Sunday, February 27, 2011

seek ye first

Good morning friends,
Our passage from Isaiah reminds us of God's amazing love for us. God loves us even more than our own parents, and nothing can separate us from that love. Matthew reminds us that God cares even about our financial worries. So often that's what distracts us from God, and God knows that we have practical needs. We can trust God in everything, so seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, and everything else will work itself out.

God bless,

Sunday, 2/27

Isaiah 49:8-16a

8 Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I have answered you,
on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages;
9 saying to the prisoners, “Come out,”
to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
They shall feed along the ways,
on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;
10 they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
11 And I will turn all my mountains into a road,
and my highways shall be raised up.
12 Lo, these shall come from far away,
and lo, these from the north and from the west,
and these from the land of Syene.

13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the LORD has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.

14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;

Matthew 6:24-34

24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34”So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Saturday, February 26, 2011

privacy and greed

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Jesus talks today about fasting and devotion to God, as well as the dangers of possessions. Like with prayer and giving to those in need, fasting is meant to be between us and God. We don't fast so we can earn credit from other people for our self-control or dedication, but so we can grow closer to God through focusing on God. Of course, there are also times to share a fast with others; much of the fasting in the Bible is community fasting, and that's still appropriate today.

Jesus warns us not to store up treasure on earth, but to invest in God's kingdom instead. He goes from there to talk about the eye. This isn't a criticism of people with vision problems. According to the New Interpreters' Study Bible, people at that time though light went out from the eye to guide our behavior. In this case having a "bad eye" (here translated, unhealthy) probably meant being greedy. If we focus on letting God be our guide and master, our whole body and life will be full of light, but if we led possessions control us, we will be full of darkness.


Matthew 6:16-24

16“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Friday, February 25, 2011

praying like Jesus

Good morning brothers and sisters,
After telling the crowd who came out to hear him that they should not give or pray in a way that attracts human praise Jesus gives them another suggestion about prayer. He tells them not to simply pile up pretty phrases in their prayer; God doesn't grade based on length. Then he teaches them a prayer, which is in some ways a crucial model for prayer today. My partner and I were talking about this prayer in the ambulance on Monday. He was making the point that Jesus taught this prayer as a model, but not with the idea of having people just pray these words.

He was right too in his observation that some churches use the Lord's prayer so often that it is drained of meaning and actual prayer. A couple of years ago we did a study on this prayer during Lent as part of Supper and Scripture. The deeper examination helped many of us reclaim the meaning of Jesus teaching. The interesting irony is that when Jesus taught this prayer his point was simple, intimate prayer with God, and that is exactly what we lose if we simply mimic Jesus words. We need to pray about what's on our hearts. We don't need to be careful composers of prayer; we just need to thank God, to tell God what we need, to rest in God's presence. The door for prayer is always open, so keep on praying.

Blessings on your Friday,

Matthew 6:7-15
7“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. 14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

public and private

Good morning friends,
We're continuing with Jesus' sermon on the mount for the next few days. This passage is often close to my mind and is sometimes a barrier for us. Jesus warns his disciples against flashy religious practice. He tells them to keep their charity and prayer a private thing so they are really doing it for God and not so people will say, "Wow, look how faithful and spiritual so and so is." This is wonderful advice because there is a temptation sometimes to use faith to look good for others.

The trouble is that often we've taken this advice so much to heart that we lose the ability to share our faith with others. We hear these words and are empowered for lives of private faith but not for evangelism. When Jesus was ministering in the flesh being religious was normal and respected. Today that's not the case as much. If we have to make a mistake I'd rather we live our faith too publicly than too privately. The voice of loving, prayerful, welcoming Christian witness is too quiet in today's world. So do close your door and pray alone, just you and God, but don't be shy about letting people know that you've found something exciting in the love of Jesus.


