Help! Did Jesus ever laugh?

The audience, weary of burdens and regulations laid upon them by pompous Pharisees, would have tears of laughter at the “swallowing-the-camel” image. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: My son laughed in church when he heard the New Testament reading of Jesus chiding Peter about his lack of faith after he was the only one with enough faith [Read More…]

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…]

Seven pieces of institutional clutter the UMC needs to leave behind

Right now, the UMC, bound by institutional clutter, is unfree, rigid, divisive and has regulated creativity out of the system. I’m a sucker for the “25 things you need to get rid of” article. Clutter drives me crazy. I used to watch those hoarding TV shows. In so doing, I became aware of the ease [Read More…]

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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…]

It’s time. Blow up the UMC. My own breaking point.

These responses may be the breaking point for me. A church based on a theology of grace operates with the same nastiness of our current political discourse. I had planned a gentle, thoughtful post here. I have, after all, billed myself as the Thoughtful Pastor, although some certainly question the appropriateness of my claim. My proposed [Read More…]

Sexist pastors, sexist news commentators: losses and wins

Today: a possible victory for women subjected to sexist practices partnered with the long-running “Christian” and unquestionably sexist practice of keeping women’s voices subjugated. In the New York Times April 19, 2017, edition, the major editorial title reads, “Is Your Pastor Sexist?”  It’s a piece about the extremely famous NYC pastor, Tim Keller, an excellent [Read More…]

Help! I’m peace loving and don’t WANT to fight wars for Jesus

Did Jesus finish the work of defeating evil or did he not finish the work and therefore we must go to battles and wars for him? Dear Thoughtful Pastor: There is a hymn called “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”  It speaks of Christians as soldiers of the cross, marching as to war against what [Read More…]

Help! I’m poor. Should I tithe to TV preachers?

However, large religious institutions, especially those with massive expenses and infrastructures, manipulated the tithe as a way to essentially extort money from less biblically literate members. Dear Thoughtful Pastor:  In the past, I have tithed money into various ministries that I enjoyed listening to on TV. As I do not enjoy attending church, I have [Read More…]

Silence: a movie for those tired of lies about God

Silence stops in its tracks the lies that good humans won’t suffer. It strips away any surety that our right actions and beliefs will bring the results we want. I spent my formative Christian years in Evangelicalism. This world hands out books of God’s promises: Bible verses, yanked from context, that suggest God is in [Read More…]