Tag: Scripture

12 Years Later – Remembering 9/11 and the Missing Towers

It is hard to believe that it has been 12 years since I woke up from my college dorm, walked out to see everyone glued to the television and watched the 9/11 attack live on television.  Months later, in an airplane landing in New Jersey’s Newark airport, I remember watching the plumes of smoke still rising and realized that this was something I would never forget.  It is not because my safety was shattered, or because our national ego needed avenging, but because people, loved by God and their family, were angrily and forcefully destroyed. Many suffered physically and today many are mourning fathers, mothers and children who were made into weapons.  For myself, I’m reminded that there will always be some form of conflict in the world and that some will try to enforce their own views by force.  I’ll be praying for those who consider me their enemy today.  We all have choices to make about how we live life.  We can live in anger and seek revenge, or we can look to God and see a way towards peace.  I’m praying that every person will get the opportunity to consider their actions, and choose not to destroy but rather, to build.  A scripture that comes to mind comes from Luke’s gospel:

Luke 1:78-79 NIV

 “because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

As the world expands and millions are added to our growing number of cities, war is becoming more catastrophic, more destructive, and displacing more each time it occurs.  I’m praying for all those who are in war zones today.  All the families, all the soldiers, and all the people who sent them there – may God give each person wisdom and the heart to make decisions that make the world a better place, rather than a smoldering, desolate black hole.  Let us seek peace.

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Notes on Christian Love (from a Discussion at Zeppelin’s Restaurant in Bluffton 3/14/13)

Christian-Love

Lunch with the Dan’s Conversation 3/14/13

Scripture: John 13:31-35

 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Main Idea: They will know we are Christians, when we Love Each Other

Not Worldly Love – Name a Romantic Movie?  Titanic most Romantic Movie (Not really love)

Christian Love is something different than base love (which when it comes down to it is merely Sex)

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN LOVE?

*(1) Christian Love is a Way of Life (Involves the Whole Person – involves All Commitment)

-Transformed heart, saved by God, loving and reaching out towards others  EX: Superman/Superheroes

Paradox of Christian Life without Love (Bright Darkness, False Truth)

*(2) Christian Love is marked by Obedience and Affection for God – it is a Command (Law)

-You must love each other as I loved you.  EX: Jesus not doing anything without the Father telling Him John 5:19

                                                                                                                                                (Trinity)

*(3) Christian Love is noble, and is a Decision that gives us purpose, meaning, and gives the same to others

-(Love is not a Feeling, it is a Decision)  EX: I Decide to Love my Wife, Husband

Scripture:  Galatians 5:22-25 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit,let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Challenge: When someone is hurting – Where is the Church? Where are the People of Jesus?

 LOVE OTHERS AS I HAVE LOVED YOU (Panama (GOV’T vs. Gnobe, AIDS crisis, Child Abuse Scandals)

When we live out Christian Love, we start looking Crazy – out of the NORM, God expects that of us!

Being Human: Meditation and the Art of Silence and Presence

The Sound of Silence by Samantha Muscaria

God’s presence can be found in sound of silence

Published: February 11, 2013

By DANIEL GRISWOLD — danielgriswold@gmail.com

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain Still remains
Within the sound of silence
— Simon and Garfunkel, “Sounds of Silence”

Many people struggle with silence. When it arrives, anxiety grips us, and the first instinct is to say something — anything. As long as something is being said, there is comfort. Often we fill the void with words that have no meaning. Introverts know silence as a good friend and find energy wrapped in the quietness. The pauses allow thought and the basic experience of existence. Quiet time is purposefully created to re-energize the soul and nourish the spirit.

