Archive for April 2008


April 30, 2008

In his book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller tells the following story:

Andrew Delbanco is a humanities professor at Columbia University. Some years ago he was doing research on Alcoholics Anonymous and was attending AA meetings around the country. One Saturday morning in a New York City church basement he was listening to a “crisply dressed young man” who was talking about his problems. In his narrative he was absolutely faultless. All his mistakes were due to the injustice and betrayals of others. He spoke of how he was going to avenge himself on all who had wronged him. “His every gesture gave the impression of grievously wounded pride,” Delbanco wrote. It was clear that the young man was trapped in his need to justify himself, and that things could only get worse and worse in his life until he recognized this. While he was speaking, a black man in his forties, in dreadlocks and dark shades, leaned over to Delbanco and said, “I used to feel that way too, before I achieved low self-esteem.” (more…)

Loved X 3

April 29, 2008

“LOVED X 3” was the theme of the retreat, and looking back on it, I see that we were. It felt messy to me as I was going through it: so many of us, and all so different; so many hopes and so many wounds. But of course! That’s the point, isn’t it. (Papa laughs and says, “you think?”) (more…)

Middle Class Christianity

April 14, 2008

Crucifix   Uploaded by rob visual on FlickrDuring yesterday’s sermon I talked about the opportunity the homosexuality “issue” affords us to reflect upon key Christian concepts like salvation, grace, repentance, love and judgment. Because of our sometimes narrow and even distorted understanding of these words, we may be ill-equipped to think about, much less talk about a complex issue like homosexuality.

Take the word “judgment,” for example. Since I’ve moved to the northeast, I would have to say that if there is one sin that most people assume is the unforgivable sin, it’s judging. I pointed out yesterday that judging is as essential and inevitable as breathing. Even saying that we shouldn’t judge is itself a judgment. One cannot not judge. We are all constantly judging what’s right or wrong, what’s appropriate or inappropriate, what’s helpful or unhelpful. We judge our own behavior, and we judge other people’s behavior. (Evaluating other people’s behavior is partly how we judge how we’re going to act.) (more…)

Mission Impossible?

April 10, 2008

Alpha Question MarkLast night, after sharing a meal with our Alpha participants, I attended the second of four dialogue sessions on homosexuality. A couple of years ago the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America mandated that dialogue sessions around this issue occur throughout the denomination before the matter is allowed to be discussed again in 2009. While it seemed like a good idea before I attended the first meeting, it now feels more like “Mission Impossible.” There are too many people and there is simply not enough time to even begin to discern what the key issues are, much less actually dialogue around those issues. (more…)

Learning the Plays

April 8, 2008

PlaybookThe Lord’s Prayer has been a magnet for my spiritual life for many years. There was a time when I was “into” all sorts of fringe spiritual stuff — Jungian psychology, New Age healing practices, exploring other religions, the daily use of runes — you name it. Fortunately, I retained enough of a connection to my Christian roots to have a daily “quiet time,” which included reading Scripture and praying. I usually ended my devotions by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. (more…)

The Grace that Opposes the Proud

April 7, 2008

Trinity Uploaded from avisualplanet.comAfter worship yesterday someone asked if I would send her the prayer of confession that we had on the screen. I thought I would include it here.

I’m seeing that it’s God’s grace as much as his distaste that causes him to oppose our pride. He sees how destructive and life-depleting pride is. And now that we’ve decided to follow Jesus, pride is just so unbecoming. (more…)

The Fellowship of His Sufferings

April 4, 2008

crosssun.jpg  Uploaded by noe carrillo on FlickrI’m going to end this series of posts about friendship with Jesus by saying a word about suffering. While “suffering” may seem too big a word to include many of the relatively minor hassles and irritants in our lives, even these lesser interruptions can be unrelenting and disruptive enough to make our days depressing and our relationship with Jesus unsettling. (more…)