Archive for the 'Personal Formation' Category

Pondering Peacemaking


What does it mean to be a peacemaker?

Of course, I know Jesus’ words on the subject: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

But HOW?

With all the rancor seen in the world today, with so many people at odds with others, how can I be a peacemaker?

Perhaps it starts with me.

Instead of looking to foster peace between others in conflict, I should first address the conflict within me.

Why am *I* upset? What is it that moves me, shakes me, disturbs me?

Why am I NOT at peace with so many events happening around the world, in my community, and in my own life?

Could it be that I’ve lost sight of my Father?

Could it be that I’ve forgotten who I am, and Who has me?

I *am* a child of I AM.

THAT is my identity. That will always be true, whether I remember it consistently or not. I have been adopted into God’s family.

When I focus on the conflict I see, I absorb that conflict. I didn’t think I was that empathic, but — surprise, surprise — apparently, I get upset when I see those who are upset.

When I focus on the Father who sees all sides of the conflict that I witness, I am able to be at peace.

I remember Whose I am.


What I learned as Shrek

I had a wonderful opportunity this month to be another person in Shrek the Musical. My daughters convinced me to try out (“Dad, you’d be the PERFECT Shrek”), and I was very glad I took their advice. I got to work with a wonderful cast and crew of some of the most talented people i’ve ever known.

SOME of the Moses Lake cast of Shrek the Musical

the Moses Lake cast of Shrek the Musical

As I focused on getting to know Shrek’s story, and as we all worked to put the show together, I learned a few things I’d like to share. Some were learned from the script, and some from the show.

People get in the way. That’s okay – reminder that you’re not doing this by yourself.

  • Trying to get from one point to another backstage is not easy in a working show. There are LOTS of people in our cast, and I had to get around and through groups of people. I reminded myself that these wonderful people weren’t in my way – they are a PART of my journey, and it’s not something I could do by myself. I’m glad of their presence backstage, on stage, and in my life.

Putting up walls doesn’t really help.

  • Shrek talks about his desire to Build A Wall. But putting up walls to protect yourself also leads to isolation. He comes to the realization that he needs to tear down his wall, and build a spot for someone else to join him. He gained a good bit of wisdom at the end; he’s a good role model for me.

Sometimes, you have to WORK to hear even the simplest of things.

  • Part of the costume for Shrek is a large foam rubber cowl that cut off 90% of my hearing. I found it very difficult to hear cues, musical phrases, and certain pitches were completely lost. I couldn’t just assume that I’d hear what I needed to hear; I had to **really** work to listen. Hopefully, this trait will stay with me long after the show is over – to actively work to listen to the world around me.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.

  • An annoyance of the Shrek costume was that the neck of the cowl kept popping out of the back of my costume. It became a running event to have people “fix my back”. Right before I’d go on, I’d recruit whomever was standing around to make sure my costume was in place. Some of the cast and crew got so good at it that they’d fix me before I knew I needed it. We depend on so many people to help us in so many ways; it’s good to recognize it, and celebrate it.

Sometimes it takes an Ass to remind us that we need each other

  • Donkey (played so well by Tucker Merchant in our production) is the catalyst of Shrek’s story. He realizes before anyone else that Fiona and Shrek are right for each other. He not only helps Fiona see Shrek’s value, but teaches Shrek the importance of authentic forgiveness and friendship. Donkey MAKES Shrek a better person, and enables him to love Fiona. I am so thankful for all the people in my life who have filled this role for me, and enabled me to be a better person, to help me tear down the walls brick by brick that were built over time.

If you prepare for upcoming changes, you can adapt pretty quickly.

  • At the end of the show, Fiona magically morphs from human to ogre. In the animated story, this is just par for the course, but in REAL LIFE, in REAL TIME, it’s amazing to watch a crew of people transform our beautiful Fiona (played by the beautiful Amy O’Donnell) into a beautiful ogre – complete with green skin and bulbous nose. AND it’s all done in about 90 seconds. This transformation took a LOT of planning, and many hands to make it possible. When we *know* that a change must be made, when we plan for it and enlist friends to help us make it happen, we can adapt to a new situation pretty well. It just takes a little magic, that’s all.

