Category Archives: Uncategorized

Abortion Reflection

When I look at each of our children and I reflect on them in their mother’s womb from their conception, formation, and delivery, there was unmistakably the totality of a person, each one a masterpiece that vulnerably came the way we all come (if not murdered). I used the word murdered because no matter how you slice it that is the intense reality embodied in the action taken in abortion.

Of course one can use deceptive language and happier euphemisms as to avoid the reality of the facts (years ago this would have been speculation but now it is by ignorance or by willful ignorance). This fake-happy “choice”-talk grew into a philosophy that still mutates which (ironically) is allowed to originate by a human and then be entertained and given possibility in the mind of a human who by the same processes were brought into existence… and then that human is given the opportunity to become all that was there to begin with… a person with a voice. Then the horrific philosophy (detached from personal responsibility) stood on declared freedoms to make rationalizations about so called rights to justify the thing all humanity fears and hates, which is death. And the result is death is carried out when one feels decided, backed in a corner, or conveniently bothered. The fake-choice-talk is furthered for political banter while Usually proclaimed and championed by a political party who favors humanitarian causes (often under borrowed half versions of Christianity’s concepts of justice) in their speech but denies it fundamentally in the practice of their actions (this is not a pure unqualified shout out to the Right either).

This to me is one of the most absurd tragedies of our present age. Sadly it is also a fundamental apologetic for the Christian scriptures description of humanity’s alienation from the living God.

This is not to damn the individuals (who suffer greatly) but to criticize a philosophy of opportunity for death legalized by our advanced society.

#abortionhurtsall #lifeisvaluable

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

“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

Jehovah’s Witness Funeral Part 2.

Francis Schaeffer  (20th Century Philosopher and Xian Apologist) talked about “going where Truth leads”. That is my motto. There are some things that I will choose not to read, but these are for personal reasons and convictions that I have arrived at over time. I do, however, try to understand the framework of other people’s beliefs and honestly listen to their questions and objections to my beliefs with open ears and heart. The irony to me… is that my openness to the faith of others is due to my studies of the Christian scriptures. My journey has made me more open to seeking truth (TRUTH) than shying away from the difficult task. I don’t have answers to everything about my Christian faith, but I am not closed off to the questions or materials that would challenge me to do a double take and reflect a little longer beyond what the Church, pastors, fear of hell, or parents have told me to believe.

So… with that… My good friend John had a friend who’s relative had died. This is how I made it to the JW funeral. I was humbled to be there. Many good people mourning the loss of their friend. I was the outsider in their midst… (I did not feel dressed for the occasion, but I did have my sleeve of tattoos covered!). I walked in late (never have been in a Kingdom Hall before). It was a small but warm worship space. The room was packed, and I arrived just in time for it to start.

I looked through the memorial bulletin as some decent music was played. Soon a gentleman (pastor, elder, minister I assume) began to talk about the deceased life. The funeral was nothing out of the ordinary from my Christian/Protestant experiences except when it came to the scripture usage. The minister used the often-quoted funeral passages from Ecclesiastes, Gospel of John (John 11, not John 1 or John 14!), Psalms, and Revelation. The main theological point that was drove home was the certainty concerning the deceased destination which was the grave (Ecclesiastes was used to make this part of the case closed). The deceased was asleep awaiting the resurrection to the earthly paradise.

I think… It was kind of hard to follow. Of course, I had my own presuppositions about the JW theology concerning death, annihilation, and the revered (or coveted) 144,000 (those who actually make it to heaven). I heard the name Jehovah used at any opportunity and Jesus was only mentioned when he was caring about “Lazareth” (should be Lazarus, not sure if that was an honest mistake of combining Lazarus with Nazareth or if there is a legitimate usage of Lazareth to describe the man from Bethany (John 11). Anyways… what my main take away from this was…

The minister did a good job of honoring the deceased’s life. Those from the congregation that showed were dressed finer than any funeral I had been to before. The elderly woman sitting next to me was incredibly faithful to try and thumb through her NWT Bible to attempt to follow along.

