Church Posts

I (Finally!) Started a Podcast

I (Finally!) Started a Podcast

I’ve considered doing a podcast for years but none of the ideas I entertained ever caused me to pull the trigger. That is until my friend Jef recently pitched me an idea. He grew up in the church and has since decided he no longer believes it anymore and no longer considers himself a Christian. But he’s still intrigued by the faith he grew up with.

His premise was for us to start a podcast together to… wait for it… read the Bible. What would the conversation look like if a skeptic and a pastor read the Bible together? The answer is our new podcast: The Forest and the Trees.

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Christianity Needs More Imagination

Imagination often gets a bad reputation these days. We tend to think it’s something only for kids. Personally, I’m committed to fostering as much imagination as I possibly can as an adult, which is why I regularly read fictional novels (it probably also explains my love for Disneyland).

I’ve recognized lately that so many of the conversations I get into about Christianity essentially boil down to how we can imagine and live out something better in light of those that say we need to return to the way things were. It reminds me of something I read from Will Mancini, “Perhaps the greatest irony is that in our efforts to be biblical we have failed to be imaginative.”

That sums up much of Christianity right now. An effort to be biblical with little to no imagination in the process. And of course, ‘biblical’ can mean anything we find in the text which allows for just about anything if you’ve ever read it for yourself (as I showed in a recent blog post on Numbers 31).

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How’s Your Body?

There’s been an interesting change in my life since I left full-time ministry. There are actually quite a few changes, but one significant one is that I’m in much better shape. I feel healthier and have more energy than before.

Part of this comes from the fact that my ministry schedule ran at a breakneck speed, especially when you add on raising five kids and trying to have a healthy marriage. This is the case for many people, not just those in ministry. When we get busy, it forces us to find time somewhere. Oftentimes our health is the ‘somewhere’ we end up pulling it from in one way or another.

This was evident when Michelle and I were in France. We did a river cruise for much of the trip and we were quite a bit younger than most people aboard. We watched many people who’s health was no longer good (likely for a number of reasons) trying to make the most of their time. I couldn’t help but wonder what my body will feel like when I am that age.

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Standing In the Right Place

I got into a conversation this week with a friend who’s a pastor. He asked me my thoughts on how the church should practically navigate a situation with someone who is transgender. In that conversation, I mentioned the pastor could either lean toward making this person feel welcomed and included in the church (at the risk of others feeling uncomfortable), or could make others feel comfortable (at the risk of making this person feel like they don’t belong).

It made me realize one of the things I’m most grateful for these days: I no longer have to operate as a spiritual gatekeeper.

Spiritual gatekeeping is one of the unspoken roles pastors find themselves in. Most churches say “all are welcome,” but that tends not to be the case when a gay person or trans person tries to get involved or serve. Church leaders have to decide who can be involved and in what ways. Especially when it comes to serving, teaching, and leading in visible roles. I spent countless hours on this conversation when I was a Lead Pastor. (As many will note, this apprehension does not tend to apply similarly to those who are immoral in a heterosexual way or those with a history of abusing power).

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God Knows Things that Never Happen

My favorite nonessential topic of theology is probably the foreknowledge of God. This involves how and what God knows about the future. Practically, this topic has revolutionized my concept of prayer and allowed me to see a more Jesus-looking version of God. But it’s also a fun way to make your brain work a bit. Consider the following argument from Michael Heiser in his book The Unseen Realm:

“That which never happens can be foreknown by God, but it is not predestined, since it never happened.”

Let’s break this down a bit.

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Jesus and the French King

Jesus and the French King

We’re back from our France trip and now I continue to reflect on all we saw and experienced. Travel is amazing for clearing the senses and resetting your perspective.

We had the opportunity to tour the Palace of Versailles, which is hard to wrap your mind around. It was bizarre to try and imagine life in the time of King Louis XIV. This king is beloved now, but I suspect he had to be a monster in real life. Taxing his people with huge burdens to build a shrine to his power and wealth. Instead of making life better for the French people, he built Versailles to show off his power and prestige. Evidently, this is what you do when you can do whatever you want.

While that tour was a bit depressing, so was another palace we visited. Only this one isn’t actually a palace, it’s a church. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre is the second most visited monument in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. That this is toured more than Versailles should tell you something. It’s got a stunning view of the city of Paris and the building is also impressive to behold.

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