Love changes you – but not always in the way you expect.

  • Fiona, after her transformation from True Love’s Kiss… stays as an ogre. She is dismayed, because she thought she needed to be a certain way to be considered beautiful. Shrek tells her the truth: she is beautiful as she is. I believe that loves transforms us; not instantly or magically, of course, but the transformation is real, nonetheless. I have been transformed by the love I’ve encountered: the love of my wife, learning to love and be loved by my children, and realizing God’s love for me is far deeper than I can comprehend.

Learning these lessons with this cast and crew has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. While my skin won’t miss the green makeup, my heart will miss the ongoing interaction with the “screwy but delighted crazy stew” that was the cast of Basin Community Theatre’s production of Shrek the Musical. I love you all. Let your Freak Flag Fly!

Blowing Out The Dust Within

The Backell family suffered a tragic, yet completely preventable loss this last week…

a very dusty computer

a very dusty computer

Our living room media server died. It was a slow, lingering, complication-filled battle that led to its demise.
Why am I bringing this up here? Because when I opened up the computer box, I discovered that it was full of dust. Such a simple, small thing… but left unchecked, it choked the life out of our computer. The fix would have been simple – take the computer outside, blow it clean with fresh air, and make sure that all its parts are well-connected.

Are you seeing the correlation between my media server and our spiritual lives yet?

All too often, we let little things, small things, pile up. We think, “oh, that’s not that important, I’ll deal with that later”… and then, before we know it, we’re getting clogged with the little things and we’re unable to breathe.

Please note – I don’t have anyone specifically in mind, but the warning is sound: if we allow little things, small sins, to accumulate in our lives, they cause more and more complications. Those little things can grow to have devastating consequences.

I was reading the Desiring God blog, when I came across this quote:

“We sin because we forget God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy. When we are not ravished by him, we forget the superior pleasures that there are in God and give ourselves to the inferior pleasures of sin. And this is why David says, “Against you God, you only have I sinned.” He goes deep with his confession because he knows repentance is the way back to fellowship with God.” (Rick Gamache, from his sermon “Whiter Than Snow”)

As we wrap up the summer of 2014, please take the time to deal with the simple things, the small things that might be accumulating in your heart. Bring them to God and ask the Spirit to blow fresh air through your life so that you’re renewed and ready for however the Lord calls you.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. ~ Psalm 51:10-12

Keep Following Jesus,

Pastor Ed

Guest Post: O’Connor vs. Suzuki

This post is a guest post from an amazingly talented (and just all-around wonderful) woman named Melissa Tatreau. Normally, I blog mostly about Scripture – I post the outlines from the sermons I preach. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a post or two about physics, or Linux, or other matters of faith. When my friend Melissa wrote this impassioned letter about teaching techniques, I thought it was stunning – and might be of interest to some of my readers. With that in mind, here’s the post from Melissa:

Melissa Tatreau

O’Connor vs. Suzuki

Oh, I hate that it has to be “vs.”  I’ve been following this debate since last year.  Due to the recent resurgence of awareness with the national and international media articles being shared on facebook, I’ve had friends sharing these articles with not nice things to say.  I can’t sleep until I speak my piece.

