's Sermon "Grow in God"

1 Corinthians 3: 1 - 9

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

In the previous chapter, Paul has described the essence of a spiritually mature Christian. He contrasted that in this chapter by describing the saints at Corinth as “infants in Christ”. His message to these saints had been simple. It had to be simple because they were not ready to hear the message of Jesus about God’s Holy Community. Paul had told these people that in God’s Kingdom, God is open to all people equally and loves them equally without reservation. These saints, however, are so busy arguing about petty things and petty differences that they are not ready for the “meat” of the gospel. They were arguing about their differences.

For Paul, having differences in opinion was not a bad thing. But quarreling over differences was another thing altogether.

Far too often we seek to find differences in one others theology and try to determine who is right and who is wrong. Instead, we should marvel at the uniqueness of each person and celebrate our unity. In actuality, none of us has the complete picture of God or even the mission of God. We may only have a part of the picture as Paul said, “we see through a glass darkly” or perhaps not at all. So, let us hope that our relationship with God has matured over time. We hope our concept of divinity is not the same as when we were children.

When I was a child I understood God to be a kind of long bearded old man sitting on a throne above the clouds. He was a Santa Claus type of God. First of all, he was male and secondly, was available primarily to grant my wishes.

As I became a teenager, I saw God as a friend but still a God who was there to take special care of me and grant my wishes. That concept continued through my early adult years. It was a very naive concept.

Our concept of God is also dependent on cultural mores. Primitive peoples are constantly trying to placate an angry God.

As Charles Neff, a missionary to the orient, began to work evangelizing that people in the 60’s, he came to realize that the oriental culture has very little respect for a son. He had been trying to teach them about Jesus as the son of God. They were not impressed. Therefore Neff changed the directions of his sermons. He realized he had to emphasize God as the Father figure. The Father figure is very important in the oriental culture. Our concept of God also depends a lot on the circumstances of our lives. A person who had been abused by her/his father would not find a father figure of God to be adequate at all.

Christians through the ages have had to come to terms with a God who seemingly allows them to suffer losses, pain, and death just like everyone else. They are not immune from pain and death. Whether their dilemma is a result of their poor free-will choices, part of an incomprehensible divine plan or some kind of punishment, they really don’t know. While religious people can create any dreams they like, those dreams are pretty much confined to promises of some kind of an afterlife to make it all worthwhile after the fact ... in ways that are never exactly clear, nor even for certain.

To heal from loss and to come to terms with death, it's important for us to see worth and value in our lives ... in other words, to find meaning. And to fully live, that meaning and plan needs to be our own ... not some other entity’s plan.

For me, that meant finding a completely different concept of God. By this time of my life, I had lost my grandfather, grandmothers, father, mother, and stepfather. I decided there had to be something wrong with my theology. A good and loving God would not take my loved ones in such horrible ways. And a good and loving God would not take my father by allowing him to be dropped into a vat of hydrochloric acid. The God of my youth didn't seem "fair" to me. I'm sure people down through the ages felt that same way in similar circumstances. It's incomprehensible to us that a loving God would not interfere and prevent such a catastrophe. That's because we still hold a time worn image of God as "all powerful".

I encountered a theology that seemed to work for me when I found process theism. The process God is the God of love but is also a God who does not have unlimited power. This God has set up our universe with laws and rules and does not...actually cannot, break those same laws.

This concept of God recognizes that God is Spirit…not man. Over time, I came to feel that this Spirit of God resides within each person and encourages, even persuades, each person to do the things that will be not only good for themselves, but also good for others and the rest of God’s created world.

But we nowadays have another cultural phenomenon. Many of today’s citizens even here in the US understand the concept of God differently then we have traditionally. If we wish to reach the postmodern youth and many of the younger highly educated, we might have to use different metaphors to describe God than the ones we have traditionally used. Many folks today see God quite differently from a King who lives in a heaven in the sky. I might suggest that in order to reach these folks, we might instead have to use an imagery of a God who is “with us” and “within us” in all times.

If God is “with us” at all times, constantly leading and persuading us in the right direction, we learn to trust and listen to God’s still small voice. From past experiences, we have often learned that going our own way often leads to bad decisions and unhappiness. God’s persuasive ways more often lead to freedom.

But it becomes easier if we see God as less the focus of power and more the distributor of power. Such an understanding also helps us when things go awry in our lives. We no longer blame God for the bad things that happen to us. We become aware that God’s Holy Spirit is right there with us as we go through our battles..whatever those battles may be….encouraging us and helping us to heal. We realize that God’s Spirit will never forsake us. And that can bring us great comfort.

