My 2017 Religious Resolutions . . . So Far

Four months ago today I shared my resolutions for the new (church) year: During this church year I resolve to Join (and be actively involved in) a local community of faith Labor to make real on earth God’s realm of justice and peace Write about matters of faith that matter (primarily here on this blog) Teach (and continue learning) about Christianity and the world’s many great religions Discern an answer (or many answers!) to the question “What next?” Progress Report Since Read More …

Be a Justice Maker

A week ago I issued a Lenten call to action inviting my readers (and, of course, myself!) to rethink their Lenten disciplines. More specifically I challenged us to take action to make God's world a better place for all people. Since this is a bit of a stretch for many, I realize that additional rationale may be warranted. And, I understand that many people need multiple invitations before stepping out of their comfort zone to do something new. Central to the Gospel Since 2005, Raphael Read More …

My New (Church) Year’s Resolutions

A few days ago I suggested that Advent is a time for a new perspective. As the start of the church year, it is also a great time to plan for what is ahead. While such planning can take many forms, I have chosen to embrace a practice more commonly associated with the changing of calendar years: adopting new year's resolutions. Looking Back As I look back at this blog, I find that I have publicly declared resolutions a few times 2012 - I made several resolutions, but wrote about one: Read More …

Take Sides – Seek Justice

Faith without works is dead (see James 2:17 if you want a Christian text to support the claim). I am not big on religious language, but sometimes it just makes sense. Some Christian traditions include prayers of confession that mention sins or wrongs of omission alongside those of commission. Sins or wrongs of omission - of not acting - are just as troublesome as those of commission. Take a Side I was saddened over the weekend to learn of the passing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Read More …

Most Popular Sermons

We are now almost two weeks into the second half of the year known as 2015.  A few weeks ago I shared my most popular blog posts from the first half of the year.  Today, I offer my most popular sermons from the first half of the year (based on YouTube views) in lieu of new sermon content since I am on vacation and not preaching this morning. Titleless - watch / read - a 13 min. message on humility Surprising Salaries - watch / read - a 12 min. message on the Parable of the Laborers in the Read More …

A Unique Lenten Discipline

Last year I shared the story of an unusual Lenten discipline: Shawnthea Monroe, senior minister of Plymouth Church, chose to wear a collar for Lent.  This year, I encountered an even more unique Lenten discipline: wearing orange prison jumpsuit. Kent McKeever, a Baptist youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Church and an attorney who represents indigent clients through Mission Waco, is wearing the orange jumpsuit throughout Lent "to draw attention to disparities in the sentencing of the Read More …

Sermon: Persisting for the Children

Sermon Text Luke 18:1 -8 Sermon Excerpt In both the modern retelling and the original parable, you can't miss the huge power difference between the judge and the widow.  The widow has limited resources, limited mobility, and limited options.  The judge is supposed to play by the rules but has decided he is above them. The persistence of the marginalized widow is appealing.  It is an admirable quality that resonates with readers and viewers alike.  They want what she wants.  We want Read More …

What Kind of Disciple?

Scot McKnight, renowned New Testament scholar and professor of religious studies at Northpark University, wrote an article entitled "Full Disciple" in the February-March 2011 edition of Neue Magazine exploring the discipleship ministry of local congregations.  McKnight asks his readers, "What kind of disciple is your church producing (p.56)?,"  before suggesting that churches would benefit from aligning their vision with that of Jesus: For Jesus a disciple is someone marked by kingdom holiness Read More …

Review of God Is Not a Christian

Meet the Author and Editor The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Tutu was the first black person to serve as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and the first to serve as Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa.  Tutu is best known for his tireless and effective work to end apartheid.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu Read More …