I’m a rare person in that…I’m one of the rare ones that can speak to being on both “sides”.  I’m simply writing from my OWN experiences in hopes that someone might even consider another idea.  First: a background on me.  I started violin at age 9 in the public schools.  My impression of “the Suzuki method” was this: I knew a handful of kids (and later, my best friend in college) in youth orchestra that could play the crap out of a concerto, but had to sit in the  back of orchestra because they couldn’t read.  I was told “Suzuki kids” started playing at age 3 and reading in book 4.  I happened to have an amazing public school orchestra director.  I ended up taking private lessons in the last half of high school.  I had to pay for them myself.  I took them for granted.  But I played in youth symphony, was first chair my senior year at school (in part because some kids left for another school) and a pops orchestra.  I made All-State all 3 years.  (Boy, has the caliber of playing skyrocketed in Omaha in the last 20 years… There are seriously some AMAZING teachers and opportunities now).  Anyway, I should also say that the summer after 9th grade I took some fiddling lessons and LOVED it.  We used a book for the most part, but I can still rock Orange Blossom Special I learned by ear.  🙂
I got a BM in Music Ed and thanks to an amazing violin teacher, decided to pursue my MM in Pedagogy.  This was the first time in my career I felt torn between two worlds.  I had been raised in the public school system, and after my original intention to “give back” by coming back as a public school teacher–I changed my mind.  Couldn’t do it.  The system was broken.  And rather than staying to make a change, I left for something I felt was better.  More importantly, after teaching lessons to 20+ students per week during college, I felt like I was just starting to get the hang of it.  I wanted a methodology.  Pedagogy.
The Pedagogy degree changed my playing and my life.  It was the right choice for me.  We studied a combination of Suzuki, Rolland and Zweig.  I liked it.  There was no judgement.  The String Academy of Wisconsin used the Suzuki compilations of music, but taught note reading and taught the pieces with the Zweig ideology and the Rolland ideas of movement.  The kids could play better than I had EVER seen: both technically and musically.  They played in groups and orchestras.  It was a well-rounded education.  Knowing the hows and the whys of playing was thrilling for me.  I came back to Omaha rearing to go–a better player and teacher.  I worked at a bank and taught in a music store basement until landing my current (and DREAM) job at the Omaha Conservatory of Music in 2004.
OCM was set up as a “Suzuki” school at the time.  In the summer of 2005, a “hard-core” Suzuki teacher left and I took over some of her students.  (She wasn’t the only “hard-core” one–and I call them that because they didn’t just use the books, but had done the training and fit the stereotype…)  The students I inherited from two teachers left me dumbfounded.  They couldn’t read.  I literally had to spoon-feed them the new piece: note.  by. note.  It was excruciating for us both.  I saw many of the students quit over time.  The ones I had inherited struggled because they’d been used to something so different.  I specifically remember a lesson where I wanted to move to another piece and the girl told me, “But, I can’t.  It’s not perfect yet.”  Cue my broken heart…  I know the 2 Suzuki teachers I’m thinking of were just doing what they knew best at the time, but it’s NOT the best.
Now… this article is not to bash anyone.  I’m a Christian. I’m a yoga teacher. I’m a Libra. I like love and peace and balance.  This was all just background to show what I knew at the time.  A new director came to OCM.  (Thank God…)  She had studied with John Kendall and spoke of him very highly.  Ruth’s students were and still are some of the best in the state.  In the country, actually.  They sit in the front of the youth orchestras and win competitions.  They can read.  And play with soul.  So that’s why when she suggested I do some Suzuki training, I listened.  In all honesty, I didn’t want to other than someone I admire suggested it.  I thought, “what could I possibly learn from a book 1 class?”  At the time, I was thinking of relocating, so I thought at the very least it’d build my resume.  She gave me the name–Susan Kempter.  I was off to Suzuki camp in Ottawa, Kansas.
The sour-tasting stereotype of Suzuki was blown away.  I had the chance to observe most, if not all of the violin teachers at this particular camp.  And most of them were fantastic.  A couple trended toward the “old-school” stereotype Suzuki ways.  Susan Kempter turned out to be one of the top influences of my life.  How this woman ended up at Suzuki camp, I don’t know, but thank God I found her.  It doesn’t matter if she was teaching Suzuki or something she found in the trash.  She and her ideas changed my playing and my teaching for EVER.  I could write an entire article about just that.   I came back to camp the next 3 summers to study with her.  I have my training in Suzuki books 1-4.  I had an exceptional experience there with Susan.  And this is why if I could sum up my stance in one sentence it would be…  IT ALL JUST DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.
Around this time I took a symphony audition that was disheartening to say the least.  I did my best, but I wasn’t THE best.  I had shed blood, sweat and tears preparing excerpts to someone else’s idea of perfection.  And for what?  (An article opportunity about orchestra auditions for another time…)  For the first time in my life, I considered quitting violin.  But fate intervened yet again and I found myself in San Diego at fiddle camp.  Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camp.
You guys…It SAVED me.  I showed up thinking since I played through a fiddle book in 9th grade, I knew how to fiddle.  HA!  I was moved to tears over and over again.  The first time in frustration because when I showed up to my first advanced class it was all by ear and the 12 year olds were kicking my ass.  🙂  I caught on quickly.  There was bluegrass, jazz, klezmer, rock, classical, irish, old-time, Texas style…everything.  And I loved it all.  I was THIRSTING for this.  To BUST OUT of the box.  Let me tell you with no uncertainty: the faculty concerts were the best violin playing I’ve ever heard.  Mark O’Connor himself can play ANYTHING on the violin.  The musicians I met here were the best.   They KNEW their instrument better than I did.  The improvising.  The JOY.  Oh….  It brings me to tears just thinking about that first time.  I had been suffering from trying to perfect something on a page.  Being told how exactly to play something.  That I wasn’t good enough.  And at fiddle camp…everyone was family.  Everyone was welcome.  When I heard the music…All I can say is it resonated with my soul.  THIS WAS MY MUSIC.  I went back the next year.
