A Proper Response to Darkness

This post originally appeared in the East Valley Tribune.

Light serves a profound function in our lives. Receive too much or too little of it and you’ll experience both physical and emotional effects. I remember visiting Alaska in the summer and reading a book by sunlight at 2am in the morning. This was a pretty cool experience but it made it quite difficult to sleep at my normal times. I also have many friends who live in Seattle and talk about the lack of sunlight they receive on a regular basis. It’s not uncommon for a person to choose where she lives based on the light available in that state. Light affects everything.

It shouldn’t surprise us then that light serves as an important metaphor for spirituality. The apostle John heard Jesus explain firsthand that He Himself was the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5). After years of reflecting on this, John would later teach us that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:5a-6).

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The Great Evangelical Recession

I recently finished a thought provoking read from John S. Dickerson called The Great Evangelical Recession. In it Dickerson addresses six areas where the modern day Church in America will change in the coming decades. Then, he lays out his recommended solutions for how we should prepare for them. While I differed slightly with some of his conclusions I really enjoyed the discussion. I completely agree that the American Church is due for dramatic change and I hope to serve as a helpful voice in the process. He mentions the story of one of my mentors, Greg Boyd, and speaks of ideas that have been stirring in my head for awhile now.

Dickerson captures our two options well by saying that ‘What follows is not depressing. It simply tests our loyalty. While confronting these facts, we will be forced to answer, again and again, “Am I more committed to evangelicalism as we know it, or to Jesus Christ, His kingdom, and His message?” That question serves as a great test for each of us in the way we view the future of the church. Are we energized by this or deflated?

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The Light of the World

Is the light revealing your path or your pride? We must stop “spiritually squinting” if we want to follow the light of Christ.

How Can Christians Serve Gay People?

How Can Christians Serve Gay People?

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do,whether they are slave or free. Ephesians 6:7-8

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:13

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

I’ve had a specific prayer request for awhile now that God would give me insight into how the church should handle the issue of homosexuality. As nearly all of us can attest, the collective church has done a poor job displaying Christ to gay people. Usually the conversation is all about whether or not it’s a sin and what verses or criteria each side uses to make their argument. I’ve been thinking through this topic on my blog for the last five years as you can see through a couple of examples here and here. While there is certainly a time and a place for that, I’m left wondering if that is ultimately a poor starting point. Instead, what if Christians approached the topic proactively? This has caused me to reflect on a simple question recently.

How can Christians serve gay people?

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Decisive

Decisive

I recently finished the latest book from Chip and Dan Heath called Decisive. It is a look at the decisions we make and how our criteria for making them often produces the bad results we had hoped to avoid. I’m also having some of my team from Central go through it together as it serves as a great tool to evaluate the systems in place for any team to make decisions.

I wrote previously about a great insight from this book but here is a collection of some of my favorite ideas:

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Promoter of the Faith

I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian. While I like what this ultimately leads me to I’ll admit that it’s not always the most fun position to hold. Going against the flow in almost any area carries a burden with it. But it also allows for greater diversity and depth of perspective.

Recently I’ve been reading this book and it mentioned a part of the Catholic Church that I had never heard the full story of before.

For centuries, the Catholic Church made use of a “devil’s advocate” in canonization decisions (i.e., in deciding who would be named a saint). The devil’s advocate was known inside the church as the promotor fidei—the “promoter of the faith”—and his role was to build a case against sainthood. John Paul II eliminated the office in 1983, ending 400 years of tradition. Since then, tellingly, saints have been canonized at a rate about 20 times faster than in the early part of the twentieth century.

An effective promotor fidei is not a token argumentative smarty-pants; it’s someone who deeply respects the Catholic Church and is trying to defend the faith by surfacing contrary arguments in situations where skepticism is unlikely to surface naturally. (Who wants to argue against someone who’s lived a life so admirable that they merit consideration as a saint?)

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