Matthew 6:1-6

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Good morning friends,
Our reading today reveals a fascinating picture of worship. The worship Paul describes is highly participatory with leadership shared among the whole congregation. The congregation expects to hear God speaking through each of them in prophesy and praise. When God speaks to someone sitting in the pews, the person speaking at the moment should be quiet and allow that person the change to be heard. Let's allow ourselves to be challenged by this word as we think about worship.

As far as Paul's words here about women go, they really don't make any sense. Paul himself relied on female leaders and recognized at least one woman as an "apostle of the Lord" so it doesn't make any sense for him to say that women should be silent in church.

Blessings as you seek to hear and share God's voice,

1 Corinthians 14:26-39

26What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. 29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. 32And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, 33for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

(As in all the churches of the saints, 34women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?) 37Anyone who claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual powers, must acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord. 38Anyone who does not recognize this is not to be recognized. 39So, my friends, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; 40but all things should be done decently and in order.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

prophecy builds up

Good morning sisters and brothers,
I'd like to remind you of a workshop on visiting we're hosting at Laurelton (in the Peters Room downstairs) at 6pm. Feel free to email or call me with questions. This morning Paul continues his discussion of why tongues are a spiritual gift with limited use while prophecy, though less impressive, is more important for the church. The main idea is that no one else understands what the person is saying when they speak in tongues, so they can't be built up by it. He also turns to evangelism as a consideration for worship. Paul seems to contradict himself for a second here because first he says that tongues are a gift for unbelievers while prophecy is for believers, then he seems to say the opposite. I don't know what to make of this, and welcome your impression to help me out.

He moves on to say that if a visitor comes into worship and people are speaking in tongues the visitor will think the members of the church are crazy. On the other hand, if a visitor comes in and the church is prophesying that visitor will hear things that resonate with his or her heart. Many of us have had the impression sometime in our lives that part of a sermon or prayer or scripture passage is aimed right at us. I think that's similar to what Paul is thinking of here, though maybe more so. When the visitor feels the "thoughts of his heart disclosed" he or she will recognize that God is in that meeting and be built up in God's love.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 14:13-25

14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. 15What should I do then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also. 16Otherwise, if you say a blessing with the spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since the outsider does not know what you are saying? 17For you may give thanks well enough, but the other person is not built up. 18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you; 19nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults. 21In the law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people; yet even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord. 22Tongues, then, are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if all prophesy, an unbeliever or outsider who enters is reproved by all and called to account by all. 25After the secrets of the unbeliever’s heart are disclosed, that person will bow down before God and worship him, declaring, “God is really among you.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

speaking in tongues

Good morning sisters and brothers,
I'm sorry to send this so early, but I have an early start in the morning and had some free time this evening. I was listening to this passage during an afternoon run and struck by how strange and sensible Paul's words are. Paul is giving advice on worship here. He suggests that, while all the spiritual gifts pale in importance next to love, prophecy is the most important gift. By prophecy Paul seems to mean not only the extraordinary gift of understanding the future, but also understanding the present, people, and situations. The prophet sees how God is at work in the church and world, and by rational instruction builds up the church. That's why Paul values this gift so highly; it is a powerful example of being tapped into God's wisdom through the Holy Spirit. It is a gift we expect through prayer as we gather at the session table or in our annual meeting as well as a gift from long ago Bible stories.

In contrast, Paul talks about speaking in tongues. This is also a spiritual gift that Paul appreciates and practices, but he has some warnings to share about this gift. Speaking in tongues means not only speaking in other human languages without learning them (like at Pentecost) but also speaking a mysterious spiritual language unintelligible to most people. In some ways speaking in tongues seems like a direct connection between the Spirit within the worshiper and God that goes deeper than our conscious thought. Paul doesn't discount the spiritual value of this gift, he only worries that it doesn't build up the church, unless there is someone there who has a spiritual gift to interpret this language for the benefit of others. This seems very strange to those of us who have never experienced speaking in tongues (that includes me). But I have friends who have the gift of tongues and I trust their experience, even though I don't understand it. God works in different ways with each of us, but when it comes to worship one of the most important question is whether our experience of God is also useful for others.

