Wednesday, September 12, 2012

new blog

I have moved! Or at least my blog has to:
in search of shalom

Come visit me there!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What I learned from Chik Fil A

or late to the Chik Fil A party

so we are all tired of the August 1st controversy of Chik Fil A Appreciation Day. I get that. I am too. But sometimes I need to remove myself from the controversies and emotions to really figure out what I can take from an event. So here it is: what I learned from Chik Fil A Appreciation Day.

Matthew 22
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

If the greatest commandment given to me is love God and love neighbor, then I need to ask myself a couple of questions with every action I take. 

1. Who or what am I loving with the action I am taking? 
2. Is this the highest expression of love for God and for all my neighbors?

I don't think Christians were trying to be hateful. I have heard people declare that if we are to love neighbor--well, the Chik Fil A CEO is our neighbor too. It is true. We seem to have loved those who think like us, believe like us quite well on August 1st. But in the answer to who is our neighbor, Jesus used the Samaritan--the one who is theologically and politically at odds with God's chosen people--to illustrate who our neighbor is. 
August 1st taught me that we can love our neighbors who think like us and act like us and are like us while making the neighbors who are not like us feel rejected. 
And most Christians would say the CEO of Chik Fil A knows the love of God already. The people who Christians disagreed with--the ones who were boycotting Chik Fil A because of their views of homosexuality--were the ones Christians would say need to experience God. And so Christians showered love on the one who they believe knows God and left the ones who need to experience God out. Christians loved their standards and their dogma and wondered why people left unloved.
If Christians--those who serve the Creator God--cannot be creative enough to express love for those who are like them while expressing love to those who are not like them, what hope does the world have? 

I have heard people say that August 1st was about freedom of speech. I heard time and time again, it is our right to free speech. The problem is when we claim our rights--well it is very much in the first person. And our claim to our personal rights is still an expression of self love. Not that we don't have rights. But Philippians 2 tells me I need to have the mind or attitude of Christ who did not cling to his rights as God. 

And so I am going to try and ask myself in every situation who am I loving and is this the highest expression of love to God and to others?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Outside Insider

Last week I attended the Christian Festival Kingdom Bound. I grew up in the culture that Kingdom Bound was created in and has flourished in. There was a time when Christian festivals like Kingdom Bound felt like home. It was a refreshing time spent with fellow believers (although, there were always those believers you watched that dressed a little too risky or danced in a provocative way. Or there was the group who sang a "non Christian song" and so there was always room for a judgmental glance among Christians). But now I am on the outside. I am no longer part of that Christian culture which permeates festivals and what many call evangelical Christianity in America. (I hate using the term evangelical in this manner--I believe in spreading the Good News. But evangelicalism has taken on a right wing political/ fundamentalist theology which I do not identify with the Good News.)
It was odd to feel like an outsider in a place I use to be on the inside. I felt like I was in a foreign land--except I was fluent in the language.
I knew what the speaker meant when he said "Christian unity among orthodox believers." It means my denomination and other mainline denominations need not apply. Orthodox denominations means the very conservative politically and theologically churches.
I knew by the name of the workshops what the teacher was going to talk on. "What God thinks of your worship and music" indicated you were going to be told what music God likes and what music is of Satan. (Although I can't even tell you how many of the Christian music artists at Kingdom Bound actually sang parts of secular songs in their concert to rev up the audience. And the audience knew all the words too.) The "dating for life" workshop would obviously be all about abstinence. 
I knew there would never bee a speaker like Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Matthew Paul Turner, Rachel Held Evans. No, there would be no challenge to the Christian Culture the Evangelical Conservative Church has created. (Although I was surprised that two of Matthew Paul Turner's books were found at the book sale.)
The sins which were mentioned I could have rattled off before the speakers even began. Sex before marriage, alcohol, listening to worldly music. And the merchandise tent would obviously have booths for Pro life groups and pro family groups. I was pleasantly surprised to see some social justice issues like slavery and soles for souls available.
The Gospel message would always be focused on living forever in Heaven with Christ. 
I knew the language. And I could have fit right in, except this is no longer me. As a female pastor, I felt the judgmental stares of those who knew me when I was part of their culture.  But I no longer fit.
The Good News is not a list of sins. It is the fact that no matter what we have done, where we have been. No matter how we have been broken by others' sins and by our own sins. There is a God who heals and forgives. And that healing doesn't have to wait to eternity. It begins right now. And we can follow Christ into that healing--living in a way which stops breaking ourselves and stops breaking others because we can now forgive, we can now love, we can now lay down our lives for each other. 
And so I spent Kingdom Bound feeling like an outsider. I wanted to worship fully and participate. But "Jesus is Lord" simply is not enough for me to be accepted. My theology and politics, even my very self, simply is not good enough. I know the people of Kingdom Bound would state that if I feel like an outsider it is because I have fallen away. It was my fault. 
And so I am an outsider. I believe Jesus is Lord. I believe salvation is through Christ. Yet, I am held at a distance by fellow Christians. There was no room for me at the Table at KB. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Dear friends, acquaintances, evangelizers--
I have often heard and use to say, "the truth hurts sometimes." But as I look over my life I have to question when did I get to use the truth as I experienced it as a weapon? When did get to determine the truth needs to hurt someone?
And so, I write this letter to let you know how I work as a person. If you want to influence me, there are a few things you should know.
First, you don't get to determine if I need to be hurt by the truth or not. I trust the Holy Spirit to lead and convict.
Second, looking back on my life, the people who influenced me most were people who did not believe it was their job to save me. They were my friends and are my friends no matter if we agree or disagree politically, theologically, or in life style. They would never consider me their enemy because I see things differently or live out my faith differently. When we disagree, they are not out to make a point and save me from the "lies I believe."  They have come to understand that, as I Corinthians 13 says, we all see things dimly. And so they don't call me heretic, enemy, ignorant, foolish, stupid, wrong. Instead they say something like these statements:
~"I see where you are coming from but have you thought of....?"
~"When I come to this subject, I am informed by this Scripture...."
~"What I find helpful....."
~"You know, another way of looking at that subject is..."

