GOD WANTS A “PENTECOSTAL” CHURCH

God wants the church more “Pentecostal.”  The world needs the church more “Pentecostal.”  And, we will never be more than a faint shadow of “church” until we ourselves become way-more “Pentecostal.”  Thus, I am praying and hoping the church becomes more “Pentecostal.” If I wrote this 40 years ago, I wouldn’t be writing it now.  That’s because if I wrote this then, I would never have been ordained in my own church and might well have decided to do something else with my life.  I’m confident this is true for at least two primary reasons.  First, among the leaders of the church “Pentecostal” would have meant speaking in tongues, extraordinary signs and wonders, or at least claims for such, and …

Risen From The Book!

Does Easter make a difference?  Did the flurry and frenzy of Holy Week activity become an expression of the power that raises the dead?  Or was it more like a Memorial Day weekend?  Was it only that we recalled the One who made the supreme sacrifice for which we will always be thankful, but which remains essentially in the past—either the distant past of the actual event or a more recent past when perhaps we witnessed something like resurrection power?  Or did we celebrate something, or Someone, who demonstratively makes a difference today, this week, in our and the world’s story from now on? I have thought in recent years that just as Jesus rose from the grave in the …

Caiaphas, Caesar, Christ

Can we live in the way of Caiaphas or Caesar in the name of Christ? Are there multiple ways Messiah can wage the battle, achieve the victory and save the world and us? Does the supreme value of Kingdom-come justify whatever means are necessary to get there?   When Jesus told them what being Messiah would mean and Peter rebuked him, Jesus named him “Satan.” When James and John asked for special places on Jesus’ right and left, and Jesus says those places are already taken, Jesus may have meant the crosses that would be on either side of his. When James and John asked about fire-bombing the unwelcoming Samaritan village, Jesus rebuked them and continued on to Jerusalem, signaling …

Kingdom, Lent, and Blessing

The Kingdom that begins with Lent also begins with blessing.  There is the call to turn—repent!—which is Lent.  There then comes a pronouncement: “Blessed!”  Consider how stunning this is. When Jesus begins to teach about the Kingdom of God, the first word is “Blessed!”  This is not what we expected, not from God almighty in the season of Lent.  We think it’s the time for sober and brutal assessment; time for acknowledging our failures; time to confess we are moral losers, spiritual losers, and relational losers.  Gather it all up and summarize our human condition as failed. Our natural default, sometimes even after long association with Jesus and his friends, leads us to expect that a perquisite of entering and …

I DON’T SEE JESUS!

“But I don’t see Jesus!” That is what little Ari, our granddaughter, said at bed time when we asked her whether she wanted to pray.  She hesitated or declined to say the prayers because she couldn’t “see” Jesus.  She had spent Christmas Day with us, along with siblings and parents, and then had stayed over that night.  After a long day of playing, eating, laughing, receiving gifts, playing some more, watching special Christmas programs on TV, it was time for bed.  But she didn’t want to pray to a Jesus she couldn’t see. A part of me wanted to shift into analytic, apologetic mode and respond to the question of how to interact with the Divine who is invisible.   Another …