Prayer: Doubt’s Doorway (on the Philippine typhoon)


de-Goya-The-Giant“So, like I said, we’re trying something different by spending some time each week praying for something in the world or the city, and not just for our own issues. Does anyone have anything?”

“One of my best friends is in the Philippines and–you know–the huge typhoon is heading their way. I’d like us to pray for my friend and everyone there in danger.”

“Oh yeah, that’s supposed to be the biggest storm ever in history or something.”

I was embarrassed. Anyone that knows me knows that I stay glued (too much) to various news sites throughout the given day. And yet, I hadn’t heard of this storm. While someone in the home group prayed for those in the path of this storm, I snuck a peak at my New York Times app. Yep, the top story was still about the FDA all but banning trans fats.

Why hadn’t I heard about this?
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Charismatic Confessions, pt. 3: Praying in Tongues for Everyone!


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{abstract: “Praying in tongues” is not really a “gift”, but rather a way in which God makes Himself known, and we commune with Him. Therefore, I believe it’s open to all of us, not just those with a “gift”. It is a sacramental, physical participation in the “real presence” of God praying within you. It may very well be random and not a “real heavenly language”, but nevertheless, God is sacramentally mediated to us in it. I conclude by offering some brief practical encouragements.}

Last week, I started writing some posts in response to a New York Times piece about research concerning the practice of talking in tongues. I wrote about how this piece reminded me of my own charismatic side and how I’ve been neglecting it. I then talked about my views concerning the use of tongues in a corporate Sunday church context. Today, I want to give people a realistic and (hopefully) sensible framework for understanding the private use of praying in tongues.

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Abstinence is Not Chaste (Exercise Your Celibacy!)


Sandorfi-AngeYeah, I’ll admit it. I belong to that ever-decreasing group that thinks that our human sexuality is a big enough deal that how we exercise it has profound implications for human, societal, and spiritual flourishing. Further, I believe God has woven in the design of the world particular rhythms and ways in which sexuality lends itself to that flourishing. I see it as something so integral to our souls and bodies that there is a type of care and stewardship that we are lovingly called to exercise with it. And sometimes “stewardship” means placing limits on oneself.

I’ve talked about what this stewardship looks like in various other contexts, but for the purpose of this post, I’m focusing on one in particular. My focus today–to put it plainly–is on the idea that people who aren’t married aren’t “supposed” to have sex.

This isn’t a systematic defense of that idea. I know there are lots of differences of opinions and nuances (even among Christians) on this. I know that we talk about this in the abstract in one way, and when we get to particular people and situations, these “clear” ideas break-down quickly. I get that. But just walk with me for a little bit.
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Fleeting: our Societal Anger; our National Substance


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Fleeting“. I’ll be posting a more meaningful “photo sermon” based on this theme later in the week, but I saw something last night I wanted to share.

This blog has not shied away from its concern over the civil liberties and privacy issues that have been exposed this week. I hope to post some more in-depth thoughts on these specific revelations later today or tomorrow. For this photo post, though, I ran across a couple of images that show just how fleeting any American societal anger, attention, or protest really is.

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Advent & the Connecticut Shooting: Ross Douthat’s “The Loss of the Innocents”


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In the same spirit as today’s earlier post by Austin Ricketts, I wanted to share with everyone this incredible piece by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat (one of my favorite writers), entitled “The Loss of the Innocents”. It’s a beautiful and haunting reflection on the human condition and the theological senselessness inherent in events like last week’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. He then concludes with these beautiful words of Advent hope in the midst of such darkness:

In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today — besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow — is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains.

That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.

The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.

In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.

Read the full piece here.

Some critical words for the Left on Gay Reparative Therapy (ii)


Update II: I posted some important final words on these posts.

Yesterday I began giving some of my thoughts on Exodus International‘s recent repudiation of gay “Conversion Therapy” that was supposed to have “cured” gays of their homosexuality. I began by talking about my experience reading the primary text on this type of therapy in college, and then I criticized some of the common thinking of those on the more conservative side of the spectrum when it comes to this topic, especially how Evangelicals have reacted to Exodus International’s President, Alan Chambers. I also wrote some further thoughts responding to some questions about “homosexuals ‘persisting’ in their ‘sin'” (Update: I clarified some thoughts on that post).

But today, I’ve got some words for the Left…
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Exodus International is Right on Gay Reparative Therapy (i)


Update III: I wrote some final thoughts on these posts.

Update II: The second part of this post is up.

Update: I wrote some brief thoughts on a frequent reply I’ve received to this post: “what about gays that are wilfully and persistently disobedient in their sin?” Check it out.

Why on earth am I writing such lose-lose posts as these? I have no idea. Well, here we go.

Last week, Exodus International, one of the biggest and most-well-known Evangelical ministries to homosexuals, came out against what’s called “Reparative Therapy” or “Conversion Therapy”. The New York Times had a big write-up on it (as well as NPR) and an interview with Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International. And now the whole news cycle is all a-flutter over this. Right when I think the story is dead, I see another headline about “rifts” forming in the Evangelical community and such.

Reading these articles has made me so frustrated with both the Right and the Left in their treatment of this discussion. There’s so much to say, I apologize for the lack of flow or organization that follows.

There are some really important things that seem to be getting lost in this discussion–on both sides.

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