They approach where we differ as my friend, hoping for the best for both of us.
Third, those who influenced me most know I already have a Savior. And they trust that Jesus will remain true to his word--the one who has begun this good work will finish it. Where we all get this thing called life and this thing called faith wrong, God will sanctify us. Where we are getting it right, God will refine. They trust God is at work in my life just as God is at work in their life.

I am trying to live these points out also. I remind myself regularly, when we like being proven right more than we like being like Christ, we are getting it wrong. One can speak the truth and not be Christ like--I Corinthians 13 speaks to that. What good is it if we speak the truth but people to feel loved?

Can we disagree about  who is the better President, political party, theology and still be friends?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The Gospel of Mark can be divided into 2 main parts. Chapters 1-8:27 focus on answering the question, "Who is this Jesus? and covers most of the ministry years. From 8:27 to the end, Mark focuses on "what is the mission of Jesus?" and from chapter 11 on you are in Holy Week.

These two segments frame how I read each section.
Mark 1:1-11 Preparation
God sends a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist appears on the scene proclaiming a baptism of repentance. Repentance.....I have heard it taught that repentance is not just feeling sorry for sins but turning from your sins. I have heard people say one must repent to be saved.
But what is repentance in Mark 1?
This is preached to Israel, the chosen people, the people of the Covenant. They knew the story of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah. The prophets had come to them. They are the ones being called to baptism and a new start. They are the ones being called to prepare through repentance.
Maybe because God is about to do something that has not happened before. The miraculous interventions of God in Israel's history were many times military victories, deliverance from their enemies. The people were looking for one who would free them from Roman occupation. But this time God was rescuing all who have been exiled from Eden. And this rescue was not from tyrants like Caesar, or empires like Rome. This rescue was from sin and death. God was about to invade human space through Jesus Christ. This is something new. And its time. Time to prepare. Time to change course. Time to join the Kingdom of God.

Friday, January 13, 2012

An open letter to Newt Gingrich

Dear Mr. Gingrich,
In Iowa you said you wanted to run a positive campaign and you did. You also challenged your fellow candidates to run positive campaigns, you could not control them but you challenged them. And when that didn't work and you won 4th place, you said unilateral disarmament only works when all parties participate and promised political Armageddon in South Carolina.
You are also courting the Evangelical vote, pointing to your faith and how you are a true conservative. But I have an issue. It is not just enough to be on the "right" side of the two political topics for the stereotypical evangelical for all us Christians. For me your change in position on a positive campaign says a lot. And as a fellow believer, I feel I need to point a couple things out.

1. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This teaching of Christ, actually none of Christ's teachings have fine print stating "void in the following circumstances." Christ's teachings do not apply only when people are reciprocating your good will, your love or your positive stand. It is not promised that if we do unto others as we would want them to do unto us they will change to be like us. If you want to run a campaign against opponents who talk only issues, that is how you should live no matter what--not because it will make your opponents act that way but because it will put on display the Kingdom of God to be compared to the way the broken world works.

2. You are completely right that you probably could not win the election if you stayed positive while everyone else went negative. Now the issue is not whether being positive or negative is Christian. The issue is your letting your yes be yes, and your no be no--keeping your promise in all circumstances. When we live out our standards as Christians, we are not promised the world will applaud, elect us or shower us with power and praise. In fact, Jesus said the world hated him so we are to expect the world will hate us. No, living by the teachings of Christ will not win American elections. But I am not sure that is the goal of Christianity. Our goal is to contrast the brokenness of this world by living out the healing of the Kingdom. We are to love God and love neighbor more than power and influence.

I believe you had an opportunity--an opportunity to show the American public that integrity is its own reward. You could have shown us that the Kingdom of God--living out the standards we believe we were called to is greater than the presidency. You could have reflected the Kingdom. While this broken world and other politicians will sell their standards when their power is threatened, the Kingdom of God will not sell its values when the going gets rough.

I understand that if you can't be elected as the President you will miss out on the powerful influence of that office. One can imagine the potential. But I do not find in Scripture where we are to sacrifice all to gain power and influence. We are to sacrifice all to spread God's love. And so even in the little things, we are to live out the Kingdom--keep our promises and standards. Live by the Golden Rule.

I am not saying this makes you unelectable in my book. I am not against you. I just think the Kingdom is greater than our kingdom.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


"The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
And so Mark begins---not with a genealogy or the birth narrative---but just jumping right in with John the Baptist and Jesus' baptism.

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.....there is a dynamic aspect to this statement.  Mark is simply the beginning of the good news......there is more to come. Am I being invited to join in the good continue the story of Jesus Christ?

Good news, crying, proclaiming, message---are all used in some manner throughout the first chapter. Jesus himself says in verse 38 he has to go on to the neighboring villages to proclaim the message there. What is this good news? Jesus doesn't start talking about his death and resurrection until after chapter 8. Is the Good News more than the death and resurrection of Jesus? Does it include the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ? And Mark doesn't have the long passages of Jesus' teachings that Matthew and Luke include. What is this good news? It seems we need to find the message in the person of Jesus and what he is doing in the Gospel of Mark.