The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships

This was the subtitle of a study conference our denomination had 3.5 years ago, hosted at our church: “The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships.” I was one of the plenary speakers at the conference. Although I would word a few things differently now—I’ve learned much since then, and my own perspective has settled—I feel two of …

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The Sermon on the Mount, Twitter Edition

I've just been reflecting on the year-long sermon series I did last year at our church on Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, that wonderful collection of some of Jesus' core kingdom teachings. It was a series in three parts: the first part walking through "The Beatitudes," the blessings that open the Sermon; the second part …

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On Giving to Your Local Church

The Christmas season is often called “the season of giving.” Those of us who follow this tradition, whether Christian or not, give and receive gifts this time of year. For some Christians, this includes giving a little extra to their local church—an especially helpful gift at a time of year when many churches are struggling …

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God is Not a Woman—but Neither is She a Man

Just to clarify: God is not a woman. But neither is she a man. I've used this statement (or one like it) in my teaching over the years. It manages to be thoroughly orthodox yet still provocative, which makes it a great discussion starter. It forces us to examine what we believe about God, and …

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On Being—and Doing—Church

There are many good New Testament passages one can explore to envision what the church should be and do: Romans 12-15, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4-5 are all good options, among others. Still, when I think about the church there’s one specific verse that always seems to come to mind first: They devoted themselves …

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Being Disturbed toward Love and Good Deeds

Tucked away in the sermon-letter known as Hebrews, in its summary of its central section, is this evocative statement: “Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds” (10:24). The Greek word translated “provoke” in this version is paroxysmos, and it’s actually a noun. It’s almost always negative in connotation. It’s …

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