So early 2009 I went through a divorce and I couldn’t afford to go back a 3rd year.  But Mark personally messaged me and told me that his method was coming out and he’d scholarship my camp tuition if I went through the books I/II teacher training in NYC.  So I agreed.  I stayed in a friend’s 5th floor non-air conditioned apartment.  There were about 30 of us in that first class.  The teacher was a pedagogue and a 30 year Suzuki vet.  Pam had jumped ship to join this cause.  It wasn’t hard to see why.  Mark didn’t teach the class, but he stopped by to speak a couple of times.  The music is fun.  It’s American.  It’s OURS.  It tells our history.  It’s pedagogically sound.  It can stand alone.  He put so much thought and research and care into every marking on every page.  The enclosed recordings are attainable!!!  The books are beautiful.  I still got the afternoons off to attend camp.  I learned how to “chop” that summer 🙂  I didn’t get to say more than “hi and thanks” to O’Connor.  But I knew I’d be a part of this method for a long time.  I still fantasize about going around the country to do teacher trainings one day… (hint-hint).
So, that’s my (long) background–Now, about the debate.  I read all the blog and the facebook rants MOC posted last year.  Let me tell you…I felt heartbroken and torn.  I didn’t want to choose a side.  Again, I like peace and balance!  I’m not typically a big fan of change.  I like the comfort zone.  I argued that IT DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.  Mark is one of my true heroes.  But the way he was speaking was so sad to me.  This is not to be confused with what he was saying–It blew my mind.  At first I couldn’t believe the things he was saying about “Dr.” Suzuki.  But I saw all the care and research he put into writing his books.  And into his camp.  And into his playing.  And I thought…maybe he’s right.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, folks.  But ask yourself, honestly…could it be true?  Was Suzuki a fraud?  There’s research there.  Proof.  To ignore it isn’t the right answer.  I encourage you to read some of the research (links below).  I know people who met Suzuki and loved the man.  But you have to admit, some people are “cultish” about the guy.  I hate the connotation of the word cult, but it seems appropriate.  Mark may have been nasty in his battle, but if you actually do the research, some people on the Suzuki “side” started it.
We all have skeletons in our closet.  If Suzuki himself was a fraud, does that discount all the lives that were affected?  I don’t think it has to.  I know many people had a great experience. I think the reason it’s all so painful is that it did change string teaching in the US.  For 50 years, that’s really all we had.  I guess for me, it’s always just been a collection of music. The ideas that all children can learn and let’s all make better people… nice ideas.  But not enough.  When people ask me if I’m a Suzuki teacher…I’ve always struggled with the answer.  Do I use the books?  Did I do 4 years of training?  Yes.  But people STILL have a stereotype of what “Suzuki” is.  I’m happy to report from seeing what’s happening in Ottawa that things have been in the process of changing for the better.  IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE TEACHER.  Here’s a fact–the O’Connor method has now released books I through IV.  Anyone can buy them.  Anyone can teach them.  And it will be done badly.  There’s nothing Mark or anyone can do to control that.  Here’s another fact–the Suzuki method as it started and intended DOESN’T work on its own.   It needs supplemental material and instruction.  In my 17 years of teaching I’ve seen kids quit.  I’ve seen kids get frustrated as soon as the end of book 1.  There are some great pieces in there, but it’s not enough.  There’s nothing newer than 1850.  The O’Connor method is pedagogically sound.  It can stand alone.  It teaches theory, history and CREATIVITY.  It’s OUR music.
I’ll be honest.  Reading all this stuff made me feel like I was having an identity crisis.  I was teaching both.  I was sickened by the way Mark was speaking to people.  My hero… It was hard to rationalize.  I agree with his ideas, but not with the way he was handling it.  I was able to attend and present at the 2014 ASTA convention.  I wanted to stop by MOC’s booth, hoping to just say hi.  And we stood there, speaking for 90 min straight.  I talked to Mark O’Connor for 90 min straight!!  Let me tell you, friends, this guy is genuine.  You may find it hard to guess by the way he talks in print, but he’s very soft spoken in person!!!!  He’s passionate about this cause.  His 3 year old daughter was there at his side.  He’s a kid that had some bad musical experiences and then had some awesome ones.  He’s just trying to share it with all of you.  With me.  With MY kid.  My faith and excitement about string playing in the US was renewed.  I’m still on board.  He’s worth listening to.
I’ve been typing for 2 hours.  I care deeply about this topic.  And about you, if you’re still reading this.  I know it can be hard, but we can’t make an informed decision blindly. We must take a good, hard look at the research and what our students need.  We MUST MUST MUST always be evaluating what’s happening in String teaching in our country.  We must never be blind. We must never get in a rut.  We must never stop learning.  We must never be afraid of something new.  It’s possible that something we’ve loved and believed for 50 years wasn’t exactly true.   Are you still inspired?  Are you getting better?  Why or why not?
I REALLY LOVE this post by Pam Wiley, the Suzuki vet that leads the O’Connor method.
If you haven’t read some of Mark’s research, here it the link to his blog–
It is overwhelming, but it’s WORTH reading.
I will not ask you to take a side.  I’m just asking you to be open.  And do the research to make a good decision for yourself.
Melissa Tatreau Holtmeier

