Deep Sin & The Christian Soul


Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5.19-21)

As I recently finished a Church Bible Study on the book of Galatians, those verses inevitably caused some discussion.

I mean, we’ve all to some degree engaged in most–if not all–of the items on that list at some point in our lives, right? Even if you’re a Christian.

So what does it mean to say “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”?

As we discussed it, we arrived at the answer many of us come to if you grew up in the Church: these scary statements only apply to those individuals who have these “works of the flesh” as a pattern of their life to such a degree one might be able to say that the sins have “dominion” over them. That answers it, right?

Not really. Because there are Christians who find themselves in seasons–days, weeks, months, decades, even–where these sins are their practice over time, seasons where these sins have a very real sense of dominion over them and their lives.

And, this isn’t theoretical or theological for me. To be honest, I myself am coming out just such a time.

. . . . . 

I wrote the above words a couple of weeks ago. Since then, I’ve only sunk deeper into the bewilderment of this season I’m coming out of. How does a Christian understand a period of time in which they’re given over so deeply into self-absorption, sin, and hurting of others? I’ve sat on this question, mulling it over, letting it ruminate within me to see what fruit it bore. I’ve wanted to figure out a nice, tidy answer to this post–for the sake of both others and myself.

And alas, I have been found wanting.
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Diving into Death


books-death

It’s always difficult to talk about one’s own fear of one’s own death. It usually comes across as a little melodramatic and seems to carry with it the appearance that somehow your fear of your death is somehow felt more deeply, analyzed more fully, or experienced more truly.

In short, when people start whining about their fear of death. It can be annoying. I acknowledge this. And yet, here I am, telling you all that I am really, really scared of death.

When I mention this to people that know me as the guy who writes a lot about faith and seems to believe these things pretty deeply, people are (for some reason) shocked to hear me explain just how deep my fear of death goes. I know it’s not logical, but I somehow find the past works of God more easily believable than the future acts of God. I know you can’t have one without the other, but the human heart is a storm of contradiction and paradox.

And for some reason, Death has occupied my thoughts of late. Sure, I’ve wrestle with it’s reality, thought through it’s theological origin, seen it in the faces of the hurting, wrote about how to live in spite of it, and even engaged it in poetry and in song, but something has really captured me recently. I’ve been sitting in the presence of this fear.
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Death & Taxes: Converting the Purse, Rejoicing the Heart


paul-money-lent-12-02

On Friday, I finally got my W-2. Saturday night, I did my taxes. It was a very, very encouraging experience. And not just because I’m getting a refund. Tax night was a time of deep celebration, reminder, and reflection on how God moves and changes people, especially me.

I’ve always had a big problem with faithfully giving to other things, especially my churches. Though I grew up going to churches, this was not a discipline I was able to observe at home. Eventually, waiting tables through college and having spent most of my adult life living paycheck to paycheck, I became an expert of rationalizing my lack of generosity to my church and other causes.

Some may think that this is certainly not one of the bigger crises in one’s life. After all, we each individually know what our ability to give is, and no church should reserve the right to tell us otherwise, right? Well…

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I like answers better than questions {a reblog}


Here’s a return to some more meditative reflections on God and life by Kimberly Novosel at The Ooh La La Life. This is so true of me. It was an encouragement to be reminded. (By the way, I posted similar thoughts about a year ago in my post: “to “why?” is human, to “what” is divine“)

The Ooh La La Life

A year or so ago I sat down with the counselors from my church, freshly broken-hearted, folded my hands in my lap and said, “Ok, how do I heal from this?” I may as well have had a notebook and pen, poised to take rigorous notes. They looked at me for a moment and, ever so gently, pointed out that there is no checklist for sorting though emotions. Even further, they handed me a page listing the stages of grief and pointed out that they would NOT happen in order, some would last longer than others, and they would repeat an unknown number of times.

I guess I wasn’t their first type-A.

It’s true though, there is no path through the sometimes dense and dark forrest of the things we struggle with in life, whatever they may be. Not even a winding path – no path at all. You have…

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Redefinition (or, “Paul: broken & beautiful” or, “on why the lack of bloggage”)


This is a weird post to write. The past two months have seen such a change and revelation in so much of who I am. God, that sounds so dramatic. Well, this season has been pretty dramatic, so I guess it’s okay. Let’s talk.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a series of blog posts called I’m A Fearful Man (and i need to get over it). In them, I talked about some of the subtle currents of fear at work in my heart; I talked of their source, their outworking, and how they led to great anxiety, insecurity, and non-communication in my life.

Throughout the series, I received great encouragement and comments from others and there seemed to be an excitement building as I wrote each post. People saw much of themselves in my story and baggage and were looking forward to the conclusion of this story to see how I was going to address these issues.
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And Thus It Begins: liberti home meetings & my heart


For all those in Philly that either do attend liberti: center city, have attended, or are interested in getting involved: this week marks the beginning of our new season of home meetings. I don’t know why, but I am so excited about this particular round of meetings. Yes, I lead one, but more than that, I feel that the season in which the church currently finds itself is one where a lot of growth (both painful and joyful) is imminent; and I think that these Liberti Home Meetings will be a primary catalyst for this growth.  [Click here for a complete list and map of our groups if you are interested in checking any of them out.]

In the past year and some change, throughout my involvement at Liberti, home meetings have been a constant source of amazing discussion, deep personal analysis, and action mobilization. I really can’t commend these things enough. My deepest relationships, and even where I moved into the city, were all fruits borne from my time in my home meetings.

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“Letting Seminary Doctrinally Change You” & Controversy – GoingToSeminary.com


Remember “that” article I was talking about last week?  The one that may begin some “controversy” at GoingToSeminary.com?

Well, it’s up now.

It’s part one of two on a little series I’m writing on doctrinal changes while in seminary.  As I said then, I’m more concerned about this next article than this one.  If it even comes out.  In an hour and a half I have been called upon by the “Vice President of Advancement” and “Associate Professor of Systematic Theology” of Westminster Theological Seminary, David Garner to grab some lunch.  I have no idea what the topic of conversation is (and the one time I’ve asked, he never answered), but I’m optimistic.  He has always been one of my favorite professors I ever had and has one of the most pastoral, worshipful, Christ-centered hearts I’ve ever seen in a man.  I look up to him greatly as a pastor, preacher, teacher, husband, and father.

But, he is very much on the side of the issues at Westminster that I am not.  So I’m wondering what this is about.  I haven’t been that vocal against WTS have I?  I feel like whenever I have I’ve always made it clear that this is my opinion and I that I know I’m still young, arrogant, and don’t know anything.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  I may let you all know.  But, in the meantime, read and enjoy the article “Letting Seminary Doctrinally Change You” at GoingToSeminary.com.  Here it is:

Letting Seminary Doctrinally Change You

Check out the rest of my Going To Seminary posts.