I’ve struggled with silence all my life, especially when not allowing it is disrespectful. When I was a child, my mom played a quiet game, in which my brothers and sisters would always break with giggles. We tended to yell when we could not be quiet. Later, while in seminary in New England, I experienced a new kind of quiet. I studied with a rather large South Korean population at the school, and I noticed the frequency of pauses in the conversation. Being myself, I filled the gaps. I noticed this caused a conversational disturbance. It wasn’t until two years in that I read about a conversational trait I’d never considered. In some Asian cultures, a thought in conversations starts with a first part. A pause happens, as the speaker thinks through the second part, and the listeners may be respectful to continue to listen in silence. Soon, the most profound part of the conversations starts and completes. I had been cutting off the conversation by interrupting silence that was purposeful and planned.

My prayer life had been similarly disjointed because I had not realized how important meditative moments — being in the presence of our creator and listening. The monk Thomas Merton called it “darkness, which is beyond logic or reason”. The communication ceases to be words, and it is replaced by the presence of love. For me, prayers were always requests of God and conversations relaying my own thoughts. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 it says that we are like jars of clay and potentially full of the power of God, but I often was not refreshed or recharged because I didn’t push through our loud world, nor through the busyness of my loud heart, and God just wasn’t my priority. I was.

Now I find myself with my spiritual eyes open late at night. If I look around, I do not see anything. I am unable to speak because I would wake up my wife and our new dog. I open up my being to God’s presence and I listen to the silence. I remember Scriptures like Psalm 46:10a: “Be still and know that I am God.” I remember when Jesus himself was healing and preaching, surrounded by multitudes and yet the Gospel of Mark says he went to a quiet place to pray. If Jesus needed to recharge his spiritual batteries and seek the will of his father, so do I.

Whether it is silent listening, the art of speaking Scripture as prayers in Lectio Divina, or just quieting the soul in the midst of a loud culture, there is strength and refuge, peace and grace for all people who recognize God’s presence.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” — Psalm 46:11

Columnist Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church.

Follow him at twitter.com/dannonhill

Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/02/11/2376601/gods-presence-can-be-found-in.html#storylink=cpy

The Transfiguration: Sufjan Stevens and the Miracle

A while back I was asked to speak in a series on the amazing events of Jesus’s life, particularly the Transfiguration.  Since that talk, this song has really impacted me, and helped me feel the wonder of that moment.  It is five minutes, to make sure you have a moment, or come back to view later.  Here is the video, and below is my talk outline.  Enjoy:

God’s Glory: Jesus’ Transfiguration

by Daniel Griswold

Introduction: Cultural Points

*Spell of Transfiguration

In Harry Potter, it is a spell from which one thing is turned into something else bound by certain rules such as the rule that food cannot be made out of thin air.

*trans·fig·u·ra·tion 

n. A marked change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis.

-A change that glorifies or exalts.

-Bible The sudden emanation of radiance from the person of Jesus that occurred on a mountain.

-The Christian feast commemorating this event, observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, on August 19 in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches.

*From the Greek:

(metemorfw¿qh), meta, denoting change or transfer

*Kafka’s Metamorphosis

A book about a man who is radically transformed into a millipede and who is quickly hidden by his family in a small dark room due to the shame and fear of such a large insect in their home.

Basically, a Transfiguration is a drastic change from one state to another.

Why would something need to transform?

1) Protection (Insects change their shape to hide from enemies)

2) New Function (Software must transform in order to perform new tasks for industry, ex: DOS/Windows)

3) By mere accident (suddenly going bald – like myself)

4) To Reveal Something Unknown (Revealing one’s face from a cloak)

Scripture to Read:  Mark 9:1-9, Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36

From the Disciples Perspectives:

1) They went to pray on a mountain

(Moses: Exodus 12-13) (Elijah: 1 Kings 10:11)

2) Jesus transforms during prayer into a glowing white figure

denotes the promise of the return of Christ (Revelation 1:12-20)

3) Jesus is talking to two guys: Moses and Elijah, about Jesus’ coming death

4) They offer to build three tabernacles

(They were ready as warriors to usher in God’s kingdom right there)

5) A cloud overshadowed them and they entered it

(God’s Glory Cloud: Exodus 15-18)

6)  God’s voice comes from the cloud stating Jesus’ position as God’s Son and gives him authority.