As I sat there in the short 30 minutes of the service, I had a lot of feelings. I reflected on the theology I was being handed. I was feeling the loss of those in the room. I also had a couple of other observations… Most Protestant funerals I have been to you don’t see many people bring their Bibles to. The usage of scripture was extensive (even if I thought the usage was misleading and furthered group think). I was forced to also reflect on the importance of what outsiders to Protestant Christian funerals feel/think when they attend. I was invigorated at rereading the theology of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This post is already super long… Sorry (kind of). A few of take away questions that could (and is meant to) spur further thought and contrast. These are obviously from what I believe… which I believe to be derived from Orthodox Christian beliefs:

  1. What does a JW do with the unavoidable failed predictions of the return of Christ of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s?
  2. Should an individual be only allowed to ask questions that a faith organization is comfortable answering? Should a faith organization practice strict information control? (as mentioned, I recognize that my tribe has been guilty of this too).
  3. According the Christian scriptures… Is God’s name Jehovah? Or is this an issue of letters from Adonai being placed in the YHWH and then a German pronunciation of the “Y” as a “J”? According to the Bible and History is God’s revealed name Yahweh/Trinity? (This is a fascinating question to me, and it is meant as thought provoking… not a slam toward JW’s)
  4. Who was Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Rutherford, and Nathan Knorr and how does one qualify as being the only authority on interpreting/translating Scripture?

I have a bias against JW theology (not against people who have these beliefs) for the nature of their origins and their beliefs not corresponding to exegetical and historical scrutiny (my opinion). This, however, does not mean that I think that the people are bad or should be silenced etc. I simply disagree and know that many would disagree with me. An observational difference (too often) is that I would listen to their points of argument and in my experience, they would not do the same. When we have closed communication concerning our faith or an indecency regarding how we communicate our beliefs we all lose.

My Updated “About” Page

Just wanted to take a moment to highlight my blogs “About” section. Thanks for taking your time to read!

In my undergrad degree I took a course on Worship (Christian). We were required to read a book by Robert Weber entitled “Worship Old and New”. A thought from that book has stayed with me. “The early Church gathered to retell the saving events of God… predominately the Exodus deliverance and Cross/Resurrection Events…” Weber continued to explain the different mediums that were involved regarding how God’s saving stories were retold. They would meet in homes, fields, over meals, with singing, with musical instruments, with drama, with Psalm sharing, scripture reading, prayer, and most of all through action in their world through radical relationships filled with Mercy and Grace. Jesus was their TORAH. Resurrected Jesus was their proclamation. Dynamic selfless Love was their ethic. My experience growing up was that Worship was mainly synonymous with music forms. This sadly truncates the more full reality of worship or worth-ship.

This site is a place to read my musings and opportunity to participate in creating thought and conversation starters regarding faith.

Everyone will attribute worth to something with their life. One picture of the word/concept worship in the ancient world regarded their posture in which they approached the king. They did not come in with their head held high or with their own agenda. I have the mental picture of opportunity, awe, or fear with someone crawling into a earthly king’s presence. Whether the king was good or bad was probably always on the minds and hearts of the people (esp. the person coming into the king’s presence).

The people had the same relationships with their gods. This is where the God of the Christian scriptures stands in stark contrast to the kings and gods that were not of good character. Not different… non-existent… The biblical concept of Israel’s God is that this God was/is Holy (meaning different or set apart). This God was worthy of attributing life worth to because this God was/is good (in the truest sense of the word). N.T. Wright says that we become like what we worship. I believe that is true. The biggest warning of dehumanizing an individual in the Bible is the worship and keeping of idols. Idols are items that captivate us to the point of addiction and are not life giving. As opposed to icons, idols fixate on themselves and become a hopeless god. Not a living or life providing God.

Jesus is the full expression in human form of Israel’s God.

Since the Church is not really a building or institution… but the community of those that profess that Jesus is God and has risen from the dead, those who want to be His disciples on earth, those who want to take action for the betterment of the world… consider this a form/extension/type of church space… Maybe it will evolve into more…

We all have a story. We all find worth in something or someone. I would like to provide a space to think and reflect on the one who I think is worth attributing your entire story to. Jesus.

The DNA of a church/groups that meet in Kansas where I live has already been in the works. More of this to come.

