Showing posts from June, 2015

Prayer - Week Four: "When Do I Pray?"

When I was a kid I thought that the only way you could really pray properly was if you were kneeling with your eyes closed and had your hands folded in front of you.  I guess I got this impression by watching people in the churches we went to when I was growing up.  Sometimes when we would pray for things at home, my parents and I would kneel in the living room, by our bed or in front of a chair, depending on where the prayer happened to be taking place.   There's probably something to this that I am totally missing.  Lots of people feel the urge to kneel when they pray, and I am totally supportive of them when they do.  If keeling to pray works for you, then go for it.  The problem I have when I kneel to pray is that I tend to fall asleep.  I realize this probably makes me a bad Christian or something, but there you go.   It's uncanny.  As soon as my knees hit the floor and I place my head upon the bed, couch, chair, pew or whatever... I start to grow weary.  Before

Responding to the Supreme Court Decision on Same-Marriage: A "More Excellent" Way

In an historic decision that was handed down yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States essentially legalized same-sex marriage in America .   As soon as I saw the news alert of the SCOTUS decision on my iPhone , I immediately thought of my many friends for whom I knew it was incredible, and joyous news.  But I also had friends in mind who I knew would be filled with anxiety and disappointment.   It didn't take long to start seeing the reactions of both sets on my Facebook feed, text messages and emails.  The fact that I have such a diverse group of friends actually brings me joy.  To quote pastor and worship leader Carlos Whittaker, "if your [Facebook feed] only looks one way, you probably need to go make some new friends. It's better that way."   All of this was going through my head yesterday when I was asked to be interviewed by one of our local newspapers on the topic.  Not all of the things I said during the interview actually made it i

Would Jesus Fly The Confederate Flag?

Some people say that "Hindsight is 20/20." I guess it's true most of the time. When I've actually been honest about what I see in hindsight, I've benefited from it greatly.  When I've ignored it, however, I typically crash and burn.   If we use hindsight wisely, it enables us to see things not as we would like to remember them, but as they actually are .  It gives us, if we are willing to gaze into it, an unvarnished, unblemished image of the truth.   Which brings me to the recent debates about the Confederate battle flag, and it's removal from state flags, and from flying over state capitols.   Here's the truth about the Confederate battle flag: Despite how some people see it as a symbol of heritage and proud Southern-ness, there are many people who see it as a divisive symbol that reminds them of a hurtful past.   I don't want to  re-hash history regarding the Confederate battle flag.  I don't see any merit in engaging in argument

Prayer - Week 3: "Learning To Pray Like Jesus"

One of the many things I've learned about prayer is that most of us are fairly self-centered about our prayer life.   When I was a kid we attended a church that held "watch night" services on New Year's Eve.  Basically, it was a fundamentalist Baptist New Year's Eve party spent singing hymns, listening to a really long sermon, maybe watching an evangelistic family film like The Burning Hell , and then spend an hour or so "praying in the New Year."   I remember hearing people at the watch night service praying for Jesus to return that moment.  They begged God to start the Rapture presumably so that they would be discovered in church  when Jesus came back.  They would also spend a lot of time praying for friends and family members who weren't saved, and for God to punish the wicked, unrepentant and unchurched masses.   I sort of prayed that God would wait to start the Rapture until after I had learned to drive and kissed an actual girl.  

Responding Like A Christian to Caitlyn Jenner

I've been watching the story of Caitlyn Jenner play out on the interwebs and predictably on my Facebook newsfeed over the past couple of weeks.   Caitlyn Jenner (Formerly Bruce Jenner , Olympic star, ex-husband to Kris Jenner , stepdad to the Kardashians) recently began the process to transition from being a man to becoming a woman.   Bruce revealed some time ago in an interview with Diane Sawyer that he knew for a long time that he had a woman's soul, and had started to act on that knowledge.    You can watch the full interview here.  Vanity Fair magazine revealed that its upcoming issue would feature Caitlyn Jenner on the cover.  Since the Diane Sawyer interview, Jenner (now calling herself Caitlyn) underwent various surgeries, procedures and hormone therapies. The photographs were startling.   If you haven't seen the photos, you can see them here.  I'm a little jaded when it comes to this kind of thing.  Hollywood types are an odd bunch, to be sure.

Prayer - Week One: "Getting To Know God"

This week we are launching a brand new sermon series entitled, "Prayer" that will take us all the way through the month of June.   Our purpose throughout this sermon series is to take a long, hard look at prayer and to try to answer some serious questions that I am sure that many of us have had about prayer at one time or another in our lives...  Questions like: What is prayer, really?  Am I really talking to God when I pray?  Does prayer really work?  How do I pray--do I need a format, or do I just let it fly? When do I pray--is it when I need something, or am in trouble?  Does God really answer my prayers?  What do I do when it feels like God doesn't answer my prayers?  What good is prayer?  Can it really change God's mind, if God already has a plan for everything?  That's a tall order for just four weeks--but we'll do our best.  I should tell you a little bit about my own history with prayer.  I vaguely remember praying when I was about 5 or 6