Category Archives: Guest Blogging

To be Reformed is About Belonging

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…

What does it mean to be Reformed?

I fear that we haven’t done great P.R. of late, leading to some sobering definitions and associations with our tradition. Many have been taught that being Reformed is all about the “five points” (even though those five points are mislabeled, taken out of context, and given an authority much greater than was ever the intention) — that is, to be Reformed is nothing more than a certain soteriology (a doctrine of salvation). For others, the word Reformed calls to mind a person who is overly legalistic, patriarchal, and closed to anything outside of a narrow box. And for others, to be Reformed is to be cold, imagining God to be a cold and loveless giver of decrees and little more.

For me, to be Reformed is about belonging…

I’m over at The Twelve today, come on over and let’s share together…

From Family Churches to Church Families

Churches love families. We have family nights, family worship, bring families up front and we have pictures of families on our websites and screens in churches. Churches ought to be a good place for families – a place to support families and strengthen them. In many of our churches, families are defined as the mid twentieth-century ideal: mom, dad, and two-and-a-half children.

But where does this leave people who don’t fit into this nuclear family ideal?

As a married person without children, people within the church often don’t know how to speak to me.

When I meet people and we exchange the traditional set of inquiries: where are you from? What do you do? We get the the dreaded question that I don’t like being asked: Do you have a family?

The exchange typically goes like this:
Me: Yes, I’m married.
Them: Do you have children?
Me: No, I don’t.

At this point, there is often a pause. Sometimes it is simply acknowledged, but other times a series of responses follow.

“Why not?”
“Not the right time?”
“Just wait for a bit.”
“Someday you will.”
“Go ahead and take your time, things change after children.”
“Children are such a joy, I hope that someday you can experience that same joy.”

In many instances it becomes clear that they are slightly uncomfortable with a Christian who has been married for nearly a decade with no children, and this is amplified by the fact that I am a pastor..

I’m at YALT. Come on over to read the rest of this post…

On Litmust Tests and a Fractured Witness

In my corner of the Bible Belt, nothing is discussed more than human sexuality. One’s views on human sexuality is the way that we have come to judge the sincerity of someone’s faith, the strength of their orthodoxy, and the commitment of their discipleship. This is what search committees ask potential pastors to separate the faithful clergy from the apostate, this is what Christians ask one another to separate the wheat from the chaff. In my experience, the church spends an inordinate amount of time talking about sex: who can do what with whom and when. Somehow one’s view on human sexuality, particularly as it relates to LGBTQ folks, has become the litmus test for orthodoxy.

How did we get here?

I’m over at YALT today, come on over to read the rest of the post…

…and while you’re there, read some of the other great content by a talented team of writers

When you can’t find the words

My calling is centered around language, as language is the way to communicate, to express. In my pastoral role, it is my charge to speak to the community and for the community — to express the experiences and life of the community and to help us all find meaning in our individual and shared experiences. But yet, for myself, I often lack words, I lack the ability to sufficiently translate my experiences into the limits of language. This is especially so in my attempts to speak with God.

Much of this Lent has been spent in the hospital, periodically standing on the boundary between this life and eternity. As I have recently written, nighttime was particularly isolating. When the doctors go away, when the tests and scans and procedures are done for the night, and all that surrounds me is the sound of monitoring machines and the hiss of the oxygen tube, I am left without anyone to which to speak or for which to speak. There is no communal life or experience to articulate. It is just me, overflowing with fears and worries and pain, none of which will abate, and I lack words to offer to God.

***

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
   my eye wastes away from grief,
   my soul and body also. 
For my life is spent with sorrow,
   and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my misery,
   and my bones waste away.  
(Psalm 31:9-10, NRSV)…

 

I’m over at That Reformed Blog today, come on over to read the rest…

Speaking of Sin

That Reformed Blog is a relatively new blog community begun by a group of friends and acquaintances who all try to live out what it means to be “Reformed” in daily life: Ministry, work, marriage, singleness, parenting, and just about everything else. It is a great collective of writers, and I am humbled to be a part of it. Today, I’m over at That Reformed Blog. But first, a little taste of my post:

I am the pastor of a church in the inner-city and a vast majority of my congregation are low-income, most are unemployed, and many struggle with addictions, broken relationships, poverty, hopelessness, and are aware that they are largely ignored by the majority of the city.

I also talk about sin. A lot. We have a Call to Confession, a Prayer of Confession, and an Assurance of Pardon each and every Sunday. I want people to remember that they — we — are sinful creatures who are in desperate need of redemption and restoration.

 Click here to finish reading this post.

I’m Guest Blogging Today!

The Rev. Angie Mabry-Nauta is a name that I had heard while in seminary and learning my way around the Reformed Church in America. Many of the people with whom I had connected with well were friends with her. It was a pleasure, then, when at last year’s General Synod (our denomination’s highest assembly) I was finally able to meet her. I was there to guide and shepherd the student delegates from the denominational colleges and Angie was a delegate from the General Synod’s Commission on Theology.

Even more than simply having mutual friends, I knew that Angie was someone I wanted to get to know. She reflects and thinks with great theological depth, she has a great sense of humor, a great heart, and is very approachable and easy going. This all comes through on her blog, “Woman, In Progress…” on which she writes candidly and honestly about faith, life, motherhood, and the church, as well as themes that connect all of these topics. One thing that I always appreciate about Angie is how open and honest she is with her readers as she invites them to journey with her.

Please be sure to take a look at her blog, I have no doubt that you will find yourself wanting to go back for more.

Angie was gracious to extend an invitation to me to be a guest on her blog, an invitation which I was humbled and excited to accept.  If you read my post, be sure to look around her site, if you don’t read my post, be sure to look around her site, you will not regret it.

Here is a snippet of my latest post:

The Fatherhood of God and the Reflection of God’s Image

I’ve always been bothered by the concept of the fatherhood of God.  I understand that, in several locations, the Bible refers to God as “Father.”  In the doxology we sing, “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”  When we baptize, we do so “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we begin, “Our Father…,” and when my family prayed at the dinner table, our prayers almost always were addressed, “Heavenly Father.”

I’ve always been concerned about the image of God as father, because if God is a father, then God is masculine…

Come on over to “Woman, In Progress…” to read the rest of this post.