Author Archives: joshkilsch

Update On Mark

Wow! It has been a great several weeks of our study through the Gospel of Mark. A couple of highlights/thoughts have been that God has shown up! God is on the loose in creation in the person of Jesus. Jesus is Israel’s long-awaited Messiah that was promised in the Old Testament. The interesting thing is that Jesus is not the kind of Messiah that many (including the religious establishment) had been waiting on. Rather than conquering through an “iron fist” or with armies and war horses, God-shown-up-in-Jesus displays power in a different way.

We see through Jesus’ launch of His ministry that evil forces are subdued, the sick are made well, sins are forgiven, and the natural realm obeys Jesus’ commands. We have met the 12 disciples along the way and seen the religious “police” (scribes and Pharisees) get rebuked by Jesus. Those who are outcasts from “normal” society are being invited and included. Most know that when we talk about the “good news” of our faith we are referring to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Well that is exactly what the Greek word “gospel” means. It is good news (not good advice). It is good news that God has shown up on the scene and that it doesn’t look like any had imagined (or deserved). Mark’s good-news-story reveals who Jesus is by what Jesus does. We see God full of grace, truth, and compassion. We will further see the suffering side of God/Messiah as we move toward the cross event in Mark’s Gospel. We as the readers are called to respond to the Jesus we encounter. We have so much more to see (and hear) as we move through this account of the Jesus we together proclaim Lord! I hope everyone reading this can join us for the journey.

In Christ,

Josh.

The Gospel of Mark

I’m currently attempting to preach through Mark’s Gospel at our church on Sundays. I say “attempting” because that is how I see the preaching/teaching endeavor. I do believe God speaks through this act of communication, but I (at the same time) realize the depth and humility needed to approach this task.

I’m following David Garland’s outline in his user friendly NIV Application Commentary.

I will update the other sources I’m using throughout the study. I hope I can provide through this blog summaries to each week and reflections on the journey. My thoughts will also reflect the time I spent two years ago taking Dr. Andy Johnson’s “Mark” course at Nazarene Theological Seminary.

I encourage readers here to go and read the first 3 chapters of Mark to start.

Peace, Grace, and Truth

-josh

Sabbath (My Poem/Reflection on Mark 2:23-3:6 and Genesis 1.)

Sabbath isn’t about rule keeping…

Sabbath is about keeping

the One who Rules

Ruling…

A Ruler of Absurd Mercy?

Yes!

Sabbath wasn’t for just some Sabbath thing…

Although it was rough for the Pharisee

Jesus kept perspective on life flourishing

Sabbath wasn’t for just some Sabbath thing…

Sabbath is the King’s gift to Humanity

A Day To Remember the Creator’s Creating.

God’s Inauguration

Humanity’s Source for Satiation

Rest for Creation

Humanity’s Image Reflection

Shalom the Intention

Even After Sin’s Manipulation Destruction

Torah’s Instruction

Prophet’s Correction

Then

God’s Participation, Cross Presentation

Resurrection Celebration…

Led to Our Redemption Salvation!

And His Maranatha Anticipation!

My AMEN Realization

-Josh Kilsch

deactivate Facebook

de·ac·ti·vate

[dēˈaktəvāt]

VERB

1.      make (something, typically technical equipment or a virus) inactive by disconnecting or destroying it.

(A simple Google Search of the “deactivate definition”)…

 

If you are reading this, dang that is probably a miracle of some sorts since I wasn’t able to post this to my Facebook page. That is a reality I had to choose to face.

