Dec 312012

01.06.2012-IslandLivingStupidNewYearsResolutionsToForgetAndACoupleGoodOnesToKeepI usually don’t make New Years resolutions…because I never have kept them.

This year, I’m uncomfortable enough to seek change…the old Steve Brown saying applies;

“When pain exceeds payoff, positive change occurs.”

Too much pain and very little payoff have me investing some thought and time into making positive change.


So…here’s what I’ll start tomorrow.

1. Dedicated prayer time and a prayer journal. 

If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time you know I find prayer to be the great mystery of Christianity.  It just doesn’t seem to make a difference, but the Bible claims it does. I aim to find out.

2. Intentionally unplugging on a regular basis.

My technology owns me…and it demands all my time and attention. My job this year is to control it and make it my tool and not my taskmaster.

3. Intentionally caring for my physical, spiritual, and emotional health.

The tyranny of the urgent and constant stream of instant news via social media are joy killers…and without joy all health is compromised.

4. Create more time for relationships that matter.

Cyber friends are great…but they’re gone when you turn off the computer. I need to care for and be cared for by the people who are there when it’s off.

That’s my plan…do you have one?

Dec 312012

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The beginning of the New Year is welcome around here, if for no other reason than the promise of something better to come than last year. 2012 was difficult, both personally and professionally. Personally, my health issues have overshadowed everything and here on the blog we lost about half of our readership . Dark days, but we move forward in hope.

2. We did publish our first book, Make Your Own Application Vol. 1. It didn’t sell enough for me to publish Vol. 2.

4. As for the lawsuit itself… “I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?” (1 Corinthians 6:5–7 ESV). This is the result of having no instituitional mechanism to address such things…and the institution being utterly unwilling to adopt one. You would think the name of Christ would mean more to all of us.

5. I’m far more concerned with restoring broken people, than fighting unwinnable battles against church bureaucracies…though sometimes those battles are unavoidable.

6.  Our wealth and self sufficiency have caused us to lose both our need for prayer and our fear of the Lord. Losing the fear of the Lord is the root issue behind all the scandals.

7.  The fact that the Trinity Broadcast Network exists and Todd Bentley draws crowds speaks volumes about the intelligence and integrity of American Christianity. We far prefer wealthy and popular to holy.

8. This years election didn’t create division, it revealed it.

9. One of my biggest concerns as a pastor and a blogger concerns what happens to those who are abused in church situations. As I survey the growing list of online sites that serve as refuges for these people, it’s obvious their spiritual health is in critical condition. The churches just write them off because there are plenty of folks behind them to fill pews. Because most people don’t embrace the corporate, community nature of the Body of Christ, they leave their brethren behind if their “needs” are being met. We’ve lost any real grasp of the true nature of the church in evangelicalism.

10. I do have plans for the blog in the next year…we’ll see if I have the time and talent to pull them off.

Dec 302012

thumbnail.aspxYou are the God from whom no secret can be hid, and we are a people with many secrets, that we want to tell for the sake of our lives, that we dare not tell because they are deep and painful.

But they are our secrets… and they count for much; they are our truth… rooted deep in our lives.

You are the God of all truth, and now we bid you heed our truth, about which we will not bear false witness…

The truth of grief unresolved,

the truth of pain unacknowledged,

the truth of fear too child-like,

the truth of hate, as powerful as it is deep,

the truth of being taken advantage of, and being used, and manipulated, and slandered.

We trust the great truth of your wondrous love, but we will not sit still for it, UNTIL you hear us.

Our truth – heard by you – will make us free.

So be the God of all truth, even ours, we pray in the name of Jesus, who is your best kept secret of hurt.


Walter Brueggemann

Dec 282012

It was going to be a stressful day, so a good breakfast was in order.

I knew just the place.

She has started her diner in a little strip mall and then taken it to a big, new building on the highway, but what we loved about the place remained the same.

The food was great, but the people were greater.

They loved Trey from from day one and they made him feel like a family member, not a customer.

Because they loved him, I loved them, and it became a place we visited on a regular basis.

Yes, that was the ticket…a good breakfast with folks we loved before tackling the stress of last minute Christmas shopping.

Today though, something was different.

The always ebullient owner was kind and attentive as always, but more than a tad subdued.

I first wrote it off to holiday exhaustion…the restaurant business is always tough, and like most businesses, tougher during the holidays.

Then I started to worry…what if a family member was ill, what if business was down,… the what ifs began to assimilate and I had to ask what was really wrong before the what if’s drowned me before I started shopping.

So, I asked…and this is what my friend told me.

When they moved from the little place to the big place they made some mistakes.

They underestimated the numbers of people they would serve and often were understaffed or were working with undertrained staff and sometimes both.

Some folks had bad experiences when they visited.

She cares deeply about her customers so she would try to make it right by personal apologies and gift certificates and so on.

She worked harder to get it right, if working harder were even possible with the hours she puts in…and she did get right.

That wasn’t enough for some.

They went online and wrote not only about the bad experience, but trashed her person and character.

They not only wanted to write a negative review, they wanted to inflict pain…and they did.

An hour behind a computer can ruin a lifetime of dreams, and for some who have never dreamed that’s a delicious reality.

For a while she couldn’t even bear to come to work in the place she had worked all her life to build.

The wounds are healing, but the pain shows through the eyes that used to sparkle when she greeted you…but now are weary and wary above the smile.

She says she has given them over to God and hopes that He will forgive her because she’s still not quite ready to forgive them.

