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Showing posts from March, 2014

God Help the Children (and Why Sponsorship Matters)

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Last week, gay people and poor children had a face off, and the poor kids lost. At least that's the public perception. Evangelicals will disagree because, for them, this is about forgiveness and trust. World Vision broke their trust and now they must chose to forgive and forget, or cut their losses and move on. The irony is that many kids lost their sponsorship due to the initial policy, yet kids are still losing sponsors because of the equivocating reversal. So while evangelicals said their concern was preserving the gospel, they inadvertently engineered a scenario where either way, the children lose.
But this is justified, they say. As I said in my last post, God doesn't need us to spread his gospel or his love. Which means he certainly doesn't need our fancy 501c3's and NGO's to accomplish his work. In fact, I've even heard people say, "I may be pulling my sponsorship, but I trust that God will take care of that child." And I hope he does.
Because

Get Your Gay Off My Gospel

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This past Tuesday, I had my first church headache. I've had stress headaches before, but I think this one was a result of the church's response to World Vision's short-lived policy change allowing legally married, gay people to work there. For the many Christians that regard homosexuality as a sin, I know this isn't as simple as some would make it (although their juvenile glee over the policy's reversal yesterday might indicate otherwise). But, while we're in the business of not cheapening issues, we should also confess that it is impossible to subject the gospel to distortion.

No doubt there are some with their sword-drilling thumbs already jammed into Galatians, so let's go there together. Many think that Paul's letter to the Galatian church was a message about perverting the gospel. After all, Paul directly addressed those claiming that adherence to Jewish law was a prerequisite to faith by saying,
"Evidently some people are throwing you into co…

Prodigals (Bad Hermeneutics and Worse Parenting)

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Please turn with me in your Bibles to Luke, chapter 15. And starting in verse 11, let's proceed to butcher the familiar fable known incorrectly as "The Prodigal Son."

I hate this story.

Not for what it is but for what it's become. It's the go-to passage for parents with difficult children. If your child has started smoking, read Luke 15. If your child has had premarital sex, read Luke 15. If your child has stopped regularly attending church, read Luke 15. And Hebrews 10:25. And pray for your little prodigal. They've lost sight of Jesus and need him to make them destitute enough to come back to you.

That can't be how we're to pray for our kids. Do we honestly want God to wreak his righteous chastisement upon them in such a way that renders them homeless, helpless, and worth less than pigs? Because that's not how the father in the parable acted.

In fact, the story Jesus told isn't about the foolish son at all. Like the two parables before it, it…

Get a Second Opinion on that Spiritual Abuse

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It was one of those intensely awkward nights. Where we were all lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and trying to pretend like we weren't a gaggle of teenage girls giggling that the lights were out. But we were only a bunch of teenage boys on a youth group retreat so let's be honest: there wasn't much of a difference. Finally, I broke the juvenile din of manic snickering and fake fart sounds.

"Guys. I've been thinking about killing myself."

I had just learned only months earlier that my parents were splitting up. That's pretty common these days, but just 13 years ago, it wasn't nearly as much. And like the stockbroker who had invested his life savings in Enron, I felt like I had lost everything. So I confided to my friends in the room that I had been spending a lot of time in front of the medicine cabinet--wondering how many Tylenol it would take.

What would you do if a lifelong friend told you that?

Well, one of my friends was more than a little con…

You're Loving Jesus Wrong (or The Existential Crisis of a Genderless God)

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I could write a love song Tell you what I think you wanna hear But it wouldn't be good enough
Those are the opening lyrics to a somewhat popular and recent Christian song called "All I Can Do (Thank You)" by the group, Mikeschair. You can probably guess that I'm not a big fan, but not for any other reason beyond my general loathing of all pop music (ok, their name and the story behind it are pretty terrible). However, I've been hearing a lot criticism leveled against this band that has nothing to do with their insipid music. Instead, some people are attacking how they've chosen to express their love for Jesus.
Now I understand when Christians take artists to task for theologically unsound lyrics (both Chris Tomlin and Michael W. Smith have been particularly careless). But in this case, the argument is founded on the erroneous claim that "Jesus is not our boyfriend." And that this song is promoting an inappropriately feminized (i.e. emasculated) rel…

Stop Trying to Forgive Yourself

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My wife hates when I call myself an idiot. As I've said before, I'm one of those people who has extremely high expectations of myself and others. These expectations are usually quite unreasonable, like expecting another driver to not change into the lane I was about to take or beating myself up for not knowing something. It's stupid and unrealistic, but I still feel guilty for not knowing things I don't or not remembering things I can't. I should probably take a cue from society and just forgive myself. But then I wouldn't be helping myself learn to be more realistic.
It's a phrase you'll hear at some point in most popular tv shows and movies today: "forgive yourself." And while it does appear to convey a certain layman's wisdom, I think it misses the purpose of forgiveness for two reasons.
First, forgiveness is primarily a transaction between two or more people. It's the necessary action that allows for reconciliation after a wrong c…