Melissa’s (shortened) bio: One of the founding members of the Mahr Quartet from Omaha, Nebraska, Melissa holds a degree in Music Education and a Masters degree in violin pedagogy/performance. She has been a full-time artist-faculty member at the Omaha Conservatory of Music (OCM) for a decade. She serves as the String Department Chair and teaches at their summer institute. Melissa has also taught for the Millard Public Schools and is a regular sectional coach for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras. She is a member of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, the American String Teachers’ Association and the American Federation of Musicians.

As a professional musician, Melissa has performed with Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra Jr., Rod Stewart, Josh Groban, Pam Tillis,The Lettermen, Michael W. Smith, Mannheim Steamroller, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Johnny Mathis, Mary J. Blige and Michael Buble. She is a member of the Lincoln Symphony and is a regular sub for the Omaha Symphony.

— I hope that was as interesting and informative, and encouraging to you all as it was to me. -KFJ – PastorEd

The “Evangelical” Label

Warning: Rant Ahead

I answered a telephone survey yesterday for pastors. There were the standard questions about the size of my congregation, the percentage of adults in leadership, and others. However, towards the end of the survey, they started asking demographic questions, designed to put labels on me (to be charitable, I’m assuming that this is to give context to my answers, but that might not be the case at all.)

And the question came up: Are you an Evangelical?

Since I couldn’t see the text of the question, I didn’t know if the survey was asking if I was a member of the Captial E Evangelical Movement, or if I was a small-letter e evangelical. I had to take a few moments, and assume if they were asking if I was Captital E – to which I replied, “no, not anymore”.

The next question: Are you Mainline?

Well, I’m not nuts about label either! After a few moments, I answered, “yes.” And then I said, “Wait, are those the only two choices?”

