Showing posts from February, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

There are some texts in the Bible that disturb me.
For example, there is this one story in the book of Judges where this guy is being accosted by these men who want to do vile things to him and he gives them his concubine (sort of a slave with "benefits") and they rape her all night long. She dies as a result, and the guy cuts her into twelve pieces and then sends the twelve pieces of his dead concubine to all of the tribes in protest.
Find some meaningful life lessons in that.
I don't always know the meaning of some of the texts that I read in the Bible, and I've been at this Christian thing for a while. It must really be a bummer for people who are just entering the story and trying to figure it all out when they latch on to a Biblical passage like the one I just mentioned.
Or even a more "main stream" kind of story like Noah, the Ark and the Great Flood, which has its own issues that we usually gloss over because it's just so darned fami…

A Confederacy of Something

So I have been working on finishing up my book, and it's going slow.  It's slow for a couple of reasons:  1) I have this pesky "other job" that takes up my whole day & 2) I have been unplugging from all electronic media at 9 PM every night.  
Now the "other job" thing needs some clarification.  To begin with, it's not a job it's a calling and I couldn't do anything else even if I wanted to.  I know because I have tried.  God stubbornly refuses to let me off the hook.  Even if money was no object--let's say for sake of argument I had a TON of it---I would still be the pastor of the church I am currently serving.  I might dress better and have a bigger TV and get the dents in my car fixed... but I would still do what I do.  I love it.  
As to the unplugging----it's been a pain.  My wife has been my accountability partner on this one.  When I say "accountability partner" I mean she is the one who has held my feet to the fire, so…

Not Done Yet.

When I was a junior in high school my basketball team made it into the state finals for our little conference. My school was small and Christian. Those two facts alone meant that we played in small, loosely assembled conferences with other small, Christian schools. Despite this fact, we soldiered on and took every game as seriously as if we were playing in the NCAA Final Four. In the league tournament we defeated a school that had beaten us badly in the regular season to make it into the championship game. I started that year as a forward. The guy who had been the starting forward, a senior, had gone down at the beginning of the season with a torn ACL. It was one of those storybook moments---if you daydream about those kind of things. You know, awkward underclassman thrust into the limelight, stumbles at first, but then after a few Rocky training vignettes finds his inner chi and wins the game in slow motion.

Bummer that it didn’t turn out that way, but it was still a good sto…

Flickering Pixels; Flickering Faith?

"Flickering pixels compose the screens of life, from televisions to cell phones to computers.  These screens, regardless of their content, change our brains, alter our lives, and shape our faith all without our permission or knowledge." - Shane Hipps, 

In his new book, Flickering Pixels:  How Technology Shapes Your Faith Shane Hipps ( begins with a bold assumption, albeit an unoriginal one.  In a recent interview at the National Pastor's Convention in San Diego, Hipps was interviewed by none other than Rob Bell, teaching pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI and the creative force behind the popular Nooma video series (postmodern parables in video format).  In the interview Hipps told a crowd of several thousand pastors and church leaders, "We used to think that the message [of the Gospel] never changed.  The media might change, but the message remained the same.  Well, that's not true, the media is the message."  
In 2006 Hi…

Shane Claiborne & Naaman's Economic Recovery Plan

There are a lot of good things about being the pastor of an historic, mainline church with actual budgets and structures.  I get dental insurance, which is good considering my kid needs braces, and I get several weeks of paid vacation, and I get to go on paid study leave for two weeks a year.  I also get to wear a neat black robe and colorful stoles, which is just a bonus really.  I'd wear those things without getting paid.  They make me happy.  
In the midst of attending seminars, listening to preaching and jaunting around San Diego with my wife, I find that I have neglected to follow up on something that needs to be done before I go back to work on Sunday morning.  By "something," I mean my sermon, which over 300 people will be waiting to hear round about 10 of the clock this coming Sunday morning.  
(Qualifier:  I am not placing the number of folks that attend our only worship service in this blog as a means to brag, merely as a means to convey the amount of people who …

My Man-Crush on Rob Bell: And Further Confessions of Ministry

One of the main reasons I go to pastors' conferences and conventions is so that I can get a chance to just sit and listen to someone else preach for a while.  Being a pastor, who preaches every Sunday, I feel like I need to keep it real once in a while and just sit and listen to a sermon.  Now, I listen to podcasts and the occasional CD from time to time, but that's not the same as sitting in a chair, taking notes and feeling the love.  If the preacher in question also happens to be really, really good at it, that's a bonus.  
My preaching professor in seminary once told us that listening to other people preach is like eating a meal...   You know, I just absorbed my use of  the "preaching professor" monicker, and it sounds like that could be a dude on a late night info-mercial, doesn't it?  If you don't learn how to deliver the goods with 3 points and a poem after taking my course, then I'll give you your money back!  Ah, ADD, old friend---you never fai…

Cross Carrying Fools

"For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them.... I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some."  - Paul, from his first letter to the church at Corinth.  

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a follower of Christ this week.  
There are a hundred or more wisecracks that I am sure could be made at this point.   Yes, I am a Christian pastor, and yes, thinking about what it means to be a follower of Christ is sort of in my job description (or at least it should be...I might have to have that added, actually).   But there are things that get moved to fore sometimes.  Like, for example, disputes over the copier contract, icky staffing decisions, editing the worship bulletin and creating, printing and cutting bulletin inserts that were brought in at the last minute--conveniently when I have no administrative support.  I realize that I am whining.  Just give me a minute.  I …

"Contrarians Unite!" A Theological Manifesto for the Rest of Us

My wife tells me that I am a contrarian.  I prefer the term "non-conformist," but there you go.   Her assessment, which was made when I arrived in Central Florida as a newly minted Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and an Associate Pastor for Youth & Families (translation:  Ordained Youth Director), followed on the heels of a lengthy diatribe from me about the narrow-mindedness and general evil intent of the Southern Baptist and "Non-Denominational" pastors in our small, Southern (well, Florida) town.   I don't remember exactly what brought it on, but I do remember saying something to the effect of:
  "@$%! Baptists!  They're like Wal-Mart.  Everyone hates 'em, but somehow they manage to keep opening stores, and packaging cheap stuff that a ton of people buy---all because people think they don't deserve anything better."  
I actually don't think I used those exact words, but close enough.  Oh, and I …