A New Kind of Fundamentalism?

With protests against COVID-19 restrictions popping up around the country, I’m wondering if we’re not seeing a display of a new kind of fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalists, a sliver of believers, have been around a long time. They derive their name from adhering to five fundamentals of the faith. Their resulting version of Christianity comes across …

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Feelings about the Proposed United Methodist Church Split

I am relieved by the proposal recently hammered out by the inclusive, high-level mediating group dealing with the future of our denomination. If it ends up being presented at, and approved by, the 2020 General Conference in May, then the decades-old wrangling over gay ordination and same-sex marriage may finally come to an end. It …

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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: “The Faith of a Son (or Daughter)” (May 25, 2020)

Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” – Galatians 4:6 The childhood of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, bore similarities to an Army boot camp. Everything was done on a rigid schedule. Any disobedience was punished swiftly, often with the “rod.” And …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: An Absurd God (May 18, 2020)

God made every kind of wildlife, every kind of livestock, and every kind of creature that crawls on the ground. God saw how good it was. – Genesis 1:25 While sheltering in place, I’m binge-ing on some documentaries. One of my favorites is a Netflix series titled “Absurd Planet.” It highlights the strangest looking and …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: “I Don’t Mean to Sound Sexist, But…” (May 11, 2020)

A competent wife, how does one find her?… Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:10a, 30 You can bet that when a man starts a conversation with, “I don’t mean to sound sexist, but…”, he will indeed sound sexist. Once he does, there’s no easy …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: Social Distancing and the Liberation of Appreciation (May 4, 2020)

One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice. – Luke 17:15 In Jesus’ encounter with ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19), Luke says the lepers “kept their distance” from him. Thus is the earliest reference to social distancing. And from that distance, they cry out for …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: A Gentle Peace (April 27, 2020)

Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people… Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:5-7 I’m writing …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: You Never Know Who’s Holy (April 20, 2020)

On the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were surprised. “Where did this man get all this? What’s this wisdom he’s been given? What about the powerful acts accomplished through him? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t he Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: Not Very Good Planning (April 13, 2020)

They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” – Mark 16:3 The women going to anoint Jesus’ body after the Crucifixion should have planned better. Wouldn’t they have thought, before leaving, about the stone being a problem? Maybe they didn’t plan because nobody thinks clearly …

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MONDAY MEDITATION: The Yellow School Bus (April 6, 2020)

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. — John 3:16 The first time I cried as a parent was when my son began his first-grade career. There was just something heartbreaking seeing him climb up those steps …

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