Pentecost Sunday: Happy Birthday, Church! Are We Celebrating a Missional Movement or a Monument?

Just as people celebrate birthdays, and nations, too, the church celebrates its birthday today on Pentecost Sunday.Pentecost is the fiftieth day after Easter (including Easter). The Old Testament backdrop is the Jewish festival of Shavuot or the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26-31; Leviticus 23:15-21). This festival occurs fifty days after the Passover celebration. The Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The Festival of Weeks celebrates God’s g … [Read more...]

Jesus, Borrowed Capital (?) and Consumer Capitalism: An Interview with Tom Krattenmaker

This is the first in a series of interviews with Tom Krattenmaker on his latest book, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don't Believe (Convergent, 2016). Tom is an award-winning USA TODAY columnist, and is the Communications Director at Yale Divinity School.I have known Tom for many years as a precious friend and vitally enriching dialogue partner. Our conversations date back to our days of living and working in Portland, Oregon. His move to the e … [Read more...]

What Does Spiritual Poverty Look Like When Filing for Bankruptcy Won’t Help You Unless You’re Donald Trump?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3; ESV). A Forbes 2011 article titled, “Fourth Time’s A Charm: How Donald Trump Made Bankruptcy Work For Him,” explains how Donald Trump was able to solve bankruptcy several times and still be a multi-billionaire. Two items the author notes are that Trump’s name brand helped him as well as that he insulated himself personally much of the time. Apart from his first experience with bankruptcy, his personal fortune … [Read more...]

On Memorial Days, Honor the War Dead, But Not Religious Propaganda

Nations have liturgies, just like religions. National and religious liturgies often blend together, including during times of war and on their Memorial Days.Just think of Israel’s history. The people of Israel went out to battle in the name of God, proclaiming that God fought for them (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22). Joshua 10:12-14 reads, At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel … [Read more...]

Prayer Does Not Inconvenience God. He Invites Us to Pray! Dare to Draw Near.

We are not inconveniencing God when we pray as Jesus’ followers. God is not indifferent, but devoted. After all, Jesus instructs us to refer to God as “our Father.” He invites us to pray to his own Father and to dare to draw near in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer.We find out quite a bit about God and about how we are to pray in Matthew 6. The verses just prior to the Lord’s Prayer and the first verse of the Lord’s Prayer read, And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For t … [Read more...]

How Inconvenient Is Your Prayer Life?

It is so easy to view spirituality in convenient and inconvenient terms today. Did the service begin and end on time? Can I access the message remotely, or must I show up in person? Is there a coffee bar on site, or do I have to stop at Starbucks on the way? Is childcare provided, or will I need to put up with noisy children? How good of a selection of religious goods and services, including service projects, will I find there, or must I supplement my spirituality with other providers? The list … [Read more...]

What Does Biblical Meekness Look Like in a Litigation-Loaded Culture?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5; ESV)John practices law and is a practicing Christian. Some might wonder how “practices law” and “practicing Christian” can go together in the same sentence, but John’s story reveals that they can.John was involved in a mediation proceeding with a former client based on a conflict between his law firm and this former client that dated back several years. John and his team sat in one room, and the other party and his la … [Read more...]