15 May 2018

Shelter from the Storm

Last weekend I had a good retreat at Austin Seminary.

I was there with a dozen or so other pastors from Houston. We were dealing with leadership issues after Hurricane Harvey and how that translates to healing for communities and congregations. The theme was "Shelter from the Storm."

I was surprised at how much better I felt at this retreat than I did at the previous retreat. So I asked one of the other pastors when was our last retreat? She said it was 3 months ago. I said it felt like 3 years ago.

We are all at different stages of grief or recovery after Hurricane Harvey. Our challenges are working with one another to move forward when each of us is at a different place in dealing with the crisis.

My sincere belief is that our sanctuary will come through this process much renewed and enlivened and ready to serve as a place of worship for the next 50 years. When we take that long of a Time Horizon, we realize that the most important thing is to get it done well and to get it done right. The least important thing is to get it done fast.

That's one of the reasons last Sunday I talked about patience as a fruit of the spirit. That thought is not original with me. The Apostle Paul mentions patience as a fruit of the spirit. Go read 1st Corinthians chapter 13 and you will see that the first thing Paul says about love is that love is patient. 

Let's bear the fruit of Spirit through patience even as we continue to make progress in the recovery of our sanctuary and continue the ministry we have to the community and this city as we naturally revel in our glorious vision of what God has in store for this church for the next 50 years.

29 December 2017

Beware the Dragons!

Before we jump forward to 2018, let's take a moment to go back in time to 1611 in England and imagine what kind of language they used to celebrate Christmas. Guess what? You don't have to imagine it. We have a written record of it. Here is a taste how people put language to the wonder of Christmas in England in 1611. Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps: Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word: Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 148:7-14, King James Bible) How would you describe that language? I would say it’s eye-opening. Elegant. Interesting. Startling. Stunning. I especially love the reference to dragons. I wonder what kind of language you would use to describe Christmas? Would you include a reference to dragons in your description? Peace, Jon B. … Image attribution: Fiorentino, Rosso, 1494-1540. Small angel playing (detail from Madonna of Spedalingo), from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55412 [retrieved December 13, 2017]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosso_Fiorentino_-_Madonna_dello_Spedalingo_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg.

25 October 2017

A Chill Out Prayer for You


Making your way in the world today
takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, 
sure would help a lot.

“To find peace."
"To know where you belong.”

That is my prayer
for you today.

I pray
you may
find peace.

I pray
you may
know where you belong.

One of my favorite Bible verses
I return to again and again ...
is this:

“Whether we live
or whether we die;
we belong to the Lord.”
(Romans 14:8)

“With the Lord”
is where we belong.
Now and forever.

Jon B.
P.S. May you find yourself
at peace with the Lord today.
St. John's Presbyterian Church, ACTS FUND
5020 West Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77035

03 March 2017

One thing Im not going to tell you

I'm not going to Tell you how GOOD
the cool breeze through the bright sunshine
Feels in Houston right now

and I'm not even going to
Show you a Picture
of how blue and clear the sky Rests
behind the white puffy clouds above

because I really just want you to
Send Me a Positive Vibe NOW
and I don't want to say anything
to distract You
from Doing That

02 March 2017

Why do Evangelicals say JUST so much in public prayer

Have you ever heard someone pray and they repeat the word just so many times it becomes noticeable. For example, Lord, we just ask you to hear us as we pray right now and we just ask that you will be with us and bless us and we just want you to do this and we just ask you to do that and we just thank you and just praise you and we just want to say Amen when the prayer is over.

Why do they use just so much when they pray? Here's a few ideas about that.

"Just" is a term that implies "not much" so it fits well with prayers of petition in helping us convince ourselves and perhaps influence God of the idea that what we are asking for is possible because it's not as big a deal as one might think and so that possibility thinking seeps into our unconscious mind and becomes more likely to manifest.

And yet, all the above may be disregarded as the repeated use of "just" in others becomes a bad habit like a nervous verbal tic in the one praying out loud in front of others as it is used like the repeated use of the word "umm" or "and" by an insecure public speaker.

And yet it has a deeper function, repeated use of "just" serves to subconsciously identify the prayer as being part of our tribe, our religious subculture, our church family, similar to the way people in the Deep South use "y'all" to serve many purposes one of the most important of which is to self identify as a person who is a Southerner, and who is thus more likely to say "just" when she prays and "y'all" to refer to the plural form of "you."

And so you can see that "just" serves just so many functions it would be just dumb to not use it as often as possible especially when leading public prayer in the Southern United States.