I was telling my family about the phone survey, and my 16 year old daughter asked, “What *is* an Evangelical?”

My reply – and the reason I’m writing this blog entry – is worth some reflection on my part, and perhaps will be valuable for some of my readers.

I said:
“A Capital E Evangelical believes that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore is so concerned about people’s souls that they’re willing to try and influence culture as a whole in order to bring people to Jesus. That means that they’ll try to pass laws to regulate the behavior of people who are not yet followers of Jesus to *act as if they were*. In doing so, they try to make their surrounding culture SIMILAR to the Kingdom of God, without actually being a part of it.”

“Small-e evangelicals also believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and therefore, try to introduce people to Jesus directly. They’re not about changing the culture; they’re about introducing people to Jesus, so that HE can change their hearts.”

“I’m not an Evangelical; I don’t want to change the culture to be more Christian-LIKE. I’m an evangelist: I just want people to come to Jesus, and I think it’s the work of individual followers of Jesus to introduce their friends and neighbors to Him.”

That’s part of the work of the church; to encourage those in the Kingdom of God to live and laugh and love so well that the outside world looks on in wonder at the changed hearts of those who follow Christ.

So – apparently, I’ve outed myself. I am no longer an Evangelical… but I’m more of an evangelist now than I ever was.

If this has sparked a question in you about *your* relationship with Christ, and has caused you to wonder where you stand with God, I’d love to talk with you about it. Leave a comment, message me, give me a phone call, or show up at Warden Community Church. I’d love to sit and talk with you over a good cup of coffee and an open Bible…

Taking the opportunity to teach

imageToday is my sister Janet’s birthday. She died a couple years ago, and has joined others in our family who have shuffled off their mortal coil: Mom, Dad, all my grandparents, my father-in-law, my nephew Norman, and I could go on.

indeed, that’s the challenge, isn’t it? To go on; to continue to live life as best you can, knowing that such important people are no longer a part of your living existence.

What brought on this moment of reflection, you ask? A blog post about a Korean cabbage dish called kimchi. You see, a wonderful nam from my congregation asked if I’d like some shredded cabbage – he and his wife are trying their hand at making sauerkraut, and they had some cabbage left over.

As a pastor, I have a personal rule to say “yes” if anyone offers to give my family food. God provides… often more than I could ask or think… because let me tell you, I would never have imagined THIS much cabbage. My friend gave us… oh, I’d guess between 5 and 7 GALLONS of shredded cabbage. A kitchen garbage sack, about half full!

I am *very grateful* for this kind of provision! and blessedly, it happens fairly frequently. But this bounty has gone beyond my knowledge of how to process this volume of cabbage… so I’ve been hunting for recipes and ideas. I’ve already put up 3 quarts of what it hope will turn into sauerkraut (we’ll see), and I’m going to set aside a bunch for tonight’s stir fry dinner. I still have about 2/5ths of a bag left, so I thought of kimchi.

At the end of this blog I’d found was a statement that made me feel as if I’d been punched in the gut: “No matter how many years I’ve been cooking, she still never misses a teachable moment. But, I know I am very blessed that she’s still around to do that.” 

So, let me take this opportunity to say: pour into the lives of those around you. Love them with your heart, of course, but also with your history, your experience, your wisdom, your favorite jokes or treasured memories. Take every opportunity to teach those around you -because as you do, you leave a piece of your heart and mind with them… And you get some of theirs back as well.

1 John study – chapter 1

These next few posts will be of the materials I’m developing for a study of 1 John, the little epistle towards the back of the Bible. We’ll be looking at how to break them down, and hopefully by looking at their structure, we can gain a more in-depth understanding of their content, and what that means to our own lives.

If you’re in the Warden, WA area, we’d love to have to join us Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm for Bible study.

The point of this style of study is to see how the original text is broken down. We’re paying special attention to punctuation (it may not have been present in the original, but it *is* present in the Greek New Testament, 4th Revised Edition). We’re also paying special attention to the word “kai”, which means “and” – we’re using it as a break point, as well as a few prepositions.

