Here are some sketchnotes I’ve put together as a kind of overview of some of the things I’ve tried to focus on as I was reading, studying and preaching through this difficult book. You can find the rest of the posts here.
The ‘Self-Portrait’ as Remix
A couple weeks back I showed you this image [Bob Dylan's album titled Self-Portrait]. The cover image is one that Dylan himself painted. I couldn’t find any mention of who the cover was supposed to be, but it has a certain resemblance to Pablo Picasso’s own painting also titled “Self-Portrait.” When you line these two images side by side you can see that there is a borrowing or adaptation from the one painting to the other.
Making Heads and Hands of the Mark of the Beast
If there is one aspect of Revelation that has been overused, abused and fallen prey to our constant temptation to make John’s first century letter a document that predicts the future it has to be the mark of the beast. What was the mark of the beast? What does 666 stand for?* There are many questions come up when we read passages like this.
When I read this I automatically gravitate to this unknown feature in the text. What are some of the things you have heard the Mark of Beast represented as?
Mikhail Gorbachev’s Birthmark, Obamacare, Enforced Sunday worship, One world government or The UN, Refers to a specific year, Verichip, Credit Cards
It raises a level of fascination that can be fun to imagine, but there is a problem with trying to figure out the mark: we don’t know the story behind the story. And when we don’t know the story behind the story we begin to read into it our own worldview, our own prejudices, and assumptions and this can really skew our reading and understanding of scripture. So it is essential that when we read this we remember that there is a story behind the story. Continue Reading…
Image from hellojenuine.
“But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.” (Revelation 12:11)
The work of the People
One of the signs of a true artist is a willingness to work patiently and lovingly with even the most inferior materials. -David James Duncan
David James Duncan’s novel “The Brother’s K,” is about a family that lives in Camas. Papa is a paper mill worker who has gone semi-professional in Baseball and does fairly well until he has his thumb crushed in an accident at the mill. Consequently he falls into depression and begins to abuse substances. So in an attempt to regain ground and find life his healing he build a shed. Continue Reading…
This is the message I shared at Camas Friends on Revelation 5.
[Painting by Francisco de Zurbarán — “Agnus Dei”]
Fear, Desire for control and Violence are some of the main qualities that tend to show themselves when our lives feel like they are spinning out of control.
When we first learned about our daughter’s allergies I felt all three of these responses. I was afraid because I didn’t know what it meant for our family. What changes would we have to make? What kinds of things would L. miss out on as a kid? How might this affect her emotionally, psychologically, spiritually? What if she was accidentally given peanuts when she was out of view or away from home: could we lose our child to something like a peanut allergy? Continue Reading…
The Lampstands in the Darkness
This past week the American consciousness has been tilted towards the East Coast. Every news source, every line posted to social media, and many of the prayers offered up have been on behalf of those who were injured, killed and/or traumatized on Monday in the Boston marathon bombing.
You may have been like some and couldn’t get enough of the news. Or maybe you felt like you just wanted to get away from it. I swung back and forth between these poles. Although I have to say it’s thrilling conclusion on Friday evening was captivating.
One of the things that Monday did for all of us who live in America was remind us of the simple fact that darkness is all around us. We don’t have to know the motives of the brothers, or whether they were helped by some terrorist network to know that these two young men were draw into a seductive darkness that is far more overwhelming than they clearly understood.
This darkness is seductive because it can pull even the most unsuspecting people into its influence and service. Continue Reading…
During the retreat I was on last weekend with other young leaders led by Parker Palmer and Marcy Jackson, Parker mentioned that he never writes books about things he knows, he only writes on things that baffle him.
You know the difference?
You never google the stuff you are sure of, it’s only the stuff where there is a little bit of a question or uncertainty that prompts you to look something up. But it’s more than that too: I think he means that those things that come easy for you. The things that you could do in your sleep. Aren’t they often the things that have little life in them? The easy stuff doesn’t really energize us.
It’s the challenging stuff that wakes you up and leaves us laying in bed all night mulling them over. Those things that baffle you, that confuse you, that you can’t quite get a grip on, there’s life in that. It might sometimes feel stressful, it might not always be clear the solution, but I have found at least for myself that it is usually in this bafflement that I come alive.
Unless we are dead we are on a journey. Our journeys might be more inward focused at the moment, they might be more about outward changes, but either way life is filled with journeys.
But the best kind of journeys are the ones that cost us something: where risk is involved, where we are stretched to or beyond our capacity, where we are made alive in the the process of change.
In August 2003 Emily and I packed had one of these life-changing journeys when we moved from Ohio to someplace called Pasadena where there is a little old lady who owns a new shiny red Super Stock Dodge.
This is the message I gave on Palm Sunday this year at Camas Friends.
A dinner party
When I look at this text I see a very unusual and meaningful dinner party. It is nothing like a dinner party at the White House, or what we might find on Downton Abbey – the mixed company of this group wouldn’t allow for it.
It is far more like the dinners that happen in the servants quarters downstairs.
This is because Jesus’ disciples were a very interesting and strange lot to have over for dinner. Many of whom were not people who would ever be “invited upstairs” to have dinner with the Lord of the manor. They were all a part of the poor working class of their day. Others were hungry to follow him but lacked the theological understanding or appropriate degrees. There were at least a couple of whom said they were his friends to his face but loyalty to them was rather fair-weather and flimsy. Some came from riddled pasts, broken and suffering from what others had done to them or choices they made along the way.