Application:

Prayer – Beginnings of communication with God

Observation – Seeing What God is Doing

Respects – Offering what you can do to God

Response – Entering God’s Glory and Obeying what God tells us

 

What does Jesus’ Transformation do?

For the three Disciples – Gave them a glimpse into the future, where Christ is glorified and is the head of the eternal church, in beauty and in strength.  Though they wished the kingdom to come any moment, the whispers of a coming departure/exodus signaled that there was more work to be done, and it would be a great time of struggle.  The reality became the disciples becoming Apostles spreading the word of the Risen Christ after his death, and the message of hope and salvation was spread even to the point of martyrdom.

For Us – As we seek out God and observe this world, we see that things are not always the way we wish them to be, but it is from the Transfiguration, the moment of Hope and Beauty, that we can see a glimpse of what things will be like one day when we will live in the true City of God.  Until that day, we must respect God by offering our hands and hearts to His good work in this world that seems to have so much good, but yet so much wrong overwhelming it.   By obeying God, we can be in tune with His will and ensure that our lives are not part of a miniscule individual plan, but rather a Greater and Divinely conceived plan that encompasses all time beginning in the moments before Creation, up through the History of Israel from Abraham to the time of the Kings, to the Fall of Israel’s worldly kingdom, the eventual rise of Rome, the birth of Christ, and our current era which is marked by the work of the body of Christ.  Have previous generations stepped up?  Yes, some have.  But can we do better and give everything to our God?  Absolutely, Yes!

Song for Thought and Reapplication of Scripture:

Sufjan Stevens – Transfiguration from the Album “Swan Song”

 

Being Human: Break Out of the Mold – The Mass Cookie Cutter is “Scary” – Be Original

I was meandering the internets and noticed this clip from Conan Obrien’s late night show (Team Coco, as known on Facebook).  I watched this clip of television reports inanely repeating the same line over and over …and over…and over – ad infinitum.  Basically, there seems to be one writer somewhere who called the shot, and all the reporter does is read a script.  They all did try to put their own panache on the situation.  Inflections were slightly different, they laughed at different times…some left out the “Well” marker, but ultimately, the scene becomes scary as we realize that they’re basically actors/actresses – puppets singing someone else’s song.  Take a look and continue below:

My first gut reaction was the same as Conan’s – “Thats not even funny – that’s scary.”  He’s pointing out something that we really need to be wary of.  In Youth Ministry, I do source culture and have in the past used curriculums.  In fact, for my confirmation class, I have a curriculum from the United Methodist Church that is a guide as to what the church feels is important to pass on to our youth.  Someone wrote it up, placed games, pictures and activities in their.  They even made videos that we showed as discussion starters.  But when it came down to it, it was up to me to convey the passion of faith to our youth. I also had to convey that my individual relationship with  God is unique – not something that the church as pre-scripted for me.  I have the Bible as my guide, I have the church and tradition to remember and help in times of trouble, and the Holy Spirit is like a river flowing through my soul – but when it comes down to it, there is a path and a passion that God gives to me uniquely and I have to communicate that uniquely. If  I did not, the youth would know that I am a fake merely reading a script, and that is what they may do for the rest of their lives.  I can’t do that.

In your life whether a reporter or a pastor or a small business owner or an employee at McDonalds – you have a script that is all your own.  When you repeat others thoughts as your own, you become a robot.  If you agree with something, process it, think it through (deeply over time) and then articulate why it is meaningful to you and your community in your own words.  Don’t just “Scream for Ice Cream” infinitely into the void of ridiculous nothingness.  You are meaningful.  Mean what you say.  Know why you are doing what you do.

Thoughts on the Diversity of Baptism

This is a response to a friend of mine who posted this article by The Gospel Coalition on Baptism.  The article talks about baptists inability to accept membership of those who have not been immersed.  I feel that the argument, which boils down to, “Our conscience doesn’t permit it,” and seems to leave out the diversity of baptism forms in scriptures.  After spending three years in the Methodist church, and coming to terms with Infant Baptism, here is my quick thoughts from the scriptures and from early Christian sources (if you want citations post in comments).

