Prophetic words do cut at times

This clip is incredibly powerful and serves as a sharp example of a prophetic word.

The further in and deeper down black preachers go into white evangelicalism the more anti-justice and anti-black they become.

Some last words

We are now down to TWO DAYS before movers show up and haul out the last of our worldly possessions.

Tomorrow… Sunday… I get the privilege of preaching one last time at Heights Church.

I have talked about how I have loved the city where I was able to live the past 20 years. But to pastor this church for almost 20 years… I need a book to explain how I love this church! The change that has happened in that time period… and all that is possible in the days ahead as they ready a transition to their next pastor… my heart is full.

All that God has done in the lives of these incredible people, and what that will mean in Columbia Heights for years to come, creates thankfulness in my heart.

Thank you, Heights Church.

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Politics and the Pulpit

May 4 being the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an Executive Order loosening control of what has been called the “Johnson Amendment.” Under the Johnson Amendment, it was to disallow direct political endorsements from the pulpit of particular candidates. If violated, the IRS could look into pulling the tax exemption status from a religious organization.  Read more

The JOY of preaching the Word of God

One of my great joys came when I got up from a chair to walk to the podium and the Lord said to me, “Now remember, it’s what I do with the word between your lips and their hearts that matters.” That is a tremendous lesson. If you do not trust God to do that, then will let you do what you’re going to do, and it’s not going to come to much. But once you turn it loose and recognize we are always inadequate but our inadequacy is not the issue, you are able to lay that burden down. Then the satisfaction you have in Christ spills over into everything you do. — Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind

 

The Kingdoms of This World

I am still baffled by the news out of Houston, TX that the mayor wanted sermons subpoenaed from local churches!

Allan Bevere hit it on this head with his post.

There is a COST to following Christ and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we may begin to feel that pressure a bit here. At this point, it’s silliness.

But the declaration Bevere makes bears repeating:

As I have said before, the church is my nation; the church is my politic. God’s kingdom holds my citizenship. But the reality is that what I say from the pulpit I have no trouble saying out on the streets. In my preaching, I am accountable to God and to the church. I am not accountable to the emperor or his or her minions in state government. If they want to scrutinize what I say in the pulpit they are welcome to read every sermon I’ve ever preached.

This is a time to be reminded that we need the Body of Christ. It is far past time to give up our “rugged individualism” as believers and learn the necessity of the Church. Let us hear this call of allegiance in our own lives. It is about HIS Kingdom come… not any other Kingdom

The preaching of the Word

The priority needs to be given to the public reading of Scripture. We need to systematically read the Scripture in public. The story needs to be impressed into our collective memories.

“If the sermon follows some form of lectio divina (in which the whole of Scripture is read over a period of time), we are more likely to avoid the habit of reading from a few favorite books (usually the Epistles) and preaching from our favorite texts… What we call the ‘exposition of the Scriptures’ should be the clarification of the Story so we can listen to it more attentively and relate to the events more fully.” — Simon Chan, Spiritual Theology

 

Mind and Soul

With one foot squarely in the ministry world and another foot barely in the academic world, I am constantly challenged by our “either/or” thinking. I may be wrong about the world truly being “both/and.” Maybe it’s not.

Maybe you have to be either uber-smart… and an academic who is very capable at writing, but not very capable at other forms of communication… OR you are a great communicator, but have tapped out on the learning process.

It is rare when the two come together, and when they do… there is suspicion from both sides of the “either/or” equation.

N.T. Wright is one example. I can “get” his communication style and I love his thinking. His writing challenges me. And therein lies the rub.

Those on the “ministry” side would be suspicious of him because he has a doctorate and teaches. Those on the “academic” side consider him a “light weight” in many respects, and me even saying I am challenged by his writing would show me to be even “lighter.”

Sometimes there is a great “duo.” In this respect, I think John Ortberg and Dallas Willard were a great pair. Ortberg is a phenomenal communicator and Willard was the incredible thinker. Ortberg stretched himself to think more deeply because Dallas Willard was in his life. He also challenged Willard to be a better communicator. It was a combination I enjoyed.

Yet, I have to believe it’s possible to be both… maybe not at “genius” levels on either side, though. I always challenge students who are great communicators to do MORE when it comes to WHAT they are saying. They tend to think just because they are great communicators they just get an audience. That’s a mistake they will pay for down the road, but they don’t seem to care in the short term.

If someone is a great thinker, I would challenge them to work harder at communication. It won’t be “perfect,” but what they are writing and developing is needed. They may be much more capable in an office or study desk in a library, but they also need to be able to either communicate in some way to people in an adequate way… or find a partner who can aid them. Those great thoughts need to be OUT THERE.

So, maybe I’m only dreaming that it’s a “both/and” world. Maybe it really is “either/or,” because we sure act like it more than we like to admit.

 

Anchored in the Creation Story

This week I will begin a sermon series tentatively called “Anchor in God.” It has morphed into several forms, but all of them begin in Genesis. At this point, it may only be a series out of Genesis to take us to Lent.

The more I teach the Old Testament as an adjunct the more I am deeply aware of the necessity of the Genesis story. The basic understanding of humanity and the story of God is rooted here. The stories and the characters should anchor us in God.

So I will begin with the creation story this week.

One paper I have read on the creation story (and this thought I have picked up from Goldingay as well, I believe) is focusing on the theological implications of the creation story. It’s not just these two sources, but I am looking at these sources currently. The thought that has captivated me from this paper is this:

We are not only created in the image of God, but created as the image of God.

It’s a powerful, beautiful thought.

All of our wrestling over the “literal” days of creation has taken us away from some very beautiful thoughts that really go to the core of why this story is in our Scriptures at all.

When we can grasp who we are as his creation we can possibly reach a place where we quit struggling and actually rest in God. We have an anchor. We have a deep worth to the Father. Tie yourself to that anchor.