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Advent Season Meditations

posted Nov 28, 2019, 8:39 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Nov 28, 2019, 8:45 AM ]

At the start of Advent in 2018, I started writing meditations, intending to do it for a full Christian year. Instead of writing articles for humans, I determined to address each meditation to God. I thought that might enlighten my personal prayer life and possibly turn into something I could publish in the next year.

A year later, I counted 71 written meditations, meaning that I spent about five days refining and living in the context of each one. The entire project was incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. I intend to revisit each meditation throughout the upcoming years and add some fresh ones.

I’m confident that God will use this project to bless others, so I published the Advent meditations on my site. Before the start of each subsequent season in the Christian calendar, I’ll post the reflections for that season.

I encourage you to follow along. As the calendar ticks through the year, you can join me in building this project into your spiritual life. Perhaps you will write some reflections of your own! Or you can choose titles from my Table of Contents and jump directly to them. Some of you will need fresh material to minister to someone, or to address your church or in some other setting. You now have 71 new meditations from which to find something relevant.

The way to start is to read Responsive Prayer Meditations. It tells what you need to know to take full advantage of the project, and it provides a link to access the “Advent season meditations.”

(Also, If you're a minister or worship leader and looking for Advent readings for public worship settings, please check out Advent Readings.)

Blessings, Tim

Politics and The Way of Jesus

posted Nov 3, 2019, 4:39 PM by Tim Isbell

A subset of conservative evangelical Christians believes God wants them to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions. Such far-right thinking is called dominionism.

  • Dominionists believe that the United States once was, and should again become a Christian nation. They deny the Enlightenment’s influence on the founding of American democracy. (The far-left denies the Christian influence on the founders.)
  • Dominionists generally do not respect other faiths or, sometimes, different versions of the Christian tradition. (The far-left typically rejects all organized religion.)
  • Dominionists believe the Ten Commandments and biblical law should be the foundation of American law and that the Constitution is a vehicle for implementing biblical principles. (The far-left considers themselves non-religious and guided by natural law.)

Religious right-wings are not new. In the gospels, Jesus grappled with the first-century religious right. They were called zealots. They believed God wanted them to make Israel great again by taking back its sovereignty as the Jewish nation governed by ancient Israelite Law. Simon-the-zealot was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Crowds around Jesus often pressed him to use his miraculous powers to break Rome’s control over Israel. The zealots called for a return of their nation’s sovereignty and had long expected that a Messiah would come to deliver it. Jesus knew that he was the Messiah, and he heard their calls. Instead of ushering in a theocratic state, Jesus went to the cross - and invited all people to follow him. In other words, Jesus understood and rejected dominionism.

So how does the Christian right-wing theologically justify dominionism? Check out Politics: The Way of Jesus.

Regards, Tim 

Where Nazarenes fit (a Christian Holiness tradition)

posted Sep 3, 2019, 2:07 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Sep 4, 2019, 11:48 AM ]

I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. Occasionally, someone asks where we fit among the Christian traditions. First, I ask if they are familiar with any church. If so, I start there.

Otherwise, I explain that we are a Holiness subgroup within Protestantism. Our sister traditions include Christian & Missionary Alliance (CMA), Church of God (Anderson), Free Methodist, Salvation Army, and Wesleyan Methodist.

If they want to go deeper, I explain the distinctives of the Christian Holiness tradition by walking them through Where Nazarenes Fit

Blessings, Tim

Is climate change an apocalyptic threat?

posted Jul 19, 2019, 8:02 AM by Tim Isbell

Here's the problem: We residents of wealthy nations now know that our use of fossil fuels to produce cheap energy has put the earth on an accelerating track toward destruction. This post is a summary of one Christian's view on climate change, its repercussions, and what we can do about it. You can read it at Climate Change - Apocalyptic? 

