Book Update

BOOK UPDATE

Worked on my book for hours last night. Progress went well. Still two chapters left. It is getting very dense, because it’s starting to wrap up, and I am doing a ton of edits and organization on it.

My plan is to have all the chapters written by next Tuesday (one week from today) and have my proposal submitted. Then I will begin the process of second editing, where I’ll comb back through the whole book and start incorporating many/most of the ideas my two awesome editors (thanks Gina and Sheryl) generously submitted to me.

Many of you have asked a lot of questions about the book and are really excited about it. Thank you so much for supporting my work, and I’m sorry progress has slowed down so dramatically. I promise I haven’t quit, and I’m still in the game. I will submit more excerpts (teasers) from the book here on my website tomorrow.

Looking for “My People”

mypeople

Image courtesy of James Cridland, licensed under Creative Commons

The blog is doing well. Thanks to those of you who have supported my work, whether on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or whatever. The blog was only for me for the first year or so, when it was more personal journal than anything else. Now it is for you. It is to help you with your marriage, your fears, your dreams, your spirituality, and whatever else I can help you with.

A few weeks ago someone new began following me on Twitter. When I thanked her for the follow, she said she had checked out my Twitter profile, and that “it feels good to find my people.” That has stuck with me since (thanks, Donna), and that is what I am looking for, every post, every tweet, every day — I am looking for my people. It seems my people may have some of the following characteristics:  

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Learning to Love

love

Image courtesy of Live Life Happy, licensed under Creative Commons

Here are core assumptions I am working under for this post:

  1. The church has generally done a pretty lousy job being a force of love in the world (not that there are not some exceptions, thank God).
  2. Though some individuals are unloving on purpose, most individuals are doing the best they can.
  3. Christian leaders are the cause of much of the problem with not loving. They can also be the solution.

The church’s history as a witness of love in the world is not good. Millions of Christians who have ended up being on the wrong side of history — big time — were sincere in their beliefs, no matter how toxic. I believe that we Christian leaders are the cause of many of the church’s problems with not loving. If church congregations today are full of people who are hateful, or even simply dismissive, toward gays, for example, it is almost certainly either because their leaders are the same way, or at least do not aggressively teach that lack of love is unacceptable, and fundamentally incompatible with the Lord we claim to serve.

My title stems from centuries of inexcusable failure of those who call themselves “the people of God” to love, or even to simply refrain from committing and supporting atrocities — things that directly and dramatically contradict the teachings of our Lord. This failure continues to this day, when we are genuinely, sincerely confused over whether or not we should refrain from openly wounding the gay community further, after they have told us for a least a generation that we are deeply hurting and alienating even those gays who would like to pursue a connection with God through a local Christian church. It continues when Christians defend people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who consistently say idiotic and hurtful things. It continues when our Christian leaders teach that yes, God is loving BUT…(and then whatever comes after).

If you are feeling defensive and upset because of what you have heard so far, I invite you to stop reading. Because,  

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Achieving Work-Family Balance, prt. 1

 

balancing act

Image courtesy of Colin Harris, licensed under Creative Commons

It is hard to achieve work/family balance

Around 1996 I was flying out the door, in a hurry to get to work, as usual. Work was my great passion, perhaps my greatest passion. I had been a record store clerk for years before I became a pastor, and a groundskeeper before that. It felt so good to be in the ministry, to have a “real job,” at least what felt like a real job to me. So I was hurrying out the door. I remember thinking I was very late for something, although of course now I don’t remember what it was. Suddenly it hit me — the awareness that I had to pee. I was already out the door with my briefcase — but I really had to pee. Wherever I had to be was going to have to wait because peeing could not.

In I rushed, through the door, down the hall, into the bathroom. I did my business and ran back out the door to my car, started it up, and flew off down the road. As always, I loved the quiet of the car — a break from my beautiful but very busy three year-old, one-year old, and infant daughters. This moment, however, did not bring the peace I had come to expect. Instead a crushing, horrifying, awful truth dawned on me. My wife was right.  

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Does Right and Wrong Start with You or With God?

wrong is right

Image courtesy of Joel Bez, under Creative Commons

I’m going to say something a lot of people will be uncomfortable with, but it needs to be said for the only reason anything ever needs to be said — because it’s true. I’m speaking here to religious people, Christians in particular.

You, not God, and not the Bible, are the standard of right and wrong in your life. It begins with you.

I know. Sounds sacrilegious, doesn’t it? As a pastor, I often hear comments like these:

“I just want God’s truth and not the opinion of man.”

“Where do you find that in scripture?”

“That sounds like your opinion, not God’s.”

“But scripture says…”

“Yes, scripture says this, but it also says that. You have to have balance.”

“Our pastor teaches the Bible and only the Bible.”

All of these statements are problematic, because they depend on the existence of something that does not exist and never has.

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