What I’ll be having the class do is: look at the structure of the verse, and look at where “AND” occurs, where punctuation occurs, and where prepositions occur. Once we’ve been able to determine the flow of each sentence, we’ll start asking questions like: what does working with the text in this way show me? What words stand out that I wouldn’t have noticed before? What’s the central point of this sentence?

1 John 1:1-3a

Ὃ ἦν ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς,
that which was in the beginning
ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν,
that we heard
ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν,
that we saw with our own eyes
ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα
that we looked at
καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν,
and with hands our touched
περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς –
all about the word of life –
2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη,
and the life made real and known
καὶ ἑωράκαμεν
and we have seen
καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν
and we have testified
καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα
and we have proclaimed to you the life eternal which was towards the Father
καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν –
and made real and known to us –
3 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν
that we have seen
καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν
and we heard
ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν,
we have proclaimed and to you
ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ’ ἡμῶν.
so and you all have fellowship with us.

1 John 1:3b-7

καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς
and the fellowship of ours with the Father
καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
and with the son His Jesus Christ.

4 καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς,
and all this write we,

ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη.
so the joy of ours is made complete.

5 Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ
And it is this message that we heard from Him
καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν,
and we announce to you,
ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν
since God light He is
καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία.
and darkness in Him not is not at all.

6 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ’ αὐτοῦ
If we say since we have fellowship with Him
καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν,
and in the darkness are walking
we are lying
καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν·
and do not do what is true:
7 ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί,
if But in the light we are walking as of Him is in the Light,
κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ’ ἀλλήλων
we have fellowship with one another
καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας.
And the blood of Jesus the son of Him catherizes us from all sin.

1 John 1:8-10

8 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν,
If we say that sin not we have,
ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν
ourselves we are deceiving
καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.
and the truth not is in us.

9 ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν,
If we confess the sins of us,
πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος
He is faithful and righteous,
ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας
to forgive our sins
καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας.
And catherize us from all unrighteousness.

10 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν,
If we say that not we have not sinned,
ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν
we have lied have made to Him
καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.
and the word of Him not is in us.

Sadly, what you’re missing is the indents: I can’t figure out how to add those in WordPress. It helps even more to see which phrases stand on their own, and which phrases are supporting others.

And that’s really what Bible study is about, isn’t it? Learning how to support others as we stand with Christ. (Yes, I know that’s REALLY stretching the metaphor. <wink>)

I sure hope you’ll join us!

KFJ – Pastor Ed

Working with Confirmands

Confirmation I’ve been working with a great group of young people as a part of my first Confirmation class here at Warden Community Church. We’ve covered a LOT of ground over the past 12 weeks, and this Sunday is our last meeting together before their confirmation on Palm Sunday.

In our final session, I’ll be asking each one of them to write a personal “Statement of Belief” – somewhat akin to the ancient “Rule of Faith” to which Confirmands had to assent as they were preparing for baptism.

I realized that I couldn’t, in good conscience, ask them to write one if they didn’t have a couple of examples. So, I’m giving them a sheet with the Apostle’s Creed (as an example of an historic creed), A Simple Contemporary Statement of Faith (1969), from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (an example of a more contemporary denominational creed), and my own personal “short” creed, an extremely condensed version of my Statement of Faith (which is 16 pages long, and FAR too large to be posted here).

At any rate, I thought that some might be interested in my “short-form” personal creed.

I believe that God, being infinite, has all attributes without limit.

I believe that the Lord calls people to be a part of the Kingdom of God through God’s choice, not our own.

I believe that how we view God is dependent on our understanding of God’s character. I believe that Jesus is the ultimate expression of the character of God.

I believe Jesus was right. I believe that His focus on the Word of God gives us confidence to read it in comparison to His life. I believe that all biblical data should be considered, and interpreted using the teachings of Christ.

I believe the Holy Spirit guides that interpretative process; that the Spirit activates our ability to understand godly things; that the Spirit functions as Teacher, Guide, Protector, and Interpreter between God and us.

