Eugene Peterson and the Age of Shibboleths

I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve become a walking, talking shibboleth. A shibboleth is a word or custom that signifies who is in the ingroup and who is in the outgroup.  Think of it as an old fashioned version of virtue signaling. Now, I didn’t personally become a shibboleth, but the fact that I am gay and in a same sex marriage does make me shibboleth in our neverending culture wars.  How one views same sex marriage either makes your virtuous or a sinner. This past week, the pastor and author Eugene Peterson was interviewed this past week … Continue reading Eugene Peterson and the Age of Shibboleths

Yet Another Post on Church Planting

It’s been a bittersweet time for me. On the one hand, I am excited of being pastor at First Christian.  There are a lot of challenges; the church is down a faithful few and we are starting to find ways to grow numerically and spiritually as well.  Most churches that are down to a handful would just close and that was suggested to the folks at First.  But they decided to stick together and keep on keeping on.  I am amazed at their faith and feel honored to journey with them as First-St. Paul becomes something new and yet the … Continue reading Yet Another Post on Church Planting

Sermon: “But We Had Hoped…”

Luke 24:13-35 Third Sunday of Easter May 4, 2014 First Christian Church Mahtomedi, MN   In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of … Continue reading Sermon: “But We Had Hoped…”

Shower the People

The pastor of a Disciples of Christ congregation in Colorado shows another way to help a church turnaround from decline: simply love the people: When I came to Mountair I had a close friend tell me to do nothing but love people for a year.  I didn’t like that advice much.  I saw so many things that needed to change!  I don’t like the status quo.  But by the grace of God (and my respect for my friend) I heeded his advice (mostly).  I spent a year listening to stories, making hospital visits, doing my best in preaching and Bible … Continue reading Shower the People

Constitutional Amendments and the Church

This fall, Minnesotans will go to the polls to vote on two constitutional amendments.  The first one would ban same-sex marriage and the second one would require photo ids before a person could vote. Now I have my own opinions on the amendments and I’m not shy about sharing them (I’m strongly against the first and somewhat in favor of the second).  However, when it comes to the context of church and in my role as a pastor, I am less comfortable in telling people how they should feel on this issue, let alone how they should pray. Recently, during … Continue reading Constitutional Amendments and the Church

We Can’t Be Friends

It was about 20 years ago, that I attended a large Baptist church in Washington, DC.   The church was an odd mix, or at least it would be odd today.  Evangelicals and liberals were somehow able to worship together, along side a healthy dose of members from Latin America and Asia. The church decided at some point to hire a pastor to the join the good-sized multi-pastor staff.  The person chosen was a woman with great pastoral care skills.  At the time, there was a bit of controversy because she was pro-gay and some of the evangelicals in the church … Continue reading We Can’t Be Friends

Repost: In the Middle

The following post is from April of 2008.  In light of the recent goings on at the United Methodist General Conference, I thought this might be a good post to share again. I’ve been a mainline Protestant for about 16 years. I grew up in the evangelical and black churches and found the mainline churches a breath of fresh air…for a time. In many ways it still is a better option than what I grew up with, but as I stayed, I started to notice that a more liberal Christianity had some of the same blind spots that their more … Continue reading Repost: In the Middle

Repost: In the Middle

The following post is from April of 2008.  In light of the recent goings on at the United Methodist General Conference, I thought this might be a good post to share again. I’ve been a mainline Protestant for about 16 years. I grew up in the evangelical and black churches and found the mainline churches a breath of fresh air…for a time. In many ways it still is a better option than what I grew up with, but as I stayed, I started to notice that a more liberal Christianity had some of the same blind spots that their more … Continue reading Repost: In the Middle

Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

I’m not going to get into the specifics of the whole Komen controversy because its been done ad nausem.  But I do have one question: where should the Church be in all this? The whole mess concerning the two groups was one more annoying incident in the culture wars.  Each side, including many a Christian, took their usual sides in this forever battle.  We slunged mud at the other side with equal ferocity, all in the name of being on the side of right, of course. But how should followers of Jesus respond?  How do we handle issues in ways … Continue reading Planned Parenthod vs. Susan G. Komen: Same S*%!, Different Day

Talking Back to the Strawman

As much as I love following and engaging in politics, I’ve have come to the opinion that politics is nasty business; especially for Christians and especially in these highly polarized times. The diversity of political opinion as well as healthy debate are hallmarks of a democratic society.  My mom talks about growing up in her native Puerto Rico and hearing her adult relatives chatting about politics.  The opinion of the group spanned the ideological spectrum, from conservatives to socialist.  I do wonder at times, if the talk got heated, but I think that at the end of the day, people … Continue reading Talking Back to the Strawman