Blessings, Tim

Paschal Mystery

posted Jun 29, 2019, 4:25 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jul 2, 2019, 9:51 PM ]

All of us suffer interim deaths in our life, such as the death of our youth, the death of our dreams, the death of our wholeness, the death of our honeymoon, the death of our innocence, and others. 
Many of the most joyful people in the world have suffered these deaths. And many of the most discouraged people in the world have suffered these deaths. The difference is that the first group have embraced the Paschal Mystery. 

This post unpacks the mystery of how we can receive new life and a new spirit to go with the new life. Hope you'll take a few minutes to read the Paschal Mystery.

Blessings, Tim

Strategy for Living Through the Snares

posted Feb 28, 2019, 8:56 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 8:57 PM ]

I needed an epiphany this Epiphany Season - a fresh strategy for living as a Christian among the snares of the world. By snares, I mean living in a world of unbalanced wealth, where lies pass for alternative facts, where racism is rising, where dysfunctional and corrupt politics prevail, and where we’ve degraded “our common home” to the precipice. 

Fortunately, God provided that epiphany.  To read it, click on Living Through Snares.


Characteristics of God - Revised

posted Feb 4, 2019, 11:51 AM by Tim Isbell

I know, this sounds like a really odd title. 

You probably already know that God hasn't revised his core characteristics in, well, forever! 

But in 2018 God revised my understanding. A year ago I posted a webpage listing two categories of God's characteristics: Greatness and Goodness. Last year, God showed me a couple of new ones: Glory and Beauty.

So I decided to revise the original post. It's available at Characteristics of God.

Blessings, Tim 

The Romance

posted Jan 2, 2019, 8:44 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Jan 2, 2019, 8:47 AM ]

I counseled, taught, and preached about an intimate romance with God for many decades. Since 2010 I intended to write a single, concise article that makes this concept more widely accessible. Last fall, a friend's question prompted me to start gathering material for the writing project. But I got stuck on one last question. Then, just before Advent, another friend tipped me off about some material from Christian musician and writer. I bought it and was shocked when his insight resolved that final question. So I finished the article over the holidays and now offer it to you in the link below. The article took 35 years to write - but you can read it in 15 minutes. I wrote it to shave decades off of your journey to the romance. Here are the questions that frame the article:
  1. When did you start thinking about this romance concept?  
  2. What's the big deal about Christmas and Easter?  
  3. What is so valuable about humans that made God condescend so far?  
  4. How can we possibly respond to such a passionate heart as God's?  
  5. What roadmap can I offer others that will guide them into the romance?  
To read the whole article, just click on The Romance. --Blessings, Tim

Notes & comment on Tim Keller's "Unstoppable Church" talk

posted Sep 27, 2018, 7:16 AM by Tim Isbell

Timothy Keller is on my shortest "short list" of Christian thinkers, writers, and speakers. So when I heard he was coming to speak in Mountain View I immediately bought tickets. He spoke on September 6, 2018 in a lecture (his term) that occasionally strayed into preaching. Click on The Unstoppable Church for my description and brief comments on a snippet of his talk, and a link to my notes of the complete talk. The notes also contain the link to a Vimeo video of the talk. This web page is written primarily for serious Christians, Christian leaders, and ministers.  -- Blessings, Tim

Yogi Berra on Investing

posted Aug 11, 2018, 8:14 AM by Tim Isbell

Two of my hobbies are baseball and investing. So when Vanguard published an investment article based on seven Yogi-isms I was quick to read it. That intrigued me enough to write my own version. If you find it helpful, thank Yogi.   

For readers unfamiliar with Yogi Berra, here's his 1954 baseball card (from my collection). He was a great catcher who played for the New York Yankees during the years of Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Yep, I have their cards, too.   

Yogi remains famous for his baseball skills and priceless quotes. Without trying to be funny, head-shaking Yogi-isms just popped out - and the world continues to laugh at them. They're bigger than baseball! For investing wisdom from 7 Yogi-isms, click on Yogi Berra on Investing.

-- Tim Isbell

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