Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Five: The Essence of Discipleship

RevGalBlogPals is a blog I've started to read recently; online since 2005 its a "supportive community for women pastors and their friends, interdenominational, inter-generational, and international." They have a game called the Friday Five and I've decided to participate in it today, a first for me! Mary Beth posed this week’s question and I hope you will find my answers inspiring and timely. (Btw, there's a great picture of Paige Bradley's sculpture Expansion and a link to the amazing story of how she created it that you won't want to miss in Mary Beth's post.)

For today’s Friday Five, share five occasions or events in your life that have been turning points…when you have felt like a new thing was being born. You can refer to the birth of children, career, your kitchen garden, or whatever moves you.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Infinite Grace 7

In honor of Memorial Day this post is about grace, peace, and freedom using the sayings of Jesus and the writings of Martin Luther.

Jesus, the most free man to walk upon the earth, said, "If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8. 31b, 32). A born-again Christian, immigrant and loyal American, it didn't take me long, however, my eyes and ears no doubt honed by my unconventional, foreign and resident alien experiences, to notice a discrepancy in our national and evangelical rhetoric. We celebrated our rights and freedoms even while many around, me included, were in dreadful slavery to career, work, debt, besides struggling with false teaching, striving, disorders, and addictions, trivial and critical as we chased the elusive, ever-changing American dream; followers of Jesus Christ seemed to be quite caught up by the larger culture and entrapped in -isms (e.g. hedonism). I was pretty sure that Christian freedom was far superior to the freedoms that we celebrate several times a year as Americans: Independence Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day without denying or detracting from the importance of these. I believed (and continue to believe) followers of Jesus are free (and are being set free). What are the characteristics of this freedom? How is it a part of my daily human experience, I wondered and God in his marvelous way began to weave things together. In 2009, feeling led, I studied Galatians. Four years later, Casa Charis: A Daybook of Freedom is the resulting devotional I began to write, how Jesus leads us to freedom. I will post a sample from the book shortly. In the meantime, I share some words of the leader of the Protestant Reformation. Galatians is the epistle on which Martin Luther hung his justification by faith doctrine. This excerpt on Galatians 1.3 is about grace and peace, divine gifts. Grace frees us from human bondage and peace is also one of the hallmarks of a free life, a life in Christ.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Church and Celebrate are Synonymous Words!

Do you know the joyful sound - or the "festal shout" as Ethan the Ezrahite puts it in Psalm 89 NRSV - of God's covenant people?

On Sunday, I was in a 5-week Sunday school class, What is Worship? led by a Jesus movement leader John Fischer. This was the 4th class session. In earlier weeks, using the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman, John had led us in a discussion of the characteristics of worship and how true worship is 24/7 and happens anywhere. Now, he opened the class with a question: If we can worship Jesus anywhere, why do we come to church? Well, I'd just completed writing What is Church? the previous day. My hand shot up and I precociously rattled off my personal reasons for coming to church: 1) to be instructed (in sound doctrine), 2) to experience Christ (Jesus promised that he's present when 2 or 3 of us meet), 3) obey God's commandments (to honor the Sabbath), 4) get a taste (a preview of heavenly life), and 5) to build the body of Christ. Guess how John answered the question? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Interacting and Engaging with Irvine Pres Using Facebook Photos

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am no longer doing the social media for our church and so read this article with caution, keeping that in mind. It was written when I was temporarily handling Irvine Pres social media, late spring, early summer of 2013. Interaction can become time-consuming and not all people using social media are into it. Thanks.
Thank you for wanting to engage and interact as the Irvine Pres community using social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Some of you have been asking me how you can post updates, and share photos and videos. In this post I show how you can easily do these things including sharing photos/photo albums that you've already uploaded on your personal FB pages, of small groups, faith activities, and church events. A little bit of a recap for those who just joined us and may not yet have been to Irvine Pres. on Facebook. Here's what it looks like, right now: Direct url: http://facebook.com/IrvinePres.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What is Church?

Pentecost Sunday, a couple of thousand years ago, was the birthday of the Church. I thought it might be fun to explore what this means. Ive written about church before as what it means and does for me personally, inspiring Spiritual Patriotism and assuring God's Immanence. I now approach it from quite a different and academic angle. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed researching.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Infinite Grace 6

Not even out of bed this morning, I received two compliments, from my husband who was already up for the day!

Me: It is such a good thing I don't have to look at my face; even I wouldn't want to have anything to do with myself, looking the way I do.
He: Like Smokie, I want to cuddle only you. (Smokie is our pet cat who never fails to come and cuddle with me the minute I sit in my favorite chair.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mommy Time by Sarah Arthur, A Book Review + Author Q&A

Behind the catchy phrase of "Mommy Time" is a very simple idea: New moms are encouraged to take regular time for themselves and do something like have a manicure or lunch with a good friend. In Mommy Time, Sarah Arthur shows how new moms can find peace, joy, rest, and spend quiet time with Jesus in non-traditional and yet completely Christ-like ways by honing in on something they are already starting to do, namely motherhood.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Infinite Grace 5

May is National Short Story Month and I'm feeling led to write some flash fiction. Here's my first short story about a parent's hopes for the legacy she has left her child through his own name, and how God's grace touches even this, whether realized or not. It is a real rough draft and not very good as I haven't written short stories since I left college! Your feedback will help me make it stronger. Thanks.

The picture, btw, is a Hawaiian Hibiscus that's blooming in the Garden of Grace right now. Orange, a friend told me, is the color of joy and I am totally filled with joy!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

P's and Q's of Social Media Engagement

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am no longer doing the social media for our church and so read this article with caution, keeping that in mind. It was written when I was temporarily handling Irvine Pres social media, late spring, early summer of 2013. Interaction can become time-consuming and not all people using social media are into it. Thanks

Mind your p's and q's is an old axiom from a couple of different places. In printing it meant pay attention to details. It was also a phrase I heard growing up meaning "mind your behavior," and more specifically, "don't forget to say please and thank you." In The Ps & Qs of Social Media Engagement, I provide an introduction to social networks along with critical tips and resources for visioning and designing your own strategy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Twitter Etiquette

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am no longer doing the social media for our church and so read this article with caution, keeping that in mind. It was written when I was temporarily handling Irvine Pres social media, late spring, early summer of 2013. Interaction can become time-consuming and not all people using social media are into it. Thanks

Ann, @dbarkleys6 wanted to know about Twitter etiquette and posting photos. I've distilled from a number of resources and my own experience the following short list:

1) Articulate for yourself why you are on Twitter. I call this Tweet Vision. You don't have to share your vision fully but some parts of it will play out through your profile and your tweets (if you decide to share them and not just be a follower/listener-reader). Do you want to get informed, entertained, keep abreast of breaking news, or just want to give Twitter a try because you've heard so much about it? Do you want to tweet (share information) or listen (just follow and read others' tweets)? How often? About what?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Infnite Grace 4

GE Welder  - A Metaphor for Grace  
Dietrich Bonhoeffer eloquently and vividly highlights the relationship between grace and discipleship in his classic work, The Cost of Discipleship. Using many examples, Apostle Peter and Martin Luther included, he shows how grace is costly not just because of Jesus' death on the cross. Grace is costly for us, his followers too, and the cost is a life of discipleship: Daily obedience to the giving up of self-will and obedience to the will of Jesus Christ. Bonhoeffer wrote: