Blessed Are the Border Control Agents I Belittled in Montreal

Blessed are the weak, the powerless, the outcast, the demoted—for theirs is the kingdom of God.

This is the “backwards” gospel, the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom that I love so much. The times in my life when everything has fallen apart and I’ve been hopelessly disillusioned, this is the only truth that saves me. Our weakness is God’s strength.
When we are vulnerable, we are most likely to have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church and to the world around us.
Barbara Brown Taylor says that these thorns in our flesh are “how God defends us from . . .stainless steel Christians who want to cleans the church of problematic people.”
My weakness is temper tantrums. When things don’t go my way, I turn into an adult-sized toddler. I was in Montreal on my way back from vacation earlier this week. I was happy, relaxed, content—I had just been on vacation! They made us de-plane in order to go through border control (which we then had to repeat in Toronto), but di…

Nehemiah Would Have Listened to NPR

I heard on NPR the other day that certain people have been ignored for decades. In the wake of the 2016 election, I heard that’s how conservatives feel—ignored for decades. The people being ignored, according to the NPR story are pockets of African Americans, whose communities have received less funding and even less Christian mercy from their white brothers and sisters in the suburbs.
I feel that way, too: ignored. I feel small and helpless against the processes that guide and control our country, our communities, and even our churches.
But we have to wonder: what’s the difference between “feeling” ignored and being ignored? Are they the same?
Nehemiah has answers. As a bold leader, he always seemed to have answers. Too many foreign wives? Pull out some hair! Enemies at the gates? Carry a weapon in one hand and wall-building materials in the other! Things were simple for Nehemiah: he saw and problem and he fixed it. A social conservative and strong advocate of self-defense through viole…

Thoughts from the Back Pew

I’ve been in the back pew for longer than I realized. One foot out the door of the church, but never quite willing to take that step. I’m closer to taking it now than ever, but still I hear a strange, small voice.
The voice says that the back pew is where good theology happens. At the margins, or in the kitchens (as theologian Kosuke Koyama would say), it’s a little easier to hear the gentle whisper in the wind (I Kings 19:12).
I used to assume good theology happened and the pulpit. Sometimes it does. But the best sermon of the Bible is given by a guy who is about to crushed by rocks by a bunch of theological insiders (RIP Steve, Acts 7). I also used to assume that good theology happened at seminaries. Then I went to seminary and the reading lists were permeated by the works of old white guys - just like that every other higher education degree path.
When relationships were broken at the last church I attended a few months ago, I let weekend business take over my Sunday mornings. When th…