Church Posts

The Response to My Sermon This Week

I woke up Sunday morning to the news of another shooting. My social media timeline was filled with a variety of commentaries about the horrific murders in El Paso and Dayton. A wave of emotions flooded over me and I felt it all. Then I remembered that I had a sermon to preach that morning.

I began a conversation with Jesus asking a simple question: what am I supposed to say? I didn’t land at an easy answer to this question, even when I knew it was time to go on stage. I took a step forward at our 8:30am service and began to feel my way through it. Then I sat through our 10am service and I could feel more coming.

Toward the end of the message, I felt an invitation to let go and say what God was laying on my heart. I quickly lost control of my emotions and could feel my voice begin to quiver. I’m not a crier, so to cry in front of hundreds of people feels very raw to me.

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Resident Aliens

I recently finished the book Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon (see: Amazon link). It was the 25th anniversary of the book, so I was unsure how it would stand up over the years. I was then surprised how encouraged and inspired I was as I read about the radical nature of what the church is to be in a culture. In case the title confuses you, here is where it comes from: “The church is a colony, an island of one culture in the middle of another. In baptism our citizenship is transferred from one dominion to another, and we become, in whatever culture we find ourselves, resident aliens.”

This is an important book for the American church today, as I believe our sense of nationalism is the greatest threat to our ability to live as the church. While many people express sadness at the way things are developing regarding the church and our culture, I (and the authors) see it differently. “The demise of the Constantinian world view, the gradual decline of the notion that the church needs some sort of surrounding ‘Christian’ culture to prop it up and mold its young, is not a death to lament. It is an opportunity to celebrate.”

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite passages in the book:

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Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2018)

Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2018)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst West conference this week with some of the team from Abundant Life Church. Catalyst is a great shot in the arm of encouragement and connection with other church leaders. It was a bit weird to have been at this event only a year ago with a different staff team but once I took the Portland team to dinner at TGIFridays it all felt right.

Below I’ve selected twenty of my favorite quotes from the event. Each of these quotes is my best representation in writing of what they said verbally or a summary thereof. Any errors in wording are my own.

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"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions and cause men everywhere to say that it has atrophied its will. But if the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. Men far and near will know the church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travelers at midnight."

Martin Luther King Jr.
How Should We Respond to Eugene Peterson?

How Should We Respond to Eugene Peterson?

***Update: Eugene Peterson has retracted his remark and clarified his stance on gay marriage (see: Actually, Eugene Peterson Does Not Support Same-Sex Marriage).***

You may or may not be aware of the recent controversy about Eugene Peterson twirling faster than a fidget spinner among Christians in America this week. In case you are unsure of who that is, Peterson is the one who translated the Message version of the Bible (by himself). He’s the author of many books and a revered pastor for decades. And until this week, he would likely have been widely considered one of the most respected Christian leaders in America.

So what changed?

In an interview with Jonathan Merritt, Peterson briefly discusses his changed view on homosexuality and the Bible, even stating that he would perform a gay wedding (see: RNS blog). The interview is worth reading in its brief entirety. It feels less like Peterson takes a bold stand and more like he thinks we should downplay this topic. My reaction to this controversy has everything to do with Christians’ response to him and little to do with his answers. That doesn’t mean I’d answer the questions the way he did. But the far bigger problem in my view is how we handle the diversity of thought on non-essential issues like this (meaning these are not salvation-level views concerning our beliefs in Jesus).

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Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2017)

Top 20 Quotes from Catalyst West (2017)

This is part of a series of posts on 20 quotes. Click here to see others.

I had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst West conference this week with some of the team from Central. I’ve had the chance to become friends with the President of Catalyst and that has made these experiences even more special. Catalyst is a great shot in the arm of encouragement and connection with other church leaders.

Below I’ve selected twenty of my favorite quotes from the event. Each of these quotes is my best representation in writing of what they said verbally or a summary thereof. Any errors in wording are my own.

(more…)