Blessings on the new week,

1 Corinthians 14:1-13

Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy. 2For those who speak in a tongue do not speak to other people but to God; for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit. 3On the other hand, those who prophesy speak to other people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church. 5Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

6Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? 8And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10There are doubtless many different kinds of sounds in the world, and nothing is without sound. 11If then I do not know the meaning of a sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church. 13Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.

holiness and perfection

Good morning friends,
As we continue to keep our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Tunisia in prayer for peace, wisdom and freedom, we turn to God's calling to us. Today's reading from Leviticus calls us to be holy as God is holy. Holy means set apart for God and somehow like God. In this case we show that through how we live each day, in particular how we conduct ourselves with integrity and justice, especially for the vulnerable. The admonition to pay a worker each day especially calls to mind the often oppressive conditions under which many of our sisters and brothers, especially those without documentation, labor each day.

Jesus takes things a step further, calling us not only to holiness but to perfection. By perfection he means love without limit, boundary or fear. He means loving even those who hate and persecute us. He means loving when it is inconvenient, too expensive, dangerous and foolish. A calling like that can only come from a savior like Christ who loved us all the way to the cross and loves us even when we casually ignore his calling for us. Christ lived it and calls us to follow. It's a good thing we are not alone but go strengthened by the Spirit.

Blessings on this Lord's Day,

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

1The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

9When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.

11You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. 12And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD.

13You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. 14You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

15You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

17You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Matthew 5:38-48

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the way of love

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Yesterday Paul told us he would show us a more excellent way. Today's reading makes clear that that way is love. We usually hear this famous chapter at weddings, but it isn't talking specifically about romantic love. Instead Paul is talking about the love we are called to have for everyone (as Jesus reminds us, even for our enemies). This love is powerful and challenging; deep and unselfish. Spiritual gifts are important, as Paul told us in the last section, but none of our gifts is as important as being guided in everything we do by love.

He talks about how knowledge and prophecy are incomplete gifts that will someday come to an end. We know only in part; we see the future only dimly, though one day we will see God and everything else clearly. Love remains forever, leading us forward and outward into the world around us. Paul says when everything else passes away faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.

May your day and life be full of love,

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When 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. 12For 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. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the body of Christ

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Yesterday, Paul illustrated the diversity and unity of the church through the image of different members of the body working together to make the body function properly. Today he adds detail by talking about how the body we are together isn't just any body, but the body of our Lord Jesus. He also spells out some of the different ministries in the church. Not everyone has each gift, but together God gives us all the gifts we need. He hints that some gifts are more important and that we can strive for those gifts even as we develop the gifts God gives us naturally. Finally he concludes this thought with the idea that these gifts are important, but there is something even more important than our spiritual gifts. Tomorrow we'll hear what that "more excellent way" is.

Blessings as you use your gifts today,

1 Corinthians 12:27-31

27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

one body

Good morning friends,
Today's reading is a classic statement of our unity in Christ's body, which is the church. While each of us has different gifts, we are all part of the same body. Each piece is a blessing because of its uniqueness, and without all its different members the body would not be the same. Each of us is valuable and each of us needs the other members of the body. Those members whose contributions are less obvious are not less important. We all support each other with love; then the body can do amazing things together by God's one Spirit.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One Spirit

Good morning brothers and sisters (and Happy Birthday, Gary),
Today's reading reminds us that while Christian action in the world looks different for each of us, it all comes from the Holy Spirit. All of our gifts come from God. Without the Spirit we can't even acknowledge Jesus as Lord. The Spirit works in each of us, but we need to pay attention to the Spirit's leading. We're also called to recognize that others have different gifts from God. Working together, guided by the Spirit, we can do incredible things for God.

