Thoughts

Following the Leader

People think Christians hate others: we hate immigrants, we hate lawbreakers (depending on which law), we hate black people, we hate gay people, we hate transgender people, etc. If we don’t say anything to correct that impression, people will assume we’re full of hate. It’s up to us to change the narrative. We have to say that we don’t wish the south had won the war so that we’d still have slavery. We have to say that we don’t think committed monogamous homosexual relationships are sinful. We have to say that we don’t think Native Americans deserve to have their…
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Multilingual Congregations

Since Pentecost is coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to share my honors project from college about multilingual congregations in the PC(USA). It has some particularly interesting things to say about the Tower of Babel story and the Pentecost story (even if it is only an undergraduate work!) Click here to take a look: Multilingual Congregations

Acceptance

Christian practice today requires acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity in order to reach those not being reached by the church. Without those values, conversations either can’t begin or won’t go far. They must stem from a humble spirit, but contrary to what you might expect, the path to acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity begins with an inward, not outward, journey. In order to accept others (because acceptance is the height of tolerance and inclusivity), you must first be able to accept yourself. In order to truly be a presence of love for someone else, I have to first accept myself as I…
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Miriam and Jyn Erso

Rogue One was a great movie that, in my opinion, did a great job of exploring a small part of the greater Star Wars story. The original Star Wars hinted at a great sacrifice having been made to get a hold of the Death Star plans – without which, Luke wouldn’t have gotten very far on his epic journey that now spans 4 movies (I don’t count Revenge of the Sith). As it turns out, getting the Death Star plans was a great adventure and I am better off for having heard the story. In every story, there are little…
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Planting Seeds at Christmas

Jesus wasn’t born as a baby, he was planted as a seed. Jesus refers to himself agriculturally a few times: In John 12, he refers to his life as a grain of wheat that has to fall to the earth and die in order to bear fruit. In John 4 he tells the disciples that they are reapers, harvesting what has grown because of the work of others, including himself. And in the parable of the sower, he is both sower and seed, because he is himself the word of God. Paul picked up on this metaphor, referring to himself…
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GC

Some of the most difficult questions I face on a weekly basis are some of the most basic ones to ministry. “Who is God?” “What is the Church?” “What is Church for?” “What are people supposed to do with their lives?” “What are Christians supposed to do?” I think often about what Langcliffe is being called to do this week, month, year, and decade. One thing is clear: there’s a lot to do. But what does God want our church, specifically, to do here and now in Avoca in 2016? People say the Bible is the instruction book for things like this,…
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Evangelism for Goats

This Sunday, I’m preaching on Matthew 25 as we begin a five-week series on the “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” by Robert Schnase, and the first chapter is “Radical Hospitality.” After reading the chapter, I can see that our church does well at this, for the most part. Our Vacation Bible School day met his highest standard for a welcoming, hospitable VBS that reached neighborhood children, not just our own. One thing we might be less practiced at – or at least one thing I’m less practiced at – is knowing what we have and why we want to offer…
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Don’t Vote

Don’t vote in this year’s presidential election. Apparently, from what people are telling me, both real choices are awful, and I hear there are two “third party” candidates that likely won’t get enough votes to win a single state. So here’s my advice: don’t cast a vote for president. Instead, cast votes that matter. The policies that most directly affect your neighbors (you know, the people Jesus told you to love) are decided at the state and local level. For Avoca, that means Representative Mike Carroll and Senator John Blake at the state level, and Representative Matt Cartwright at the federal level – along…
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Stop Shooting

It’s not often that I get overwhelmed by the news. Maybe this week is just overwhelming for me personally, and then hearing about death on the news sends me a little over the edge. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve got so much cognitive dissonance from knowing so many good people but seeing people do such amazingly horrible things on the news and the internet. There are a lot of things to feel this week, and events are pulling us in so many different directions that it’s hard to tell how to be peacemakers in the midst of the chaos….
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Starting a Business is Hard Work

Six months ago, I wasn't sure that I would ever see a coffee shop open in Avoca. Fortunately, I found someone who was willing and able to take on the role of managing this hypothetical coffee shop as a full-time job! We have an employee, a board of directors, even 501(c)(3) status. We don't yet have a building, but I hope that will change soon.  I recently described the place I'm at in this process as "skiing very quickly down a steep slope." I know how to ski, and I'm doing it pretty well. It's just that, at a certain…
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