So… I deactivated my facebook. Well first I “deleted” it. Which really isn’t deleting it since they make you wait 30 days to shut the thing down and “erase” your data (if they actually do that). You know there has to be some psychological studies backing the 30 day wait period. People who have been stimulating their minds with dopamine alerts, and “likes” might grow weary and need to login for one last time to satiate the identity seeking desire. Of course, once you “pop, you can’t stop” or something like that and if you decide to try and quit you will again face another 30 day barrier between you and freedom from endless and mostly mindless scrolling…

I deleted it last night after my four month of resurrecting my attention and participation with the social media beast. This morning I remembered that I might actually want to connect again with some of the “friends” on there in the future and wouldn’t want to spend the vast time it takes to start over. There is also the reality that many people get concerned when they thought you were their Facebook friend in the past and now you randomly pop up as a friend request (thinking you are a scammer or something).

After reading an incredible book by Charles Duhigg called “The Power of Habit” and having an experience of a friend (who I have a lot of respect for) called me out about my Facebook usage I chose to delete my Facebook profile around 2014. Around 2015 I started getting tattoos on my arm and my tattoo guy was not yet my friend would only communicate through Facebook. So… Like an addict who had been sober for some time I justified the need for Facebook and opened a new profile.

Since opening the account, I maintained my discipline by never clicking on the app, I also didn’t think about things/thoughts to share with my friends, and I felt empowered and a little better than peers when I could say that “I am not on Facebook”. Being Holier-than-thou takes many forms even beyond organized religion! Yes, I must admit that I was a Facebook abstaining Pharisee.

From 2015 to this last October (2018) I did not wake up thinking about people outside of my day to day activities very much. My real social network was… well… pretty much real social interactions. Something changed in October, like a need to reconnect with some people I hadn’t talked to in a while. So much continues to change in my life and so much has changed in my journey over the past 15 years.

For four months I have been getting on Facebook daily, adding friends, looking at all the stuff that people share. There was a point where I thought that I should see if I can grow my friend list as fast a possible just to see how wide my network of “influence” is or could be. The reality, however, is that I capped out at about 220 friends.. Haha! I feel somewhat accomplished j/k. Some of my friends who do incredible artwork or produce music etc… have 500 to 2000 “friends”. It is incredible to think that many built those networking connections over a decade. It is impressive to be able to say something in a couple of sentences and impact so many people at once. Truly fascinating to me.

The dark side to Facebook to me is that it is time bandit. One week my phone told me that I had spend an average of 51 minutes per day on there. I thought to myself… there is no possible way that could be true. But sadly, it was.

I have seen so many issues arise from misunderstandings with Facebook between friends, spouses, and co-workers. I have seen good people not regulate (which is pretty hard when it is a click away on your phone and so easy to grab when there is “down” time). I decided last night that I was done with my “experiment”. I was ready to get back to not thinking about clicking on that app daily. The scary reality is, however, that I know that Facebook is not done with me. One of the most powerful companies in the world with over a billion people addicted to feeding their stories, identities, and egos with a taste of connecting, meaning, and activism. Facebook is good for a lot of those things. It is a business must in our world. Every product I come in contact with has a picture of the logo and the message “like us on Facebook”. I recently have been reading the Epistle of James in the New Testament and the poetic wisdom literature book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament (Many see James as a sort of New Testament wisdom book).

Two brief observations that contributed to my deactivating Facebook. In James chapter four there is a warning about boasting about tomorrow’s plans without qualifying the potential reality that there is a Creator involved with one’s life. Life is short. It is a vapor. Ecclesiastes also reminds that life is Heble (Hebrew word meaning vanity, meaningless, or better breath). The picture is that human life is a bunch of breathing from the beginning to end. That is all you get. What are you going to do with that breath is the haunting question I am asking myself. Other ones pop into my mind stemming from that question is, did I pray to the God I believe in and for the people I care about as much as I looked at non consequential stuff via my Facebook life investment.

So… More to come on my Ecclesiastes reflections.

For now, I have taken action to de-activate wasting (for me) time that is precious.

What will I do with an extra 51 minutes added back to my life (13 days per year!)

What do you need to evaluate and deactivate?

It is worth noting that virus was a part of the Google definition mentioned above…

Don’t let anything overcome you.

