One of the principles of scripture study that I try to practice is avoiding cherry picking verses and using them out of context. Having recently preached a sermon while cherry picking a verse out of context myself, I am feeling a bit bruised as I write this post. Nevertheless, the principle is important, even if I carelessly violated it. Fortunately, I did remember this principle and practiced it … [Read more...] about Keeping It Real
Years ago a pastor in a large church called me to discuss his daughter’s substance use disorder. He was very concerned that if his congregation found out about his kid’s “issues” it would negatively impact his ability to lead. He quoted a passage of scripture that spoke to the requirements of a church leader: “So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their … [Read more...] about Between a rock and a hard place
When I was a little girl my grandmother had a monthly subscription to a magazine called “Ladies Home Journal”. It had a monthly feature entitled, ‘Can This Marriage Be Saved?’. I read it with rapt fascination. The format was always the same — first one spouse, then the other, would share their perspective. Next, the therapist would “weigh in” and finally the conclusion would be sort of a … [Read more...] about Can this marriage be saved?
Honesty may be the best policy but it sure is hard to practice it in real time. In my family of origin we have historically embraced conflict as a form of intimacy — in the worst of ways. This has been our family legacy — one I had hoped to avoid. Over the decades I worked pretty hard to try to stay connected with my family. I was bossy and codependent and tried to smooth over … [Read more...] about Honesty
Michel Quoist wrote a book named “Prayers” that I have appreciated for decades (Sheed & Ward Inc., 1963). The author, Abbe Michel Quoist, was a Catholic priest, theologian and writer. I love the structure of this book He poetically leads us through his core conviction that if we knew how to listen to God all of life would become a prayer. Here is one of his poems. It presents both comfort … [Read more...] about Prayer
Throughout the scriptures, God is all about the tribe. Unfortunately, we forget that and try to over personalize some of what the bible teaches. But take another look. His message is around tribe. Rarely does God call out an individual, he works primarily through the tribe. Yes we know the names of the individuals that God has called to serve — but the vast majority of God’s people … [Read more...] about Building a Tribe
I do not have a bunch of answers for the issues that arise from our human limitations while we simultaneously desperately want to believe. For Christians, we wrestle with the notion that we are created in the image of God. We are taught that we have the capacity to “bring it” - which to me means that when God calls us, we can respond in obedience AND participate in his bigger story. And I love … [Read more...] about What I Do Not Know
Once I grew up and took responsibility for studying the scriptures for myself, I discovered a wide world of opportunity to learn from a variety of scholars and theologians. This reading and studying has been a regular practice for me since Pete and I joined the church as young newlyweds. Here is one thing I know. I know this without a doubt. God uses messy people. Here are a few … [Read more...] about Heroes of Faith
With all the love I can hold in my heart, I say unto you: my early church experience was fraught with misdirection. Even the paintings of Jesus were more reflective of the neighborhood my grandparents inhabited than the real Jesus. Jesus was not Scandinavian! He didn’t have dirty blond hair! His skin was not milky white. We can forgive our narcissistic tendencies to turn everyone into reflections … [Read more...] about Jesus wasn’t from Norway
It is incredibly confusing to folks when what we say does not match with what we actually do. Of course, we are all inconsistent at times. But you know what I mean! If you are a pastor and you talk about prostitution as a sin (in practically every sermon you preach) but get caught in a hotel room with a prostitute and it turns out you have spent $50,000.00 of your church’s money on prostitutes … [Read more...] about What must I believe to belong?