This was my comment:

He’s being true to his conscience, and that’s cool, but this whole debate hurts the church imho. I’ve seen churches debate this, and it hurts those who make a profession of faith though have been infant baptized (and that has been special to them).

It seems to me that there are allowed through scripture different types of baptism:

(1) John the Baptist’s example in the Jordan River baptizing adults who repent to live a holy life. This is taken up by the disciples and Jesus tells us to baptize and teach in the Great Commission.

(2) In Acts three whole families were baptized together. Kind of a Covenantal view of grace where the whole household comes under God’s guidance.

(3) If we allow the early church fathers (only a few generations from Jesus and who were under persecution, so were not tolerant of strange new forms) condoned forms of baptism for places where there wasn’t much water. (ex. Sprinkling what water they had, or even using sand if there was no water).

To deny membership to someone who openly professes to be a follower of Christ and who shows it in their life through holy living – and bears fruit of holiness! It seems to me like the time when the disciples saw some people preaching the good news and they went to Jesus and Jesus did not see them as his enemy. In fact, they probably joined up with the same communities the disciples worked in later on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last three years, and I think that this narrowness hurts people who genuinely are seeking the community of Christ.

The Bible Offers Nourishment to the Soul

Bible offers nourishment to the soul

By DANIEL GRISWOLD
Published Monday, February 21, 2011

Growing up, I remember my parents telling me that it would be good for me to read my Bible.

My Bible had a soft blue cover and it appeared more worn than it should have — because all I did was bring it to church and then bring it back home. That ride in the car — in an elementary to middle school student’s hand — must have been torture on the pages. I’m pretty sure it was missing the last few pages of Revelations, as well.

I realized that my parents were happy when I read the book, and I was starting to hear more references to Scripture in Sunday school, so I decided to read something. My first choice, because my name is Daniel, was obviously Daniel. I read about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego more times than I can count. Finally, I now know how to pronounce the name Nebuchadnezzar — at least I think I can. But I never really wandered out of that book at that time because the Bible was so big. It intimidated me.

So like many people, I relied on the stories told by my Sunday school teacher to make up my biblical worldview. I knew about Jonah, Noah, Abraham, Joseph and a lot about Jesus and some about Paul and his letters. But the stories weren’t connected. I still didn’t have the big picture.

I was 15 years old when I first believed in Christ, and my whole world changed. In faith, I picked up the old tattered Bible and began to read stories outside of Daniel. The gospels were my starting point, and I moved into Paul’s letters.

To be honest, it wasn’t until college and seminary that I cracked the Old Testament beyond Genesis. I peeked here and there, but it was a world I did not understand until some professors took the time to explain that world to me.

Now I read Scripture like it’s a good piece of fresh bread. It fills me up and gives me energy for the rest of my day. Each time I read through a book, I see something new. My world changes as I understand God’s story in the past and how I am connected to this world that really isn’t so different from my own.

I see Abraham today in a man leading a family that is struggling to survive. I see Joshua on the battlefield leading troops and making a home for the people of the world. I see Isaiah in a woman on television speaking against our excesses and injustice. Like in the gospels, Jesus’ disciples currently surround us. And the spirit of Paul and the early church of Acts are in the people who care for the sick and help those who have fallen somehow, telling them the good news of the kingdom of God.

Great stories of people grappling with a holy God are wrapped in the Scriptures. You don’t have to go to seminary to learn to love them. Simply open the pages and begin to read. Add a quick link to Wikipedia and a study Bible from the bookstore, and you can learn to immerse yourself.

The exploration is much better than any fantasy or sci-fi book I have ever read. The suspense holds you as you hear the world cry out for a savior. God is and was in conversation with his people in the world. That conversation is an important one for us to own for our time and for ourselves.

Daniel Griswold is the director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter @dannonhill.