Showing posts from August, 2017

Running Alone

I have a new post at the Shalem Institute blog, entitled Running Alone.

An excerpt:

Ever since I was in seminary (close to 15 years ago), I’ve tried to maintain a regular workout regimen.

For most of this stretch, I have refused to exercise around other people. The times when I’ve done so have made me self-conscious, and I convinced myself it would be better for me to find ways to do this on my own, out of the public and (in my mind) judgmental eye.

Read the rest at the Shalem Institute blog.

August 2017 Pop Culture Roundup

Six items for August...

1. This month I read Cold Magic by Kate Elliott, the first in a trilogy set in the Industrial Revolution, where the land is ruled by a complicated system of princes and Mage Houses, steampunk technology is on the rise, and magic gives one as much power as wealth. We meet Catherine, a young woman who is being forced to marry into a Mage House due to an old contract made between her family and the House long ago. It sets her on a journey to learn more about her family's history and herself. Clocking in at just over 500 pages, this story could be a little dense at times, but I enjoyed the complex combination of alternate history, fantasy, and personal discovery. I plan to read the other two books, but will give myself a little break in between.

2. So during that break I read Silence by Shusaku Endo. Martin Scorsese recently directed a movie based on this book starring Liam Neeson, and while I'm interested in seeing it I wanted to read the book first. It d…

Vintage CC: Church as Unapologetic Community

This post comes from August 2015. Many churches inevitably celebrate or mark moments during worship that will seem strange to new attendees; most can't or choose not to have every Sunday be a presentation devoid of context or community need. This is inevitable and, as I argue here, needed.

If you were a first-time visitor at my church a few Sundays ago, you might have been a little confused. We were saying goodbye to our Director of Christian Education that day, so worship was not what it typically is. She was preaching, I was liturgist, and we had a special farewell as part of the service that included gifts given and a special prayer of blessing said for her, followed by a potluck lunch. We'd also just wrapped our Vacation Bible School, so there was a video recap shown while the offering was collected.

Having this as a first-time experience might leave you wondering about our church, and whether you should give it another go a week later. To one unfamiliar with our community…

Fall Reading

My favorite season of the year is fast approaching, a magical time of college football, hoodies and zip fleeces, crunchy colorful leaves, and Oktoberfest beers.

It's also a time when I have to come up with a new reading list. I finished my summer list with little trouble, so now I need some new books to carry me through this cooler season. Here's what I'm thinking:
Confessions of a Funeral Director by Caleb WildeWashington's Farewell by Jon AvlonThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark MansonBlue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World by Otis Moss IIIBehemoth by Scott WesterfieldThe Walking Dead Volume 28 by Robert KirkmanThe Season of the Nativity by Sybil MacBeth So, a memoir, a history book, whatever Manson's book is, a little preaching, a few stories, and Advent/Christmas prep. I'm looking forward to it.

What'll you be reading this fall?

Pastoral Prayer for the Helpless

based on Romans 9:1-5

O God, we can't keep up. The news shows us images and stories of people wounded and suffering, excluded and forgotten. Those closer to us are facing the pain of disease, the murky outlook of financial hardship, the strain of overbooked schedules, the heartbreak of crumbling relationships. We include ourselves in this as well, as we bring our own struggles and in our hearts what we're too exhausted or embarrassed to say aloud.

How we wish we could do more! We want so badly to erase and resolve what others are going through! We long so much to do whatever we can to help them find peace and resolution. For their sake and for our own we dream of what could be if we had the power, time, energy, and resources to fix what feels so helpless. And so we turn to you in prayer seeking your guidance and empowerment for what we can't do ourselves.

God, we know you are faithful and attentive to our deepest yearning. As we face another day watching, hoping, and pray…

Small Sips' Childhood Is Ruined

What are you looking for? In a post that is older than I originally realized, Christopher Xenakis deconstructs the United Church of Christ's Ministry Opportunities webpage to see how churches use it and what they say they want:
My wise friend, Joanne Lanfier, who is a UCC pastor and a counselor with our Association’s Family Counseling Ministry, says that pastor-congregation relationships are like marriages. I would extend her analogy and suggest that the search-and-call process has much in common with the elaborate courtship and mating rituals of both humans and animal species. Ministers and churches try, and often go to great lengths, to present their best and most appealing selves to each other, in an effort to win each other’s approval and love, and form a mutually nurturing partnership. And unfortunately, as in marriage, a significant number of pastors and congregations find themselves in unhappy unions and “break up” after a few years together. Surveys conducted by the Barna …

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