Beating Peter in a Footrace

I have a hard time watching baseball teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, not just because they are evil AL East empires with vast (and unfair) payrolls, but because I never know who the players are, since they don't imprint players' names on the backs of their jerseys. In reading John's gospel you'll discover that he never mentions himself by name.

Fig Leaves … Again

Sometimes after bath time we allow Micah to go diaperless. He enjoys this freedom, the cool air caressing his baby booty and producing a fresh buoyancy. Without the constriction of a bulky diaper, he runs around aimlessly, not caring where he’s going as much as how long he can go for. At some point childlike innocence regresses into shame, like Adam and Eve when they discovered their nakedness. Consequently, many of us search our entire lives for the best fig leaves to cover ourselves, all the while growing in our self-consciousness. But worshiping Jesus consists of becoming less self-conscious and more aware of our Savior.

Summer-izing Church Culture

Over the years, I’ve developed a mild disdain for formality in church. Whether it’s stodgy prayer or rigid liturgy. Every church I’ve been at I’ve tried to push my casual approach. The way I dress. The way I design our worship services. The way we interact with our congregation. You’d be surprised, but not everyone appreciates my resolve to alter church culture. To be honest, I’ve simply written off these objections. But I’ve come to realize I shouldn’t.

Standing Among the Guilty

It was an open-and-shut case. A prosecutor’s dream. Plenty of witnesses to the actual crime, apparently. And an abundance of character witnesses—or rather, witnesses to lack of character. The criminal herself—I mean, alleged criminal bore the guilt on her face. A confession was imminent. But somehow the prosecution lost its case, as evidenced by one stone after another dropping to the ground, those rocks previously clutched by angry hands but released with the realization that self-righteousness is no righteousness at all.

Unleashed to Follow the Barbarian Way

While in its definition the word angst might seem disagreeable—that is, a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish—I may prefer the emotion over its antonyms: contentment, ease, nonchalance. Something has been stirring in my heart for some time, agitated by Bible study, conversations, events, and reading books, including one by Erwin McManus. Essentially a reprint of his earlier The Barbarian Way, McManus describes in Unleashed a break from the mold of civilized religion, including tamed Christianity, with which I’ve not merely associated but for which I’ve been a paid representative. ...

Coerced Confession

The basic tenet of any fire and brimstone sermon is that you should confess your sins and turn to Jesus, who will save you from otherwise eternal damnation. Indeed, confession is a natural response of those who have truly encountered the unrelenting love of a holy God. But not the type of confession hardened cops will extract from an innocent man. So what is confession? Two things it is isn’t. ...

One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess

I just finished Matthew Paul Turner’s "Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess," a sort of memoir (though he seems too young to write a memoir) about growing up as a fundamentalist. His story, at least early on, is striking similar to my own, except I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and he certainly drew a line between holy rollers and his Baptist brethren. ... Turner can be downright funny and even informative, as he describes the fundamentalist’s preoccupation with hell. ...

An Unwritten Rule at a Laundromat

I love the smell of laundry. It might be the fabric softener. I even like bleach, though Cindy tells me it’s really not good to use. I do anyway, mostly for the smell. Sometimes when I come home from the office I can smell that someone’s doing laundry, since I pass by the dryer duct. It makes me happy, and I’m suddenly like Mr. Rogers walking in the door. I reach for my house shoes and cardigan till I remember I don’t own a cardigan.

Free at Last

Today we remember Martin Luther King Jr. and the work God accomplished through him to secure equal freedoms for our fellow American brothers and sisters. He certainly was not a flawless man, but he spoke passionately about a dream that I believe God placed in his heart. Emboldened by the power of God’s Spirit, he stood strong in the face of adversity. I also consider MLK’s namesake, another Martin Luther, who stood up against the commanding Roman Catholic Church, which had, in a way, spiritually enslaved its members. Whether religious, political, or physical, oppression riles the anger of God like nothing else.