Sitting with the “Enemy”

When a picture circulated of comedian Ellen DeGeneres sitting with former President George W. Bush during a Dallas Cowboys football game, it raised some eyebrows and questions. As Ellen said, in a USA Today story, people asked themselves, “Why is this gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” The implication seemed to …

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Is God on Our Side?

Abraham Lincoln followed a vision that transcended partisanship. In his second inaugural address, with the Union’s victory assured, he could have piled on. He could have condemned the South and spoken about an eye for an eye. Indeed, our current political climate would have repeatedly fostered animosity through endless tweets. But Lincoln saw the bigger …

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Six Days of Creation? Really?

According to an article in the Christian Post, the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church recently passed a resolution affirming belief that God created the world “in six natural days.” This might come as a surprise to the Creator, since we know earth to be over four billion years old. There’s irrefutable proof of that, as Bill …

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Does Our Religious Orientation Choose Us?

Light shone down from heaven in a seminary classroom one afternoon. It’s stuck with me all these years. The theology prof provided this moment of clarity when he said that there are basically only two theological orientations. We all fall, in varying degrees, into one of them. He called one “redemptionist.” This is the group …

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No Pure Place to Stand

The Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church recently completed its three-day meeting in Springfield. We elected delegates, lay and clergy, who will represent us at the 2020 General Conference, the policy making body of our denomination. The people we elected (with surprising quickness) all endorse full inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community into the …

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Suggestions for a New Methodism

With the Judicial Council’s recent decision that central elements of the Traditional Plan are constitutional, the trajectory of United Methodism has been set for the immediate future. There will be no Book of Discipline-approved ordination of homosexuals, nor will there be same-sex marriages performed without harsh penalties. The resulting uproar in the aftermath of the …

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Dealing with Post-General Conference Anger

I went on blood pressure medication shortly after the 2019 General Conference concluded. The two events are not unrelated. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed those systolic/diastolic numbers creeping up in annual physicals. However, by the time the GC ended, my numbers had eclipsed the threshold. What happened in the St. Louis gathering shocked people …

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Tragedy in Church

A horrible event happened in the church I serve. Last Sunday morning (Feb. 17), a man entered the building and asked a greeter where the rest room was.  Once there, alone, he took his life. Our staff and security personnel responded quickly and appropriately. Happening toward the end of the last worship service, the congregation …

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Doubting or Questioning? There’s a Difference

“Doubting Thomas” is not an endearing term. It stems from the Resurrection account in John’s Gospel when Jesus, post-crucifixion, shows up in the room where the disciples have huddled. Thomas, though, is missing. When later told about what happened, he replies dogmatically, “Unless I see him for myself, I’m not going to believe” (John 20:19-29). …

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It’s About Honesty and Humility. Period.

After 40+ years in the United Methodist ministry, two things have become clear. If we’re ever going to resolve our significant differences, we’re going to have to have the honesty to admit that none of us knows what we’re talking about. Each of us sees things only through a very narrow lens. Our genes, ancestry, …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: Suffering, Part One–The Three B’s (November 11, 2019)

Job 23:1-9; Job 23:16-17 Job is an amazingly contemporary book. The words of an anonymous Hebrew writer living in a confusing, painful time give voice to our spirits today. Lingering with the passages above, you can find three things to remember when you are facing a grueling situation that may appear utterly hopeless. Be honest. …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: When You Can’t Find an Enemy (November 4, 2019)

Ephesians 3:1-7 The world continues spinning because of competition. You have winners and losers. The winners reap the harvest of success, while the losers look at the celebration from the visitors’ dugout. Before his conversion, the apostle Paul had lived his life in relentless competition. He wanted to prove how his way of living, being …

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Atheism and Faith in Today’s World

In November, 2018, I dialogued with Hemant Mehta, who runs the blog site, The Friendly Atheist. It was a delightful conversation that showed that two people who disagreed with each other could nonetheless do so in a respectful manner that facilitated a greater understanding of both sides. Especially interesting were Hemant’s reflections on why many …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: Superstition and Magic (October 28, 2019)

Acts 8:9-25 Superstitions are irrationally ground into the human psyche. Something bad once happened when you walked under a ladder. So, to determine your fate, don’t walk under ladders. Magic is the next step up. It’s the illusion that you can control things in a mystical way. Simon the Great was a magician who gave …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: “Past Performance Does Not Guarantee Future Results” (October 21, 2019)

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 This disclaimer, tagged at the end of an investment opportunity, usually means that just because something good happened in the past, it doesn’t guarantee it will happen in the future. But there’s another way to look at it. As a college student, I was once caught in an horrific ice storm/blizzard. Wind-driven …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: The Power of Silly (October 14, 2019)

Joshua 6:1-5 God would have flunked West Point. With a walled city and its skilled army blocking your path, what’s your strategy? March around it for seven days then blow your trumpet. The walls will tumble down. Right. Yet there’s something both wise and refreshing in this old tale told around Hebrew campfires. I’ve spent …

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