Unanswered Prayers, God’s Silence and the Demand for the Instantly Miraculous

We demand in our prayers instant healing, instant riches, instant love, instant solutions to all our problems. We insist God intervene consistently with miraculous answers to all human dilemmas. A few weeks ago, I attempted to answer this question: What good is prayer, in a practical sense?  When I try to pray for the nation [Read More…]

Unanswered prayer, lies and more lies

I left Evangelicalism mostly because of lies about how God answers prayer and keeps all faithful Christians safe. Those lies clear God of all responsibility for human horrors but still insist He (always “he”) stays in total control of everything. Dear Thoughtful Pastor: What good is prayer, in a practical sense?  When I try to [Read More…]

Did you pray and then walk away? You’ve done nothing.

Calls for prayer pop up immediately. Everybody’s “thoughts and prayers” are posted in public places. Churches open with prayer services advertised. Religious leaders offer statements to be read in worship. Legislative bodies routinely practice their mandatory moment of silence. Citizens gather in civic spaces for ecumenical prayer. During Sunday worship, many if not most churches [Read More…]

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Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: When Will They Pray? Good Friday Meditations

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I have visited a number of churches in the last few years. Often I wonder during the services, “When are they going to pray?” Every year on Good Friday, my mom made us sit still for three hours from noon to three. She reminded us that Jesus was on the cross. Why [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: The Final Judgment and Church Demands

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: The Bible tells us that as Christians Jesus forgives us for our sins (our sins are erased), but then it also says we will answer for them when we get to heaven. There is comfort in knowing that if we repent we are forgiven of our sins and they are forgotten, but [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Why Can’t We Have an Ideology like ISIS?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Is there or should there be a push for an inter-faith message transmitted via sophisticated communication media that counters the narrative ISIS is using to seduce young people?  I don’t mean inter-faith get-togethers, which we already have, but rather a strong, concerted outreach to young people that offers what they seem to [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Facebook Fights and Prayers for the Dead

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I’m torn between being reactive and being Christian and taking the ‘high road’. My predicament. Last night as I reviewed my Facebook News Feed, I saw a friend’s post and immediately felt compelled to post something nasty back. My friend said he should unfriend “my leftist liberal fb friends!” Further comments followed [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Failed Marriages and Mental Illness

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: How does one trust this institution of marriage after a failed one? Oh, this is a short question heavy with layers of hurt, disappointment, sadness and often despair. I am genuinely sorry. Every culture essentially reinvents marriage. It’s a fluid institution and ongoing experiment.   I’ve been reading recently about the history of [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Hate the Sin of Homosexuality or Assume Truth?

How can conservative Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin support  and show respect to their gay family members, coworkers, and friends in ways that will not compromise their personal faith? The adage, “love the sinner, hate the sin,” is blatantly offensive to those who do not believe that homosexuality is sinful. Is there [Read More…]

Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: Disaster Tourists and Changing the Paths of Tornadoes

What motivates people to show up after disasters to do the rubber-necking thing? I call them “disaster tourists” because they cause huge congestion and keep the trained workers from doing what must be done. Why do we love action movies where cars blow up and ships sink and buildings collapse? What is it that draws [Read More…]