God rescues us to participate in His Kingdom; we respond to God’s rescue with either joyous acceptance, ungracious indifference, or rebellious rejection.

Life in a Small Town

Last night, I watched the Pixar movie “Cars” with my daughters. If you’ve never seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It’s about a racecar who finds himself in a small town on his way to fame-and-fortune. His experience in Radiator Springs changes his entire outlook on life.

I had seen the movie before, and enjoyed it… but last night I saw it with a new perspective, due to our experience living here in Warden. So many people have asked me, “so, how are you liking Warden?”. I keep answering with the same phrase: “We love it here!” And in most cases, that response is met with a quizzical expression, as if the person who asks is shocked that anyone could really enjoy living here if they weren’t born here.

Well, it’s true: we *do* love living here in Warden! Let me explain what I’m seeing with my “new eyes” of someone who wasn’t born and raised here…

For those who live “in town”, it’s very convienent. The school is just a few blocks away. The grocery store is a block away. The library is across the street from my home. If I really want a hamburger, and I don’t want to make it myself, there are at least three places within walking distance where I can get a very good burger.

The school itself is a God-send for our family. We had previously homeschooled our daughters because we were sure that we could do a good job with them (and frankly, some of the reports we’d heard from parents in our previous communities didn’t inspire much confidence in those schools). However, the Warden School is pretty great! It’s small enough to where we feel we can get to know many of the teachers and students, but it’s large enough to have sports. It’s got lots of tradition of which to be proud and which can inspire our children, but it is willing to try new things to help its students reach their potential. The teachers and staff are not only dedicated professionals, but we’re glad to count some of them as our good friends.

Finally, the people here are wonderful. Of course I’m going to think that *you guys* are great; I’m so honored to be your pastor I can hardly stand it. But it’s not *just* you; the everyday people I meet here in Warden are something special, and I hope never to take it for granted. I’m looking forward to many more years of getting to know you all as a congregation, and the many interesting and special people in our town.

See you at the Corral… or T&C… or at one of the games at the school… Keep Following Jesus – Ed

My Personal Geek Metaphor (from archive)

(DATE: March 26, 2008 )

This is for a class I’m taking right now; the assignment was to write a metaphor which describes my personal formation. I read it to Jami, and she insisted that I post it in my blog, so here you go:

I’m a computer. I’m a complex collection of processing ability, memory, storage, and operating system. The processor I’ve been given is a fairly decent one – it works, and it’s able to handle large amounts of data throughput. However, when it overheats, it works at a much reduced rate of efficiency; it garbles the data, and doesn’t always correctly route the data to its needed recipients. I do have some significant issues:

My memory is faulty. Memory is designed to allow the operating system to function at its best; when sufficient memory is present, programs are able to access the processor at full speed and carry out their instructions. However, there are large gaps in my memory, which probably stem from some trauma early in my operating cycle (sometimes called “childhood”). These memory gaps occur at the most inopportune times, and confound my efforts to process information; sometimes, I simply don’t have sufficient interpretive memory to understand current demands on my processing ability. This would be analogous to an “emotional” state: sometimes I am unable to access needed data to help me carry out programming instructions, specifically input/output issues (“relating to others”).

My storage capacity is low; my physical capacity to store data seems to be decreasing (“my body is running down”), and while programs have been initiated to slow this trend (“I’ve started an exercise regime”), they are but temporary fixes for a permanent problem: my hardware will eventually cease to function. I understand that entropy must occur, but it is still difficult to face one’s own obsolescence.

However, the bright point is my operating system; I’ve had it replaced, and the new system works so much more efficiently than the old one. My old OS was riddled with viruses, malware, and junk programming (“sin”). The new system I’m currently running (“grace”) is virtually virus proof, and malware is much harder to install. The programs available to run with this new OS are all Free and Open; the Author lets me have access to the source code (“Scripture”) for any program I have installed. Also, I have the ability to give away my OS to anyone who is interested in replacing their old software; in fact, I am encouraged to do so, to all who seek freedom from their old operating system.

Pastor Ed Backell

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