Mark's Memos

Prophets ...

January 31, 2020

One of the first theology reference books I really got into was a simple dictionary of biblical terms by  Frederick Buechner titled Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC.  The following is what he writes under the term prophet.

“Prophet means "spokesman," not "fortuneteller." The one whom in their unfathomable audacity the prophets claimed to speak for was the Lord and Creator of the universe. There is no evidence to suggest that anyone ever asked a prophet home for supper more than once.

The prophets were drunk on God, and in the presence of their terrible tipsiness, no one was ever comfortable. With a total lack of tact, they roared out against phoniness and corruption wherever they found them. They were the terror of kings and priests.

No prophet is on record as having asked for the job. When God put the finger on Isaiah, Isaiah said, "How long, O Lord?" (Isaiah 6:11), and couldn't have been exactly reassured by the answer he was given. Jeremiah pleaded that he was much too young for that type of work (Jeremiah 1:6).

Like Robert Frost's, a prophet's quarrel with the world is deep down a lover's quarrel. If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to hell. They'd just let it go.”

This week we conclude our series, Ex Nihilio, with a sermon titled Prophets in Chaos.  Our scriptural focus will be Moses' definition of a prophet from Dueteronomy 18.  We will explore prophets in the midst of the chaos of our time and place.   I hope you will join me Sunday as we listen for the lover’s quarrel that is of a prophet.

Mitsuo Fichida and Jacob DeShazer: two pilots who fought against each other became friends for life following their conversion to Christianity.

If God Calls...Pick Up

January 24, 2020

Jacob DeShazer was a World War II bombardier who participated in one of that war’s most daring events, the “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo, Japan.  The raid was in retaliation for Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor. During the raid, DeShazer had to bail out over Tokyo.  He was captured and held as a prisoner of war. 

The torture sessions in prison almost pushed DeShazer over the edge. But one day, DeShazer found a Bible in the prison, and he began to read.  He gave his life to Christ; the experience gave him a renewed sense of hope. 

As DeShazer says, “The Bible says that if we believe in Jesus in our hearts, we’d be saved. Boy, when I read that and they were threatening to cut our heads off at any moment, I just felt like I’m free, I’m ready to die to do whatever God wants me to do.”

 

After the war, Jacob DeShazer lived into the calling he received during the chaos of war and became a missionary to Japan. One of the men he brought to Christ was Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor.

We continue our series, Ex Nihilo, this week with our scriptural basis being the story of Jonah.  I hope you will join with me this Sunday as we wrestle with what it means to find our Calling in Chaos.

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Jacob DeShazer's story of redemption, forgiveness and a new life in Christ is truly inspirational. To hear DeShazer share his story in his own words click HERE.

Are You Listening?

January 17, 2020

The little child whispered,

“God, speak to me”

And a meadowlark sang.

But the child did not hear.

 

So the child yelled,

“God, speak to me!”

And the thunder rolled across the sky

But the child did not listen.

 

The child looked around and said,

“God let me see you”

And a star shone brightly

But the child did not notice.

 

And the child shouted,

“God show me a miracle!”

And a life was born

But the child did not know.

 

So the child cried out in despair,

“Touch me God, and let me know you are here!”

Whereupon God reached down

touched the child.

But the child brushed the butterfly away

And walked away unknowingly.

 

I ran across this poem and thought of little Samuel’s struggle to hear and discern the voice of God.  Then I thought again of our struggle, and my own personal struggle to hear and discern, especially in this season that seems so chaotic.  This Sunday we will explore the story of Samuel as he struggled to discern God’s voice. I will share some thoughts on how we might be more attentive to hearing and discerning God’s voice in our lives as we continue our series, Ex Nihilo, with a sermon titled “Listening in Chaos. 

  

See you Sunday as we listen up together!

Grace & Peace,

Mark

Shifting Sand

January 10, 2020

Near Skagen, Denmark, visitors can see the tower of the Tilsandede Kirke, the Sand Covered Church.  The tower is visible because this 14th century church has been buried since the 1700s.  Shifting sand from the coast of Jutland has covered much of the surrounding farmland and the church as well.  Only the tower is visible. 

What a metaphor for the danger the church always faces.  The sand is like the chaos that occurs constantly in our world.  We can be so unwilling to respond to the outside world that the chaos soon covers us over.  However, if we can respond to that chaos in creative ways we can actually benefit as a church and as individuals from the chaos.

This Sunday we begin a four-week series titled, Ex Nihilio, which is translated out of nothing.  This is a description of the creation of the world from nothing, or chaos, to the God created world.  This week we will be exploring the text from Genesis1:1-5 in the sermon. I will be sharing ways that chaos can lead us to creativity just like God created this world from chaos.  See you Sunday as we grow toward the One who expresses creativity even in the midst of chaos.

Grace and Peace,

Mark

Rev. Mark Jardine is the Senior Pastor at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church. Born and raised in Bartlesville, he is a graduate of Oklahoma City University and hold his Master in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology of Emory University.
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