Paternal Concerns – A Message on Naming God

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A message based on Isaiah 49:8-16.Naming God is difficult at best, divisive even in its mildest form, and can be thought of as sacrilegious at its worst. I was confronted squarely with this reality as I entered Divinity School. I can only begin to tell how excited was was to be accepted into Divinity School at Wake Forest. I had only applied to Princeton, Duke and Wake Forest and quite frankly had low hopes of being accepted into any of them. I still remember the day my acceptance l … [Read more...]

Jesus Responds to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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(Based on and adapted from Matthew 25:34-45, The Message)Then Jesus will say to those on the left, "Enter, you who are blessed by God. Receive what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was hungry, thirsty, homeless and shivering because I was a refugee and you welcomed me … [Read more...]

A Prayer on Letting Go of “Magical” Prayer

Good and gracious God,Not my will, but thy will.Letting go  of prayer that is somehow magical can be a very difficult thing to do.To have the power to change your will, to change you, is appealing  in a most human way.We confess  that our understanding of prayer is slippery and seldom certain.We know what we want it to be, most of the time, but it is so difficult  to grasp it's true potential: not to change you and not specifically to change the world but to … [Read more...]

A Minister’s Letter to a Small God

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To a Too Small God,I don't really know how to say this. Honestly, if you were a bigger god this would be so much easier. If you were bigger, you could take the questions and I wouldn't be so worried about hurting you.Look, I've been trying to make this "us" thing work for awhile now, but it just feels so increasingly and shamefully dishonest that I can't take it anymore.This is it. You are just too small of a god. We're finished.I've known it for awhile, but it all came … [Read more...]

Saving God: The Liberation of an Institutionalized God

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The Church is in the midst of a powerful, unparalleled transformation.Many, including myself, have deemed it the death of the Church. And, while it is true that the Church is on a voyage that will leave behind what it once was, the idea of a “dying” church is incomplete. Incomplete in the reality that one of the most defining stories in Christianity is all about death not being an ending, but, rather, being a new beginning.Not surprisingly, in the midst of this metamorphosis, the Church … [Read more...]

A Prayer on the Event of Hate Induced Killing

trying to pray

Good and gracious God,Humanity's inhumanity to one another is an all too present historical reality.What is it about our humanity that allows us to get so caught up in the differences in our outward appearances and practices that we bracket out the glaring actuality that we are more alike on the inside than any outward differences should ever be capable of overcoming?Hate is so consuming. It consumes our thoughts. It consumes our hearts. It consumes our … [Read more...]

God’s Dear John Letter to the U.S.

letter with quill pen

Dear John and Jane Public,Honestly, don't fret over it. I get it. Dear God, I get it.You've found a new god.Truthfully, I've seen this coming for awhile. I tried to deny it. I even tried to change it. (I have to admit, even in all my divine wisdom, I just did not see the whole MLK, contemporary prophet thing not working. But humans, YOU try to figure them out). You know, there was a brief time just after 9/11 when I thought we were going to make it. I really thought you finally … [Read more...]

Letter to a Dying Church

church graveyard with words

With the latest Pew Research report, we've seen lots of bloggers either wringing their hands over it or trying to prove it doesn't signal the end of the Church. I think it is clearly a sign of a dying Church – and I think that's a good thing.To the Dying Church,I hardly know what to say. Watching someone you love, who helped raise you, who cared for you when you weren't well, who partially defined who you would be, slowly perish before your eyes is difficult to say the least.I love y … [Read more...]

The Atonement of the Cross is a Hell of a Thing

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“Sandlin’s Jesus isn’t much different from a Gandhi or a Nelson Mandela, great leaders who inspired people to suffer and die for the sake of others, but he cannot take your sins away.” – Michael BirdIt would seem that I owe my sparring partner, Michael Bird, in this “Head to Head” series a "thank you" note or something. I mean, I realize that quote was meant as a jab, but I am honestly flattered. I believe we are all on different paths, seeking the same thing which we frequently name “God.” … [Read more...]

Why Viewing the Cross Through Atonement Creates a God I Can’t Worship

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This article is part of the new Head to Head debate feature at Patheos. This week, in concert with our Engaging Easter coverage, I'm debating Evangelical Channel's Mike Bird of "Euangelion". The question... … [Read more...]