Some people feel they must believe in an afterlife and a punishment/rewards system in order to have personal peace. I am beginning to believe that we greatly underestimate people's abilities to find their own peace. Telling another person what we believe, even if it is different from what they believe, is not making a choice for them ... it is giving them a chance to know us and to know another option that works for us.

We should be able to be tolerant of different theologies. We should be able to find some value in even different religions. We need to be prepared to use our life experiences to grow in God and to remember, none of us has a monopoly on truth.

This problem was not exclusive to Paul’s congregations. Earlier the same problem was prevalent in Jesus day. His disciples had missed his message so completely that Jesus retooled it and boiled it down to two simple commandments: He taught them: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with your entire mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ~ Luke 10:29.

This was a theme to which Paul had to return so the Corinthians would get the point. In one of his most familiar passages 1 Corinthians 13, Paul continues: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (vs. 11-12).

Yet so many people today seem content to accept concepts from the past. Some, it appears, start growing but eventually regress, finding discipleship too demanding, too all-encompassing, too restrictive of what they feel is a more attractive lifestyle. We often reach a point of being satisfied with what we’ve got. We’re stuck and happy about it. Ignorance may be blissful but it’s also potentially dangerous.

It is the same choice those of us who say we follow Jesus as his disciples face today: Theology is not that important. The important thing is life choices.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. –Deuteronomy 30:19-20”

That was God’s call to “grow up” at that time and we are still being challenged to do just that! Grow in God.

Saturday Warming Up

Here's an amazing photo I never thought I would ever see. Missy hates Slinky and hisses and spits at him if he even comes near her.

It's warming up none too soon! It's supposed to be 44 degrees today.

I should go out to church and clean but I wonder if the snow will have melted enough for me to get out of the parking lot. I'll wait until afternoon before I go see. I will take my snow shovel and clean off the walks anyhow. Then clean the inside after that. Tomorrow it is to be 50 degrees.

I stayed up until 10:00 last night watching 20/20. I thought I might sleep better by staying up later. I awoke at 2:00 and lay there trying to get back to sleep for an hour. Finally, I got up and took a sleeping pill at 3:00. That was stupid because at 4:00, just like clockwork, Slinky needed to go out to go pee. I came up out of the fog and let him out and then after he had finished, I went back to bed. At 5:00, my regular arising time, he began barking for breakfast. So, I just got up. I am in a kind of fog now. Hopefully it will wear off because I need to go clean the church sometime today and also we have our Valentine banquet tonight at 6:00 in Independence.

Oh well...more later...

I went out to church and shoveled the walks and put ice melt on them. John was coming out to scrape the ice off the parking lot later. Then I cleaned the church. After that, I went to visit my sister in the nursing home.

Oh yes, my younger son asked me to ask all my friends to put him on their prayer lists. His name is Scott. He is struggling. Please pray for him.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finally Friday!

It's finally Friday and I am hoping the snow will begin to melt. It's only 5 degrees right now at 6:00AM but it was -21 yesterday morning so that's a vast improvement.

Our Valentine dinner is tomorrow evening in Independence and three of us plan to go together. My brother-in-law will drive and Phyllis F. and I will go along. Neither Phyllis F. or I are crazy about driving at night and especially up 10th Street road. It's treacherous! I hope it's clear by then.

I was going to get all comfy and watch TV last night. I got into the recliner and covered with a throw and about 7:00 my first program came on. I awoke at 8:30. Then I just went to bed. I awoke very early this morning at 3:00 something. I finally got back to sleep off and on but I figure I went to sleep way too early last night. I finally got up at 5:00, which is my regular time to get up. I fed Slinky and Missy and let Slinky out to go poo. He came right back in, needless to say. He didn't fool around out there long.

I hope to be able to hold church on Sunday. If the snow doesn't melt by then, maybe my son-in-law will come back with his tractor and scrape it again. I'll wait to see.

Monday, for the third time, I have an appointment with SER SCSEP the state senior employment group. Amie will meet me at the library here at 9:00AM. I think I will not qualify this year because they will use last year's income and Bob was alive through most of May and my income would not qualify then. I'll check it out though. Next year, if I can make it financially until then, I will qualify. Then Monday at 11:15, we will have the Red Dress "dinner with the doctor" at CRMC. Cyndi wants to go to that. Then Monday afternoon at 4:00, we will finally have the clinic board meeting in Independence. It's been postponed twice because of snow. It will be a busy day.

Tuesday is clear. No appointments.

I would like to have my hair done Wednesday morning. Wednesday at 11:15 I have IMA back in Independence and later that evening the PINCH meeting.

That's all I have scheduled for next week but I'm sure something will come up.

