Thursday, November 30, 2006

More on Slavery

If you have never read this book, I heartily endorse it. I read it during an ethics class at Asbury Theological Seminary and it really rang my bell. It reminded me of the line in the Rich Mullins song "Boy like me, Man like you" that says "Stories like that make a boy grow bold, stories like that make a man walk straight" because the stories of Charles Finney, Jonathan Blanchard, Theodore Weld and the Methodist reformers who were vehemently anti-slavery in the early 19th Century give me great pride in my religious heritage. Of special note is the group of abolitionists at Oberlin College who carried the fight against slavery to extremes at great peril to their own lives and freedom.

We now live in an era where slavery is not as prevalent, but it is still practiced in many parts of the world. Lord, give us the holy boldness that these men and women had to stop an injustice. Their stories inspire us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What are Christian Issues?

Recently, the president-elect of the Christian Coalition parted ways with the organization over the direction and emphases he wanted to implement. You can read the story here.

What I find striking is that the issues that divided them are all "Christian" issues. It seems that Rev. Hunter wanted to go beyond abortion and homosexuality and deal with poverty and environmental issues. Eventually they came to the conclusion that he was not a good fit there. Hooray for both sides realizing their limits and not prolonging this into a disastrous marriage.

But it begs the question. What are the Christian issues of today? Certainly abortion and homosexual marriage have been in the forefront of legal, political and fundraising issues for some time now. And both sides of the political spectrum are engaged on them.

But there are other issues such as the ones Rev. Hunter wanted to discuss that are in need of a serious look by Christians. I know the Church of the Nazarene is making strides in Africa with HIV/AIDS and sustainable community development in their mission areas. But why is it that gay marriage and abortion are the things that attract the most attention and $$$$?

Is it because they happen in our country? Are we that narcissistic? It it because the issue is easier to get our heads and wallets around? After all, one more Supreme Court Justice and the Christian Coalition will be smiling. Or is it because the other issues seem insurmountable? I just don't know. I know the right wing of the American church is a latecomer to the HIV/AIDS issue. I just wish they had the same fervor for that that they do for politics and legal wrangling.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I like elephants. Big, lumbering creatures, Indian or African. I love seeing them in the zoo, with all of the power and majesty that goes with an animal that large. It's really hard to hide an elephant in most situations. Maybe that is why I love the Non Sequitur comic pictured here so much.

I have been in so many situations where there is an elephant in the room that everyone moves around. Sometimes I see them, and others don't, which drives me crazy. Especially when the elephant materially affects me or the organization and inhibits our ability to accomplish our mission. Many elephants just sit there and impede progress, and people are just content to move around them because they believe the price is too high to deal with them.

What are your elephants? Share some good elephant stories in the comments. I would love to hear them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Slavery isn't dead. More than 140 years after a horrific war fought in this country to end slavery, there are an estimated 27 million people still in slavery around the globe. Next February a new movie about William Wilberforce, who led the charge to end slavery in the British Empire, will be in theaters. Go here to read up on the anti-slavery campaign that is being mounted to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Wilberforce's triumph.

A few years ago the church flocked to theaters to see "The Passion of the Christ" which was the first rated R movie many had seen. I wonder if churches will put the same effort into getting people to see this movie and behind this issue. It is a consequential issue for millions of people, but not many in this country. I say that not to be judgmental, but to highlight that because it isn't happening here, we probably won't pay much attention. Which is sad. Slavery and genocide are still happening, but we don't talk about them much.

God hates slavery. It is an awful thing that needs to be ended once and for all. Sign the petition and look at the steps you can take to help end this detestable practice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rumors, speculation and innuendo

No I'm not talking politics or the lobby in church on Sunday morning (hateful boy, hateful boy).

I'm talking about the plethora of internet rumors about this company or that dissing Christmas, Christians, supporting homosexuals, disrespecting the war or veterans or whatever the latest and greatest rumor may be.

What really surprises me is the number of Christians who blindly send these along without ever verifying the authenticity of what it says. Almost all of these are injurious to the reputation of an individual or corporation.

Here is my simple suggestion. Before you pass along any email of this type, go here to verify the truth. This website does its best to determine the accuracy of internet rumors and dispel myths. Please avail yourself of it. I'm really tired of reading how some company is evil when it isn't true. There is enough evil in the world. We don't have to add more.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Saving the planet

Many people are concerned about the environmental impact that humans have on the planet, with good reason. We have not been good stewards in many ways, but I have good news. I have a very simple process that will make your life easier and lessen your eco-footprint.


Here's the deal. (No I am not selling anything.)

Click on the image above. It will take you to the Direct Marketing Association website where you can pay a $1 fee and have your name removed from mailing lists. I have personally done this, and after 3-6 months, you will see a noticeable difference in the amount of junk mail you receive.

Every piece of mail you don't receive is one less that has to be produced, requiring recycled paper, trees, fuel and all of the resources required to get something you don't want delivered to your home. This isn't an original thought with me, I took it from a wonderful little book called "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth."

While I am not one of the environmental doomsayers, it does seem foolish and wasteful to send me things I do not want, and then ask me to recycle or dispose of them. This is your way of greatly diminishing the amount of unsolicited mail you receive. Consider it my gift to you


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Free Music

Go to Derek Webb's site to LEGALLY download his new album Mockingbird. It's well worth the time. You can also visit his MySpace site here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A just war

Over the weekend I Tivo'd some of the classic war movies that air every year on Veterans Day. I was watching Twelve O'Clock High with Gregory Peck and I began to think about what they were doing with daylight precision bombing and whether it was a just tactic in a just war.

