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This website facilitates conversations about "DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples" by Jim Putman (with Robert Coleman and Bobby Harrington) in Fall 2013 for elders at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, as well as others interested in investigating and discussing these important ideas.

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Can we be positive ripples?

by Denise Haury

I thought this was a good devotional from “These Days” paired with the scripture from Romans. It gave me food for thought about being a positive ripple.

“These Days” is a devotional used by the Friday Morning Women’s Group. It is a publication especially for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the PC-USA, The United Church of Canada, and The United Church of Christ.

GOD’S WORD: “All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life-a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.” – Romans 5: 20-21 (The Message)

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3

We invited a promising teen artist in the congregation to create a painting for our contemporary worship space. We received this most surreal acrylic portrayal of the moment a pebble hits the pond, a little drop of water hanging delicately in the air, and the circular wave action expanding. The caption: “Ripple positively.”

Like the smell of Mary’s perfume, it reminds us that God’s goodness and grace continuously swell and spread to fill our relationships, our community, our neighborhood, even our world. Of course, someone must toss the stone of God’s goodness; someone must uncork the flask and pour out God’s grace.

We are God’s partners. God relies on each of use to be bearers of love, agents of compassion, and instrument of forgiveness every day. God invites us to fill the air and ripple positively, but God leaves the ‘how’ to us.

Action Step: Think of someone you know who needs to experience Gods goodness and grace today, and convey God’s love and care to them.

Prayer: God, expand my imagination to care. Amen.
From These Days, Glen Stoudt contributor from Ottawa, Ontario

Categories: Reflection

Anti-Gay iPhone Apps Pulled by Apple and the Manhattan Declaration

Today I ran across a couple examples of iPhone apps which Apple has pulled from its app store in the past few years because they “offended large numbers of people” (in these cases involved allegations of “anti-gay” opinions or positions) and therefore violated Apple’s developer terms of use.

The first was “Apple Pulls ‘Gay-Cure’ App Following Controversy from March 2011. According to the article:

The offending app by religious group Exodus International — which aims to “help” gay individuals through the Bible’s teachings — directly contradicts Apple’s guidelines, and constitutes inappropriate hate speech, argued activists from gay-rights group Truth Wins Out.

The second was “Apple-Approved ‘Anti-Gay’ iPhone App Sparks Outrage” from November 2010. At the time that article was written Apple had NOT removed the app from the store, but they did end up removing it later the same month. According to the article:

There’s been no shortage of controversy over apps Apple has see fit to ban from its App Store. Now the Cupertino company has sparked outrage over an app it did approve, Manhattan Declaration, that is a “call of Christian conscience” inviting users to take a stand against gay marriage by signing a 4,700-word “declaration” penned by Christian clergy, scholars, and others.

According to a ChristianPost article, the app was pulled over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010:

Some 7,700 Change.org members petitioned the company to ask them to pull the app, contending the statement contained “hateful and divisive language.”

The website Good As You published a post during the controversy showing screenshots of the “survey” included in the original iPhone app. They are just 4 questions asking about two issues: Do you support gay marriage / oppose marriage equality and do you support abortion / are you pro-choice? (I’m including the terminology from both sides of these divides here, although the survey in the app did not.)  It’s very interesting to see that an app which asks these questions unleashed a social media firestorm and led to the app’s removal from Apple’s App Store. This is history I might have heard about at the time, but for some reason didn’t listen carefully or wasn’t paying attention.

The English WikiPedia article for “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience” provides more background about this situation, including the following paragraph:

Organizers of the Manhattan Declaration have contacted Apple and have resubmitted a modified version of the app. The new version lacks a “quiz” which, in the old version, asked questions about political issues and assigned a score based on a set of normative answers. In addition as of December 10, 2010, more than 45,000 have signed a petition to have it reinstated. Charles Colson voiced apprehension that the company’s move could have negative implications for more Christian apps: “There is nothing in the Manhattan Declaration that is not rooted in Scripture. So if that becomes the offense then all the other apps would be subject to the same charge.”

