Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church


Bible in 90: Conclusion — and a new (old) church home online!
August 30, 2012, 3:01 pm
Filed under: BibleIn90, PMUMC

Bend in the RoadIf you’re reading this post, then our official “The Bible in 90 Days” summer program has ended. Hopefully, your reading went better than my effort at blogging, since I didn’t even make it to the 1/3 mark here on the blog. Even if you haven’t made it to the New Jerusalem by today, it’s okay. Keep at it, and you’ll soon arrive. More importantly–what was the journey like?

My hope for all of this is that you have deepened your hunger and thirst for hearing from God through the Biblical witness. It can be a strange and confusing place (Daniel, anyone?) not to mention obscure and arcane, or mundane and boring. But through it all, God still speaks in Holy Spirit-whispers through a text which is not only ancient but surprisingly contemporary…not just inspired a long time ago, but still inspired when we come to it today…not just translated from Hebrew and Greek, but translated into each life that comes looking for God.

If we’ve learned a little bit, deepened a relationship or two, and depended on God more and more, then I’m a happy camper (and pastor!). If we’ve begun to see changes in our life–or in our families or workplaces–then I’m over the moon!

Whatever your experience or insight, please take a moment and send me (Pastor Josh) a note through the updated church webpage http://www.perritteumc.org — there’s a lot left to do there, but more and more church information, news, and resources will be present throughout the fall. I’m hoping this site will be an online hub for our church and community, along with the Facebook page, Twitter account, and other social media channels. I’ll take any feedback or help writing the content I can get! In the meantime, this site will go dormant, since there’ll be plenty of activity over there. We’ve got a great Fall ahead of us, and wonderful things will continue to be done by God–I couldn’t be more excited!

Grace and Peace,
Josh+



Falling Off the Wagon: Days 21-26 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 26, 2012, 7:22 pm
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags: ,

The Bible in 90 Days

1 Samuel 16:1-2 Kings 4:37 || Read the CEB online at Bible Gateway

Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and wasn’t completely devoted to the Lord like his father David. (1 Kings 11:6, CEB)

Wagon on the PrairieWell, it finally happened. I got to the point where I was feeling really good about blogging, and then I went out for a little family time and guess what? I didn’t write ahead of time…so no blog posts for nearly a week! And it’s really hard to go back and fix what’s already happened, re-create and rework, all the while watching yourself get further and further behind, or further away from where you need to be. If you’re feeling behind, I imagine you can empathize.

It’s actually not a bad case study in what’s been going on in our reading over the past few days. Saul, David, Solomon, and all the rest seem to start out strong, but somehow lose their way, and end up far away from what God wants and where Israel needs to be. Sin is like that — without constant vigilance, it can carry us far away from where we are, and nearly impossible to get back in time. And that cycle continues nearly unbroken throughout the reign of kings. The great solution proposed by Israel–to have a king just like the other nations–turns out to be just a different kind of unfaithfulness to God and Torah.

Though there are consequences — dire ones for Israel, as we will see shortly — even those results of unfaithfulness doesn’t put God’s people out of reach of grace and forgiveness. Things may not go back to normal, or the good old days…but they do continue on in a new way, with a new understanding of God’s salvation.

What figure in the monarchy of Israel do you idenify most with?
How do we break the cycle of sin and unfaithfulness?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and I’ll be back writing more in the morning!



Don’t forget where you came from: Day 20 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 20, 2012, 9:41 am
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags:

The Bible in 90 Days

Day 20: 1 Samuel 2:30-15:35 || Read the CEB online

“I’m a Benjaminite,” Saul responded, “from the smallest Israelite tribe, and my family is the littlest of the families in the tribe of Benjamin.” (1 Samuel 9:21 CEB)

Sometimes you hear about famous athletes who were born into modest or even poor families. Sometimes you hear how those athletes do extremely well, are wise with their money, do wonderful things for their community, & bring honor and provision to their family. Sometimes you hear how things don’t go that well. And sometimes you hear this phrase, in either case: “Don’t forget where you came from.”

It’s not a threat, not usually. Often, it’s a reminder to spread the wealth, that the community which helped you succeed is in need of your benevolence, that you can help others succeed also. But it’s also a reminder about the values that shaped your early years–generosity, benevolence, forgiveness, hard work, focusing on fundamentals, & the like. Don’t forget where you came from.

Saul is a big guy, a handsome guy, a strong guy. He knows what his social position is–low. Sadly, this doesn’t enable his noblest impulses for the most part. It gives him a chip on his shoulder. It makes him arrogant, not humble. He forgets where he came from.

What from your past is your greatest strength? Weakness?
What’s the difference between staying generous/humble or growing arrogant/selfish?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley in Haiti this week!



Wickedness and Faithfulness: Day 19 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 19, 2012, 5:07 pm
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags: , ,

The Bible in 90 Days

Day 19: Judges 15:13-1 Samuel 2:29 || Read the CEB online

“In those days there was no king in Israel; each person did what they thought to be right.” (Judges 21:25 CEB)

“Now Eli’s sons were despicable men who didn’t know the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12 CEB)

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The story of God’s people has reached one of the lowest points. Things are bad after Gideon; they get terrifyingly worse by the end of Judges; and the story of Samuel opens without a lot of hope in those who should be the most faithful to God. The story of Ruth is a brief interlude of hope, but it was likely written down later and for a different purpose than the trajectory begun in Deuteronomy, Joshua, & Judges and finished with Samuel & Kings.

On Sunday we’ll talk about the chief problem that arose after the Israelites entered the land, but for now, let’s think on the problem of our own sin & God’s faithfulness. Even when the means God established did not work as intended, there’s a plan B. The courage & unrelenting perseverance of Hannah mirrors the way other Biblical women faithfully bear fruit for God’s way, like Miriam, Deborah, & Mary who also praise God’s righteousness and justice in song.