Pastor Josh Kilsch

Selfies, Death, Hope, 2019

A friend of mine recently went to a seminar that encouraged parents to be engaged with their kids’ use of social media. The ill impact of mindless hours of scrolling through “news” feeds on one’s Facebook is a complex reality (not just for kids). My friend brought back a reflective statistic that basically acknowledged that on average people will have spent 11 years of their life on Facebook and 1 full year of taking selfies! This is a powerful thing when one thinks how one spends their short life. Sleeping, working, and eating take most of our lives and along the way we try to make and maintain meaningful relationships.
Another year gone. New outcomes at the end of this one. New plans and resolutions to make it happen and unwire bad habits. I often think about (sorry if it seems morbid) about how short life is and how close death is for each of us (even if it seems like we have a lot of time ahead). Not very hopeful sounding am I?
I do, however, have a lot of hope and I attribute that hope to my Christian Faith. This past year I performed the funeral for four different people that died. I have been a bi-vocational pastor for a few years and I am on the backup list of who to call when one of our local funeral homes need a pastor (for multiple reasons including that the deceased individual didn’t have a church affiliation or that other Xian pastors refused to perform the service).
Funerals are a major part of a full-time pastor’s role in Christian service to the church and community. For me, most of my time is not spent in Christian church buildings or settings. My experience is a lot like most of the lay people in Christian congregations, and it is a very interesting feeling when I step into those moments to be and perform the high task of servicing the dead and their families. The key point I am trying to make with all this part is that dealing with and thinking about death is something we as Americans try our best to avoid. We want to feel alive. We want the moments that we get to last. Most all of us are shocked when death happens. Some people have been blessed to live long lives and many often realize how fast life had gone. Death definitively feels like a blow. It sucks. The biblical story, however, is never shy regarding the grit of life and death (as so many people have assumed). Words and concepts like “peace”, “save”, “hope”, “resurrection” etc. carry the revelation that God’s plan is not death of creation but the restoration of it. Death’s sting is even questioned by the Apostle Paul.
So… what does this have to do with a year of your life spent on selfies? One thing is that there is a reminder that life is precious and short. Maybe that we would spend that time and those selfies a bit more serious this year. This morning was the first morning of 2019 and I took a picture of my kids and I eating breakfast together at our family dinner table (Andrea was at the gym working out and practicing her stuff for her class). When I snapped the picture, I had thoughts that dealt with how special the moment we were sharing was. This was a moment I wanted to hold onto while realizing someday this picture would be far in the past.
Simultaneously I had a flashback memory that brought emotion to the forefront of my mind. In college and when Andrea and I were first married, I worked at Chipotle. Within the first few months of working there one of my managers died. A couple of months later another manager shot himself at his home (I still think about him when I see our Betty Crocker Cookbook, he gave us for our wedding gift). Both guys were in their early forties. I was age 22.
The first manager I mentioned was named John, and he died of a heart attack. The second manager (Cory) of despair and self-infliction. John’s family had a funeral for him at a local church and we went to pay our respects. I never heard again from Corey’s family. I was as close to John as most people are to their co-worker/managers in that kind of work. I was not that close to him as others might have been, but I do remember him being a good guy as far as I had been able to know him. At his funeral we stood in the back of the room and outside of a couple people from work we didn’t know anybody else there. They started a common video containing pictures of his life. Life with his friends and family.
I remember a rush of emotions coming over me while I was watching the video and his kids watching the pictures go by. Almost twelve years have gone by since that seemingly forgettable moment, but I remember the universal human experience of what loss of life feels like. I think that this was the first time I had reflected on death in that kind of way. Someday will be each of our turn for death. I know that those can be for some very intense thoughts going into 2019. Let’s make the moments of each breath and day we are given. For those of us who know what faith in Christ means, let us share that with one another and share that hope through our love this coming year. Death is not the end.
One of my favorite bands released a song from their upcoming album. Demon Hunter’s song “On My Side” explores the ideas of 1 Cor. 15:55 and Romans 8:31. Ryan from the band explained that because of Christ, death is not a period. Hope in Christ gives hope for the now and the eternal. Lyrics below:

“On My Side”
I’ve been waiting, give me a sign
There’s nothing left to face, only the time
I see shadows, devils, decline
I’ve lost my faith in us, found my design
So now…
Where is the enemy
I can feel no bite
Where is the enemy
When death is on my side
Something building, raging inside
This hope gave me release, gave me a why
Can’t shake this ground beneath, I came to fight

Consuming victory
The trumpets calling out to me by name
By name
No looming debt for me
No, death will find his aim to be in vain
In vain
-Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter)

Link to YouTube Song below:

Demon Hunter “On My Side”

Revision of Our Compelling Visions

Listened to Tony Robbins this morning on goals. I paraphrase below: He mentioned how having a compelling vision (the why) of our goals PULLS us toward them. If we simply rely on PUSHING ourselves toward a goal that requires will power (which takes more and is not usually sustainable at intense levels). We need push (will power) and pulls (compelling vision) but pulls will help us more for the endurance toward the goals.

What new visions of the future do I need to evaluate and create?

What old visions of the future do I need to find compelling again?

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