Lessons from Baltimore and the Bible: Work with the People, Not for the People

“Please respect our leadership.  Please respect the work we’ve been doing and will continue to do.  Please come and work with us and not for us.” These are the closing words to a post from leaders of local initiatives in Baltimore (here is the full post). They are responding to the wave of outsiders coming into their community in response to Freddie Gray’s tragic death and charges of police brutality. The local residents represented in this post have been engaged in… Read more

Baltimore and Beyond: Cities that Wait for the Storm Cloud to Blow Over May Blow Up

The Onion recently wrote an article titled “Baltimore Residents Urged To Stay Indoors Until Social Progress Naturally Takes Its Course Over Next Century.” Whether we approach the recent events satirically or not, our nation’s cities cannot wait for the ominous storm cloud filled with racial strife in places like Baltimore, New York, Ferguson and beyond to blow over. Cities that wait and are not alert to take proactive action to bring their divided communities together may blow up. As one civil servant in… Read more

Live Life to the Full—Work and Rest to Build Community

Jesus claimed that the Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Certain religious leaders were all worked up because Jesus’ disciples were collecting food to eat on the Sabbath (See Mark 2:23-28). Jesus explained to them that the whole point of Sabbath rest is to rejuvenate people, not enslave them. In this situation, his disciples needed to pluck heads of grain and eat to satisfy their hunger if they were to experience renewal. Like the Sabbath, which… Read more

Police the Fear of Color for the Sake of Building Beloved Community

All too often, difference causes us to retreat from one another and react in ways that further divide us. An African American man runs from a white police officer in a blue uniform because he fears what might happen to him when in custody. A white police officer pulls his gun to shoot and kill an unarmed man of color because he fears for his life, as a recent TIME magazine article notes (“Will America Now Challenge the Standard Police… Read more

Jesus Loves a Good Food Fight

In the last post, I alluded to Frodo and his companions leading a rebellion against Sarumon and his henchmen upon their return from the great battle with Sauron. How might we rebel against the forces of greed and power in our day, which destroy nature, the land’s bounty, and community? Among other things, we have to engage in a food fight—a fight over food. After all, one of the reasons why the hobbits were so successful in getting past Sauron’s… Read more

If We Were Hobbits, What Kind of Hobbits Might We Be?

In my last post, I wrote of how Jesus might have been a halfling given how central a place food had in his life and work (See Was Jesus a Hobbit?). As one would expect, Jesus would have been a good hobbit. But not every hobbit is virtuous. If you and I were hobbits, what kind of hobbits might we be? Would we be good hobbits, like Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, or less than noble halflings like Lotho Sackville-Baggins?  … Read more

Was Jesus a Hobbit? Food and Drink Feature Prominently in His Story and Kingdom Vision

There is a lot of debate as to whether or not Jesus was fully divine and fully human. Add this to the debate: perhaps he was a hobbit. After all, food and drink were such vital features of his life and work, as with Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and the other halflings.   As one spans Jesus’ life, it almost reads as if he enjoyed hobbit-like first and second breakfasts, afternoon tea, dinner, and related forms of culinary merriment (See… Read more

Multi-Faith Matters: Evangelicals in a Multi-Faith World

I am a member of a group titled “Multi-Faith Matters.” We are a team of Evangelical pastors and academics telling the stories and discovering the best practices for living in a multi-faith world with love, and without compromise. Our group believes that Evangelical Christians in North America need to come to terms with the fact that our Christian privileges are shrinking, that other traditions are increasing in presence, and that we cannot operate as if we are living in a… Read more

Blessed Are the Happy in Jesus, not Tortured, Cheated or Diseased Souls

The crowds, including the disciples, were looking for happiness. However, things hadn’t turned out well for many of them. Many were living a country western song— looking for happiness in all the wrong places. They were downtrodden, bewildered, and oppressed. However, they sensed with Jesus that perhaps their fortunes were about to change. Just maybe he was the long-expected Messiah, who would liberate them from their enemies and free them from their fears. And so, they followed him, hanging on his every word,… Read more

Die to a Martyr’s Complex—We Cannot Out-Give God

Lent is a forty day period in the church calendar, which begins with Ash Wednesday, and ends the day before Easter. It involves fasting, prayer and repentance, and emphasizes identification with Jesus. Jesus fasted and prayed for forty days and nights in the wilderness. Many observers of Lent also believe Jesus was in the tomb forty hours. Christians who observe Lent give up various comforts and habits, such as chocolate or coffee or cigarettes. Recently, Pope Francis called on the… Read more

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