For my final post of October, during which I have published a blog post each day of the month, I have decided to do one that blends kingdom theology, contemporary culture, and politics. By means of a “Top Ten List,” I will attempt a serious, if not comprehensive, response to the following question:
As a citizen of the kingdom of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ, what major points of interface to I observe between the kingdom and the contemporary culture around me? Continue reading →
The church is unique among human institutions. It is composed of flawed and fallible people, but it serves a divine purpose in a way that nothing else can. The former reality means that it will, over time, suffer the consequences of human fallibility. It will experience imbalance, misdirection, and, sometimes, intentional corruption.
Because it serves a divine purpose, however, we have reason to hope that, when necessary, it can be purged of its excesses and reformed so that it once again serves the purpose of God more faithfully. Continue reading →
The late Roger Ebert (1942-2013) was something of a hero of mine. In some ways, I identified with him. Like me, he was a portly writer with a good sense of humor who lived in Chicago, my second-favorite city. Mostly, though, I respected him, especially for the courage and fortitude he showed while suffering a debilitating and disfiguring cancer which ultimately took his life.
Roger Ebert was a professional critic. He criticized movies for a living, and he was good at it. He was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Continue reading →
There is very little I can do about anything these days. I have no wealth, and I own no property. Financially, my net worth is roughly zero. I have no power and an extremely limited sphere of influence. Seven years without a paying job will do that.
I do have a loving wife who has stood by me without complaint for more than forty-two years, even when things have been really rough and our circumstances difficult to comprehend. I also have an eight-year-old grandson, whom I adore, and a beautiful daughter who is making me proud as a hard-working nurse and single mom. I am trying to do everything I can to pour myself into their lives and to use my limited means and resources to help make their lives richer. Their happiness is my reward. Continue reading →
I recently happened upon the website of the Bible college from which I graduated forty-five years ago. I was particularly drawn to the audio recordings of presentations, mainly sermons, made in the school’s chapel services over the past few years. For nearly three hours, I listened to excerpts, ranging in length from two to twenty minutes each, from a dozen or more preachers. Many of the speakers were men I knew personally from my years as a student.
It’s hard to describe how the experience of listening to those voices from the past affected me. At first, I was nearly swept away on a wave of nostalgia, as their familiar speech patterns took me back to a time when life seemed simpler and the future was filled with promise. The longer I listened, however, the less positive I felt about the experience. Continue reading →
I’ve been a Christian all my life. Between 2008 and 2012, however, owing to some difficult personal circumstances, I came within a hair’s breadth of giving up on Christian faith and religion altogether. Instead of that, and with nothing left to lose, I swept all my earlier beliefs and assumptions off the table and asked myself if there were any aspect of my former faith system that I felt I could not, in good conscience, abandon. I found there was one: the historicity of Jesus Christ.
I asked myself if there was any record of his life and teaching that I could depend on, at least rudimentarily. I determined there was no intellectual reason to reject the essence of the testimony of the Gospel writers. I made the subjective decision to regard the Gospels as fundamentally trustworthy records of the life of Jesus. I began to look at all of life, including my assumptions about God, through the lens of the life and teaching of Jesus. Continue reading →
Somewhere along the line, I heard or read that writers who find satisfaction in their craft, whether through the number of readers they reach or simply through personal fulfillment with the very act of writing, do so by way of the disciplined practice of writing something virtually every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words. Even if it is mainly editing something they wrote earlier. The most accomplished and most fulfilled writers know that they need to write something every day.
For some time now, I’ve been engaging in that discipline. I write something every day. A blog post, a Facebook post, a page or two in the book I’m working on, a homily for a worship service, a lengthy email. At least half of what I write is just random thoughts, collected in a notebook, never likely to be published, or at least not intentionally written for that purpose. I do not want to be known as someone who cannot entertain a thought, even commit it to writing, without insisting that somebody else read it too. Continue reading →
I’ve learned something in recent days, and it is fostering in me a constant attitude of repentance. The kinds of things I used to say about other people, believing I was simply being faithful and “telling it like it is,” are now being said about me. I would make sweeping statements, based on what I thought I knew about the inner thoughts and motivations of people who differed with me on key issues. But I was wrong. I was wrong to say those things because I was wrong about the inner thoughts and motivations of those who saw things differently. Continue reading →
Four times over the past couple of weeks, someone responding to something I posted on Facebook referred to me as a leader. Each time the term was preceded by an adjective. Twice I was called a Christian leader, once a church leader, and once a spiritual leader. Three out of the four references commended me for my role and service as a leader. The fourth was more along the lines of “You call yourself a leader and still write the stuff you do?”. Continue reading →