Michael, his wife, and two children live in downtown Denver, CO. He is the the Lead Pastor at Denver Community Church, a holistic, Christian, missional congregation.
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God is Here?
One commentator suggested that it was precisely because God was not there that this heinous act happened. Gov. Mike Huckabee claimed we should not be surprised to see this kind of violence since we have removed God from our schools and our society. His sentiment is to say, “God is NOT here.” If that is the case, then it surely can explain the existence of pure evil that we saw displayed on Friday.
However, thinking like that of Gov. Huckabee suggests that we somehow have the power to remove God from our schools and our society. This kind of God is quite small, weak, and impotent — one that is dictated by the mere whims of humanity. This is not the God of whom Matthew spoke.
Matthew spoke of the Almighty God fully embodied and revealed in the person of Jesus. So much so that he claimed he was Immanuel: God with us. He is here not in spite of the pain, nor did he come to explain it away. God is here in the midst of our suffering.
The hope of Advent is that God responded to the suffering of humanity by entering into it with us. He did not stand outside of it and look in with a wincing face and hope that everything would somehow work out. Nor did he see humans who removed him from their schools and societies and say, “Well fine, then, have it your way!” Not at all.
Don't F— With Me!
Physical violence is what happens when the violent force of words is not enough.
It’s possible that we are just beginning to see the start of that in our world today. The words, language, and rhetoric within politics and religion is growing in intensity all the time. Insults, name-calling, and unfounded accusation are normal and even expected.
When one side is called out for their language, they simply excuse themselves, pointing out that their opponent is doing the same thing. So it goes. But what happens when the force of the rhetoric reaches its limit? Violence.
No Need to Fear
As I was driving today I had the radio on scan. It filtered through the stations skipping to the next station automatically. Station after station came and went. I finally stopped it on a talk show.
I listened for a time as the host was telling anyone who would listen including me that our country is moving full steam ahead in the wrong direction. He predicted the worst and called Christians to rise up and reclaim our nation.
This was not the first time I have heard such fear mongering. Not too long ago someone warned me that our government would soon “come after churches that don't toe the party line.” Another told me that our government was out to destroy the Christian faith. I think this sounds great.
Colorado Springs and the Wrath of an Angry God
Colorado Springs really must have angered God.
I’m not sure what the city's residents have done, but He has to have a reason for burning up homes and possessions. One thing we know: God sends messages through natural disasters to certain groups who defy him and peddle evil. How else could we explain what’s happening?
Mark 4 tells us that Jesus controls the wind. And it is the wind, in large part, that has caused the fire to spread. Perhaps we should heed the warning of Jesus in Luke 13 and repent or else face the reality of perishing like them.
Is it possible that groups such as Compassion International and Bibles for the World have secretly condoned certain sins that will, in the end, keep people out of the kingdom of God? What message is God sending to groups like HCJB Global and Biblica?
This fire seems to be warning to them, and everyone to repent. They need to step up and reaffirm the Evangelical tradition. They must turn back from distorting whatever it is they have distorted about God’s character.
Does this sound ridiculous?
Rooting for Tiger Woods Now More Than Ever
It amazes me how many Christians are willing to criticize those who have fallen. It seems that the Christian army are far too willing to shoot the wounded.
But shouldn’t we be the first ones to come alongside those who have fallen to show mercy, love, grace and compassion? Of all people in this world, shouldn’t Christians always root for restoration?
Central to the Christian faith is the claim that all men and women are sinful and broken, but through God’s mercy they are on the mend and experiencing new life. Those who follow Jesus claim God’s saving grace and forgiveness. Why is it then, so many seem unable or unwilling to give it?
The Pain of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is a form of suffering. Yes, you read that right.
Most of us talk about forgiveness and always speaks of how wonderful it is. But there is a reason so many can’t seem to forgive — it requires a willingness to suffer.
When people commit an offense against us, our natural inclination is to commit an offense against them. Not just any offense, but an offense that is bigger, badder, and one that hurts far more.
We call this revenge.
We tell ourselves that justice has been served, and believe this because deep inside of us, it feels really good to get even. Except, we didn’t get even — we got ahead. So vengeance will come back around to us. We will receive pay back, and then we will pay it back again. On it goes with vengeance — it never ends.
Violence Makes Losers of Us All
If you were walking down the street and a stranger approached you and punched you in the face what would you want to do in that moment? Sure, this is an odd hypothetical situation, but really, answer the question.
Few would say, “I would want to give that person a hug.” Depending on the size of the attacker most would either fight back or run away. But let’s suppose you fought back, and even vanquished your assailant, pummeling him repeatedly for his dastardly deeds. What then?
Would he, through being beaten, come to understand his wrong in hitting you? No, he might start plotting his revenge, or his friends would think about getting you back for what you did. If they did, then you would have friends that would want to get them back. So it goes with the endless spiral of violence.
We have been fooled into believing that violence is a respectable solution for problems in our world. What we fail to see is the many problems that violence brings with it, beginning with more violence. Violence also brings hurt, fear, anger, a desire for revenge, death and enmity.
How (Not) to Judge a Christian
Graham's thinking is dangerous. What he has failed to realize is that he, like many, is guilty of having a biased, preconceived "kind" of Christian and “brand” of Christianity. Often, these preconceptions fall along partisan lines. This was seen clearly in his willingness to affirm the Christian faith of candidates that share his political viewpoint (Gingrich, Santorum), but open the door for speculation on those (Obama, Romney) who do not. We can never forget that Jesus never demanded a “one size fits all” kind of faith. We must always allow room for disagreement and live with the tension of multiple opinions.
There are many differences that exist between women and men. Just start with basic biology and it’s apparent. However, if we start at the beginning we discover something foundational that speaks to who we are at our deepest level of identity.
In the creation narrative the writer tell us that God created humankind “in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1.27). Men and women are first identified as image bearers. While we have differences we also have sameness, and both are rooted in God.
We must keep this in mind in any conversation about the differences between men and women. For whenever we speak about our differences we must do so with caution. As Ken Wilber rightly points out, “… as soon as any sort of differences between people are announced, the privileged will use those differences to further their advantage.”
In the history of our world men have typically occupied places of privilege. As a result, men have used the differences between themselves and women to gain advantage and establish dominance over women. This is still prevalent in our world today — even in the Church.
Being Christ in a Consumer Christmas
Beneath the usual clamor of the holiday season is the faint din of anger.
Once again many have raised their voices regarding the “secularization” of Christmas. Armed with slogans such as “Keep Christ in Christmas,” they ensure we don't forget that this is a holiday about Jesus of Nazareth.
Common greetings such as, “Happy Holidays” are met with a defensive, counter-greetings of “… and Merry Christ-mas to you too.”
Try using the abbreviation “Xmas.” Some folks believe this is literally “X-ing” Jesus out of the Christmas!
What seems to be glaringly absent from these vocal Christmas Crusaders is any protest against the gross consumerism, greed and selfishness that arrives every year with holiday season.
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