Unfinished Business

130829 I Have a Dream Today

I originally delivered this as a keynote address for The Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service at Allen Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon on January 15, 2012. As we reflect on Dr. King's legacy together today, I wanted to share these words again.This evening, we have gathered together to remember, celebrate and act upon the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We have unfinished business to which we must attend. God is not fi … [Read more...]

Boast In Christ, Not Name Brands

cross of christ built into a brick wall

What would the Apostle Paul write to the American church today? Among other things, I believe he would write: Boast in Christ, not name brands. He wrote on this theme of boasting in God in Christ to the Corinthian church in the 1st century (See 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18; see also his discussion of boasting in 2 Corinthians 11; cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24).The Corinthian Christians clothed themselves in autonomy from Christ. Like Adam and Eve, they were being led astray by the … [Read more...]

Bring It Home with John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden”


In East of Eden, John Steinbeck brought home the biblical story of Cain and Abel to Salinas, California, where he grew up. Do you bring home this cosmic story to your life by recounting and overcoming it? Whether or not you and I tell the story, we live it every day. Jealousy, rejection, abandonment, revenge, forgiveness, and hope.Cain felt that God had rejected him and his offering for his brother and his gift. In a fit of jealousy and rage, Cain killed Abel. He left the presence of the … [Read more...]

“I Love Jesus, But Not My Mother.”

Beautiful pregnant woman in the park

I originally posted this piece on March 6, 2012. As I prepared once again to teach ecclesiology this semester,  I reflected upon these themes and thought them pertinent in the present context.Much has been made of the video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” by Jeff Bethke . Even Time has entered the conversation. The video has been watched countless times since it appeared in early January. Regardless of what one makes of Bethke’s words, one cannot question his ability to connect with you … [Read more...]

Good Shepherds in an Age of Charismatic Preaching and Cutting Edge Marketing


We live in a church age that values charismatic preaching and cutting edge marketing. But do we value good shepherding? What makes for good shepherding?Jesus tells us a thing or two or three about good shepherding in John 10. Fresh off the confrontation with the religious establishment of his day over the man born blind whom Jesus healed (recorded in John 9), Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd, not like those religious shepherds who fail to care for God’s people (Compare this text w … [Read more...]

Which Does Jesus Like More—Old Wine or New Wine?


Which does Jesus like more—old wine or new wine? I’m not sure. While I have heard it said that Jesus actually turned water into grape juice at the wedding in Cana (recorded in John 2), it was new wine. I’m not sure of the alcohol percentage, though. All we know is that it was better than what they had been drinking. Then he tells us in Luke 22 that he will not drink from the cup of the Lord’s Supper again until his eschatological kingdom comes in its fullness. By that time, that cup’s nectar will … [Read more...]

How Does the Pagan Play “Rent” Bear Witness to Christ?

rent pink yellow orange street

What do we make of the relation of the sacred and secular? For example, what makes Christian art Christian, if it is Christian? Do certain Christian symbols like the cross make a piece of art decisively Christian? Do the lack of those symbols make it unchristian or non-Christian? If the latter were the case, what then would one make of the Book of Esther, where God’s name is not specifically mentioned? Esther is considered sacred literature traditionally to Jews as well as Christians.I r … [Read more...]