To prepare for Pentecost, I’ve been reading Pentecostal theologian Amos Yong’s The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh. Yong argues for a “pneumatological soteriology” (Spirit-centered account of salvation) that “would be in contrast to soteriologies that tend to bifurcate the work of Christ and of the Spirit… articulated by Protestant scholasticism… [in which] Christ provides salvation objectively (e.g., in justification) and the Spirit accomplishes salvation subjectively (e.g., in sanctification)” (82). In the prophecy from Joel that Peter quotes on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, God makes an incredible promise: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” What if this statement is taken as the centerpiece of God’s salvation of humanity and the world? What if the salvation made possible through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ finds its full expression in the perpetual Pentecost poured out by the Holy Spirit? Continue reading
Today’s Monday Merton is a chapter in Thomas Merton’s No Man Is An Island that talks about “pure intention,” which is the term Merton uses for coming to a place where our will is synchronized with God’s will. Continue reading
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:
God broke me today in a really good way. You see I’m a recovering cynic who relapses at least several dozen times a day. Nothing is more insufferable to me than an overly cheerful person. Somehow I’ve been programmed to presume that cheerful people are disingenuous. But then there’s my friend Beth Anderson who smiles more than just about anyone I know and is also absolutely genuine to the core. She preached a sermon to us at our provisional retreat this morning about God’s perpetual Pentecost that melted my cynicism. I just hope that it sticks. Continue reading
The lectionary reading for last week was taken from Revelation 21-22 which describes the New Jerusalem at the end of John’s apocalyptic vision. A single verse in this reading completely debunks every irresponsible interpretation of Revelation by the doomsday-lusters and Left Behind series fans: Revelations 21:24 — “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of earth will bring their glory into it.” Continue reading
The Daily Office reading for today was Romans 14:13-23. I was particularly struck by verses 22-23: “The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith;for whatever does not proceed from faithis sin.” So basically Paul defines sin as “whatever does not proceed from faith.” But what does this mean? Continue reading
Do you think these human beings matter to God? They certainly don’t matter much to us. About a hundred prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are now engaged in a hunger strike. But don’t worry; the prison guards won’t let them die. They force-feed them through tubes in their noses. Apparently one detainee has been force-fed daily since 2005. Continue reading
This is a post where I’m raising a question that I flat-out don’t know the answer to. I watched a conversation yesterday between Derek Rishmawy who represents what I call the “Calvinist you can talk to” perspective and Stephanie Drury who is a “post-evangelical feminist.” Derek had written a post about the importance of not dissing King Solomon and the sacredness of scripture just because Mark Driscoll has misused Solomon’s words in Proverbs and the Song of Songs. Stephanie’s response was that for people who have been spiritually abused, some words in the Bible are permanently toxic as a result.
I pray a lot for the college kids from our church. In addition to the concern that they will fall away from the faith, I worry about whether they will fall in with the wrong crowd of Christians. Every year, aggressively friendly campus fellowship groups storm the dorms to meet the kids who signed their clipboards at the activity fair. And many times, the result is four years of beautiful friendship and spiritual growth. But it can go very wrong as my brother Ryan Kuramitsu shares in his testimony about a Christian group whose zeal for God’s hate is a textbook case of what I’m calling the theology of the total depravity of everyone else.I asked permission to share the following excerpt, but please visit his site to read the original post and offer encouragement. (Note: I am aware there’s more than one side to every story, the same Christian organization is not the same on different campuses, etc.) Continue reading
If you want to know who God is really angry at, maybe you should read what Jesus has to say about it: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves do not enter, and you stop others who are trying. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make him twice the son of hell that you are.” [Matthew 23:13-15] Maybe you’re the Pharisee Jesus is talking about.