I rose in righteous indignation…”I can play that game…I will DESTROY them”!

“No…then you will become like them.”

Maybe I already am…

She told Trey again that he was loved and hugged him as we left.


Make your own application…

Dec 272012

imagesI get emails…

“I don’t know what you believe anymore”.

I used to upset folks because I was a a Calvinist, now the Calvinists think I’m not Calvinistic enough.

I don’t fully subscribe to any groups doctrinal statement …though I wish I could for the sake of company and companionship.

On the other hand, I treasure the freedom to learn from and commune with any who will have me at their table.

At this point in my journey this is the best I can do.

I believe in justification by faith through grace alone.

I also believe God willingly saves and loves those whose confessions call that doctrine a damnable heresy.

I am equally convinced of both propositions.

I’m not really a five point Calvinist.

Calvin would have despised having his thought and theology boiled down to five points without nuance or qualification…and so do I.

I believe that God is spiritually present in the elements of communion and that those elements are a means of grace…a sacrament .

It’s ok with me if you don’t, but I think you’re missing something wondrous….but, you’ll get home anyway.

I believe in the pre-wrath rapture of the church.

However, the amills have a lot of truth we need to hear…and I’m more worried about His work, than His itinerary.

The kingdom has come, though not in it’s fullness.

I still believe that Calvin and Packer are the last word in theology.

However, N.T. Wright, some liberals and some pagans have taught me a lot in the last two years.

I believe the Bible is true…the Word of God.

I’m just not sure I know what those terms mean anymore…

I believe in the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.

But that isn’t all that Christ accomplished on the cross.

I believe God created the heavens and the earth and all that dwells in them.

How He did that and how long it took is beyond me.  He spoke, it happened, I’m done.

I believe in a historical Adam and Eve.

Jesus did, so who am I to argue?

I’m pretty theologically conservative.

But “liberals” like Brueggemann, Berry, and Buechner have opened up visions of God for me that doctrinal propositions alone cannot give.

I believe in the historic creeds and confessions of the church as the test for orthodoxy.

Much of the rest is like God’s buffet table…He’s too big to be contained in one set of propositions.

I believe in mystery.

I know much less than I used to…and I’m ok with that. Some things don’t have answers on this side.

I believe in unity.

We can disagree without damning each other.

I want to be right, but I’m not afraid to be wrong…let’s talk.

I believe in the birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return of Christ.

Completely and without reservation.


Now you know what I believe…


Dec 252012
  1. IT hasn’t been a good year for evangelicals. I should know. I’m one of them.” (HT Becky Garrison and Owen Strachan)
  2. You see, that’s exactly what happens when you dismiss the terrifying texts of the Bible as non-literal myths. YOU SILENCE THE VICTIMS!
  3. There is a surfeit of historical importance to Jesus that cannot be overcome by hypothetical speculations.
  4. Why does religion survive — thrive in fact — when it is persistently attacked and ridiculed by naturalism and has been predicted to disappear since the Enlightenment?
  5. Hopefully the Queen James Bible will generate some useful discussion of these passages. But on the whole, from what I’ve heard about it, I am unhappy.
  6. I continue to be befuddled by the neo-Calvinist claim that Scripture speaks to all of life
  7. But Israeli archaeologists now say there is strong evidence that Christ was born in a different Bethlehem, a small village in the Galilee.
  8. When we preach that violence and power and control are an inherent part of our gospel, and an inherent part of the identity of men – as people like Mark Driscoll do – we cause great harm to the body of Christ.
  9. The new Hobbit movie has only confirmed the feeling I got from the Lord of the Rings films. Peter Jackson doesn’t understand — or more likely, doesn’t care much — about the moral and religious scaffolding upon which J.R.R. Tolkien built his stories.
  10. In the field of (fictional) DIY mayhem, the leading brand is clearly the company where Wile E. Coyote shops for gear to catch the Road Runner….Wile E. Coyote ordered and received 126 different items from the corporation and Loukotka has made a poster that includes them all.
  11. …two lawyers called James Daily and Ryan Davidson do a magnificent job overview of the US legal system that manages to be extremely informative and incredibly entertaining, because, as the title implies, they tour the legal system as it would apply to comic-book superheroes.
 Posted by at 11:59 pm
Dec 242012

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. You really don’t want to know what I think right now…if this is the most wonderful time of the year then your colonoscopy most be the second most wonderful.

2. My standard greeting at the store has gone from “how can I help you?” to “am I going to have to hurt you, too?”


3. When you work in retail you understand that hell is actually a very good idea.

4. I’m way behind on everything that doesn’t have to do with work…my apologies. I’m not sure if it’s the recent surgery or just age, but I’ve never been so exhausted.

5. How gun control can be construed as a “Christian” issue is totally beyond me…

6. The one positive is I’ve been too tired and too busy to read much news…still not ready to process the pain from recent events.

7. Nothing makes me cringe more than when one of my tribe explains a tragedy by saying it was “for the glory of God”. That may be theologically correct, but it doesn’t preach at the grave site.

8. James Dobson explained the Newtown tragedy by saying America is under the judgment of God. Same explanation that Westboro Baptist gives…

9. I have to go do my last minute Christmas shopping…because buying appropriate gifts is the reason for the season.

10. Now then…many of you LOVE Christmas. Feel free to tell us why and share how you celebrate, what your family traditions are…and Merry Christmas to you all.


Dec 232012

thumbnail.aspxIn our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.

And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.


Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.

Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our fingertips.

We do not want our several worlds to end.

Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.