New Project!

Christine de Pizan, Multi-TaskingWhen I was living and working in Orange, Texas I had a brief stint writing religion articles for the Orange County Record.  I really enjoyed it and I liked that people were thinking and contemplating what I was writing. (It was because of the paper that I had the idea for this blog.)  Not all of the responses were glowing but the majority of people like what they read.

Since I left Orange I have been keeping up this blog and starting a new job.  I currently live and serve a church in Houston.  A few weeks ago I emailed the Religion Editor of the Houston Chronicle, the 6th largest paper in the USA.  I knew it was a long shot but I inquired if they were in need of religion columnist.  The editor wrote me back and told me that she was not looking for columnist but they needed religion bloggers for their site, houstonbelief.com.

Houstonbelief.com is site dedicated to religious bloggers from a variety of faiths.  In total there are about thirty bloggers ranging from Christians, Wiccans, Hindus, Muslims, Mormons, and Jewish.   I was honored to be asked to do this and look forward to contributing.

You can find my Houston Belief blog at http://blog.chron.com/modernfaith/  There is nothing to see at this point.  I will keep up this blog as well and maybe have some cross over pieces.

Stay tuned for more to come!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit:“Christine de Pizan, Multi-Tasking” available under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 at http://flic.kr/p/7wjfaq

Lance Armstrong and the Deception of Greatness

Lance Armstrong has been called the greatest athlete of all time… until now.

Lance Armstrong won the most grueling endurance bicycle race a record seven times… until he was stripped of them.

Lance Armstrong was the Founder and head of Live Strong, a cancer support group where they tried ‘to inspire and empower’ cancer survivors and their families…. until he was forced to resign.

Lance Armstrong had it all… until he lost it all… he strove to be great but took another route to get there. In his search for greatness he found out that the path is hard to travel and not for everyone.

The troubling part of the Lance Armstrong doping story is not the fact that he used illegal medicines to enhance his performance. It is the fact that through it all he denied it over and over again. He sued people who wrote about it and sometimes won monetary settlements because of it. He was dead set on keeping his house of cards up while the world kept trying to look it.

He is like Pete Rose; Pete Rose was accused of betting on baseball during he career and was banned for the sport for life. He denied his involvement for years… until he broke his silence in his autobiography in 2004. The support that people had for him until that point quickly went away.

Lance Armstrong is now in an elite class that he did not intend to be in. He now is in the class of disgraced athletes who have been caught cheating to attain greatness. Lance Armstrong got rich on the back of a lie, he became famous on the back of lie. Now is famous for the wrong reasons and I believe the worst is yet to come.

Greatness is not built on anything but greatness itself. What is it about the human condition that so desperately wants to be on top, to be the best, the most popular, the most noticed? As a Christian, people would assume I would default to the standard Christian answer: Sin, but you might be surprised on this one, I’m not going there.

No, for me, the heart of the problem isnt sin itself, rather selfishness aka the human condition.

Theologians debate about many different things, christology, soteriology, and the human condition. The human condition is the one thing that plagues all of humanity and the gospel has to answer the problem. It is easy to just make a blanket statement that “sin” is the human condition. Not so fast my friend… you have to get a little more specific than that…

For me the human condition could me many different things but I believe the biggest one is selfishness. Selfishness pervades all of humanity from the smallest child to the oldest adult. As we grow and mature we learn how to handle and deal with our inner struggle with selfishness. I mentioned this one time to one my professors in seminary and she did not like that assertion In her mind it was hard for her to say that a newborn baby was selfish. While we do lift up children in our society on the whole they are kinda selfish. In other instances in the animal kingdom babies are left to fend for themselves, humans do not that. Another professor chimed in and stated he could see “where I was coming” from and stated that there is no biological or even logical need for my 2 year olds horde all of the toys and will not share them. Did someone teach them that? Maybe… but maybe not.

I liked what CS Lewis once wrote about selfishness

“At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it.”

I am not saying that I have some sort of moral superiority to Armstrong because I didn’t cheat at cycling; but what I am saying is that I have the same being in me that caused him to strive to greatness by any means necessary. We are both made in the same image of God, fallible in the same way.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Christmas is the end of the beautiful journey of Advent. May we celebrate the coming a Christ once more & continue to model his loving spirit.

Merry Christmas! Christ is born!

We Were Made For This… Advent 2012

A row of tea candlesAdvent has led us to this moment; we are expectantly waiting the coming of the Christ Child. Our hearts and souls are filled with hope, peace, love and joy. Advent sets us on a trajectory toward the moment when we will encounter Christ a new. May we continue this journey not only during the season of Advent, but for the rest of our lives. The story of Christmas can not be contained into four, one hour long church services. The message is greater than that.

Throughout our lives we seek something greater than ourselves.  We seek something that gives us completeness and wholeness.  The message of Advent is that there is something worth waiting for; not just during December but for the rest of our lives.  Darkness will be overcome, light will shine bright, hope will be restored, joy will fill our hearts, love will abound for all and peace will finally reign on Earth.

