A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Offering Pastoral Care When Things are Out of Control

Many years ago when I was a young associate pastor, there was a parishioner who was all of 4 foot 3 inches tall. She was Italian (like me) and she was a pistol. A couple of her fellow parishioners referred to her as a "test," She often challenged them in their discipleship as she accused them of stealing things and committing other unsavory deeds. "Maria" (as I will call her) was quite a piece of work, but I liked her. She kept us on our toes.

Over time we began to notice that Maria was deteriorating mentally. One day we received her monthly contribution in an envelope sewn shut with needle and thread. Eventually, her only living relative, a nephew, had her committed to a nursing home because she clearly was unable to take care of herself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Doubting Thomas Apparently Had Quite a Reputation

Without Worship the Church Cannot Survive

from Kazimierz Bem, at On Faith:
In one way or another, the refrain I constantly hear is: "The Church of the future is the Church of service." It takes all shapes and forms, but it always boils down to the same thing: Don't focus on worship-- "do stuff" instead! So, a denominational leader blogs that the vocation of churches is to be local community centers, food banks, day cares, or places for diaper drives. New church plants are tailored for terribly busy people, giving them a brief moment of worship (with the stress on brief) "on the run." Regular meals together are held where the leader says "Holy things for holy people" before the participants share their thoughts, and this is praised as new worship. My own denomination is experimenting with an online community called "Extravagance," where people participate in worship online and then post their thoughts on Facebook. "The post was a part of her worship," we are told.

A Case of Mistaken Identity: Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Part 6 of 10)

2.3 The Father: The Kind of Love that Brings Joy (Luke 15:11-32)

Homecomings are times to celebrate-- when a child comes home for Christmas from college, when a father returns from a long trip on business, and when a soldier-mom comes home from being stationed overseas.

When the Father sees his prodigal son coming down the road, what ensues is "the mother of all homecomings." The joy the father feels in his heart at that moment cannot be adequately described in words. Here is a joy, not only of being reunited, but an elation that a turning point in this young man's life is just around the next corner. The sorrow the father feels at the thought of a wayward child gives way to the joy of a dad whose son has intentionally decided to "get his act together" and travel down the path that leads to home and right living.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Becoming Your Church's Cheerleader

from Dave Barnhart at Ministry Matters:
Although I don't do eight-minute commercials for my church during worship, I do catch my church doing good things. I am thrilled when they invite guests and give generously. I see spontaneous acts of love and a sincere desire to serve the world, and every time they do something without my cajoling or nagging (which is ineffective anyway), I celebrate with them. This kind of cheerleading is more than empty, "Rah, rah, rah." It is leading with gratitude and praise-- with cheer.

Dave's words are something all of us need to hear.

The entire post can be read here.

Hot Button Issues and the Lack of Civility

"Civility is not about dousing strongly held views. It's about making sure that people are willing to respect other perspectives."-- Jim Leach

My friend, Dennis Sanders has an excellent post on the matter.

A Case of Mistaken Identity: Reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Part 5 of 10)

2.2 The Father: The Kind of Love that Swallows Pride (Luke 15:11-32)

"I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so." There can be a subtle joy in discovering that our unheeded warnings to people have indeed reaped the consequences we foresaw. In comes our now wounded individual, and even though we feel for her, there is a pride hidden beneath our concern. If she had just listened to us, she would not be in the mess she is in. We are pleased to know that our wisdom has prevailed, even in difficult circumstances.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


The Church Has an Identity Crisis

The church in the 21st century West faces an identity crisis which it must resolve. Is the church going to be the people of God Jesus called it to be making disciples for the purpose of making disciples, or will it continue to grasp after a Christendom past that is almost used up never to return? Will the church in the West move into the future as God's one, true nation or will it seek once again to make an earthly nation Christian when in reality it never was?