Jesus was coming soon

Readers of the New Testament discover about 40 days after his resurrection Jesus disappeared into the atmosphere, promising to return in just the same way someday.  That sounds great.  I am all for that!  But when will it happen?  More importantly, when did the authors of the New Testament say it would happen?
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is quoted saying the current generation of people would not pass away before the end would come (Matt. 24:34).  In The Revelation, John quotes Jesus saying he is coming “soon” (Rev. 3:11, 22:7, 22:12, 22:20).  Peter writes, “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7).  John writes “this is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).  So the clear understanding of the writers of the New Testament is not only that Jesus would return, but he would return soon.
It has been about 2000 years since those words were written.  It seems clear that Jesus was either misquoted, misunderstood the timing, or meant something spiritual rather than literal in his talk of his retu…

Rob Bell

I just read an excerpt from Rob Bell's soon to be published book, "What is the Bible?".  It looks to be a really interesting, challenging, thought-provoking, inspiring book.  The excerpt, which was posted on his Facebook page has created in me a bit of an inner argument.

I'm personally really excited to get this book, and more excited about the thought of perhaps engaging a group of people who have abandoned the Bible completely to take a fresh look at it through the lenses Rob appears ready to help people use.

But, I thought twice, three times, even four about even "LIKING" the Facebook post.  I know what will happen.  Many people will question me, "Do you really read Rob Bell?  Don't you know he is a heretic?"  A few will give a thumbs up to me.  Most will say "Rob who?"

But it's time to come out of the closet.  It's time to stop worrying about pleasing and appeasing people when it comes to what I believe about the Bible …

Men's Group

I've been attending a men's small group a couple times a month for the past year or so.  Most of the time I really like it (which is actually surprising) but occasionally I find it frustrating.  Last night was one of those times.  One of the men, who has only recently joined our group, talked a lot.  And interspersed in his statements were ideas that sounded a bit like Trump was helping the USA become blessed by God again, God was using the current administration to help the church get bold again.  I just sat there and bit my lip.  Because I don't agree.

But more than that, what makes me uncomfortable sometimes when I'm with conservative Christians is they say things as if "Everyone in the room automatically agrees with this position because we're all Christians."  As if there is a Christian answer to each thorny political question and all real Christians agree because the Bible obviously tells us what is right.

The problem is, I'm finding that more…

Dear Dave

Dear Dave,
I heard the news today that you have an inoperable brain tumor.  At first I felt shock - almost clinical about the news.  Then all morning waves of grief washed over me as I thought about the terrible reality you and your family are staring down.

But this is not about me and my feelings.  It's about you.  I started reflecting at lunchtime and through the afternoon about some of the ways you have influenced me since we first met in 2001, two days after the 9/11 attack.

Where do I start.  I think of the transition I went through in 2007 from a burned out, depressed young pastor to the new director of Central Services.  You walked with me through that.  You probably wished I wouldn't step down, but you listened to my heart and you worked out a solution that was a win for me, and I hope for the Kingdom of God as well.

When, after a couple of years, it was time for another transition as I stepped back into pastoring with caution, part time, while still serving at Networ…

Is Biblical Inerrancy a House of Cards?

I run into wonderful Christian people all the time who basically subscribe to this belief about the Bible:

"God inspired humans to write down exactly what God wanted them to write.  Therefore everything in the Bible, from Genesis to the Revelation, is God-breathed.  Since God is perfect, what he does is perfect, so the Bible is without error in everything it speaks of."

Although not a technical definition, this is the basic idea that is meant by the term "Biblical inerrancy".  This foundational belief leads to the next one:

"Good Christians believe everything the Bible says and never doubt it, regardless of what modern scholarship and science discovers. If there is a discrepancy between something in modern scholarship or science and the words of the Bible, good Christians will always hold to the Bible teaching and reject or doubt the modern discoveries."

Good, faithful people are taught that there are no discrepancies or contradictions in the scripture.  Or…

Help my unbelief

Last week 2 young women from a partner congregation to our church in Pakistan were abducted by members of the Taliban.  Their abductors tortured and raped the girls, and sent videos of these events to our national pastor, demanding ransom be paid within 5 days or they would be killed.  The video included clips of them being commanded to recant their recent conversion to Christianity and to recite Muslim prayers.  They refused, and were tortured in unspeakable ways.
Today I received word that the young women had been released in exchange for the ransom money, and they were now reunited with their parents.
Over the past few days hundreds of people have been praying for their release and for the safety of our national pastor as he helped secure their release.  And now that word is spreading, people are thanking God for helping the girls be released and "miraculously" working on their behalf.
But I am having a hard time celebrating.
I didn't see the videos myself, but they w…

Life Will Get Harder

The young couple stands at the front of a church. She dressed in white, he in a penguin suit. As they gaze at each other the world opens up in front of them. They think of all the possibilities and joys of the years to come. The travel, the escapades, the children they will raise, the fun things they will do, the joy of simply living life together. They have no idea.

Life will get harder.

Who can tell them that they may find themselves someday deciding whether to honor their commitment to buy groceries for those future children or to fulfill their obligation to the bank?

Who can tell them that the bundles of joy they imagine in their ideal future life will repeatedly suck joy, energy, and life from them, and replace it with simply more demands?

How can you explain to them that the ideals they now hold will be tested, beaten, shaken down, until only that which is truly true remains, and it may bear little resemblance to what now drives them forward?

Yes life will get harder. But…