Help! Did God really want that child to die? Why didn’t God heal her?

We who call ourselves followers of Jesus carry the expectations that we will also heal, bring good news to the poor, offer release to the captives, give recovery of sight to the blind, and free the oppressed. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Last week, a Bible literalist church pastor was arrested in the death of his 2-year-old [Read More…]

Help! Can I forgive someone and still end the relationship?

Yes, we are expected to forgive endless times. Cultivating the habit of forgiveness makes life with others possible.  But forgiveness is not necessarily linked to friendship or reconciliation. Dear Thoughtful Pastor:  I recently ended a friendship that had, in my opinion, become toxic and harmful to my emotional well-being.  I have no doubt, whatsoever, that [Read More…]

Help! Is there any real truth in a world of “alternative facts”?

When I speak a “truth” that makes me look better and others look worse, the chances are 100% that I’m way off base from God-truth. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: The last election cycle and the first 100 days of the Trump administration have lead me to this question.  The commandment, “Thou shall not bear false witness,” [Read More…]

Help! Can I make my parents change their behavior?

Option: Confront your parents and insist they change their behavior so you feel better. Dictate precisely what you need. This has a success rate of something approaching zero. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: My parents are complicated and volatile. They have been that way since I was a child and have a very dysfunctional marriage. I love them [Read More…]

The con man, the church, human gullibility and our beliefs

Once we have spent time in a particular belief system, especially in a “church” environment that demands massive contributions, unquestioned loyalty, absorbs all spare time and which forms the entire social network for people, most don’t have enough mental energy to figure out that something is terribly wrong. A year and a half ago, I did a [Read More…]

Help! The refugee crisis: What’s the Christian way to reduce terrorism?

Should the government move to restrict egress based on nothing but “what might happen,” especially refugees seeking asylum are fleeing home-grown wars, then there is only one proper Christian response: “Bring them to me. I will care for them.” Dear Thoughtful Pastor: “Is there a better, more Christian way to minimize terrorism threats in the [Read More…]

Help! Does an all-powerful God cause the innocent to suffer?

The easy answers like “It’ll all turn out OK in the end. If it is not OK, it’s not the end” nearly make me sick to my stomach. What does that say to those who are suffering horrifically in this very moment? Dear Thoughtful Pastor: One of my lectures was on innocent suffering and how [Read More…]

Help! How come the innocents, not the perps, get hurt?

But one leader, totally absorbed in him or herself and the need to hold onto perks of leadership and prestige, can wreak havoc on the larger civilization. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I am reading about Prometheus and the good stuff he did for humanity.  Zeus does not punish Prometheus for his trickery but punishes humankind, the [Read More…]

Help! How can I do good for others when I’m such a rotten person?

It never worked. Ultimately, none escaped the “noonday demons” when the fullness of their darkness would be exposed yet once more. Dear Thoughtful Pastor, Recently, I have encountered quite a few Christians who have told me that, after they were saved, living out their Christianity has been “easy.” “You just do the right thing,” they [Read More…]

New Year/new mercies (we hope)

We have reached the end of 2016. It seems like many found this past twelve month period unusually difficult. Think of Syrian refugees, beloved celebrity deaths,  world-shocking political upheavals. I personally have friends suffering from soul-shattering health crises and even more in spiritual crisis, wondering where God is in the midst of this. As do [Read More…]