Blessings on your ministry today,

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. 3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Lord's Supper

Good morning brothers and sisters,

In yesterday's passage Paul reprimanded the Corinthian Christians for messing up the Lord's Supper by some not having enough and others eating and drinking too much. Following up on that he reminds them what the purpose of the Lord's Supper is. This first paragraph is what we know as the "words of institution." We hear them each time we serve communion. It does the same thing for us it did for the Corinthians: reminds us why we have come to the table so we really can proclaim Christ's death through our meal.

The second paragraph reminds us what a great gift this communion with the Lord is. We are called to examine ourselves first and to focus on Christ in the sacrament. When we examine ourselves we can see where we are falling short of our calling, ask forgiveness, and take a step forward as God's people. Then, together, we find nourishment at the Lord's table.

God bless,


1 Corinthians 11:23-34

23For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 30For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 33So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.

Monday, February 14, 2011

is this the Lord's Supper?

Good morning friends,
I'm fulfilling jury duty today, so we'll see what the week holds. It was interesting to think about that this weekend as we heard Jesus' words about reconciling with an opponent before coming to trial. Today's reading mentions that factions in the church are necessary to show which members of the church are genuine. He doesn't say any more about that, but it's a somewhat unsettling idea.

The more important part of the passage is Paul's discussion of the Lord's Supper. It seems that in Paul's day communion was more than a little bread and juice, but an actual meal. He criticizes the church in Corinth for allowing economic differences to divide the church. As Christians we are called to unity despite our differences. The Lord's Supper is a critical sign of our unity, but our unity goes beyond the table. We are called to build up the body so we can be faithful in ministry together.

Blessings on your week,

1 Corinthians 11:17-22

17Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. 19Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine.

20When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. 22What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

commitment and faithfulness

Good morning friends,
Our Deuteronomy passage comes near the end of this great book. Deuteronomy as a whole is a series of sermons Moses delivers on the border between the desert and the promised land. He has been leading Israel for many years and knows that he will not be with them as they make the transition into a land of their own. This passage boils his message down to the essentials: if the people are faithful to God, they will thrive in this new land. If they turn away from God they will find that even great blessing can be a curse.

Our passage from Matthew speaks of love and commitment going beyond the commandments. Being faithful to a spouse doesn't just mean not cheating, it also means keeping our mind faithful. Likewise, faithfulness to God requires deep and radical commitment.

God bless,

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

15See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. 16If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the LORD your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

17But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I 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, 20loving 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.

*Matthew 5:27-37

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

relationships and the Spirit

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Today's reading shows that while Jesus often got in trouble for "breaking" the commandments, he actually felt strongly about the commandments. In fact, for Jesus, faithfulness to God went further than following the commandments. True faithfulness means getting our inward thoughts as well as our actions in line with God's will. That's only possible if we work intentionally on our relationships with others and with God. We are called to create space in our lives for the Holy Spirit to shape us more into God's image. Open yourself to the Spirit today. You'll be amazed at what God can do in your heart over time.

God bless,

Matthew 5:21-26

21“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.

23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Friday, February 11, 2011

a symbol of authority

Good morning sisters and brothers,
This is my least favorite passage in 1 Corinthians. Passages like this made me distrust Paul for a long time and continue to keep many women from connecting with this apostle and with church tradition. The important thing to remember here and elsewhere is that Paul was a product of his time. He grew up in a culture that was convinced that women and men were not equal. The law of Moses didn't allow women to be witnesses in trials, and Greek philosophy understood men to be logical and women to be overly ruled by emotion. Paul's reading of scripture here is suspect as well. Going back to the creation story he says that men are created in God's image, but women are created in man's image. In fact women and men are both made in God's image.

Before we totally discount what Paul has to say here, notice that he does expect women to prophesy. Despite Paul's shortcomings, he knew that God spoke through women as well as men. He was simply trying to figure out how to help the church follow God in a challenging world. Like all of us, he had blind spots and imperfections, but he also has much to teach us.

