MLK, Jr. Day- Book Recomendation

When I was in seminary one of the most popular elective courses was a course on the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr.  To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about his life and especially his ministry   Sure I knew the basics: Civil Rights Movement and “I Have A Dream.”  Little did I know I was missing so much.

I never knew how he got started, how his father was a big influence on his life.  I never knew how he struggled with his position as leader of the Civil Rights Movement.  I never had read “The Letter From Birmingham Jail.”  I never knew how much his faith was impacted because of the movement.  I never knew of his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech the night before his assassination in Memphis, TN.

One of the best books I read regarding the life of King was Let the Trumpet Sound by Stephen Oates.  Oates has a way of telling the story of King in a way that transports you back to the South in the 1950s and 60s.  The book tells of King’s childhood and is rise in the church as a minister and how he help start the bus boycotts and lead rallies and gave speeches until his last day.

King’s dream is something that is still being worked out, but his impact on the United States and the cause of justice is immeasurable.

May we remember the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

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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

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/)

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!

Christmas in October?

The Mayor of Houston has been receiving some “constructive criticism” regarding a tweet that she posted a few days ago. About 10 days or so before HALLOWEEN, I began to see some shops and stores put up their Christmas decorations. See the tweet below.

Stores here in Houston have stated that they have to do whatever is necessary to make sure they make their Christmas profits. That’s right… Christmas profits. I am all for businesses doing well so they can make a living, that is the American dream. But I am not for making a religious holiday into an opportunity to overspend.  It is much more than about gifts and presents and overeating, it is a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Personally I have no problems with her comments; having Christmas decorations up two months prior to the event is ridiculous.  These decorations were up before Halloween and Thanksgiving and so called “Black Friday.”  At this rate we should keep Christmas decorations up all year.

Here’s to Annise Parker and I hope you are looking forward to Thanksgiving, the forgotten holiday.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Just… Stop… Talking…

A friend of mine in ministry posted on her blog a wonderful post regarding the crazy political process we are in and the role of women in that process.  Below is a portion from a post as well at the link.

As we draw nearer to November 6, maybe we can take a page out of this post and stop talking and start listening.

I understand that many different professionals have to come together in order to make policy surrounding issues such as abortion, rape, birth control, medical care for my uterus, etc. but you can also make sure you understand this clearly, and focus on YOUR profession, leaving those other professionals to do their jobs. I have never been pregnant, I have never been in the situation of needing to make a decision about an abortion, nor have I ever been raped. But I am a woman, I am a theologian, and I am a minister. Those three things alone make me qualified to tell you to STOP TALKING AND LISTEN.

I am not advocating that you have agree with my personal decisions, nor compromise your own personal beliefs. However, leave the job of professionals up to those professionals. Use them as guides and help along the way but actually LISTEN to them as you work together, doing YOUR job, not the job of others. — Peace Babe

Full post here.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Favorite Bible Passage (For Today)

As a minister I get asked a lot of questions.  These questions range from “Where did Cain’s wife come from?” to “How can I forgive someone when I am hurting so bad?” and everything in between.  A question that I get a lot is “what is your favorite Bible verse?”  The Bible is a big book so as you can imagine I have a lot to choose from.  The problem with answering this question is that the answer is never same day to day, month to month, year to year.  Why?  Well, things happen in our lives that change the way that we approach the scriptures.  For example, my daughter and first child Violet was born on February 1.  Before her birth, passages in the Bible that referred to a parent/child relationship or even the notion that God is a parent didn’t really mean much to me.  But after her birth, those passages took on a whole new meaning.  It was because my context had changed.  My outlook on life and what was important to me was different.  Those passages were something that I could relate to because I was a parent now.

Having a favorite Bible passage is something that evokes for us memories of a time when we felt close to God or maybe someone.  For me today my favorite passage is 1 John 4:19- “We love because God first loved us.” (Common English Bible, 2011).  This passage sums up my understanding of God, the ultimate source of all love.  The only reason we have the capacity to love another human being is because God loved us first.  I believe that this passage calls on all of the followers of Christ to remember the free gift of love and to share it willingly with others, just like it was given to us.

Does this mean that tomorrow I might change my mind?  Maybe, the fact remains that our relationship with God and the Bible is a growing relationship, not a static one.  I once heard pastor and author Brian McLaren once say that we should stop going to the Bible to only reinforce what we already know about God.  If we heed these words, then we will have a mountain of favorite passages throughout our lives.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan M. Dolive