I may have had my head in the sand, but until today I don’t remember hearing about the Manhattan Declaration. I invite you to read both the full text of the document and the responses from Jeremy Hooper in the middle of this lengthy post. The list of official signatories to the Manhattan Declaration is lengthy and includes many names likely familiar to you. Have you signed the Manhattan Declaration or will you? Why or why not? Have the issues and ideas raised in our class challenged your thinking about the political course we are called to pursue as individuals and organizations in our postmodern age? This is a paragraph from the Declaration which directly addresses these issues:

The impulse to redefine marriage in order to recognize same-sex and multiple partner relationships is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil and religious law and in the philosophical tradition that contributed to shaping the law. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about procreation and the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. In spousal communion and the rearing of children (who, as gifts of God, are the fruit of their parents’ marital love), we discover the profound reasons for and benefits of the marriage covenant.

Eric Teetsel, Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration, sent out an email in May 2012 when President Obama reversed his previous position and announced his support of gay marriage. Pastor Brian Branam republished that letter on his blog. It contains numerous links to resources (including videos) about marriage from the perspective of Manhattan Declaration signatories.

After watching the above video, I also listened to the following video, “Dennis Prager – Gay Marriage.”

These are challenging questions and issues which get to the heart of our conversations in this course.

What’s your take?

Categories: Reflection

LGBT rights calculator

CNN posted an interactive page today titled, “LGBT rights calculator” which provides interesting insight into where different states in the United States are with LGBT legal issues. The accompanying article is titled, “America is at a crossroads on gay rights.”

The article raises many other LGBT issues beyond marriage, however. These include:

  1. Should states prohibit people from being fired because of their sexual orientation? (A majority of them do not, according to the Human Rights Campaign.)
  2. Should public school teachers be allowed to talk in class about homosexuality?
  3. Should states ban gays from adopting children?

Have the readings and discussions in our class shifted any of your views on these issues? Why or why not?

LGBT-rights-calculator

Categories: Question

Recommended Articles Tonight from Curt

Here are the two article links Curt shared tonight:

  1. Dennis Jernigan’s take on homosexuality and nature/nurture
  2. Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A
Categories: Resource

Let Jesus shape us, not our views shape our faith

After our discussion last night (Feb 7) which was wrapped up by Richard’s statement about following Christ, and not shaping our Christian walk to our own desires, (I wish I had the exact quote), I recieved this devotional from Glenn Miller. I posted another devotion by him earlier, but this one also seems appropriate and speaks to our calling to follow Jesus.

GOD’S WORD: “You know what good, O man is, and what more does the Lord require of you than to act gently, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

Discipleship does not depend upon our skills and our abilities. Our call to become disciples (to follow Jesus) does not have a prerequisite attached to it that we must first be qualified, trained, and approved. No, there are only two things that Jesus requires of us to become His disciples: 1) deny yourself, and 2) take up your cross and follow.

To deny ourselves is not to live a life in sackcloth and ashes, but to put God’s will ahead of our own self-satisfying agenda; to deny that we are in control, and to deny that we have the power and/or the authority to fix things. (ACT GENTLY)

To take up our cross is to understand that as disciples of Christ, we are condemned to death of self; that we are dead to the world, but that we are alive in Christ. We live in the world, but we are not of the world. (LOVE MERCY)

And finally, we must follow. To follow implies that we are not to lead; that we are to go wherever our Master leads us; that we are not to question the path taken. We simply follow and trust that our Master knows where He is leading us and that we will rest in glory along side Him. (WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD)

Following Jesus is simple. It’s kind of like what the offensive lineman said in an interview after winning the Super Bowl: “This is just a game of blocking and tackling; it ain’t rocket surgery!”

