Monthly Archives: January 2021

The Contrast Society: “See How They Love”

On the night before he was killed, Jesus huddled up with his disciples, told them what was about to happen, and laid out his expectations for them. This is what he said: “My children, I will be with you only … Continue reading

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Church and Kingdom: Not a One-to-One Correspondence

The church is where the kingdom of God takes shape on earth, but the kingdom extends beyond earth, beyond humanity, and throughout creation. Saturn and Jupiter, the Milky Way, the Horsehead Nebula, MACS0647-JD (the furthest known galaxy) are all under … Continue reading

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The Good News Church

Our lives can be proof both of God’s existence and his relevance. We we can make the good news about God attractive to the people around us (Titus 2:9). God intends you and I to be living proof. Our lives … Continue reading

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Ahem, Your Assumptions Are Showing

There are times, however, when people’s arguments are so thin that their assumptions show through, like the ribs of a famished child. This has frequently been the case during this past election cycle. When people engage in thinly veiled ad hominem arguments, their assumptions show right through.

Assumptions may be true or false, solid or porous, a helpful support or a useless frame. The beginning of 2021 is a good time to check our assumptions, make sure they are solid and are where they should be. To do this will almost certainly require a friend to look us over and tell us if our assumptions are showing. An enemy might be even better.

Inaccurate assumptions can lead to improper actions, painful emotions, and harmful results. A woman was stuck in the airport, waiting for a delayed flight. As her layover stretched into hours, she got hungry. Because she had pre-purchased an inflight meal, she bought only a bag of cookies, hoping they would tide her over. She sat down at a corner table in a crowded snack bar, opened a newspaper, and began to read.

She scanned the world and national news, then flipped through the lifestyle section. Just as she took up the business section, she heard the rustling of plastic. She lowered her paper to find a well-dressed man sitting across from her eating one of the cookies. She couldn’t believe her eyes.

She glowered at him, pulled the cookies to her side of the table, and conspicuously ate one. She then raised the paper to check what was happening in the markets. Almost immediately, he was back into the cookies. She lowered the paper again and glared at him but, the moment she raised it, he was at it again. This time she stared long and hard at him. In response, he broke the last cookie, slid half across to her, put the rest in his mouth and walked off.
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Living Christian, Living Different.

Christians are not only different in who they are but also in what they do. I know a young woman who, after her first baby was born – I’d never heard of this before – ate the placenta. I’m sure … Continue reading

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Christians Should Be Different: Here’s Why

How do we make the teaching about God attractive to people who have never given it any thought – don’t even know there is anything to think about? How do we help them trust the unseen God, when there are … Continue reading

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The Wrong Metaphor for Christian Mission

Ideas are always context dependent. They make sense within a context. Outside of that context they may have a different meaning – or no meaning at all. The words I just used to describe our role (salespeople, promoters, advance team, … Continue reading

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The “Cosmetological” Proof for God

In philosophy, there are five principal arguments or proofs for the existence of God. One of those is known as The Cosmological Proof and argues there must be a sufficient and non-contingent cause for the contingent beings and processes that … Continue reading

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COVID-19: We Could Have Done Better. Why Didn’t We?

We could have done better. COVID-19 might have been a uniter, bringing Americans together to deal with a common threat and to preserve a shared interest. We could have done what America has done before in the face of such threats: put aside what divides us and work together for the common good.

But COVID-19 has not be a uniter. Or rather, we have not been uniters. We have retreated from each other into our political, racial, and religious corners, like prize fighters, impatient for the next round so that we can deliver our jabs or maybe even a knockout punch.

Writers and social commentators are calling 2020 “The Year of COVID” and “The Year of the Coronavirus,” but this is a misnomer. 2020 was “The Year of Division.” The coronavirus merely alerted us to how deep our divisions are.

Before the coronavirus, the division between the races, always painfully present, was front and center. The division between the sexes was also highlighted by the Me-Too movement and the trial of Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men. The division between the wealthy and the poor became glaring in the light of growing income inequality.

The divisions have further divided us. Somehow Black Lives Matter turned into an argument about the value of Blue Lives. The pain and humiliation suffered by the sexually harassed led to the defamation of victims. Instead of raising concern, the income inequality numbers became a sword in the hands of political swashbucklers. COVID didn’t divide us. We were already divided.
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The Role of Witnesses: What Have We Seen?

I was invited to speak at a prayer retreat 40 miles away. The night before I left, I was up, pacing the floor, and questioning whether I should continue as the pastor of this church. We had no money, no groceries, and two kids to feed. I was having a crisis of faith. I was a dad who couldn’t take care of his family. But that night God helped me and I renewed my commitment to him. I told him he was still my portion and my very great reward and that I would trust him.

At the retreat, a woman I didn’t know asked if she could speak with me. She handed me a check, already filled out, and said, “God wants me to give this to you.” When I got home that night, I learned that people from church had dropped off groceries, which was the first time I remember that happening.

Those in-the-moment-of-need provisions became a common occurrence and, the thing is, we never told anyone (except God) of our need, not even our parents – especially our parents. We have seen how God acts in this world for the people of Jesus.

But money is just a little thing (as Jesus himself pointed out), a first-year introductory course. More important is what God is doing in our lives and our family. He has been changing us, even while – even by – allowing us a small part in what he is doing to change the world. Karen and I are satisfied. We are satisfied with life. We are satisfied with God. And with the things we are not satisfied – usually ourselves – we trust God to keep working until he is satisfied! Continue reading

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