Category: Messages

Bargaining with God?

I once meant a woman on a flight in Australia who told me this story. She had a companion who was traveling with another woman. It was back in the days when full meals were served on domestic flights and real silverware was provided to eat the meals. At the conclusion of the meal one of the women said to the other: “Do you suppose they would mind if I took this silverware?” The second woman commented that she was sure that the airline would indeed care. But the other woman took the silverware, wrapped it in a napkin and carefully put it into her purse. In a little while the plane entered a thunderstorm area and there was considerable bumping and moving about, the plane going up and down – many of you know the feeling. A few minutes into the storm the woman with the silverware reached into her purse, put the silverware on the tray table and remarked, “Now I am right with God.” However, after a little while the plane left the storm area and broke into the clear with smooth flying once again. And at this point the woman quietly put the silverware back into her purse again.

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Old men dream


Last week I had my 69th birthday and, as usual, I had some interesting dreams the night before. In fact, I have always been a dreamer: my wife can attest to the variety and hilarity of them and always tries to find their deeper meaning, just as Freud could undoubtedly analyze my parental conflicts and sexual repressions. I have passed on this gift of dreaming to my daughter and other family members. The night before my birthday I dreamed I was back in PNG (I am often there) and that I was at a particular meeting house and that a orientation video was being shown. Only instead of sitting down watching it, we were outside of a rectangular room looking through louvered glass windows. But I had to leave the meeting and return to our house, and in doing so I had no shoes on and was walking through thick mud (mud and bad roads often come into my dreams) and a deep clear river near our house made it impossible for me to continue. So I retraced my steps and found myself inside the house, helping to clean it because the previous occupants had left it a mess. And so it goes: dreams of this sort are disconnected, bear some resemblance to what has happened in life, but are largely surreal and impossible.

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With our heart, mind, soul and strength

The text that I have been asked to consider first appears in Deuteronomy 6.5 where the people of Israel are told to remember that the LORD alone was their God and that they were to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.”  It is repeated by Jesus in three of the Gospels (Matt 22.37, Mk 12.30, Lk 10.27), with Mark and Luke adding “mind” as an additional component.  John, instead of repeating the commandment from Deuteronomy, adds what he calls is a new one—“Love one another in the same way that I have loved you, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (Jn 13.34-35)  It is new in the sense that they have had a mentor, an example, of this love of heart, mind, soul, and strength should take place.

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A story about trials and promises


Once upon a time there was a man who had a number of troubles and difficulties that happened to him.  But first remember that he had always been a healthy man and was somewhat indifferent about others who had problems and sickness.  “A lot of those things that people say are wrong with them are simply imaginations,” he would say–to himself of course–for he did not want others to know what he was thinking.  Or he might think, “If these people were being better, then bad things wouldn’t happen to them.”

Then one day he too became sick.  “This is not my imagination,” he thought, “for there are sores that have appeared on my body.  What have I done wrong to make this happen?”  He said this because he believed that when someone gets sick there must be some bad reason for it.

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A story about paying taxes


This is a story that is told in the Bible three times—by Matthew (22.15-22), Mark (12.13-17) and Luke (20.20-26).  Jesus had been teaching for a long time about leaders who pretend to love God and follow his commandments but are actually lying.  Some of these leaders were the Pharisees, a group who taught in the Jewish churches (the synagogues) and were very religious about following their own laws and those of the Old Testament.  They did not like Jesus because he was teaching about the Kingdom of God and how people could be a part of it.  The Pharisees were jealous of the power that Jesus had and how the people were following him.  Because of this they decided to try and trick Jesus into saying something wrong in his teaching with his disciples and the crowds.

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