Blessings as you keep faith today,

1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ.

4Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 7For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. 8Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

11Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

protecting the conscience

Good morning brothers and sisters,
This section of Paul's letter is about being Christian in a pagan society and in particular the relation of Christians to idols. It seems that a lot of the meat available in cities like Corinth at that time was offered to idols in some form before being sold. Paul tells his readers that they don't need to screen their meat or examine where it comes from because idols have no power and all good gifts come from God. They are also free to eat whatever a friend serves them for the same reason. But if their host tells them that the meat they are eating was sacrificed to idols, the Christian should decline to eat it. The reason is that they want to avoid the appearance of supporting idol worship.

Obviously, meat sacrificed to idols isn't a big deal for us today, but the principle is very important. The point is that Christians are free to do pretty much anything, but we are also called to protect the conscience of others and to reflect on how our actions represent our faith. That means often we might decide not to do something, not because it's bad, but because it risks giving someone the wrong impression. We're called to live peacefully with others and to do everything we can to show the world Christianity at its best. Our freedom is important, but our witness to God's love is even more important.
blessings as you bear witness today,

1 Corinthians 9:23-33

23“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 25Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” 27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.

28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Christ and idols

Good morning friends,
Today Paul discusses the danger of idols and our unity with Christ. He talks about how everyone who takes part in communion is joined together in one body with each other and with Jesus. Whatever differences we may have, we truly are one in the Lord, especially when we remember that we share the Lord's Supper. At the same time, a similar unity is part of other sacrifices too. That means Christians have no place in the temples and sacrifices of idols. We can only have one God. Christian faith isn't something added to whatever else we believe in; it is the center of who we are and it holds everything else together.
Blessings on your ministry today,

1 Corinthians 9:15-22

15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

18Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

flee from idols

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Today's reading continues Paul's thoughts on how all of Israel was part of God's people and God's calling, but not all of them kept the faith. Today he gives some specific examples of how our ancestors in the faith broke faith with God in the wilderness. The point is to warn us not to be complacent about our membership in the church of Christ, but instead to live our faith with commitment. There is joy in Christ's service; let us keep the faith.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 10:6-14

6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.

Monday, February 7, 2011

not just spectators

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Our last reading from 1 Corinthians ended with Paul saying "I have become all things to all people so that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel so that I might share in its blessings." Today he continues that thought by comparing the life of faith with being a competitive athlete. Like athletes, Christians need constant self-control and training to be successful in our quest to be faithful to God.

After this analogy, Paul describes the people of Israel going through the wilderness. He says they were "Baptized into Moses," referring to passing through the Red Sea. He also mentions that they all were "under the cloud." There he is referring to the cloud of smoke and pillar of fire that was the shape God's presence took during their journey. He also says they all ate the same spiritual food: manna, and drank the same spiritual drink: water from the rock. His point in this is to remind people that simply being part of the community (which for us is also marked by baptism in water and spiritual food and drink, communion) is not enough. We have to strive for righteousness and faithfulness to fulfill our calling. It is a calling full of blessings.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 9:24- 10:5

24Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. 26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.

10:1 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

radical sharing

Good morning friends,
Today we hear Isaiah calling Israel to repent, not with pious religious observances, but with practical sharing. We seek God by serving others radically. We also hear Jesus continue his sermon on the mount. Last week Jesus announced blessings on those who are poor in spirit, peacemakers, the meek, etc. Today he reminds his hearers that they are sent out into the world to share God's love with others. Our calling continues in the same way today.

God bless,

Isaiah 58:1-12

1Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. 2Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

3"Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. 4Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. 5Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? 6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. 11The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. 12Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.