The Advent message is one that calls to wait and watch for the coming of Christ in our midst, for the coming of the Savior born to a unwed teenage mother 2000+ years ago.  Wrapped up in those bans of cloth was a promise of life a new.

May we remember the message of Advent and the call of Christ to remember and reflect the love of Christ.

The power of God is felt and known more deeply when we wait for the coming of Christ and the hope we have in his coming.   Darkness to light, chaos to peace, exclusivity to inclusivity, an outcast to the God bearer– All because of the indwelling of God; the movement of God, the incarnation in a baby born to a unwed teenage mother with zero status socially.

We were made for this… we were made for something greater than ourselves

“My soul magnifies the Lord My spirit rejoices in God my savior.”- Luke 1:46

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


(“A Row Of Tea Candles” available under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/tschiae/8213244223/)

Newtown, CT

Newton, Connecticut.  Before today many of us had never heard of this little town.  But now, due to a senseless act this town is now on the front page of every major news site and newspaper.  In one senseless act, lives were ended, lives were cut short, peace was turned into chaos, stability turned into uncertainty.  In an instant the world of so many children and families were turned upside down.  It is a sad sad affair.

As I sit here, I type a sentence and then delete it, type a sentence and delete it… words can not express the sadness  the hurt, the pain and anguish that comes from a tragic event of this magnitude.

What are we to do?  Our hearts break and spirit cries out, but many of us are thousands of miles away…

I am reminded of a quote I heard once (not sure who or when):  “I am convinced more and more each day that we live in a world in desperate need of a Savior.”  In one act, the human condition showed its ugly head once more…

May we remember the words of Christ in Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those are mourn, for they will be comforted.”

May it be so.

Below are some touching and thoughtful tweets I saw today


6 Objections of the Church from “They Like Jesus But Not The Church”

I am currently reading “They Like Jesus But Not The Church” by Dan Kimball.  It is an interesting book on how the church is seen by those in the “emerging generations.”  The author does not hold back in calling out followers of Christ on both sides of the theological spectrum. In the book he list six objections people have to the church (they are listed below)

What do you think about these six?  Would you add or take any way?


Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

Russell Brand Interviews Members of Westboro Baptist Church

Russell Brand has a show on FX (not sure why but I thank him for this).  On a recent episode he interviewed two members of Westboro Baptist Church.  This is the first time I have seen an interview of members on national TV in which they articulate their stance on love and homosexuality.  While I complete disagree with them I applaud Brand for having them on.

Of course a 10 minute segment is too short to have a meaningful conversation about this issue, but maybe it will get the ball rolling.

Below is the video of the interview.
(Content Warning: There is some language and name calling, you have been warned.  Somewhat SFW)

 

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Think about Christmas differently this year! Turn your Christmas upside down!

When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

And You Wonder Why People Arent Christians: Part IX

As the election looms in the distance, the internet is never too far away to provide us with reasons why people do not want to be a Christian.  Elections have the power to bring out in people their “true colors” but for Dr. Gary Cass he didn’t need the election, he just needed a microphone and an audience.

Cass is the CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) based in Vista, CA.

The Mission of the CADC is as follows:

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.

The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

In cooperation with friendly Christian grassroots organizations, in secular and Christian media outlets, the CADC will create a “rapid response” team and public relations campaigns to answer the egregious injustice and double standards used against Christians. The CADC will build its own grassroots network.

The CADC will develop strong partnerships with friendly Christian Legal ministries for the purpose of seeking and/or providing legal services on behalf of its constituents. The CADC will collect and forward bona-fide complaints of discrimination and bigotry aimed at Christians which warrant legal action up to and including litigation.

In a nut shell, the CADC promotes under the guise of freedom of religion, their brand of Christianity and everyone else, is just plain wrong.  They have the means, the resources and the guts to take on anti-Christian stances around the world.  (I hope I am not their next target.)  For example, on their website they have “Seven Reasons Why Barack Obama Is Not A Christian.”  Their seven points range from being pro-homosexual rights to he believes their are many paths to Heaven.  So if you believe one or all seven of these points, then you are in the same class as the President as someone who the CADC believes have wandered from the faith.

The leader of the CADC, this beacon of Christian truth and light and acceptance, recently told a captive audience that to be a true Christian means owning a fire arm… that’s right… to be the arbiter of love and justice means carrying a loaded Smith and Wesson emblazon with John 3:16 on the handle I am sure.  You can watch the video below or read the article here.

The CADC on many levels is troubling.  Sure I admire his gusto to be faithful to the commands to love your neighbor  but gun ownership?  I am fine with people owning guns as long as they are maintained, locked up from children and are registered with the state.  But did Christ really call for gun ownership?  I dont see that anywhere in the Bible.

The CADC once again gives all Christians a bad name; they get the most press and they get the attention.   Christianity is not about gun ownership or pointing out reasons why the President is not a Christian.  No Christianity is more than that… it has to be…

If those at the CADC want to ” advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God,” then we might want to include all views and understandings.  You might actually learn something new… then again maybe not.  But the fact remains that we are all in this together.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Not sure who or what “right wing watch” is I just thank them for finding and posting this video.