Church Posts

Looking Both Ways

I was invited to contribute a chapter to a recent book called Looking Both Ways: At the Intersection of the Academy and the Church. The book was made in honor of one of the best college professors I’ve ever had named Dr. Joe Grana. Dr. Grana’s work and influence on others would be impossible to measure as they have affected so many people in profound ways, myself completely included. He recently retired after fifty years in ministry and education and this book was a chance for us to honor him.

The book explores a variety of ways the church and the university can overlap together. I wrote a chapter on rethinking the idea of ordination and shared some of the insights we figured out from my time in Oregon. Although I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book yet, I suspect I’m the only contributing author that mentions Lady Gaga and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Here’s a teaser quote from my chapter:

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Until My Heart Trusts My Mouth

I got to see one of my friends from out of state this week. Andy Cherry was in town and played a house show that we got to be a part of with Communion Wine Co. Andy is a worship leader as well as a singer/songwriter and recently hit one million streams on Spotify for his amazing rendition of Nothing but the Blood (see: Spotify link).

At the show this week Andy played a number of songs off of his upcoming album. He asked me if I’d lead us into a time of communion in the middle of the show. I shared a bit about the process of making wine involving crushing, pressing, and draining and then shared a bit of my journey this last year (hint: it has felt a bit like crushing, pressing, and draining). But we made room to experience Jesus in the midst of it that night together.

You could feel the connection of the Holy Spirit at that moment as the song Andy sang just before it tied so beautifully together with what I felt led to share. I asked Andy if he was okay with me sharing the lyrics to that new song—called Mighty is the Name of Jesus—and he gave me the green light. What I appreciate so much about this song is that it isn’t the normal song of victory or success in God, but rather dwells in the pain of following Jesus when it’s really hard.

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What Could Have Been

What Could Have Been

As you may have heard, I resigned from my role as Lead Pastor of Abundant Life Church. I requested the chance to share with the church as to my reasons why but was declined the opportunity.

2020 has emphatically highlighted how the church in the United States is at a crossroads. There are systems in place to reinforce a particular narrative and way of living which enable the current structures of power. If that is to be changed in the future (as many hope), it will cost something to create. As my friend Mike recently wrote: “The church is not called to protect and preserve, but rather to call forth a people to a new humanity. May we be the brave and courageous church that we have preached towards, sang about, and prayed for.”

A few weeks ago, I invited some of my friends who experience racism differently than me to share their perspective on my blog (see: Dear Church). I also preached about racial injustice specifically in my last two messages (see: An Opportunity to Learn and Following Jesus When It’s Hard). As many other churches and pastors have experienced lately, this led to some pushback in our church.

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Dear Church, from Karl

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

Sit.

Just sit with me.

This is the beginning of the process.

In the Book of Job, we meet a man named Job who in an instant has his world turned upside down. Job is weary, tired, and seemingly hopeless. Then three of his friends pay him a visit.

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

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Dear Church, from Ty

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ty. I have the privilege of leading worship each and every week. My real name; however, is Tyrone, because I realized, when I was a child, that my opportunities may be limited based on my name and darker skin hue. I am a son of two strong, black parents, who are fearful that one day they could watch a video of their son being murdered and it be plastered all over social media. These past few weeks have made me feel like some people value my talent, but not my life. I am a brother, uncle, and friend. I am a human, and I am tired…

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Dear Church, from Robert

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

In the face of adversity, it would seem that sharing a message with the people you consider your brothers and sisters in Christ would be easy, but the truth is that members of our church community have been silent and looked the other way for many years as if a problem never existed. Many of us have been ok with our society’s label of blacks having a “victim mentality,” so have not prioritized our time, energy, or resources to uncover the truths of that statement. I want to say that I love each and every one of you and am thankful to have a God whose ultimate sacrifice was to transfer our sins onto Him so that we may live in peace with one another.   

I am troubled and my heart aches by the recent events our nation is experiencing. There are no words when you see an unarmed black man killed, beaten, harassed, and given unfair judgment… but then witness the people who have done those acts get a slap on the hand and move on as if nothing ever happened. Please understand church, that this is a direct result of the anger black communities are experiencing and enough is enough. 

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