Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I don't often write political posts, but when I do...

...I actually don’t. Or try not to.

You might know me well enough by now to know that I don’t typically blog or post about politics - nor do I preach from the pulpit sermons about health care or economics or gun control or any number of social issues that many Christians in our culture are passionate about.

Even when it comes to concerns such as the sanctity of life and marriage, I don’t go out of my way to create controversy, but I won’t shy away from them either. (Now, I have blogged about these things in the past, but have truly gotten away from it lately, preferring instead corny jokes, puns, and one-liners. It’s much safer ground to stand on! ;)

As a pastor, though, my preference is to address cultural issues from a biblical perspective when the biblical text calls for it. In other words, I typically like to preach through a passage and let the text speak for itself rather than go looking for particular texts to support a controversial topic-du-jour or hot-button issue of the day.

So a big reason for not bringing up political or social issues on a regular basis isn’t because I’m afraid to. Nor is it because I adhere to a particular interpretation of the concept of separation of church and state (that says pastors shouldn’t be political from the pulpit). And it’s not because I don’t think scripture has anything to say about these host of issues – quite the opposite, I think there are biblical principles to apply in every situation we find ourselves in.

The main reason I don’t preach politics is because that’s not the reason (or shouldn’t be the reason) people gather on Sundays. Instead, we’ve gathered together to sit at the feet of Jesus and be transformed by the Gospel, re-invented by his teaching of the Kingdom of God. We are called to be his students, and for whatever reason – by God’s grace and mercy, obviously – the church I serve has called me as their pastor to be a “lead student” in helping all of us be discipled by our Lord Jesus.

The truth is - news flash - I am not an expert on socio/economic/political theory. I am not a dedicated student of the democratic process. I’m knowledgeable, sure, but that’s not my bailiwick. There are much smarter voices out there that people can turn to to find information on what the candidates stand for, the implications of their platform, etc., etc.

You don’t gather for worship week after week to hear another opinion about those sorts of things. Truthfully, if that’s what I offered, I would just be adding to the noise and my thoughts on politics probably wouldn’t add anything very helpful anyway.

What we really want, I believe – why we really gather week after week – is to hear God’s Word proclaimed. And although I wouldn’t call myself an expert here either, I do admit to being a dedicated student (flawed though I am) of Jesus. And in fact, I desire to become a better and better student of the Jesus Way – the way of the Kingdom, the way of life as a follower of Christ.

Now, admit I’m not very good at it. I stumble and fall and flail around. We all do. But I think and pray that my desire – our desire as a church, your desire if you're reading this – is genuine. We want to be what we know is the true definition of church – ekklesia. We want to be a ‘new community of transformed believers who represent Jesus.’

A new community of transformed believers who represent Jesus. 

This is what it means to be the church. This is why we gather each week. This is why I preach (and sometimes post about spiritual things). I don’t want to be known as a political preacher, but as a preacher who pursues the way of Jesus, a member of his Kingdom community. Pray for me in that regard, I’d appreciate it.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Short Short Bible Study on Mutuality

For the Complementarians out there...

Had someone ask on FB if I was joking when I pointed out the bible doesn't ask women or wives to obey men or husbands. No, I wasn't joking and was appalled this guy was so biblically illiterate.

There's this false belief circulating among Christians about obedience that fuels a non-biblical hierarchical interpretation of the bible. It's based on the heresy of Trinitarian subordinationism, and misinterprets the analogy between Christ and the Church and husbands and wives a la Ephesians 5.21-33.

This was the passage I was pointed to when I said the bible doesn't use the word obey in regards to male/female relationships. Again, sadly shocked at the lack of basic biblical understanding of this topic.

So here's a very quick bible study.

The driving theme of the passage is verse 21 - "Submitting yourselves to one another in reverence of Christ." This sets the message for what follows - the context is mutual submission - "one another." Got it? Not obedience, not subservience, not male hierarchy. Mutual submission.