It's supposed to get up to 37 today, 44 tomorrow, 50 on Sunday and 52 on Monday. Then on Tuesday, it's supposed to be 58 degrees. Can I even begin to hope? I will actually be able to take Slinky for a walk.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Very Cold Thursday

This is my front yard with three feet of snow in it. When I got up at 4:45 this morning, it was -21 degrees out there...and this is southeast Kansas. I don't ever recall it being that cold. Tulsa, Oklahoma, 72 miles south of here broke their record for winter snowfall. The record had stood since 1923 -24. Bartlesville, 40 miles south of here, received 1 1/2 to 2 feet of snow yesterday. Good heavens! That is Oklahoma for Pete's sake.

My gas bill is going to be astronomical in March. That's when they bill February, of course. Lord only knows what March will be like...or even the remainder of February. I hope I can pay it.

Slinky decided he had to go pee this morning at 3:00 AM. I got up and let him out but then at 4:00, he decided it was time for breakfast and started barking. I finally came into the kitchen and bawled him out and that held him until 4:45, when I finally got up. But then I took my time getting him his breakfast. Darn dog! These animals are going to be the death of me yet!

Today I will stay in. It's just too cold to go out.

More later...

I see in the Health news that diet soda may be a cause of stroke and heart attack. I have never drunk diet soda and have almost given up drinking any soda at all since they make it with high fructose corn syrup now. I do not believe the pancreas can process high fructose corn syrup and much of it has also found to contain mercury which is toxic to the body. Princeton and Duke University studies say that anyhow. There is more and more evidence about how unhealthy high fructose corn syrup is. If the farm lobby weren't so powerful, the government would forbid it's use. Especially since obesity is a major concern of the president's wife.

There is also quite a bit of evidence that it causes diabetes because it causes insulin resistance. Since the pancreas can't process it, it is dumped directly into the blood stream.

I have written letters to the editor for years about this problem but nothing has happened. The farm lobby is just too strong. Corporate farms have too much power in Washington.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Snowy Wednesday

Oh my! I looked out this morning at 3:00 AM (when Missy the kitty woke me up) and sure enough, it had snowed again. It may still be snowing but it's too dark to tell at this time. It's only 6:00 AM now. It is forecast to continue snowing all day and we are to get 3 to 5 inches (if we're lucky). We may get more.

Slinky did not want out until nearly 5:00 but since that darn cat had woke me earlier, I had not been able to get back to sleep. So I will be tired today unless, for some miracle, I get a nap.

I'm glad I got to Wichita on Monday. I would not have been able to go today. I wore my contacts in both eyes yesterday for the first time. They worked fine and I really think I saw clearer.

I must do some cleaning today. I never did get it done yesterday. I did get my lingerie washed yesterday. Today I will do towels. I'll vacuum too later this morning.

It's good that I saw Phyllis yesterday because I could never get out to see her today. She has been much brighter this week. She actually talked a little. She made no sense but at least she didn't just sit there.

I have a lot to read. I have several books and several books on my Kindle too. Then I always have my laptop so I can check my e-mail and also post on my church's web board. That keeps me busy.

More later...

I got my house cleaned and the towels washed and dried. Now I am washing Slinky's beds. One is done and he is lounging on it. I just took it out of the dryer and he loves it!

The other is in the washer. I will soon put it in the dryer too and then both his beds will be clean.

More later...

When the snow stopped at noon, I waited until it got up to 14 degrees and then went out and cleaned the patio off and also my sidewalk. Then I made two tracks down my driveway until I got cold enough to come in and warm up.

While I was doing that, the man who cleaned my drive last week came by with his new snow blower and cleaned off the bulk of the drive by removing the top layer. He did it free of charge. Later I went out and cleaned the rest of it. An hour ago, the city came by and scraped the street and once again, they piled snow across my driveway. So a minute ago, I went back out and cleared that off and made my path to the mailbox again. The TV says we will have 60 degree weather next week. Needless to say, I am delighted. Bartlesville, our nearest small city (35,000) and shopping area received 1 1/2 to 2 feet today. That's a lot more then we received.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Before the Storm

This evening our latest storm is supposed to hit. I dread that. I am dug out right now and if we get a lot of snow, this time I will have to dig myself out. I simply cannot afford to spend $40 to have a couple of guys clear my drive.

I am so glad to have that doctor's appointment over with. The doctor wanted me to have the right eye done but he wanted me to pay for it out of my own money. Rich doctors just don't get it. When I told him I didn't have the money to do that, he must of thought I simply did not want to spend the money. He doesn't seem to realize I have $6,000 savings to last me the rest of my life and over one sixth of that goes each year to pay for taxes and insurances on my house and car. That's why I need to get a part time job. Dumb doctor!

I want to see if I can get a hair appointment today...before the storm hits. I hope I can get in.