Where is the Church now: at a low or high point?
Through whom has God worked out a plan B in your life?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley in Haiti this week!



Faltering Promise: Day 18 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 18, 2012, 12:08 pm
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags: ,

The Bible in 90 Days

Day 18: Judges 3:28-15:12 || Read the CEB online

“Gideon had seventy sons of his own because he had many wives. His secondary wife who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Gideon, Joash’s son, died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” (Judges 8:30-32)

There’s so much we could talk about in the book of Judges, but I’ve got to save some things for the sermon Sunday! Let’s focus on Gideon for just a moment. He’s a hero, right? Well, he shows some promise, certainly, at the beginning of the story. God uses him as a military and political leader to save the Israelites, just as God raises up other leaders throughout the cycles of judges we’re reading. But…he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, let’s be honest. He argues with God about how many men he needs to defend the Twelve Tribes. That should be our first clue. After his victory (in which his arrogance and pride manifests itself several times), he makes more mistakes.

Not only does Gideon (also named Jerubbaal) ask for a whole lot of money and marry many women (this doesn’t ever go well), he also leads the Israelites away from God’s intention by setting himself up as a priest. Right after his death, everyone stops worshipping God. And–although he declines to be named king–he names his son Abimelech, which means in Hebrew: “Son of the king.” Abimelech turns out to be pretty rotten too. So much promise from Gideon, and it went largely unfulfilled. This happens to many of our Biblical heroes–even David and Solomon.

What does it take to live your whole life faithfully?
Why do we forget about how potential heroes like Gideon fall away?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley as the head to Haiti early tomorrow morning!



Covenant Loyalty: Day 17 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 17, 2012, 7:01 am
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags: ,

The Bible in 90 Days

Day 17: Joshua 15:1-Judges 3:27 || Read the CEB online

One of the things that’s strange to our ears is the idea of covenant. Aside from the theological differences between a covenant and a contract, there was also a difference in purpose. In the Ancient Near East the Israelites inhabited, many covenants were in force. These were treaties between a high king or emperor (called the suzerain) and a lower king or noble (called a vassal). Such treaties consisted of about half a dozen specific pieces assembled in a specific way, like this:

Preamble: Identifies the parties involved in the treaty;
Prologue: Lists the deeds already performed by the Suzerain on behalf of the vassal;
Stipulations: Terms to be upheld by the vassal for the life of the treaty;
Provision for annual public reading: A copy of the treaty was to be read aloud annually in the vassal state for the purpose of renewal;
Divine witness to the treaty: These usually include the deities of both the Suzerain and the vassal;
Blessings if the stipulations of the treaty are upheld and curses if the stipulations are not upheld;
Sacrificial Meal: Both parties would share a meal to show their participation in the treaty.

Does this look like anything we’ve been reading? In fact, God used this form of a treaty, with which the Israelites would have been familiar, to help make their responsibilities & God’s promises recognizable. A brief example is found in the last chapter of Joshua, where people make an agreement (literally “cut a covenant”) with God … which Joshua is skeptical they can uphold … By pledging their loyalty (see Joshua’s famous statement in verse 15 about whom he will serve). It ends with some binding words & a strange action:

“The people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the LORD our God and will obey him.’ On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people and established just rule for them at Shechem. Joshua wrote these words in God’s Instruction scroll. Then he took a large stone and put it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, ‘This stone will serve here as a witness against us, because it has heard all the LORD’s words that he spoke to us. It will serve as a witness against you in case you aren’t true to your God.'” (Joshua 24:24-27 CEB)

Even the creation–represented by a rock and a tree–is deputized as witness. This wasn’t a perfunctory handshake agreement; this was a watershed moment tying Israel to God in the bonds of hesed: often translated as “lovingkindness,” but better understood as faithfulness in relationship to God. A kind of “treaty loyalty” or “covenant love.”

We’ll be talking about the blessings (and curses!) of such a covenant this morning in worship as we read Deuteronomy 30:15-20, & the significance of the choice between the two–I look forward to seeing you there!

What kinds of things does God want from us?
What do we expect of God?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,
and don’t forget to pray for Doug, Jared, & Haley as the head to Haiti early tomorrow morning!



Rahab: Day 16 of The Bible in 90 Days
June 16, 2012, 3:13 pm
Filed under: BibleIn90 | Tags:

The Bible in 90 Days

Day 16: Joshua 1:1-14:15 || Read the CEB online

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Following on from Moses’ farewell speech of Deuteronomy, the Israelites charge across the Jordan and make quick work of most of those who occupy the land they were promised to receive from God, Jericho most famously.

Not all died at the hands of the Israelites: some show providential benevolence towards these fierce nomads swarming out of the desert, such as Rahab. Now she’s not exactly practicing a profession upon which God looks kindly. Yet, perhaps because she occupies a marginal place in society, she offers hospitality to Israelite spies, shows allegiance to the LORD, & saves herself & her extended family from destruction.

Rahab’s story still surprises me: God makes no mention of her work as a prostitute at all, offers no command to change her ways, sets no condition upon her salvation. She even makes an appearance in the lineage of David which leads to Jesus, according to Matthew. There are many such stories in God’s family, of people who are distasteful, repulsive, or otherwise incredible to us…yet still a part of God’s mighty acts of salvation.

“Joshua let Rahab the prostitute live, her family, and everyone related to her. So her family still lives among Israel today, because she hid the spies whom Joshua had sent to scout out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25 CEB)

Have you witnessed God use surprising figures to advance his mission?

Are there conditions on those whom God will save?

Share your thoughts in the comments below,

and don’t forget to pray for our U.M. ARMY team coming home from West Monroe, Louisiana!




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