Should we accept ourselves or despise ourselves? [reflections on Henri Nouwen and Thomas a Kempis]

nouwen a kempis

I've been reading two books simultaneously from two guys who have been deeply influential on my contemplative spirituality: Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ and Henri Nouwen's Discernment. When I discovered Nouwen at a very dark time in my life, I felt like I'd found the gospel that I never heard before: that God loves and accepts me unconditionally, and my inability to trust and embrace this wonderful truth is the reason beneath all of my sin. I had grown up thinking that if I hated and c … [Read more...]

Is it worse to humble-brag or to pull a Richard Sherman?

In the blogosphere, the key to building a platform is to make other people think your platform is bigger than it really is. Because people don't want to read your stuff unless you're already popular. What this means is you have to figure out ways to create hype and buzz about yourself. But particularly if you're in the Christian blogosphere like I am, you don't want to do it in a way that looks arrogant. So that's become the source of an epidemic of "humble-bragging" among Christian bloggers. … [Read more...]

Lord, I thank you that I’m not like those people who thank God they’re not like other people

Our senior pastor Larry Buxton, who's a baseball nut, says that parables are supposed to be stories that have a "late-breaking curveball." He threw a curveball this past weekend with his sermon on the familiar parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee says, "I thank you God that I'm not like other people," and the tax collector says, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." Pastor Larry shared that too often, we come away from this parable thinking that the moral of the … [Read more...]

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”

The gospel reading at my Monday mass was Luke 7:1-10, the story of the centurion whose servant is healed by Jesus without setting foot in his house. A line that the centurion says has become a key part of the weekly Eucharistic liturgy: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." There is something essential about that posture of humility for us to be able to encounter Christ authentically and receive the transformation that He … [Read more...]

A Call to Humility and Repentance

My buddy Derek wrote a post yesterday about how it's not inappopriate for Christians to either mourn or celebrate in response to a presidential election. I agree with what Derek had to say; it was a legitimate reminder to be gracious in responding to the emotions of our friends. I do also think that all Christians regardless of our political views need to be called to humility and repentance. We have just been through a very acrimonious campaign season in which we have all sinned by saying hurtfu … [Read more...]

“Not many of you should become bloggers.” [James 3]

James 3 opens with a statement that often makes me squirm: "Not many of you should become teachers." Often this passage is used to say that Christians shouldn't teach until their theological opinions are without error ("Your questions are welcome at our church, but if you want to become a leader, you need to have [our] answers instead of [your] questions"). I've had people question whether I should be teaching. I've been criticized for sharing my raw ideas on this blog before they are fully … [Read more...]

"Not many of you should become bloggers." [James 3]

James 3 opens with a statement that often makes me squirm: "Not many of you should become teachers." Often this passage is used to say that Christians shouldn't teach until their theological opinions are without error ("Your questions are welcome at our church, but if you want to become a leader, you need to have [our] answers instead of [your] questions"). I've had people question whether I should be teaching. I've been criticized for sharing my raw ideas on this blog before they are fully … [Read more...]

On preaching for the self-righteous bogeyman

It’s very easy to write a mediocre sermon about forgiveness. I’m already halfway down the road of doing it. The scripture text for this week seemed an obvious choice for “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” It’s the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18:21-35. It’s about a servant who owes his master thousands of dollars but has his debt forgiven only to go and throw a fellow servant in debtor’s prison for owing him a few bucks. The master finds ou … [Read more...]

“I am not the messiah!”

So how many of you know something about John the Baptist? If you had to describe him in one word, what would it be? What about humble? Well it’s not the first word that comes to my mind either. Some of you know that Pastor Larry and I try to preach on the same passage each week. So when Pastor Larry told me the topic for this week was humility and the model for humility was John the Baptist, I was perplexed. John the Baptist was loud and rude and judgmental. He was a fire and brimstone sidewalk p … [Read more...]

"I am not the messiah!"

So how many of you know something about John the Baptist? If you had to describe him in one word, what would it be? What about humble? Well it’s not the first word that comes to my mind either. Some of you know that Pastor Larry and I try to preach on the same passage each week. So when Pastor Larry told me the topic for this week was humility and the model for humility was John the Baptist, I was perplexed. John the Baptist was loud and rude and judgmental. He was a fire and brimstone sidewalk p … [Read more...]


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