I preached this past weekend on two songs that seem to be vying for the attention of American Christians: the song of scandal that dominates our 24 hour news cycle, and the song of Pentecost through which the Holy Spirit uses God’s people to testify to His deeds of power. The reason that we can’t hear the song of Pentecost is because we’re so thoroughly immersed in the song of scandal. Think about where your mind was this past week and what you watched and shared on social media. Were you testifying to God’s deeds of power or were you sharing pictures of Umbrella-gate or another scandal? To tune into the song of Pentecost means assuming that we are surrounded by prophets and that each of us has a prophetic vocation. Listen to find out more:
I preached this weekend about the ascension of Christ. As I shared in a blog post earlier in the week, I think it’s important to consider why Jesus ascended to heaven instead of sticking around in visible fleshly form in His immortal body. The dialogue between Jesus and His disciples in Acts 1:6-11 helps to shed light on why His ascension was part of God’s plan. Below I’m sharing the sermon audio along with a written summary:
This is a picture of my mom holding my son Isaiah two summers ago. I preached a sermon that summer in the Dominican Republic on their Mother’s Day which is the last Sunday in May. My passage was 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. If it sounds more simple and straightforward than how I usually write, it’s because it was originally written in Spanish and my vocabulary is limited. Basically my point was that mothers are called to be the pastors of their family. That’s what my mother was to me, and it has made all the difference. Continue reading →
So I got an idea of a way to turn the “smoking hot wife” meme against its patriarchal self. Let’s share some smoking hot sermon podcasts from some on-fire preacherwomen like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Amanda Garber, Lillian Daniel, etc. I heard one from Charith Fee-Nordling at the Missio Alliance conference; my word, it about burned a hole straight through me. So if you’ve heard a smoking hot sermon from a preacherwomen, put a link to it in the comment section or if you just know of a preacherwomen with some prophetic fire, then put her name. If you participate, then I’ll check out these links and come up with a top ten or something like that.
This weekend we continued Burke UMC’s Rewrite series on how God rewrites the lives of people in the Bible and today. Our character for the weekend was Peter. I talked about how Jesus picked Peter to be His right-hand man because he was a bold fisherman. But Peter had to learn like every alpha male that the boldest thing we can do is to own our weakness. He couldn’t follow Jesus to the cross, but because he was humbled, God made him exactly who he needed to be to lead the early church with a power that came from beyond himself.
We’ve been having a very stimulating conversation at our confirmation retreat that has completely derailed from my plans, but as I learned at the Missio Alliance, the Holy Spirit is a spirit of disruption. I’ve been so grateful that these kids have been bold with their questions because my presentation felt very flat and boring. And then they made me squirm by asking about people from other religions. Do they go to heaven too? Don’t we all just have different names for the same God? Oh boy… Continue reading →
Rachel Held Evans just wrote a very honest and humble piece about wrestling with the concept of evangelizing people on airplanes. When I was in seminary, I was given a book called Conquer Your Fear: Share Your Faith promoting a very confrontational approach to evangelism by a famous street preacher named Ray Comfort who started an evangelism institute called The Way of The Master. In his book, Ray gives several examples of his experiences evangelizing people on airplanes. So I thought I would put Rachel and Ray into conversation by letting passages from their writings bounce off of each other to see where Christ seems to show up. Continue reading →
I listen to a Christian hipster podcast called Homebrewed Christianity. They were recently part of a conference called Subverting the Norm where the topic was radical theology, the theology of people like John Caputo and Peter Rollins. It’s hard to tell what exactly radical theology is claiming about God. It descends from the “God is dead” theology of 50 years ago which apparently isn’t atheistic so much as it is apophatic, saying that we can’t know as much with certainty about God as we would like. Anyway, listening to the podcast today, I heard a guy talking about how the French theorist Gilles DeLeuze had opened his eyes. So I wanted to pose the question to any of my hipster theory-head readers: why should I read DeLeuze or Malabou or other contemporary European continental philosophers or for that matter Nietzsche, Heidegger, or Hegel? Continue reading →
We’ve just started a sermon series in the spirit of Easter called Rewrite in which we talk about people from the Bible and from our church whose lives have been rewritten by God. Our first Biblical character was Abraham who really was just a regular guy that God decided to build a nation from. Abraham did some dumb things, like prostituting his wife to the Egyptian pharaoh and then impregnating his wife Sarah’s slave girl Hagar upon her request only to let Sarah abuse Hagar and run her out of their home. But God wasn’t going to let Abraham’s mistakes get in the way of his plan. In addition to Abraham’s story, we heard the testimony of Elsa Kuflom, a member of Burke UMC who came here as a refugee from the war in Eritrea.
I’ve just started reading James KA Smith’s new book Imagining the Kingdom. Smith’s basic argument is that our actions are not really based on conscious rational choices but rather on how ritual behaviors have caused us to imagine the world around us. Most Christian thinkers from the beginning have unconsciously bought into a Platonic “rationalist” conception of human nature in which our behavior is supposed to be regulated by our conscious rationality, and the fact that it isn’t reflects our fallenness rather than a condition innate to our humanity. Continue reading →