Reproduction permitted for non-commercial use only. Copyright 2013 by Glenn W. Miller

Categories: Reflection

reply to “missed class”

Wes has posted our new schedule in the “Comments” section with a link you can just click on to view it.  Hope that helps.

Missed Class

I missed class Wed. Are we still following the outline for chapters to cover since we are changing the class length?

Categories: Question

Videos Available for Class Members

Remember the videos we’re watching in class are available on a password-protected videos page, using the password we’ve shared/distributed in class. This evening I added the videos for session 3, which are “real stories” about Jon and Jessica.

Our course schedule is available on this site in two places, on the “Love is an Orientation” link in the top navigation bar of our site and also in this post Curt shared on January 9th.

I’ll continue to add our videos to the same password-protected videos page as we move through our course. If you have technical questions or run into problems with this site or the videos, don’t hesitate to ask via a comment here or contact me directly.

'youtube' photo (c) 2012, SEO - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I mentioned the Google project on YouTube, “It Gets Better” during our first session together. I recommend taking a look at some of the videos shared on this site. I’ve seen several which have been very compelling. Tonight I watched “It Gets Better – Amazon.com.” Some very positive encouragement here.

The Church’s One Foundation

I received this devotion today from Glenn Miller, a past Pilgrimage participant who writes daily e-mail devotionals. He is now located in Texas. I thought today’s message was particularly applicable to some of last nights questions. While it does not directly address GLBT issues it does speak to the Church as a refuge.

He begins with a Bible passage, followed by the message:

GOD’S WORD: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” – Psalm 91: 1-4, 14-16

There are many monikers for the church: “The body of Christ”, the “Hands and Feet of God”, the “Community of Believers”, the “Bride of Christ” and so on and so on. But this past Tuesday night at our church’s opening praise service before church-wide committee meetings (may I remind you – I’m a Presbyterian!), Pastor Andy read Psalm 91 with the extrapolation that the Church (all churches, capital C) is God’s “tangible refuge” in this world.

With Andy sharing his own testimony of how the Church has and continues to be that tangible refuge for him and many others, it begged me to look at my own life and quantify this postulate. In doing so, I’ve affirmed that it has been during the most difficult trials in my life that the Church has been my refuge; where I’ve felt the comfort, protection, healing and providence of God in tangible ways.

It’s been the Church that comforted me the most during deaths of loved ones and the death of a marriage.

It’s been the Church that provided me mentors and wise men and women who have modeled for me what it is to be a man of God and claim my inheritance as a warm and wonderful child of God; a refuge from a world that seeks to tell me otherwise.

It has been the Church who has modeled compassion (literally, “suffering with”) for those who are hurting or less fortunate and has propelled me into Prayer Ministry, where I’ve found refuge in God’s power and ultimate healing; finding refuge in His faithfulness and surrendering dependence upon my own.

It’s been the Church, when gathering to offer praise and worship to our Lord, that I’ve found refuge from all the pressures and issues of the world; literally feeling His presence, protection and providence unleashed through praise.

Yes, the Church is God’s tangible refuge in the world. And you and I, my friends, are both recipients and administrators of that refuge.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

She is from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

From The Church’s One Foundation by Samuel Stone, 1866

Reproduction permitted for noncommercial use only. Copyright 2013 by Glenn W. Miller

Categories: Reflection

this week’s lesson

These are some points that I (Denise) underlined as I was reading this week’s lesson:
1. Jesus didn’t say, “They’ll know you are my disciples by your firm stance on divisive social issues”
2. Even if they (GLBT) were to attend a (church) service or involve themselves in a small group or church activities, they would still be separate, and could never be considered equal unless they became like everyone else – a sinner who doesn’t sin with same-sex attraction.
3. They (GLBT) expressed a yearning to have a different life while struggling with the knowledge that life can never be done over again.
4. Validation is different from affirmation, and it is an essential starting point to take gay people at their word.

FPC Edmond
Learn more about First Presbyterian Church of Edmond by visiting our official church website.