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The Limp of Jacob

Genesis 32:22-32, NRSV
John 16:20-22, NRSV
2 Corinthians 12:10, NRSV


If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A ‘perfect’ person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond imperfection. It becomes sort of obvious once you say it out loud. In fact, I would say that the demand for the perfect is the greatest enemy of the good. Perfection is a mathematical concept, goodness is a beautiful human concept that includes us all.

— Richard Rohr,
Falling Upward

  • Story of a nation
  • Story of transformation
  • Israel to understand their relationship with God, how Israel got its name
  • Struggling, wrestling, questioning with God
  • Be blessed and broken, so then to be blessings to others

  • Purpose of life is not to win, it’s not a game, but to love
  • We all need and long for deep blessings
  • There will be pain, but there will be rejoicing

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The Laugh of Sarah

Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7, NRSV


I know there are Christians, so called, who never crack a smile and who can’t abide a joke, and I suppose Presbyterians contribute their quota. But I don’t meet very many of them. The stereotype as such is a big lie created, presumably, by the devil. One of the delightful discoveries along the way of Christian discipleship is how much enjoyment there is, how much laughter you hear, how much sheer fun you find.

— Eugene H. Peterson
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

  • Laughter: Incongruity, Surprise

  • Cynical laugh at first
  • self-loathing
  • “Shall I have pleasure”
  • God is not shaming her for not admitting she laughed
  • Sarah’s laughter is devoiding anything wonderful
  • Laughter without wonder is bitter

  • Transform Laughter
  • Sarah is transformed
  • Genesis 21:6 – God’s lasting laughter – Grace

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Unintelligible Sunday Notes (9/13/15)

The Mark of Cain

Genesis 4:1-18, NRSV
1 John 3:11-18, NRSV


We either bear the marks of Christ in self-sacrificing love
Or we bear the mark of Cain in self-justifying narcissism
The marks of Christ are the wounds of healing love
The mark of Cain warns people to stay away
The marks of Christ bring reconciliation
The mark of Cain increases our isolation
I am my brother’s keeper
The end of narcissism is nihilism
A life centered on self leads to the incriminating mark of Cain
A life centered on Christ leads to giving yourself away
When a rich man helps a poor man two men are rescued
One from the black hole of poverty
The other from the black hole of self
What am I?
I am a child of God.
I am not an only child.
I am my brother’s keepers.

— Brian Zahnd

    • Power that comes from violence, physically and verbally
    • This is story of insidious violence
    • This is also story of pervasive grace

    • First time being introduced in Genesis
    • Sin
    • Shame
    • Evil
    • City, civilization

    • God calls out Cain’s feelings, shows understanding
    • Asks him questions, pursue him
    • But Cain didn’t respond to God well
    • Sin is lurking, crouching

    • God doesn’t do eye for an eye
    • Love your enemy whereas the world teach to hate your enemy

    • To Do:
    • It starts with us, taking up the cross and follow Jesus
    • To bear the mark of Jesus, not mark of Cain

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Creeds: The Essentials of Historic Christianity
God the Father

1 John 1:1-5, NRSV
Luke 15:11-24, NRSV


I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery.

— Brennan Manning

  • God create us to know Him
  • Pinnacle of creation is when God created us
  • For us to connect and have fellowship with God

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Psalms: Songs for All of Life

Psalm 146: 1-10, NRSV


The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least… Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.

— C.S. Lewis

  • Life is a craft for us to engage, not a list of tasks
  • Movement of going – from duty to delight, or obedience to delight
  • As we age and revisit Psalms, we find the Psalms age well
  • Looking back of our journey or from the past
  • Simple obedient at the start
  • Praise comes in the end
  • True worship can only come from praise
  • One person’s religion is based on what one’s to do in solitude
  • But also what to do in the interaction with the world

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Psalms: Songs for All of Life

Psalm 27: 1-6, NRSV


Confronted with the mystery of god, the creature must be silent; not merely for the sake of being silent, but for the sake of hearing. Only to the extent that it attains silence, can it attain to hearing. But, again, it must be silent not merely for the sake of hearing, but for that of obeying. For obedience is the purpose and goal of hearing.

— Karl Barth, hurch Dogmatics, II.2

  • What we long for VS What we live in
  • In the World, in Confidence, in Hope
  • The World we long for (v1)
  • Triumph, fearless, in stronghold of the Lord
  • The World we live in (v2 and 12)
  • the violence that breathe out challenges our worldview
  • The Confidence we long for (v5)
  • Hiding emotionally and physically in God
  • Feeling safe in God’s Rock
  • The Confidence we live in (v4)
  • Not just the knowledge of safety, but also the experience of safety in order to see the beauty of God
  • The Hope we long for
  • The hope we live in (v14)
  • Waiting
  • Beauty and pain and sadness can be all wrapped together

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Psalms: Songs for All of Life

Psalm 69: 1-16, NRSV


Until you bottom out, and come to the limits of your own fuel supply, there is no reason for you to switch to a higher octane of fuel. For that is what is happening! Why would you? You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as wanting.

— Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

  • What do we do with our pain?
  • We medicate – one more drink, one more shopping spree, one thing of something, anything
  • We numb
  • We can’t just rely one verses like “God will not give us more than we can handle”
  • We can’t just bypass being lament, or the process of it
  • Chuck DeGroat – Lament is the ancient art of crying our prayers
  • Pattern
  • Freedom of expressing our pain
  • We are either too good at putting on a facade (and isolate ourselves) or too exhausted of doing it
  • Posture of Lament
  • v13 – but my hope is in You
  • Lament is not same as complaining
  • It is in the presence of God, not seeking for quick fix
  • Journey of searching for God, v16-17, God’s steadfast love
  • Person of Lament
  • in this passage, he is David
  • in Gospel, he is Christ Jesus
  • God shares the pain of this world when He loses His Son, dying on the cross
  • Lament is not just between you and God, it is between community and God
  • By living in the city, we share the lament of the city

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Psalms: Songs for All of Life

Psalm 1, NRSV


Two commands direct us from the small-minded world of self-help to the large world of God’s help. First, “Come, behold the works of the Lord.” Take a long, scrutinizing look at what God is doing. This requires patient attentiveness and energetic concentration. Everybody else is noisier than God. The headlines and neon lights and amplifying systems of the world announce human works. But what of God’s works? They are unadvertised but also inescapable, if we simply look. They are everywhere. They are marvelous. But God has no public relations agency. He mounts no publicity campaign to get our attention. He simply invites us to look …

The second command is “Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still. Quit rushing through the streets long enough to become aware that there is more to life than your little self-help enterprises. When we are noisy and when we are hurried, we are incapable of intimacy—deep, complex, personal relationships. If God is the living center of redemption, it is essential that we be in touch with and responsive to that personal will. If God has a will for this world and we want to be in on it, we must be still long enough to find out what it is (for we certainly are not going to learn by watching the evening news). Baron von Hugel, who had a wise word on most subjects, always held out that “nothing was ever accomplished in a stampede.”

— Eugene Peterson, Earth and Altar

  • Reality of Life: doing the right thing or the wrong thing might not turn out the way it should be
  • Psalm 1 might be too simplistic of view of life, things in black and white
  • in what, or who, are you rooted?
  • Warning
  • Ignoring God is more problematic than breaking His laws
  • We become dehumanized when we root ourselves in things that hurt us
  • Practice
  • v2 – meditate day and light
  • We need God
  • God is available, it’s not hard to find, we just have to stop running away
  • God loves you
  • Promise
  • v3 – like tree, growing and producing fruits, big and small

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Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17, NRSV
John 3:1-17, NRSV


Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months — Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost — and when we rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean.

— Tom Wright, For All God’s Worth

  • Discovering God thru journey and pilgrimage
  • God is rescuing you, is leading you to new creation, is the Father, the Creator, the Indweller
  • Heaven and Earth are closer than we think
  • Church (temple) is not safe heaven from earth; it is where Heaven and Earth comes together
  • There were thoughts that God would lead Israelites another Exodus, out of Romans
  • The disciples were on the journey/pilgrimage themselves, leading all the way to Jesus’ resurrection
  • God begin change of the world is not the way people often think, e.g. military power with armies and tanks, but thru the weak, the meek, the broken-hearted, to help others of weak, building schools and hospitals
  • We cannot be just passage of journey/pilgrimage, we are to born again
  • Trinity is more than just dogma, more than intellectual theology
  • Romans 7-9 is really an Exodus story
  • Christian is to inherit the new creation on earth, not the Heaven
  • Flesh in the world comes to us and say, we owe them
  • Flesh is human nature
  • Flesh or spirit, slavery or freedom, our choice
  • Jesus’ Abba the father experience, prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, being torn over doubt and temptation

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The Story of God: All Will Be Well

Romans 8:28-39, NRSV


A good man may look down upon all the whole army of worldly afflictions under his feet and you may consider with joy, however great they are and however numerous, let them all join their forces together against him and put on their most rueful and dreadful habits, forms and appearances, and spend all their strength, vigor and violence with endeavors to do him any real hurt or mischief, and it is all in vain. He may triumph over them all knowing this: light afflictions, which are but for a moment, shall only work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and, that although sorrow continue for a night, yet joy cometh in the morning: remembering God’s promise that all things shall surely work together for his good.

— Jonathan Edwards in Christian Happiness

  • Context of this passage, Paul’s suffering (v35)
  • Promise
  • Bad things do happen, but God takes the bad and work it out for the good
  • Why can we trust God’s promise? v31-32
  • Definition of Good – more than just circumstances
  • v29: We become more like Jesus when we suffer
  • God doesn’t waste pain, it is for further transformation
  • Jesus suffer is not so that we don’t suffer
  • But when we suffer, we become more like Christ
  • Our calling, to be generous, to invite others to church for the good news
  • Guarantee
  • v31-39: I am loved, therefore I am

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