Vs 22 - "Wives, to your husbands as to the Lord." Notice the word submit is not repeated here. In English translations it's added for clarity, but actually obscures the meaning of what follows. The word submitting in verse 21 is a present participle, indicating ongoing action, and provides the "how" for both husbands and wives.

So the message is (in the context of mutual submission): Wives, just as you serve Jesus, serve your husbands. The analogy is explained in verses 23 and 24 - just as the Church submits (same root word) to Christ, so wives to their husbands (same lack of word).

The argument from male hierarchists is, See? the Church submits to Christ, not the other way around. First, that's not true (see verse 25) and second, the analogy isn't that husbands are priests over their wives. The metaphor is that the God-ordained plan of marriage between a male and female is a sacrament representing how the Church should function (vs 30-33). But that's a bible study for another day.*

Back to this study. Remember, the word submitting provides the "how."

Vs 25 - Husbands, based on verse 21, here's how you are to submit to your wives. Love as Jesus loved, giving yourself up for her. If that's not the definition of submission, I don't know what is. In a profound and mysterious act of service, Christ submits to His Church. WOW! Christ loves the Church to such an extent, that he dies and rises again, cleansing her so that we might be united with him for eternity.

The take away for husbands and wives? Mutual submission expresses the heart of the Gospel.

* Update July 8 - Not the topic of this post, but I do want to clarify that this passage (among others) affirms the biblical model for marriage is between one man and one woman. The 'mystery' Paul refers to requires it.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

This Month's Special Promotion at Tule Fog Press

Escape! by T.M. Hunter & Lyndon Perry

Max McCannor and his friends all suffer under the cruelty of their orphanage headmaster. Finally reaching a breaking point and spurred on by the hope of finding his long-lost father, Max convinces the others to flee their captors and head west.

But the headmaster has much to lose, and hires one of his former orphans to track the children down and return them to the orphanage before they ESCAPE for good.

On a promotional sale this month from Tule Fog Press. At Amazon for only 99 cents. Or, if you buy the paperback from Amazon's Matchbook Program, you'll get the ebook free!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

If only!

I'm impressed! The first anthology I put together a few years ago is selling for $148. Wow.

Yeah, right. If only. Do not be deceived, you can still pick a paperback up for $12 from Lulu (or a PDF version for $2.99).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creative Input Needed

Maybe you're a creative. Maybe you're a patron of creativity. Either way, I'd like your assistance.

I'm considering starting a Patreon Page - a support page, like Kickstarter, but for those who want to provide monthly backing to a person in the arts. It's obviously an old concept, but one made fresh and exciting in this day of instant communication.

What this means, is that writers, artists, makers - any creative project designer, really - can be in touch with his or her supporters on a regular basis, providing updates, samples, etc. Patreon brings the concept of patronage into the social media era.

At any rate, one of my writing goals in the next 12 months is to complete at least 12 stories I started a few years ago. My plan is to share my creative process with those interested in backing my various projects. Patrons can offer as little as a buck a month or can be 'platinum' supporters for $20/month.

So I'm thinking, why not ask folks to check it out for a year? For $3/month, for example, you'll get a story each month that you helped me complete. That's $36/year for 12 completed projects. Like subscribing to a magazine (or paying for about 10 Starbucks coffees! ;)

To give you a sample of what I have in mind, here's my first month's survey question. Feel free to comment below (I do want your input) but also consider becoming a patron in the near future. My tentative launch date is the end of June. Watch for more announcements later.

In the mean time:
What story should I write next? Here are five titles of stories that are languishing in my computer, along with the genre. Please comment below and let me know what lonely puppy I should rescue this next month. Thanks for your input!

1. The Tralian Incident - science fiction, post-apocalypse
2. Curious Case of Kevin Klaag - supernatural horror
3. Yes Allie, That's a Bogeyman Under Your Bed - horror
4. The Princess and the Kamau - sword and soul fantasy
5. The Return of Captain Tyler - a ghost story