Holidays Are Complicated: But You Are Loved

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. It’s probably one of the most comforting (and often-cited) verses in scripture: This year, we get a rare extra Sunday between Thanksgiving and the beginning of Advent. I’m going to use this “bonus” Sunday to remind my church folks of this good word from Jeremiah. We’re going to let its goodness and promise… Read more

At the Same Table: On God’s Economy, and Serving Two Masters

A stewardship sermon on Luke 16:1-13. The Parable of the Dishonest Manager 16 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. 2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that… Read more

Do Not Go Gentle: For Fear of Death, For Love of Guns

Do not go gentle into that good night… Rage, rage against the dying of the light.* There might have been a motive, they say. His mother-in-law goes to that church, they’re telling us now. He’d threatened her before, the story goes. So we have located a reason. So now we all breathe a little deeper, sleep a little more soundly, call our Representatives a little less frantically… Because we were not them/they/there. It wasn’t us. All will be well. You… Read more

5 Things for the Next 500 Years: The Church and the Next Reformation

Thanks to my friend Danny Gulden for this guest thoughts, as we mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this week.  It’s the beginning of the next 500 years for the Protestant Church. The first 500 really flew by didn’t they? A lot changed over those first 500 years, beginning with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door. I don’t have 95 things, but I do have a few I would like to see change in the… Read more

The Surprisingly Predictable Reason People Leave Church

Yesterday, a young woman walked into my office for new member class. I’d never met her before. Usually, folks who show up for this class have already been to church a few times and I’ve at least crossed paths and been introduced to them. But she was brand new. In this class–which I call a class, but is really just a small group opportunity to learn more about the church–I always ask people to introduce themselves and share something about… Read more

Who Markets the Gospel Better Than Church? Burger King, and Basically Everybody

Y’all know I love Church, right? LOVE it. For all of its imperfections, bumbling ways and love of minutiae, there is no collective body on earth more capable of harnessing sheer joy, world-changing compassion, and the transforming power of presence with those in need. I’m here for it, every single day. But. Sometimes we are terrible at marketing. When I say “we,” I’m talking about the larger body, the big “C” church. Advertising is, shall we say, not our spiritual gift…. Read more

40 Things For My 40th Birthday: What I’m Giving Up, Embracing, Or Not Even Worried About

I’m trying to say it out loud, so here goes: I’m 40. Four-oh. 4-times-10. FORTY. I’m 40. Today. Right this minute. Sorry for the cliche, but here I am. I do not love this. But I’m here for it. You know what I’m NOT here for? Lots of things. More and more things all the time, actually. And for my 40th birthday, I’ve compiled a list of things I’m giving up and/or letting go; or generally embracing about myself even… Read more

Footballs, Flags, and the Myth of Redemptive Violence

Guest post: Chris Furr The most popular entertainment company in America, the NFL, is slowly revealing itself as an embodiment of America’s racist past and present, dressed up in helmets and shoulder pads. When I was a bachelor, it was not uncommon for my roommates and I to spend Sundays watching NFL pregame shows, then games all afternoon and evening. 12 hours of non-stop football consumption. Becoming a husband, father and pastor has curtailed my consumption significantly, but lately it’s… Read more

Hymns for the Crossing

When you are at the funeral of a non-church person, nobody sings. Read more

Pro-Life Congressman is a Total Hypocrite, and Other Totally Unsurprising News

If that title sounds extreme and click-baity, that’s intentional. Because the headlines (and tag lines, and radio blurbs, etc) all sound equally sensationalized. After all, this story is every reporter and news outlet’s dream. Rep. Tim Murphy is well-known for his anti-abortion stance, runs on that platform, and is a current member of the Pro-Life Caucus. So when it comes to light that he urged his mistress to have an abortion, then of course that is pure ratings/web traffic/listener engagement gold. I get… Read more

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