Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thank God for Wake Up Calls

In college as a member of the track team, we traveled to out of state track meets where oftentimes we had to stay overnight. Back then, no one had cell phones and oftentimes these travels presented a whole new world to me. Our coach was in charge, so we followed his lead. Once we were assigned our rooms, he always told us to call the front desk and get a wake-up call. I'm sure this was new to many but we followed his instruction like it was gospel.

Of course, since many of us were on our own for the first time we stayed up late, watched TV and in general played the fool, not being entirely focused on the purpose of our trip which was to compete and do our best the following day.


Monday, November 13, 2017

What Do You Need Him to Be?


Have you ever read a book that changed you? If you've read such a book you will notice that upon each successive reading, you were transformed again because you noticed something new. Some books can do this but as an avid reader, I know that they're not as timeless or alive as the Bible. No book has impacted or changed me like the Bible.

Without knowing it, whenever you read the Bible it is ministering to your deepest needs because that's what it was meant to do. (2 Timothy 3:16) There is nothing that you are going through that you won't find a relatable story, phrase or thought that can provide insight, foresight, and hindsight for you and your situation. As you read and your deepest needs are met in a supernatural way, you may wonder why you've never done this before. Discover the God of the Bible, who is what you need to him to be, at just the right time.




Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Never Prayed for a Husband

Anecdotally, I will share that I never prayed specifically for a husband. As a 21-year-old, the desire of my heart was to serve God and make wise choices with my life. I had a fleeting desire to have a boyfriend because so many around me did, but this desire didn't take over my life. I had friends who were male and that was good. I tried having a boyfriend once: I didn't like it, and my family didn't like him so that was a no go. Talking to guys who didn't have the same beliefs as me especially when it came to purity was problematic, so I avoided those guys. Outside of the physical, it was nice to have friends and I had lots of male friends, though they weren't all Christians but friendship removed any pressure of


Monday, November 6, 2017

Women of the Word - Karen Georgia Thompson

I met Karen Georgia when my family moved to New York. Both of our families are West Indian so we ended up in the same community at the same church; she and I also attended the same high school. Through various life changes, we have maintained a connection. While I'm proud of how her professional life is personal to her, I've always enjoyed our conversations - hearing her heart, wit, knowledge, and passion. Karen Georgia is very passionate. Meet this month's Woman of the Word - Reverend Karen Georgia Thompson.

Karen G. Thompson

1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
KGT: I still use a lot of print resources. I use the New Revised Standard Bible mostly, and I like the Women’s Bible Commentary. If I am working on sermon material, I tend to use online library resources from the university library.


2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
KGT: I studied Hebrew Bible in seminary so I have a particular love for the content of the OT. I love the stories of peoples' witness of God as he was present and real. I love the Psalms too. I do have a preference but I also like the journey of the emergence of the church in the NT and the examples that are present for us in the life and ministry of Jesus and his disciples. I wanted to do doctoral studies in Hebrew Bible (OT) but left seminary and went into the parish.


3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
KGT: I have always had a love and affinity for interpreting the Bible, even as a child. I was reading the Bible as a child of 5 and 6, wrestling with the creation narratives and studying the genealogies. I went to Sunday School every Sunday, twice most Sundays and we were challenged to memorize Bible verses. I also attended a Christian school where the Bible was a central part of school life. I have a deep appreciation for the Bible which has grown over the years. I also realize that as my theology has evolved so has my use of the Bible and tools for its interpretation. I continue to study the Bible because the interpretation of the Biblical narratives is important to me and I want to ensure that my use of the text for sermons and in my ministry is consistent with new insights and current scholarship.



4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle?
KGT: Good question! One of the things I have said over the years which holds true is: "the day that I think I can write a sermon on my own, or get into the pulpit of my own accord, is the day I will leave the ministry."
The process of sermon preparation, sermon writing, Bible study and all things spiritual start with a conversation with God. There is usually that moment where it feels like there is “struggle”, that time and space where God is speaking and I am putting self aside to hear. I find that when I write I feel like I am a third party listening and somewhat awed by what I am hearing/writing.
The sermon is usually applicable to my life. As preachers say, "the sermon is for me and then for the congregation.” God speaks and moves in mysterious ways. It is also about the response of people to the preached word. There is always someone who affirms that the word was for them. This is always mystifying to me.



5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? (Can you give an example?)
KGT: I can give a range of topics from social justice issues like racism to others like the ordination of women and the ordination and presentation of LGBTQ persons. With topics like these, there has to be sensitivity and it is important to know a variety of views on the subject.
I was at a church in NY that was dealing with the inclusion of LGBTQ persons. This was major and so there were a variety of ways in which the subject was approached. We did a seminar series on the issue as well as Bible study. Not all topics are easily dealt with from the pulpit as a minister. I no longer have a congregation so I am always sensitive to what I address from a pulpit to which I am invited but I do not compromise on truth-telling.


6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you?
KGT: I believe that the scripture is a place where God is revealed and that God speaks to us in a variety of ways and through a variety of mediums. Scripture is a place to start. I believe our experiences of God at work in our lives and in the world assists in the interpretation of scripture. As a preacher, I start with the scripture, then look at how revelations have come through time.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
KGT: I currently serve as the Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the United Church of Christ [UCC]. My call is to facilitate the relational connections between the UCC and other denominations, and ecumenical and interfaith organizations. The organizations are domestic and global.
This year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation so there are related projects. I manage and write our agreements and deal with the dialogues the UCC is a part of. I have a preaching schedule and extensive travel overseas, so there is that as well. I am an advocate for racial justice globally. I have several projects in that area and am looking forward to ways in which I can impact change globally. Additional information on the Reformation can be found on the Bible Gateway site.

Here is additional information from Karen Georgia's bio: Karen Georgia was ordained in 1999 at the General Baptist State Convention in North Carolina and was credentialed through Privilege of Call as a UCC Minister in 2003 by the New York Metropolitan Association. She has a broad range of professional experiences including serving as a local church Pastor, Associate Minister, Director of Christian Education, Director of Family Ministries, an Adjunct Professor and as the Executive Director of two private non-profit organizations. Karen earned a BA from Brooklyn College in New York, a Masters in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC., and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
KGT: Prayer. I talk to God all the time. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing." Writing. I journal a lot which is important for me and a part of my spiritual discipline. I find that when I am centered - meditating, reading, praying, writing and connected to God, the doubt and discouragement are not present.


--Nylse

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

What If Praying is Like Breathing?


What if praying is like breathing? With every breath we take, we are engaging in a life-sustaining activity.

We unconsciously breathe every second of every day to propel us through. When you breathe in, or inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This increases the space in your chest cavity, into which your lungs expand. When you breathe out or exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward into the chest cavity. The intercostal muscles between the ribs