Matthew 5:13-20

13"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. 14"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

setting aside our rights

Good afternoon friends,
Yesterday we saw Paul build a case for why he, as an apostle, has the right to be supported financially in his ministry. Today, he completes that thought by telling why he lays that right aside. He doesn't make use of his rights as a way to go above the calling God laid on him. We as a culture are so fixated on our rights, and they are important. If we had a bit more of Paul's spirit in terms of giving up our rights to serve others, our society would be more of a community and more healthy in many ways.

He also sets his rights aside to make the gospel free for all, so that more people can hear the gospel. Paul stresses that he reaches out to all kinds of people on their own terms, in language they can understand. To people steeped in Judaism, Paul speaks to them in the context of Jewish faith. To people from pagan backgrounds, Paul speaks about the gospel in ways they can understand too. That's our calling for today: reaching out to people with the good news of God's love in ways they can connect with. That means we have to know the people we seek to serve. Our calling is out of the church and in to the world around us, so we can bring hope and love to those in need.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 9:15-23

15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this so that they may be applied in my case. Indeed, I would rather die than that—no one will deprive me of my ground for boasting! 16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.

19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

Friday, February 4, 2011

freedom and responsibility, part 2

Good morning friends,
Our reading for today continues Paul's theme of giving up our rights sometimes for the sake of others. Yesterday he talked about how Christians are free from laws about food and, religiously speaking, have the right and freedom to eat food sacrificed to idols. The thing is for Christians what is most important isn't our rights, but how our behavior impacts others. So while we have the right to eat whatever we want, we are called to be mindful of others in our choices. For this reason, he warns that eating food sacrificed to idols might harm the faith of weaker believers who are used to idols and might get the wrong idea.

In today's reading Paul uses himself as an example because, as an apostle, he has the right to devote himself to the work of proclaiming the gospel without having to make a living besides that. In today's reading he spends a lot of energy explaining why he does have that right, tomorrow we'll see that he's making that case not to use his right but to show how he gives up that right to serve the community better. Service comes before self in the Christian family; responsibility has more weight than rights.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 9:1-14

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? 2If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7Who at any time pays the expenses for doing military service? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not get any of its milk?

8Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? 9For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we still more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is sacrificed on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

idols and knowledge

Good morning brothers and sisters,
Our section for today is full of quotes that scholars believe came from a letter to Paul from the Corinthian church. The issue discussed is whether it is OK for Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols or not. The letter to Paul seems to make the argument that since Christians know that idols aren't really gods it is fine to eat food sacrificed to them. Paul agrees in part, because he thinks it's true that strong Christians won't be hurt by eating food sacrificed to idols, since idols aren't real.

At the same time, he reminds them that not everyone in the church is so firm in their knowledge. In fact, many Christians are recent converts from idols, and though they now know that Jesus is Lord, they are still used to idols having power. If these newer Christians see strong Christians eating food sacrificed to an idol they might think that idolatry has a place in the church, which would risk leading them back to the idols they left behind. While idol worship isn't such an issue in the church today, the bigger principle is important. Christians are free in most things, but we are also called to think about the impact of our actions on others. When we think about how we will act we have to consider not just whether it is OK in itself, but also whether it might hurt someone else's faith. In all things we are called to seek love, which builds up the community.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3but anyone who loves God is known by him.

4Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

7It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8“Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

to marry or to remain single

Good morning sisters and brothers,
Here Paul continues his discussion of people who are unmarried for various reasons. First he considers men who are engaged. If they have their desires under control and want to remain unmarried, he sees this as a good choice. It's a good choice because it helps them to focus on ministry and discipleship. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to include discussion with the man's fiancee here, which is a pretty major oversight. He says basically the same thing about widows: they are free to remarry (a believer), but it may be easier to follow if they stay single. Overall, the theme is the same: marriage is not bad, but it can distract us. Of course, our relationships can also strengthen our discipleship, but only if we make that a priority.

God bless,

1 Corinthians 1:36-40

36If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well. 38So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

39A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. 40But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.