The arguments against the bombing were 1) the horrendous civilian casualties; 2) the incredible loss of life among aircrews and 3) the ineffectiveness of the bombing at stopping the war. As I watched this movie, I wondered if I could have separated my patriotism from my faith enough to question and denounce this practice that killed millions of people without any military benefit. We were attacked and prosecuting a total war, but are there some things you just don't do in war? Firebombing civilians a la Hamburg seems to be one.

The guys flying the planes just wanted 25 missions and the chance to go home. But I suspect some of them questioned the tactics. But did the church? I can't find any evidence of any non-pacifist churches questioning this in a public way. And I wonder if that wasn't a mistake.

Now we are in a different war arguing over civilian losses and what constitutes torture. 60 years have gone by and here we are again.

Come Lord Jesus. Come

Friday, November 10, 2006

Superstar Pastors

Read this piece on Superstar Pastors. I saw in in my local paper, and it made me shake my head.

The following paragraph illustrates the problem as I see it.
So when Haggard fell spectacularly from grace in a scandal involving drugs and allegations of gay sex, many wondered if New Life, so tied to his public persona, would crash with him.

The answer has significance far beyond the Haggard tragedy. As evangelical megachurches have sprung up around the country, concerns have grown over whether superstar pastors help or hurt faith communities.

The article goes on to talk at length about megachurches with superstar pastors. But the question is probably rhetorical. Are we really that shallow? Do we really go to churches just because a particular person is in the pulpit? I realize that pastors make a huge difference, but are we really that shallow?

I really hope not. But I do have some appreciation for strong denominational oversight of pastors. I don't necessarily advocate moving pastors around against the congregational wishes, but I can see the perils of a cult of personality that forms in many of these churches.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Don't Shoot the Wounded

Excerpt from a post on The OOZE

With the advent of the latest news, the evangelical world has come to a choice point. They need to think carefully about how they will move forward. Opportunities to alter the course of a movement’s history do not come often. Now is the perfect time to let the world know we don’t serve a God who looks at our sin and is somehow in shock, disbelief, and denial. And God’s people shouldn’t be either. Now is the time to pray for Ted, his family and friends, and the Haggard’s spiritual fellowship. It is time to pray for the former escort, Mike Jones, who felt the need to air this allegation. We should lift up the divided communities in our nation—the gay and lesbian community, the evangelical community, and everyone in-between and intertwined. Now is the time to recover an ancient truth: Though David suffered extreme consequences for his sin, God never removed him for a single moment from serving as Israel’s king. Evidentially God knows how to differentiate between sin and sinner. If Ted comes clean and changes course through a process of healing and restoration, I pray the evangelical world will allow him to continue to serve as (to borrow Henri Nouwen’s phrase) a “wounded healer,” one who ministers the paradoxical power of Jesus from the pain and brokenness that is common to all of us. If the evangelical world doesn’t do this, it won’t be a judgment on Ted. It will be a judgment on the presumed inefficacy of the blood of Jesus.

This will be an interesting test for the church. What if Ted honestly repents? Will they ostracize him or restore him? Peter was restored after denying Christ. Will we follow the restoration guide in Galatians 6:1? Will we allow this scandal to distract us from the real issue of bringing Christ to a lost world? I hope not. Ted did serious damage to the cause, but we serve a mighty God who can rise above all of our failings.

Let's not get in His way.

Monday, November 06, 2006


It all ends on Tuesday. "The MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN OUR HISTORY" since the last most important election in our history will be over. And there will be much rejoicing. One side will be the victors. Another will be the vanquished. And the rest of us will get a respite from the computer-dialed phone calls telling us when to vote, where to vote, and why one person is terrible and another is good.

Enough of these cursed robo-calls. My phone was ringing non-stop this morning with them. Enough of the slick little advertisments from eveyone but the candidates. I don't mind candidate pieces, but the parties, conservationists, pro dove hunting and anti dove hunting crowds, and everyone else telling me why this person is bad for America is too much.

I used to love politics, now I despise it. I don't watch the news anymore because it is just politics, polls, disasters and scandal. I have enough depressing stuff in my life. I don't need any more.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Not again

Here we go again. A prominent Evangelical leader, this time Ted Haggard, is caught up in a scandal that brings down his ministry. As soon as I heard the reports of this, I had another pit in my stomach. Not that I am a card-carrying member of the NAE, but because this will hurt the Church of Jesus Christ in the eyes of an increasingly skeptical world.

I don't know what Ted Haggard did or did not do with this man, and I really don't want to know. I think it will sicken me if I did. But I do know that an Christian leader who was leading a drive to stop gay marriage in Colorado has been found to have engaged in "sexually immoral behavior" according to the oversight board that dismissed him from the pastorate of his church in Colorado Springs. Our pastor talked about Schadenfreude today - taking pleasure in other's misfortune. I don't have any of that here, but I am sure there are many non-Christians who do. And Satan certainly does.

This is a chastening experience for an aspiring pastor. Not only am I reminded that what I do is not just between me and God, I am also reminded that what I do can affect so many people. My family, congregation, and all those who look to me for spiritual guidance. This is a sobering thought. And one that makes me fearful.

Pray for all those in positions of spiritual leadership. Pray that they would remain faithful to the One who has called them. Pray that they would live lives worthy of their calling. Pray that they would bring Glory to God and build the Kingdom of God. And pray that the enemy would be kept at bay. God help us all.