Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Course Starts November 2

Our online course, Google Jesus, begin here on Sunday, November 2. The first weekly assignment will post around 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. You'll visit some new web sites and hopefully gain a few new insights into Jesus of Nazareth. If you would like to also do a book assignment, just order Jesus and the Land by Charles Page by clicking this link. (Or let me know, and I'll help you get the book.)

We'll do one online and one book assignment each week for four weeks. I hope you can join in.

The Code Delivered by Gene

The Cowboy Code - Gene Autry

1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3. He must always tell the truth.
4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6. He must help people in distress.
7. He must be a good worker.
8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

For you cowboys and cowgirls that would like to visit Gene's site, just click here.

The Code Delivered by Moses

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 NIV)
And God spoke all these words:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


There was a priest, a minister, and a rabbi. To have a good chuckle, visit the post of biblical scholar, Ben Witherington, on October 16, called "An Unbearable Ministry." Check out some of Ben's other posts while you're there.


From the daily meditations of Frederick Buechner in Listening to Your Life:

"You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you've never seen before. A pair of somebody's old shoes can do it. Almost any movie made before the great sadness that came over the world after the Second World War, a horse cantering across a meadow, the high school basketball team running out onto the gym floor at the start of a game. You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention."

"They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go to next."

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Mystery Worshipper

The October 10th Wallstreet Journal ran a feature story headlined The Mystery Worshipper. "To try to keep their flocks," the article began, "churches are turning to undercover inspectors who note water stains, dull sermons and poor hospitality."

Retail stores and restaurants have long used mystery shoppers to provide feedback on their shopping/dining experience. But now secret shopper firms are expanding their market to include churches who want to find out what first time visitors think about their worship experience. Chris Sonksen of Real Church Solutions offers: "First-time guests, they don't come with mercy, they come with judgment. They're looking for a reason to leave."

The cost of a mystery worshipper can range from $150 for a one-time visit to between $1,500 and $2,500 for multiple visits and a detailed report. So what if we hired a "Mystery Worshipper" to check out Hillside? What categories of our worship experience would attract a critical eye? Let's consider a few categories:
  • Sermon
  • Music
  • Appearance of grounds
  • Website
  • Greeters
  • Friendliness of members
  • Cleanliness of restrooms
  • Classes for children/adults
What other categories would you add? And more importantly, what can all of us do to be more attuned to how we're perceived by first-time visitors!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Laurie and I are off on vacation for a week. I'll pick up the blogging when we get back. Mean time, check out some of the older posts. And feel free to leave a comment or two. See you here at revJohn on Monday, October 20. I want to tell you then about the "Mystery Worshipper."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hymns & Faith

If you like the old gospel hymns such as Anywhere With Jesus, O, Master Let Me Walk With Thee, and We're Marching to Zion but with arrangements that are fresh and contemporary, then you absolutely must check out Amy Grant's two CDs, Legacy and Rock of Ages. Grant's husband, Vince Gill, has added a modern Nashville touch that is terrific. The second of the two CDs at Amazon still allows you to preview the entire album. Take a listen.

Francis of Assisi

During our worship services the past few weeks that focused on Creation, we had occasion to experience the words of St. Francis of Assisi. If you would like to know more about Francis, send a peace card, read up on the blessing of animals, or check out St. Francis and ecology, go to this site.

And of course our friends at Wikipedia have a substantial article on St. Francis.

Finally, you may want to read his Canticle to the Sun (or Canticle of the Creatures) for a spiritual boost.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Let's get back to some of the characteristic speech patterns exhibited by Jesus. Scholars are confident that Jesus spoke Aramaic. Even though the New Testament is written in Greek, there are several examples of his Aramaic words scattered throughout the gospels. One such word is "Abba." In many older works, this word was explained as a term used by children that was an equivalent to our English word "Daddy." This is not correct, nor is it correct that the term was unique to Jesus. There are a number of instances of its use by other writers of the period. The word, which was not just for children, is a term of respect and is perhaps better translated as something like "dearest Father." The one instance of Abba in the gospels is found in Mark 14:36, but it is assumed as the Aramaic basis of the Greek word for "Father" that is frequently on the lips of Jesus. So another characteristic way of speaking for Jesus is to refer to God as Abba. A question to consider: How has Jesus' use of Abba shaped our understanding of God? How comfortable are you in thinking of God as Mother?

Google Jesus

Let me encourage you to join me for our first online course at Hillside - Google Jesus. Over the past few years, I've discovered a number of online resource that help us learn more about Jesus and his message. And I want to continue that learning with your help.

Here's how the course will work. Each week I'll post an online assignment with links to a few select sites. We'll check out what the site has to say, and there will be an opportunity to respond to one or more assignment questions. That way you can share your experience and also learn from others.

As an option, for those of you who have the time and like to read, I suggest securing an insightful paperback entitled Jesus and the Land by Charles Page II. For those choosing that option along with the online work, I will suggest a weekly reading program and few questions to ponder based on the book. Click on the link above to see the book at Amazon and place an order.

When we finish after four weeks, if anyone is interested, we will offer a chance to debrief our various learning experiences at Hillside and discuss any questions that have arisen that were not (or could not) be addressed online. Let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carnival XXXIV

The Biblical Studies Carnival XXXIV can be viewed at Doug Chaplin's MetaCatholic blog. A Carnival is a summary of major blogs entries in the area of biblical studies with links to the individual entries. The Carnival appears regularly at rotating blog sites and is a great way to find out what happening in the world of biblioblogging. Check it out.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Temple for Kansas City

On Saturday the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) announced the planned construction of a new Temple in the greater Kansas City area. The only other Temple in Missouri is located in St. Louis.

The location of the new Temple has not been made known by church officials. Upon completion of the Temple, but before it is dedicated, non-Mormons will be able to visit and be provided information on the different functions and ceremonies performed in the Temple.

Once dedicated, only Latter Day Saints in good standing may enter a Temple.