I’m glad my church pays for my birth control

Well it’s not a line item on our church budget called “Pastor family planning fund” or anything like that. So you can breathe now. But my health insurance through the United Methodist Church is what pays for my wife and me to have our IUD that keeps us from having more babies. And I think it’s time someone named the fact that family planning is a legitimate part of the equation of Christian sexual ethics rather than always being a demonic conspiracy against God’s will for humanity. Birth control is part of how my wife and I try to be faithful stewards of our bodies and our relationship for the sake of both our family and the ministry to which God has called each of us. Continue reading

Looking back on 2012: June-July

In June and July, I wrote about my family reunion, the culture wars, a whole lot in Ephesians including a sermon in which I talk about sin as a zombie apocalypse, and the little noticed moral pragmatism that Paul seems to exhibit in Romans 14-15. So here are ten posts from those two months. Continue reading

Everything I have belongs to You (a song)

This is the first song that I’ve written in two years. It’s basically about stewardship of our wealth and witness as well an attempt to cling to the beauty of Christ in spite of the ugliness of the body of Christ in America right now. I pushed too much with my voice so it’s nasally but I had to record it on the third run-through that I did because my sons had to go to bed. Chords and lyrics are below. And for those who think the word “hate” shouldn’t appear in a praise song, see Psalm 139:21-22, but don’t google it because then you’ll find a bunch of misappropriations of scripture that are the object of the hatred I describe in my song, which isn’t against a person but against the kind of disrespect for Jesus’ name that occurs when a psalm is proof-texted in order to make a case for actually hating people instead of “love the sinner and hate the sin” (which was what Gandhi said, not the Bible, etc). Amazing what some so-called Christians have become, isn’t it? The psalmist brings his hatred to God in order to have it healed and converted into love. I hate any dishonor shown to God and most of all that shown by His people because I love God and I love His people. Continue reading

Accusers vs. advocates: the real sides in the culture war

One of my favorite pastors Jonathan Martin of Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC recently preached a sermon called “Don’t Stand Up For Jesus.” Listen to it here. His point was that Jesus can stand up for Himself. What we should be doing is standing with Jesus while He stands up for sinners as their advocate and intercessor, instead of thinking we have to “defend” Jesus by signing online petitions, saying we’re not going to take it anymore through our facebook status updates, or eating chicken sandwiches. Jonathan was responding to the tendency of Christians to get sucked into the never-ending, all-consuming argument in our society that we call the culture war. As Jonathan talked, I realized that the real battle in the culture war is not between liberals and conservatives, but between advocates and accusers. Those who take the side of Jesus join Him in His role as the advocate for sinners (1 John 2:1); those who take the side of Satan join him in his role as the accuser (Revelation 12:10). The battle between Jesus and Satan takes place on every side of the surface battle that we think is going on. Continue reading

The witness of the sons of hell

The 23rd chapter of Matthew is probably the harshest speech that Jesus ever gave. We don’t hear many sermons about it because Jesus was skewering the celebrity pastors of his day. Verse 15 is particularly poignant and troubling: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice the son of hell that you are.” Son of hell. I thought of this verse when I saw this photo that has circulated facebook about 9-year old Josef Akrouche’s counterprotest against the notorious Phelps family. It’s hard to read his tiny sign which says “God hates no one.” My heart hurts for the kid on the left who stands back turned and face down with his “God Hates Fags” sign. He didn’t choose to be born into the sons of hell. But his family’s witness has become a critical tool God has used to show what His kingdom is not about. And Josef ‘s act exemplifies the response that the sons of hell are supposed to invoke as part of God’s process of establishing a world free of hate. Continue reading