Archives For God

Legend has it that Karl Barth once said that preachers should have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in another. I’d like to think that if he were alive today, Karl would say that we should have a Bible in hand and a podcast in our ears.

I won’t mention the obvious listens like This American Life or Radiolab. Chances are if you don’t listen to them already it’s because you don’t own earbuds.

If you are a Church Planter, Pastor or just a reflective follower of Jesus, you should be listening to the following podcasts: Continue Reading…

Can Humans Absolve Shame?

Chris —  February 26, 2015

The following is an excerpt from a recent talk I gave at Austin Mustard Seed for the first week of Lent.

In you, Lord my God,
I put my trust.
I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Psalm 25:1-3

The Poet begs that God deliver him from shame.

I find it interesting that he does not ask outright for success. He doesn’t beg God for a win. He says don’t let me be ashamed.

The Fear of Shame

What is it about shame that is so terrible it sends us begging for God’s help?

What he’s describing here is a public humiliation. Think Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, where the protagonist Hester Prinn gets pregnant out of wedlock and is marched down the street with a red letter A sewed to her bodice. Perhaps a more relevant example comes from dogshaming.com.

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In their book The Missional Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World authors Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk state that “discontinuous change” is the defining feature of the environment where church leadership takes place. Such change requires new, rather than simply adjusted, forms of leadership. The book describes the course a church takes as it navigates change, and describes the type of leadership that such change requires.

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From my sermon prep for this week about the baptism of Jesus:

We believe that Jesus is God, yes, but we need to be careful that we don’t make him “too sacred.” By that, I mean that Jesus is not set apart from the world.

Some religions look at their founders and heroes as people who escaped the darkness and pain of the world. Jesus embraces dirt, disappointment, disgust and disease.

Some religions look at their founders and heroes as symbols that must be venerated, never questioned or mocked. Jesus doesn’t need to be protected, he asks to be followed.

Some religions aim to achieve a sort of God-ness. Jesus was a man, and call us to live fully into our humanity.
Some religions provide a license to demote other people to less than ourselves. Jesus invites us to join the lowest of the low.

If we take Jesus identity seriously, we need to as ourselves “who or what do I despise?” We need audit our hearts and our actions and ask: Who did I ignore? Who did I avoid? Who did I mock? Who do my choices hurt? Chances are, those are the kind of people that would line up with Jesus at the river with John the Baptist.

The sting of Robin Williams’ death strikes in a sore place in the cultural subconscious next to the memories of Phillip Seymore Hoffman and Mitch Hedberg.

All death is tragic. Suicide especially.

The death of Robin casts a particular shadow on those of my generation. Aladdin and Hook are the stories of our childhood. Patch Adams, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting taught us how to grow up.

Depression is tragic. When it affects someone like Robin, we are all hurt.

Depression is also normal, natural and must be responded to within the church.

We can’t eliminate depression or suicide. But we can, and we must, become a refuge for those who experience it.

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Let’s admit we have a problem

Depression has been a lifelong companion for me. It makes up some of my earliest and strongest memories. It hovers on the horizon of my future. Continue Reading…