Other then that, I have nothing more on my agenda today. Perhaps I can get my laundry done and my vacuuming done. I also need to run a wet swifter over my laminated floors. I have tracked snow and wetness onto it.

More later...

I did get in to get my hair done. She offered me 1:15. So I went to visit with Phyllis at the nursing home at 10:00. At 10:30, my beautician called me and asked me to come right away It was snowing in Independence. It wasn't snowing here in Coffeyville but I understood she wanted to get home before noon so I left and went on in. After she finished, I met my daughter and had lunch with her. Then I came on home. I have been just goofing off all afternoon. Slinky was in the garage and was delighted to get back into the kitchen. So because his bed is beside the utility area, I did not want to disturb him by doing the laundry. I couldn't get my dirty clothes anyhow. His bed is in the way and he is napping.

It still isn't snowing here but it is supposed to tonight and tomorrow and then warm up some and be sunshiny the rest of the week. I hope it will melt soon. I am so sick of snow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lull On Monday

I understand we will have a lull today before the next storm hits tomorrow and Wednesday. I will go to the market again today. I don't need too much but I do need some more yogurt. That's what I eat for supper. Last night, since I didn't have any, I just had a bowl of bran flakes. I have leftover Chinese for lunch today. I could use some raisin bread. I like toast out of raisin bread. I need some bath oil and some face wash....nothing more to eat. I have the oatmeal Slinky and I share for breakfast. I have some Schwan's TV dinners and even some soup left that Keith and Joyce brought me last week. I will toss the leftovers from a week ago Wednesday. I forgot them.

So I will get my running around done today. I want to go see Phyllis and Gerry too. Cyndi says we are to get 10 inches this time between Tuesday and Wednesday. I will probably have to re-schedule my eyelid doctor appointment in Wichita on Wednesday. Wichita is north and west of here so they should get even more bad weather. Maybe they have not filled my Monday canceled appointment and I could go today. I will call at 8:00 when their office opens and see.

Later...Ah Ha! I was able to get in to see the Wichita doctor. I called Bob A. and he can go with me. I will pick him up at 11:00. I have to go get gas and get my yogurt too. I'll see if I can get my face wash and bath oil at the dollar store. Slinky will have to go into the garage earlier then I thought. He'll have to deal with that.

Tonight there is some decent TV...thank goodness. I new show that some of you readers recommended is "Harry's Law". I saw it Saturday night on NBC and they have now moved it to Monday night so I'll watch it again tonight....if I can stay awake until 9:00. Antiques Roadshow and American Experience are on tonight too. Thank goodness for PBS. Unfortunately Harry's Law is on opposite the last hour of American Experience. I'll have to make a choice.

Yesterday at church, the woman who has the rare fatal and untreatable cancer of the blood... myleo..something or other...presided. She could barely do that. Her daughter helped her. She announced she was discontinuing her blood transfusions. They were all that were keeping her alive and now they are no longer working to give her strength. She was taking one each week. Then toward the end of the service she asked that we administer to her. Two elders took oil and anointed her head and then prayed for her. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. She said she would not be trying to make the effort anymore and would just stay home. I'll be surprised if she makes it through the month. She has lost about 30 pounds and is just a shadow of her former self. And she is white as a sheet. What a tragedy. She is only 65.

More later..

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Church on Sunday

I will go to church today. As I mentioned yesterday, my son-in-law cleared off the parking lot so there is no reason we can't go. The roads are clear too. I enjoy the fellowship and after church eight or ten of us go out to eat dinner together and seldom get home before 2:00. Sunday is one of my favorite days.

After I get home I do my newsletters and get them in the mailbox to go out tomorrow.

Then tonight I will watch the Superbowl. I am not a football fan but Bob and I always watched the Superbowl so I will watch it alone tonight.

I watched a new show one of you suggested. It was Harry's Law. It's supposed to be on Monday evenings at 9:00 here but for some reason, I caught it last night. It appears to be a good show. I enjoyed it. I hope I can stay awake long enough tomorrow evening to see it again. It stars Kathy Bates and she is a good actress.

When you are awake at 4:00 to let the dog out and up at 5:00, it's hard to stay awake after 8:00 in the evening.

It's supposed to snow again Tuesday and Wednesday. I have that doctor's appointment in Wichita on Wednesday. If we get snow, I will not go. I will cancel again and reschedule.

This has been the worst winter in my memory. Back in the 50's we had some bad winters but I don't believe it was anything like this winter. I never remember 17 inches of snow.

More later...

After church, I had lunch with eight other members at Hong Kong Delight. We had a good time. I was going to watch the Superbowl last night but I just couldn't get into it. I got my letters done early and turned it on. All that fraw de rah... Finally at 8:00, I just turned it off and I went to bed. I learned who won from the news this morning.