Watch this video of me talking with my friend Payte on his show Discern Daily

https://themajestysmen.com/podcast/discerndaily-episode-12-wasting-your-life-on-social-media-josh-kilsch-wordstream/

Gillette 3:16? The SimGospel According to Procter & Gamble

Recently the most famous razor company Gillette made an advertisement that, at length, participates in the drama of our culture’s tensions on important issues. I have seen the commercial. There is a lot of good content there. There is also a lot of crap there too. Depending on your focus, you will see what you want (or don’t want) to see.
The “crap” opinion regarding aspects of the commercial can immediately (possibly) make a couple of you reading this to shudder, re-question your opinion of me, and think you have me pegged religiously and politically.
The positive elements of the commercial involve the apparent call to men to be more than stereotypes, not evil, and stand up for the truth and the underdog. “Have some freaking morality!” it screams at the viewer while rattling the conservative and liberal buttons positively and negatively simultaneously. It calls men everywhere to have some deep convictions and ethics in society. Who can be against that? It is a very brilliant ad.

The crap part of it all, however, is that it is solely about money (I know you thought I was going to jump on it against the “#metoo” issue, (that too, in this commercial is about the end-goal of money)… I have seen how many of my Christian friends (who I respect the snot out of) have jumped in to praise the ethical message interwoven around the other messages within the commercial. Church culture has long used commercials within their worship services/sermons to make an illustrative point. The reason commercials grab us is due to their attractive nature. The people who create commercials are not stupid. They have to grab our hearts in a short amount of time in order for us to cough up the treasure that’s connected.

Ford sells Trucks, Pharmaceutical companies sell drugs, and Gillette sells razors. That’s what they sell. Gillette has felt recent pressures from other companies such as Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club. One of these have an advertisement where they talk about how they are “disrupting the billion-dollar industry” (men’s razors and grooming products). Gillette has been criticized over overpriced products their “best ever” slogan is put forth so they can give the consumer the perception that their product is worth it. These other company’s creative destruction was simple… Be better and be cheaper. With the threat of competition, maybe Gillette became desperate and took a cue from the Nike playbook. The reality is that the issues they attempt to address are the flavor of the week. This is an observation, not a declaration that I am happy or excited about. Ethics, morality, love for neighbor, care for the marginalized, mercy, justice, love of enemy, embrace of the outsider, dignity, humility, etc… etc… is a duh if you are a follower of Christ (not to say that you have to be a follower of Jesus to practice these things).
Now before you damn me (if you are still reading). I will give my main point to offer a couple of thoughts from a Christian participant in this conversation. In his book “On Earth as it is in Advertising”, Sam Van Eman convincingly makes the point that most advertising (including mediums beyond commercials) pulls at our soul strings in order to get our money. Sam’s starting presupposition (Christian perspective) is that all of humanity (men and women) are broken due to sin. I am owning my presuppositions as much as possible to let the reader know that I obviously know that for some “sin” is not only not true, but a dangerous belief due to damage to a person’s self-worth. This, however, is not a post about that. It seems that every blog post that could cause offense, however, needs to die the death of a thousand qualifications so that a person realizes we are talking about ideas in an attempt to consider many angles and not just trying to tick people of the opposite opinion off. Our time is a time of reactionary absurdity of being offended by things that should not be given the air time that they do (when no loving and philosophical conversation is possible to ensue).
Sam’s book offers the illustration of the SimGospel. Because humanity longs for God, meaning, worth, value, life-to-the-full we will try to find remedies. We in our sinful experience are drawn to things that simulate the Gospel (Good news about our hopeless evil situation). We long to be saved. We long to be redeemed and live in a world where love and peace flow exhaustively (especially toward ourselves). The world/creation, however, does suffer due to wicked choices done by humans.
SO… my thoughts (which that is all they are) is that Gillette’s gospel is not sustainable since its purpose is derived from it’s end-goal of money. I believe that ethics are derivative of something or someone. For me, that is that ethics and morality are derived from a response of a human to a/the Holy God (To unpack “Holy” here is too big of a task for this post, but acknowledging this since it is a word that one might think I am using loosely in order to further Christian-Godspeak which isn’t necessarily helpful… or my point!).
The mediums, stories, and emotions that companies use to sell their products achieve their purposes. Profit. Profit is not, in my opinion, the problem. It is how we are moved in such a manner by the content that reaches for our souls to get to our wallets. Gillette cannot provide what human suffering/evil needs in order to address the problem. It is commend worthy to note the positive humanitarian call in the commercial. Those who bear the name of Jesus might remember to discern the reality that all truth is God’s truth and can be found throughout the creation. Jesus followers must remember that we often should not fit into a ditch of cultural or political assumptions. We must prophetically stand in a third stream to try and be a voice that points to the person full of Grace and Truth. Jesus. The Gospel is the Gospel. We must think through what the New Testament writers tell us about our identity before we quickly and completely baptize a SimGospel.
Instead of Gillette 3:16, I believe the Apostle Paul reminds what the Holy Spirit produces in those who are in a surrendered relationship with Jesus Christ: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the real Gospel and ironically is too quickly characterized, misunderstood, or rejected. And then out of nowhere… occasionally it can be popular for a season when it is presented through a slick medium.

