Posts

Temptations of the Church in the Wilderness

  The American church is in the throes of a wilderness experience. For Jesus, it was 40 days and 40 nights. For us, it is going on 30 years. Authors Jim Davis, Michael Graham, and Ryan Burge describe what this wilderness experience amounts to in their 2023 book The Great Dechurching . They write: The U.S. is currently experiencing the largest and fastest religious shift in the history of our country, as tens of millions of formerly regular Christian worshipers nationwide have decided they no longer desire to attend church at all. These are what we now call the dechurched. About 40 million adults in America today used to go to church but no longer do, which accounts for around 16 percent of our adult population. For the first time in the eight decades that Gallup has tracked American religious membership, more adults in the United States do not attend church than attend church. More people have left the church in the last twenty-five years than all the new people who became Christ

Meditations, Ep. 3: The Way To Take

Image
 

Meditations, Ep. 2 - Sacrifice of Selfishness

Image
 

Meditations, Ep. 1: Holding Jesus Salvation

Image
 

The Stumbling Block Principle & Shame's Cure

Image
I’d like to first focus on our scripture from I Corinthians 8 . It is a fascinating passage. Paul gives us a principle that I think is rather important, one we would be wise to implement in our own lives. I’m dubbing this principle, the stumbling block principle. This is what Paul is getting at: For Paul, no thing is evil in and of itself. How a thing is used might be evil. The results from a thing being used might be evil. But the thing that is used itself isn’t evil. An inanimate object is neutral. Here’s an example – cyanide. Now, we all know that cyanide is toxic, a deadly poison. But cyanide isn’t evil in and of itself. It has positive uses, after all. The development of photography, that process, uses cyanide, for example. Cyanide salts are used in metallurgy for electroplating, metal cleaning, and removing gold from its ore. Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide. Does that make apple seeds or apples evil? No, cyanide isn’t evil in and of itself. But as Agatha Chri

On Snow Days & the Need for Grace

Image
As a kid, I could not imagine what went into the decision to cancel school because of the weather. I simply wanted as many snow days school wanted to give me. I’d get upset if an expected snow day didn’t happen. There was nothing worse than going to sleep secure in your belief in a snow day, then waking up and seeing the forecast was wrong and school was happening. Oh, those mornings were the worst! As someone who is now involved in calling snow days, I assert that making such a call is an imperfect science. In fact, it is an imperfect art. Why? Because there are so many variables to consider when deciding whether to cancel an event due to weather, especially an event called Sunday worship. Think about it: there is the weather in the present, there’s the hourly forecast, and there’s also what has occurred in the last few hours such as change in temperature. Then, there’s the state of the roads, whether interstate highways, state highways, city and suburban streets, rural roads, etc

IXOYE

Image
Seven of the 12 Jesus’ disciples were fisherman. In our gospel reading this morning, we meet Peter, Andrew, James and John, a pair of brothers both engaged in their work.   Three of these men – Peter, James, and John -  will become the big three of the twelve. They are mentioned the most. We know the most about them. They are there at the essential events of Jesus’ adult life and ministry – the Transfiguration, Christ’s resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, and Christ’s submission in the Garden of Gethsemane. And especially Peter and John are key figures in the birth of the Church. Not only were Peter, James, and John fisherman, they seem to have been successful fishermen. How do we know this?  Peter in a parallel text from Luke is described as owning two fishing boats. He lived in Bethsaida, a thriving town deemed a kind of desirable suburb of the Galilee. He had a wife and children. His mother-in-law lived with the family, and Peter was able to support all of them as a fisherman. As for