If you know me (Dan) well, you know I have a dubious relationship with the month of August. At the risk of sounding a bit whiny, I must say that it is a discouraging month. Not only is it a dry, hot, sweaty, yucky (did I mention hot?) month, it seems that nearly everything slows to a crawl until we roll into September like a deflated beach-ball. I often quip that it seems even God is out of the office until Labor Day.
Moreover, as I plod through August, I don’t mind the thought of getting through it so we can move into the new year. (Yes, I know Continue reading Is God Out of the Office?
“For as long as I can remember, there has been suffering on this earth. And for as long as I can remember, that suffering has been judged and opposed by force, which has only brought more suffering. Using the sword must have its place, but now we see that to live by it is to die by it, just as to live by wealth is to pay the price of that wealth. Both are cycles without end.”
I am reading a historical novel called AD 33, by Ted Dekker. It is the second of two novels (the first is AD 30) that follows the journey of a Bedouin woman named Mavia. She has a warrior companion, Saba, who speaks the words above. I am finding a fair amount of inspiration from this fictionalized account of the gospel. Undoubtedly, I’ll have more to say in the days ahead, but this excerpt speaks to me. As a follower of The Way, I have grieved over the cycle of violence and avarice that is increasing the more years I live. God grant me the grace to reject mammon and vengeance as my Master did.
OK, there was Fifty Shades of Grey (the book and the movie) and more recently, Deadpool. There are others, but what I am talking about is “entertainment” that stretches the boundaries of taste and deliberately slaps at morality. What amuses us says something about us and our culture.
It’s Time We Had a Talk
I am not referring to a conversation on sexual expression and preferences. Rather, we need to talk about culture and where we are as a society—where we are going. It says something when a movie that explores sado-masochism is hyped on main-stream television, or when a super anti-hero snuffs life after life with raucous abandon. The normalization of deviant sex and graphic violence for comic effect says something about the dominant culture. Furthermore, it begs the question: as Christ-followers are we going to be a part of the dominant culture or secede from it? Will we bend to the will of social norm, slowly and belatedly, but ultimately acquiesce? Continue reading 50 Shades of Deadpool: Culture Near Midnight
Last time, I suggested that in John 8:2-11 there is a pattern for dealing with people whose practices don’t square with God’s design. In brief:
- Don’t accuse or belittle.
- Protect others from harm.
- Refuse to judge, remembering that I, too, have weaknesses.
- Don’t condemn.
- Recognize and reject sin.
I find the fifth one particularly interesting. Continue reading Go and Sin No More?
I’ve been thinking about the call for the church to be more inclusive. There is an event in the life of Yeshua that I think sheds some light on it. It’s in the eighth chapter of the gospel of John.* In the story, Jesus is teaching the people when some religious leaders, interested in catching the Rabbi in some inconsistency in His teaching, bring to Him a woman identified as an adulterous. The story famously recounts how the Lord refuses to be baited into the controversy and, instead, challenges the crowd to cast the first stone– but only if their righteousness qualifies them to do so. Put that way, nobody felt confident enough to render judgment, so they all slunk away, presumably irked that they had been outsmarted by Yeshua yet again.
As I read the story I notice a pattern for dealing with outsiders, people whose lifestyle and beliefs don’t fit within bounds of traditional Christian faith. Here’s what I see: Continue reading The Church: Inclusive or Exclusive?
It’s really bad manners to have an opinion. Have you noticed? To imply you are thoroughly, decidedly and unalterably convinced is a giant step toward bigotry — in the eyes of many, you have already arrived.
Those of us who have opinions about social issues know the cold pause in a conversation when we state our position unequivocally, even if calmly and reasonably. To be socially graceful we must always defer to the one we’re talking to; soften our stance with a qualifier– “. . . of course, I could be wrong.” Continue reading Deferential Uncertainty and the Death of Discourse