GOD NEEDS YOUR MONEY! (just kidding)

Ministry is the only profession that retains nothing to itself, gives away all its knowledge free, and invites those served to do the same work“. -Klyne Snodgrass

I often encounter people in my American culture that once they find out that I am a pastor/Christian/associated with church (or in their understanding “organized religion”) they usually have a pre-packaged opinion of who I am, what I am a part of/believe, and possibly a fear of what I may attempt to “shove down their throat” (In Jesus’ loving name of course).

I love talking about belief and faith. I do have a Christian identity, and that can sometimes be a difficult reality when connecting with people that do not share that identification. There are many reasons for the potential disconnects between me and others when my Christian identity is known, but one of the main ones is the church’s reputation with money.

From creepy pastors and/or priests who betray God, their congregants, (and the watching world) trust through inappropriate/sexual misconduct to sketchy-but-slick-talking tele-evangelists’ pyramid schemes who dupe lonely T.V. watchers with their “magic” anointed hanker-chief type antics… the church’s reputation remains in critical condition in 2019.

Most priest and pastors of Christian churches are not those described above. Although all humans (including the spiritual leaders) are capable of evil, many are decent, honest, caring individuals that want to better the world from their deepest convictions often stemming from their love for God and neighbor. Most pastors are not the name-it-claim-it-rather-than-exegete-it types. Many pastors hate asking for money, but realize that it is a part of keeping the ministry going and helping people respond to God with their lives (I am also not saying that they are against faith in God’s provision).

This post is mainly to reflect on “the elephant” too often in the room when it comes to many people’s objection to church… giving money (or more particularly being asked for money). Most Americans have been in a worship setting where a plate or basket was passed to everyone for a collection of tithes and offerings. This can be perceived by many as a medium or act of worship (rightly so). Others who might have second thought opinions about how a church uses the money gathered and still others feel that the church only exists for financial gain.

Unless an individual becomes popular through media, books, or building a large church, most do not become wealthy from ministry (Most churches are smaller congregations, not mega with the mega bucks). On top of the potential low pay that comes with pastoral positions, Bible college and Seminary can be an expensive investment when many must take loans out in order to get the schooling needed for their vocation.

The church has a lot to overcome with its reputation in our culture concerning money. Church attendance continues to decline and the entertainment church, I believe, has a shelf life. As the older generations that were/are faithful to institutions decline, churches will have to be creative (but faithful) in their attaining and usage of funds (hopefully it is attained as a result of healthy discipleship).

The scriptures say a lot about money. Jesus said a lot about money.

