Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon Peter. Send him now to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to announce the reign of God, and to equip the church for ministry, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Last Monday I was commissioned at the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Bishop laid his hands and prayed. That graduates my states from "certified candidate for ordination" to "probationary deacon." It's still another 2-3 years before full ordination.

To be honest, all day I kept trying to talk myself out of it. I found of laundry list of reasons not to be there. And the question "What am I doing here?" kept cropping up in my inner loudspeaker. And the response that came back was the John Locke quote from the Lost episode I'd just that morning watched: "Because I was chosen to be here."

It was a pretty cool event. And Jackie snapped a great picture.

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posted by Peter at 11:09 PM
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Sunday, March 02, 2008
Day on monotonous ritual
From The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker:

Ritual, how could we do without it! Though it may seem to be gibberish and irreverence, though the Mass is offered up in such haste that the sacred sentence, "hoc est corpus meus" was abbreviated into "hocus-pocus" by the bitter protestor and has come down into our language meaning trickery, nevertheless there is a sureness and a  conviction there. And just as a husband may embrace his wife casually as he leaves for work in the morning, and kiss her absent-mindedly in his comings and goings, still that kiss on occasion turns to rapture, a burning fire of tenderness and love. And with this to stay her she demands the "ritual" of affection shown. The little altar boy kissing the cruet of water as he hands it to the priest is performing a rite. We have too little ritual in our lives (200).

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posted by Peter at 3:25 PM
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Deuteronomy 28: 2/13
Read 28:38-57

Throughout Deuteronomy the "resident alien/sojourner/stranger" has been a recurrent character whose social vulnerability requires the loving care of God's people. With this in mind, how is verse 43 significant?

Notice the words "because... therefore" in verses 47 and 48. What is significant about this cause-and-effect relationship in these verses?

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posted by Peter at 9:55 AM
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008
So what happens now?
I don't have a good answer for this question. No matter how often it's asked of me. Many changes have occurred over the past few months that have put at a doorstep of uncertainty. 

So I'll share what I do know with certainty. Three and a half years ago I began the spiritual and academic journey of seminary. Back in December that journey ended, and I graduated with a Master of Divinity with an academic focus in Old Testament studies.

The plan of action following that has been application to four schools with Ph.D. programs in Ancient Near Eastern Studies or Hebrew Bible. I visited two campuses. One was a really great experience. One wasn't. The word from each of the programs is that March is the earliest I'll hear whether I'm accepted. There were also a pair of fellowships for which I also applied. 

In addition to all this paperwork, I also applied to be a probationary member of the Oklahoma Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as a deacon. For the past three years I've been going through the process as a certified candidate for ministry. This is the next step, and a pretty big one. It involved distilling just about everything I learned in seminary in 50 pages. So, while school was finished in mid December, I didn't escape the pressure of producing until a little over a week ago.

So what happens now? Waiting. And more waiting. I'm not good at that, but for now I must practice it. In the meantime, I work full-time at the coffee shop, and I was just promoted to a supervisory role. You should come visit. Once the neighborhood thaws out a bit (last night there was about three inches of snow followed by ice and sleet), I hope to hit the streets, hopefully with camera in tow, ready to meet the neighbors and see where God is working in these streets of the Oh-5. 

I wrote about my first encounter with Joe several months back. Joe died of liver failure just after Christmas. He drank himself to death. It's a sad thing. He's not the first such casualty of this community, and far from the last.

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posted by Peter at 10:08 PM
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Deuteronomy 28: 2/12
Read 28:15-37

How does this section compare or contrast with the previous verses? What effect does this have?

What do you observe in these curses? What areas of life do they entail?

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posted by Peter at 9:23 AM
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Monday, February 11, 2008
Deuteronomy 28: 2/11
I'm going to try to get back into the habit of posting the Deuteronomy study we're doing at the Rock. So here goes...

Read 28:1-14

In an ancient suzerainty treaty, such as Deuteronomy, the benefits and consequences (or "blessings" and "curses") of obedience or disobedience are a significant section of the treaty.

Pay attention to the use of the word "if" in this chapter. Why might this be significant?

What do you observe in these blessings? What areas of life do they entail?

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posted by Peter at 11:23 AM
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
From With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray:

Our daily life in the world is the test of our communication with God in prayer. How often the Christian, when he comes to pray, does his utmost to cultivate certain frames of mind which he thinks will be pleasing. He doesn't understand (or he forgets) that life does not consist of a lot of loose pieces which can be picked up at random and then be discarded. Life is a whole. The hour of prayer is only a small part of daily life. God's opinion of what I really am and desire is not based on the feeling I conjure up, but on the tone of my life during the day.
The other day at work I was asked to recalibrate the milk thermometers. This involves filling a small pitcher with ice water and a digital thermometer, and then you have to adjust a nut on milk thermometer until it matches the digital one. Any number of things throughout the day--from changes in barometric pressure to somebody putting it in the hot dish sanitizer--can throw a thermometer off.

And so when I read this passage, that image of recalibration hit me. And I kinda like that. I'm trying look and act like Jesus, and any number of things throw that off, some things a little, some things a lot. Prayer is the moment I get turned and twisted aright again, recalibrated to go back out into the world.

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posted by Peter at 8:52 AM
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Deuteronomy 15: 10/30
Read 15:7–11
Are verses 7 and 11 contradictions of verse 4? What do you think this means?

How do you define “needy”? Who in your life do you encounter who is “needy”?

How do the two clauses in verse 11 relate to one another? In other words, what gets lost if we read the first clause without the second?

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posted by Peter at 7:45 AM
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Deuteronomy 15: 10/29
Read 15:1–6
In verse 1, what is special about the seventh year? What does this mean for us as Christians in America?

What does the phrase “There will be no one in need among you” mean, in verse 4, and what is the condition for this statement in verse 5?

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posted by Peter at 7:35 AM
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Deuteronomy 14: 10/23
Read 14:9–21

In these laws of worship, going back to chapter 12, we’ve moved from talking about idolatry to a single location of worship to voices that distract us from God to food. What connections might God be making between all these things?

Why is it significant that God would put limits on what animals can be eaten, and what does that mean for us as Christians?

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posted by Peter at 7:19 AM
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