A Hope Revealed

The video above is my message this weekend at Central in which we closed out our Hope in Hard Times series going through the book of 1 Peter. This weekend I unpacked the idea that true hope cannot be contained.

Peacemakers – Sami Awad

Peacemakers – Sami Awad

This post is part of a series on peacemakers I met in Israel/Palestine.

I recently wrote about some observations I had after my second trip to Israel this year (see: What Israel Taught Me about America’s Election). I first went to Israel three years ago and documented at that time many of the Biblical sites I experienced on that trip (click here to read through my posts from 2013). Now my second time there, what stood out to me the most was some of the remarkable people I met who are giving their lives to building peace in the region. If you know much about the history of Israel, you know that Israel only became an official state in 1948. I wrote about the difference between Israelites and Israelis on a post on Central’s blog recently that briefly tackles this (see: Israelites or Israelis). Since that time the land has been deeply divided and fractured. My goal with this series of posts is to inspire us all to live as peacemakers as we are inspired by others who are doing it well.

The first person I want to write about is someone who has actually become a friend of mine over the last few years. His name is Sami Awad, and he’s the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust. Sami is a Palestinian but does not see the Jews or anyone else as his enemy. Instead, he works to rally both sides of the debate toward loving each other. Sami is one of the people who has deeply impacted my understanding of the Christian concept of nonviolence.

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What Israel Taught Me About America’s Election

What Israel Taught Me About America’s Election

The most hyped election in recent memory happens tomorrow. I won’t be in the country for it.

I’ve spent the last week in Israel in the posture of a listener. Listening to the narratives of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Trying to consider solutions between a hundred-year conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. It’s tempting to believe that just one narrative has validity. To believe that the solution emerges without ambiguity. And yet conversation after conversation I’m reminded that despite how much we crave this, any critical thinker will resist the urge for this easy way out.

A couple of nights ago we had a Sabbath dinner with a Jewish family. The dad is a law professor, and his wife is working on her post-doctorate. It was moving to watch the way they intentionally raise their kids to understand the Bible (in particular the Old Testament) and the relevance in which he discussed current events in both Israel and America. He commented to us that America is beginning to look like Israel, and “not in a good way.”

If you’ve spent any amount of time understanding the conflict in the Holy Land, you will see how shocking that statement sounds. It’s a reminder that if division isn’t checked, we end up in a never-ending cycle downward. Which tragically tends to end in violence.

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Is It Possible to be Hopeful Right Now?

I preached at Central this weekend continuing in our series on hope. Peter gives us a powerful way of finding hope in a surprising area of life as he connects it to holiness.

10 Observations After Writing about Donald Trump

10 Observations After Writing about Donald Trump

Last week I decided to take a substantial risk and share some of my personal thoughts about Donald Trump. After I posted it, I was blown away by both the positive and negative response. I don’t intend to keep blogging on this topic, but I felt it appropriate to at least attempt to summarize some of my thoughts regarding the massive response to last week’s post. Before you read the following list you should read the original post first (see: An Appeal to Christians).

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An Appeal to Christians Who Support Trump

An Appeal to Christians Who Support Trump

I’ve waited more than six months to write this post. I would attribute this delay to three reasons: first, I realize my words could offend many people who I respect and consider friends. I don’t write them lightly. Second, I have a lot to lose and little to gain by addressing this publicly. I recently read a tweet that said: “Privilege = not speaking out against Trump’s racism & misogyny because you don’t want to tarnish your platform with controversy.” That tweet has haunted me for days. Rarely does anyone get upset when I as a pastor talk about believing in Jesus. It’s an entirely different reaction when I as a pastor suggest there might be things we believe in that are actually contrary to Jesus.

Third, and perhaps most frustrating, I don’t have a great solution to offer you. I heard someone argue (if you’ll excuse the illustration), that just because you hate diarrhea doesn’t mean you love constipation. If I lost you on the bodily functions there, basically I’m not going to tell you that you should vote for Hillary instead of Trump. No need to stop reading just yet if you’re not a Hillary fan.

Much has already been written on Donald Trump and this is my attempt at highlighting some of the best of what I’ve heard so far and offering some perspective as you navigate it. This is a spiritual post, not a political one. If you aren’t a Christian much of my argument won’t apply to you. And as a disclaimer: I’m not overly concerned with how to govern America. To be honest, I think our overdeveloped sense of nationalism is one of the American church’s greatest sins. It clouds our view of the Kingdom more than anything else. I’m writing to anyone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus Christ and who cares about living as His disciple.

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