 The irony is that ministry is done with money and often used to show tangible love through the meeting of other’s needs. This must not be forgotten. So there is this both/and reality to the church and money. We should be known by our love… not by our requests for money. The church’s reputation needs a money makeover.

Churches, however, if they continue to function like franchises of denominations (in my opinion) will have an uphill battle. Pastors currently function similar to that of general managers of a local food chain. Seasonally many put out the newest product-type-program/gimmick-media-décor to attract, retain, and impress attendees (and hope they tithe or at best TIP). This too is a both/and in my opinion. Communication mediums should be done well. They should also be evaluated for their purposes and where they point the attention to.

It is expected that people who connect, get involved, and love God want to express and respond with the most tangible ways like giving. The issue arises when the bills roll in and the building projects are too often funded by things hoped for but likely to be borrowed that the watching world gets distant. “Attractive church” is usually pitched/advertised as fun, safe, and sterile. In order to keep up the hype, however, big wheels need to keep on turning. The world gets reminded to get distant because burned out people talk… (a.k.a. they social media). When a church burns people out through expectation and exhaustion the bad news of money need (rather than the good news) spreads like a wildfire.

I “get” the attractive attempts by churches, but this too requires massive amounts of time, money, and volunteer energy. The issues are complex and many churches that do ministry like this do it well. The answer is not necessarily to boycott this approach (I don’t think anyway). The answer is also not to be so boring and waste people’s time through careless, thoughtless, boring homilies from the Bible and do music mediums poorly while still begging for money to keep an old ship floating.

The reality is that the Church (in all its forms) has done much good in each community to add value and meet the needs of people who would often be forgotten. This post cannot begin to highlight (and is not the purpose here) the mammoth ways that people who come to faith in Jesus end up changing the world for the better (through the generosity of the church).

This includes churches of all sizes and approaches to reach out to their world. It is a reminder to the Church to be the best steward as possible with their reputation through their use of people’s worship (giving). It is a reminder to those mad at the church for asking people to give money to be fair/reflective and also acknowledge how much churches help their local community (even if some are more obnoxious than they should be). Giving is not a sad thing. What is sad is that too many object going to a church for fear of feeling obligated or guilted into giving. Nobody should ever feel that God needs their money.

the reality is more  intense than money… God wants their life.

The good news is that God is a good steward and has a great reputation when it comes to giving grace and eternal life.

 

Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 224.

“Jesus and Marginalized Women” by Stuart Love -Book Review by Josh Kilsch

This was a book I read for my Gospel of Matthew Course. Interesting for the Interested.

Key take away: MERCY

Love’s book provides perspective to the context of the material in Matthew’s Gospel concerning those that are marginalized, particularly women. He argues with detail, as he explores this topic through social theories/models. Love explains “marginalized” through the social scientific definition by Gino Germani. In this definition, the “lack of participation” in a social sphere is key. The idea of marginalized individuals has many facets (7). His exegesis is an addition to gender studies in Matthew due to his multiple model exploration (22-23).

He contrasts the ancient social norms with our assumed social norms. Love argues that there are major differences in our current social dynamics that do not simply translate to the past (and vice versa)[i]. It is not simple enough to argue that Matthew’s gospel only promotes egalitarianism (50, 57, 65, 239). It is most surprising and educational to realize that Matthew’s text (and the rest of the NT) does not necessarily defend current liberal or conservative perspectives of justice and mercy. The answers from the NT to our current social questions are multi-layered and not simplistic. Love explores four women who are deemed marginalized in some way in Matthew.

Matthew writes through an advanced agrarian worldview (30). The agrarian societies of the past provided challenging structures to those dependent on bodily strength. The industrialized societies of recent times have created opportunities for the marginalized (35-41). Matthew is at home in this world (why wouldn’t he be? [62]) and Jesus illustrates truth through the household model (41-49). Love highlights the deviation from the expected structures through Jesus elevation of children, servanthood, and women (49-51, 61). The focus on women is where Love takes his study. Women are brought out as “symbolically significant” to challenge and reflect God’s intentions and transformative mission in the world (61-63, 66, 96)[ii].

