Archive for December 2017

Galatians 4:4-7

We think a lot about time as we transition from one year to the next. Was it a good year? Will I find more time to do the important things in the next? We are such busy people. Will God have room to enter into our fullness of time? I have a relative who is due to give birth in the in next month. Her pregnant shape gives added meaning to the fullness of time. When her time is full, the child will come. We each came into the fullness of our mother’s world. We each interrupted the normal. In the fullness of our own time, we will each exit this world. Unless the Lord returns before then. In the final getting up day, we shall all see the fullness of human history and its final transition to something new. Until then, we need to be mindful of the time that has been given to us to do thing of eternal value.

Jim Collins’ book, Built to Last: Successful habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business, 1994) speaks about how successful business leaders are “clock builders” as opposed to “time keepers.” That is, instead of merely trying to manage a situation, they set out to build a new reality. This new reality requires steady and selfless work. Flashy, manipulative, and creative individuals may achieve short-term success, and detail oriented, skillful managers may coach the maximum revenue out a lack luster situation, but neither brings about the systemic change that leaves an organization better than what it was before they came. 

Jesus birth into our world interrupts our fullness of time and introduces us to God’s plan. When we partner with what God is doing, we become spiritual clock builders. The spiral rule applies to our use of time as individuals. At every moment we can do what leads us inward (towards self-service) or what leads us outward (serving others). If we turn in, our use of time will lead us down into a dungeon of selfishness. If we turn out, our use of time will lead us higher and higher until we enter the fullness of God’s eternity.

You can go inward and down, or outward and upward
Christmastide
New Years Eve
Luke 1:26-38
Luke 2:1-14

It’s like something out of Star Wars or the Matrix. God (or the Force) hovers over a fourteen year old girl. She’s the one. Something evil has taken over the galaxy. Mary is our only hope. So the story is very old, and very new. Its familiarity makes us forget what lies at the core. The world is in the hands of powerful people (mostly old white men). The wealthy pass themselves lavish tax breaks. The Romans rule Palestine. The 1% deny children healthcare (CHIP program). As much as things change, they remain the same.

So what do we know?

  1. God is willing to enter into our world. Hope means looking for what God is doing and aligning yourself with it. There is no hope, unless we look for God and trust that He will come. We each will see God somewhere. Watch. Do what God is doing. Take His side.
  2. God has forsaken the powerful and chosen the insignificant to be his instruments. There was nothing less likely to succeed than a peasant girl from Nazareth. Who am I to doubt that God can use me?
  3. The fact that our world is so similar to the one we read of in the Bible does not mean that God’s rebellion has failed. It means that hope is as relevant now as it was then. Our parents may have lost hope. We must not.  

Oh, and like I say every week, choose to be compassionate.
 

Mary faces the same odds as Luke Skywalker
Advent 4
Christmas Eve

All Christians believe certain things. Jesus is Lord, for example. Lately I have felt a need to say that my "brand" of Christianity parts company with some (I'm not going to name, names) who are in the news. What makes me different boils down to seven basics:

  1. I believe in the centrality of Compassion. The only form of perfection that I strive to achieve in this life is perfection in love.
  2. I believe in the divine inspiration of Scripture This belief, however, is moderated by my respect for other world religions.
  3. I have a firm hope in Heaven. This doesn’t excuse me, however from working to make this world a better place.
  4. I love Jesus and a desire to live as his disciple.
  5. I am committed to making the most of this Present Moment and my inner circle of family and close friends.
  6. I accept my human limitations and expect to go through times of difficulty and Transition. This is what it means to be on a spiritual path.
  7. I plan to approach every day of my life with Curiosity and an openness to new Learning.

My books and my blog posts will always affirm the above.

     - Bill Kemp

Words to live by:

Compassion, Scripture, Heaven,  Jesus, Present Moment, Transition, and Curiousity

Put a pyramid on me when I’m gone
for my life has been,
at best, 
pointless
and the other monuments
lack hubris.
Or better,
choose a marble 
Rubik cube
for many found me
a problem to be solved.
Or best,
a wheel within a wheel,
not for Ezekiel,
but the windmills
of my mind.*


*Borrowed line from song title by Alan and Marilyn Bergman “The Windmills of Your Mind”

Local cemetery
copyright Bill Kemp, 2017
Subjects: 
Life memorials
Isaiah 61:1-11
Luke 4:16-21

Today is a day of reversals. Those on top are tumbling. Take that, Mr.Harvey Weinstein. And yet still, the rich get richer and no one speaks for the poor in the halls of government. But, Jesus spoke for them. When asked to give the sermon in Capernaum, he took for his text the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He put his finger on this passage and read:

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed…” (Isaiah 61:1). 

Jesus also echoes much of Isaiah’s “good news” in his day to day teaching. As he walks among common folk he says:
Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied…
And,
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
        - Luke 6:20, 21, and Matthew 5:4-5

We should look at what is happening in today’s news and rejoice. Those without a voice are now speaking up and saying, “Me too!”

A line from Isaiah gives me hope: “For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them [the poor, the abused, the meek] their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them (Isaiah 61:8).

This is the shocking statement of Advent: The Lord God cares about Justice.

Jesus in the bread line
Advent 3

Out of a leave it to Beaver dream
my half-sized self
holding mom’s hand
through a vast airport 
to see father off
in 1960s style
waving at the gate
while propellors rotate
I remember the
graceful turning
three tailed constellation.

I AM DISTURBED,
by the cat
walking on ribs
nosing at cheek
staring into my eye
to see if I am in.

But, where I am
is with mom,
having flown to take
her hand.
And returned
through cramped Midway
and the TSA.

I will not be in
until I remember
when our relationship
got reversed.
 

