The “Meanings” of Christianity: Righteousness

Righteousness. What a confusing and misunderstood word. We use it and use it over and over again without much critical thought as to what it means. Thanks to our traditional focus on personal piety, this word has taken on overtones of a personal experience. One is righteous if they are upright, pure, above reproach in their personal morality. Clearly that is part of what makes someone righteous, but it ignores a whole side of the word that is of utmost importance, perhaps of even more importance than this personal side of the word.  Continue reading

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We Need Worlds to Collide

Recently, here in Arica, we were blessed to host a couple Cuban pastors. They shared of their churches, their experiences, and their reality. It was a wonderful time. Hearing this one pastor speak in our church, sharing about their outreach to the community, offering food to those who had none, showing their community the full love of Jesus challenged us all, especially given their context. To be honest, however, something else impacted me even more than his words. It happened during the time of praise and worship.  Continue reading

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Hurting Fathers on Father’s Day

I really don’t want to go to church this Sunday. That may sound extreme to some, especially since I’m a pastor, but with Father’s Day on the way I find myself a mix of emotions. Part of me screams for people to recognize that I am a father; that my son not being here doesn’t negate his existence. Another part of me just wants this day to vanish. I want to crawl into a hole and to emerge on Monday as if nothing had ever happened.

As I struggle with these emotions I feel very alone. I know I have a loving wife and family who are there for me, who love me, and who support me. I know that when Father’s Day comes, they will accompany me however I need them to. Even so, I feel alone…and I’ll tell you why. Continue reading

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The “Meanings” of Christianity: Faith

Another frequently used word in our vocabulary is the word ‘faith’. “Do you have faith in Jesus?” we ask. He’s struggling with his faith. She has told me that she has doubts that challenge her faith daily. Faith can mean belief, trust, religion, or a plethora of other things. In this way, faith is a word that we need to figure out. What does this word mean? What does it have to do with following Jesus?  Continue reading

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Love that’s Worth the Pain

Why is it that we hurt so bad when we have to say goodbye? Why do we allow ourselves to become so attached to someone that separation from them results in actual physical symptoms? What is it about love that makes us enter into it in spite of our having full knowledge that it will invariably cause us pain at some point in our life? Whether it’s the sting of puppy-love gone awry or the deep sadness that comes with the  pain of death, our falling in love, our cultivating love, will lead to sorrow, heartache, and pain.

Yet we choose to love anyway.

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The Church as Christ

I’m teaching 1 Corinthians in Sunday School, and I’m constantly being challenged and enlightened by this wonderful letter. Paul is worried by a church dividing, and in love he confronts, teaches, and encourages unity. He teaches tolerance, bearing with one another. He tells us to care for those who are weaker, deferring our freedom for the good of others. All of this with the goal that the church be healthy in it’s inner relationships as well as in it’s testimony to those outside of its walls. Continue reading

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The “Meanings” of Christianity: Gospel

I feel that “Gospel” is one of the richest words in the Christian vocabulary. That is probably evident in it’s widespread use across the theological spectrum. All the way from Roman Catholics to the most fundamentalist evangelical to the progressive, emergent movement, the word Gospel figures predominantly in our thought and speech. Pope John Paul II wrote the encyclical letter “The Gospel of Life,” whereas evangelicals speak of preaching the “Gospel” to the ends of the earth. There are Southern Gospel quartets and African-American Gospel Choirs. In spite of this extensive use, and perhaps because of it, the word ‘Gospel’ has lost much of it’s original meaning. Continue reading

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The “Meanings” of Christianity: A Series on Words

I’m currently reading Frederick Buechner’s devotional book, Listening to Your Life, and the following quote caught my interest.

“I shall go to my grave,” a friend of mine once wrote me, “feeling that Christian thought is a dead language – one that feeds many living ones to be sure, . . . but which I would no more use overtly than I would speak Latin.” I suppose he is right, more right than wrong anyway. If the language that clothes Christianity is not dead, it is at least, for many, dying….  Continue reading

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Feeling the Bible

We want to know truth. We search for truth. Some of us study for years and years trying to grasp truth. We scrutinize, interrogate, and judge in order to arrive at the truth. We do this in many circumstances, including with the Bible, but we have to ask, is this right? Continue reading

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Reinventing Reconciliation

Helping a church in conflict has served to remind me how difficult and misunderstood reconciliation is. Some people seem to believe that reconciliation is a weak, cowardly response to whatever wrongdoing is at hand. Instead of addressing the wrong, they believe that reconciliation is a cop-out:  “Don’t worry about it! It’s all good. Let’s just be friends.”  Therefore they fight against reconciliation, or at least stand idly by hoping for it to pass. Others view reconciliation as a one-sided venture. “Well, the way I see it that person did me wrong. I hope that some day they come here to reconcile with me.” Continue reading

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