Chapter three lays the further groundwork for Love’s study of the four women in Matthew. It is apparent that women had many excluded functions (especially in public) in the agrarian society both in Roman and Jewish contexts. (64-76). The religious leaders are very at home in the agrarian world of male dominated structures (92). Love argues that Matthew’s reference to “disciples” refers to males (responsible to teach) but does not degrade women or exclude them from being defined as responding followers of Jesus (77-82).

Another social group in Matthew’s Gospel which included women are the mentioning of crowds (87, 93). It was noted that Matthew alone is the one to mention that the tax collectors and prostitutes also known as sinners would be included in the Kingdom of God (82-83, 154). The evidence that Jesus gives dignity to women is provided in His defense of them and the constructive criticism he has of some excepted male behavior (87).

Chapter five explores the bleeding woman and the resurrection of the leader’s daughter. Love explains that both of these stories dealing with healing in public and private settings speak to Matthew’s community (115, 128). In both stories we find Jesus restoration of bodily function, removal of shame, and full life to a girl on the opposite social spectrum of the hemorrhaging woman (127-129, 132-136). These stories speak to those experiencing Jesus’ miracles and also Matthew’s community faced with how to think about heaven come on earth.

Chapter five dives into the healing of the Canaanite’s daughter. Love again rethinks the historicity of the event and concludes that it was constructed for early missionary purposes… which I am not sure that I agree (138, 158). The woman is one that is deemed culturally marginalized, and Love concludes that there is still a mission to non-Israelites (Matt. 28:18-20 [146-148]). Jesus’ “mission has been complicated” by this event/woman… and “he has extended the core value of mercy and crossed over his own defined limit to “go nowhere among the Gentiles” (10:5) [157].

In chapter six Love reflects on the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet and who “crashes” the meal while providing prophetic symbolism of Jesus’ passion (182, 185, 197). The three references to the women who stand by Jesus in his passion, burial, and after the resurrection attest to the gap they fill in the absence of the male disciples (195-196, 199).

Technology (and modern machinery) in the modern periods has drastically changed the “playing field” that once was considered impenetrable by women (230-232). The NT does not pretend to understand and speak to all future societies that could exist. It does, however, argue the norms of the Spirit of the Kingdom of God… Inclusion, Mercy, Restoration.

The take away from Love’s book is that the Kingdom of God that Jesus’ proclaimed and built his community of followers into is tethered into obedience, justice, mercy, and love that is not self-serving. Matthew’s God is a God of mercy (16,239-240). “Mercy” could possibly be the defining word for Matthew and Love’s study. He writes with depth and balanced ideas to approach a hot topic. I recommend this to all those who are students of the Gospels and want more conversation with an important conversation.

I like what Love says when he writes:

No longer is gender, family status, ethnic background, religious patronage, or socio/economic circumstance the basis for religious standing before Israel’s God. The Evangelist’s community is not an egalitarian group, but neither is it to correspond to the “agrarian mould”-and therein is the rub, the give-and-take between these two social actualities” (96).

Matthew’s community and audience must reflect on what this means for each period in which humanity attempts to do life with a bent toward dominance and selfish striving (165). Jesus’ disciples can change the world as they actually follow Jesus.

[i] i.e. Honor and Shame societies, healing in non-Western societies, purity issues covered in chapter four (102-112; and 169).

[ii] Love, quoting Anderson, writes, “Women of the Gospel fulfill extraordinary roles… while remaining in subordinate and auxiliary positions to men”. One further sees the both/and approach of God’s communication and action in the world through the settings in which Jesus came and Matthew wrote (23).

WORK CITED:

Love, Stuart L. Jesus and Marginal Women: The Gospel of Matthew in Social-Scientific Perspective: Eugene, OR. 2009. Print

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