Help! Is the End Times near as the Bible promises?

To those who hold to literal end times prophecies, the earth, as a living entity, has no particular value. The quicker they facilitate the destruction, the sooner they bring about a new heaven and earth. Dear Thoughtful Pastor:  How do you view the natural disasters, economic problems, and increased persecution of people today with the [Read More…]

Help! Do abusive people keep power by defining forgiveness?

When abusive people, those who misuse the power entrusted to them, face accusations of misconduct, they deflect the blame toward the one who has been abused. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Why is it always the abusers and their advocates that concoct numerous ways to forgive them? Here is my experience. Abusers are usually sincere. They don’t [Read More…]

Help! How do I tell my sister to hush about her husband?

My biggest life mistake is asking people to read my mind and do what I want without my having to say it.  Dear Thoughtful Pastor: My sister is separating from her husband and will soon move in with me while they decide to stay together or get a divorce. I want to be there for [Read More…]

“I’m Blessed” vs. “Why Me?” A Product of Awful Theology

Even worse, this theology of God’s absolute sovereignty and control leads to the elevation of those who, for example, may have acquired great wealth. Surely they could have only done that because God “blessed” them. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: A few minutes ago I was sitting on the back porch, looking at the new growth on [Read More…]

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…]