TWA Constellation for business travelers like my father
copyright Bill Kemp, 2017
Subjects: 
remembrance, awakening, parent-care
Isaiah 40:1-11
Mark 1:1-8

Sometimes we are sent out into the wilderness to learn things. It wasn’t until the people under Moses in the Exodus reached the middle of the Sinai dessert that God taught them the ten commandments. Jesus went out into the wilderness to prepare for the active portion of his ministry. He also sought out mountain retreats and desolate spaces on a regular basis, so that he might be ready to learn, to pray, and to  renew his commitment to God’s will. The crowds that Jesus would teach, had to first go into the wilderness and there, be taught by John the Baptist. We, yes each of us, are sent out into the wilderness to learn things.

There’s a bit of new age (popular) philosophy that runs, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” The biblical version of this is, “When you get yourself to the wilderness and have nothing, then God will send someone to teach you.” Sometimes we are sent to the wilderness by trauma, loss, or grief. Sometimes we intentionally have to choose time away, just as Jesus often did. We are too busy to be taught. We don’t have time for spiritual things. When a disruption comes, an accident, an illness, a loss of the ability to go-go-go; then we stamp our feet and pray “Lord, get me out of this wilderness.” If God answers our prayer, it is our loss. We will never learn.

If you are in the wilderness, take hope. If you are in the busy place, be ready.

see also wilderness voice
 

Giovanni Bellini 1459  - not just the garden, but many wilderness prayers
Advent 2
Deal for:: 

Fixing Church 7.0

 

 

Seven week study covers the basics of Church -- things that are good both for our congregation and for our own soul. These topics include:

  • Where to begin
  • How to become more Spiritually Passionate
  • Being more Compassionate (mission oriented)
  • Becoming a better Fellowship
  • Improving Worship
  • Raising Biblical Literacy
  • Rediscovering the Soul

Fixing Church is an appropriate study for Lent, because it provides insight into why Jesus was so passionate about his Church. He died, not just for our individual soul, but also for the fellowships that would meet in his name. This study has seven sessions, so you will want to start the week before Lent begins, to reserve Holy Week for the Passion narrative.

Free E-book/Kindle copy  -> ( Click Here )

Print available through AMAZON

Email Bill for multi copy discounts: contact@billkemp.info

Promo Starts: 
Thursday, December 28, 2017
70 page print
Promo Runs Until: 
Until Ash Wednesday, 2/14/2018

Fixing Church is a short course in thinking differently.
…It doesn’t offer quick fixes to your budget. Instead, it asks difficult questions that can reframe the way your fellowship deals with money.
…It won’t help you decide what color to paint the walls. Instead, it will challenge the whole way you think about your church building.
…You may be hoping that this study will help you get more people into your church. I hate to disappoint you. Fixing Church seeks instead to bless people with a Church that fixes their lives. Yes, Fixing Church is good for your soul. It also might help your congregation to become more transformative in your community.

Fixing Church is an appropriate study for Lent, because it provides insight into why Jesus was so passionate about his Church. He died, not just for our individual soul, but also for the fellowships that would meet in his name. This study has seven sessions, so you will want to start the week before Lent begins, to reserve Holy Week for the Passion narrative.

It also can be used by Sunday School classes and vision setting (goal setting) groups in the church. While the scriptures reference in the material are tied to the Lenten journey, the material is appropriate for groups meeting at any time.
 

-- Introductory Offer until 2/14/2018 --

Free E-book/Kindle copy  -> ( Click Here )

Print available through AMAZON

Email Bill for multi copy discounts: contact@billkemp.info

 

The Fixing Church study gets people talking.

Bethany's People is Bill's historical fiction series. Novels will cover the people and climactic events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection. Each book will be about 320 print pages long.

Mary Sees All  - The Race to Save Jesus from the Cross
    By Bill Kemp   (coming Spring, 2018)
Synopsis: Mary is missing, Lazarus is depressed, and Martha can’t make ends meet. This is what normal looks like for this family of middle aged siblings before their friend Jesus takes on the Roman Empire and Jerusalem’s religious establishment.  Bethany’s People: Mary Sees All is a fast paced fictional telling of the events leading up to the first Easter.  A free ebook sample is now available, just click:  SAMPLE


+ Lazarus Dies First  - The Search for a New King
    By Bill Kemp  (Winter, 2019)
Synopsis: Lazarus’ life is caught up in the search for a king. Ignoring the words of his friend Jesus, Lazarus becomes a revolutionary, hiding out in the wilderness, committed to the violent over throw of his government. But he makes a lousy guerrilla. Lazarus is both homesick for Bethany and convinced that the peaceful Jesus is leading the real revolution. Returning home, however, he dies, and is able to provide a gripping account of the underworld.

+ Martha Finds Rest -  Finding a New Home for Jesus’ People
    By Bill Kemp  (coming Spring, 2020)
Synopsis: Forty years after Jesus death and resurrection, Bethany is destroyed. Martha becomes an unexpected new Moses, leading her people through the wilderness to safety.

+ Mark Goes Everywhere  - A  Journey of Hope
    By Bill Kemp  (coming spring, 2020)
Synopsis: Mark is not yet twelve when he watches Jesus die. No one would have expected him to become an Apostle rivaling Peter and Paul, yet with a sacred mission to bring the good news to his own people, the residents of North Africa. From Rome to Alexandria and beyond, he tells his Gospel, insuring that every church around the mediterranean has an accurate account of God’s salvation.
 

The pelicans come in military precision
a trio low
flat
as high as a three meter dive
as silent as angels
uninterrupted, eternal
youthful, insatiable

Nearer to my state
an older gentleman of their kind
unruffled watches
unwilling
un-hungry
not needing to join this hunt

Aged pelican from Pittsburgh National Aviary
copyright Bill Kemp, 2017
Subjects: 
Aging, flight, three together