Bonus Features of Spirituality

There is some neurosis in my brain, some compulsivity that draws me toward the “Extra features” of a movie or TV show DVD.  I must exhaust the contents of the disk, even if the movie was not terribly compelling.  And this frequently involves watching the “deleted scenes” of the show.

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Bread and Games

Part of my current reading for seminary is a 600-page work that gives an “introduction” to the political, religious, social, and cultural background of the New Testament.  In that reading, I came across a phrase with which I was unfamiliar: “bread and games” (or “bread and circuses”).  Juvenal, a Roman

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Notes from the Annual Business Meeting

We give thanks to God for an informative time of fellowship at last night’s annual business meeting.  John Somerhalder did an excellent job of walking us through the 2009 budget, which was passed.  The three items for vote were also overwhelmingly passed: the statement of faith change, the confirmation of

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Making Abortion Unthinkable

WARNING: Article contains descriptions of a botched abortion One of the obstacles in the way of pursuing justice for the unborn is the mindset that an abortion is the removal of a fetus, not the murder of a person.  Another is the belief that a woman’s right to do what

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Reuniting with an Old Friend

An assignment at seminary brought me back into close contact with a text that has meant enough to me over the years that I could describe it as an old friend.  One of the benefits of old friends is that they can ask you hard questions about where you are

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The Gospel According to Jaden

I typically use this space for front-burner issues, and there are a number of front-burner issues to reflect upon at this moment in history.  As the father of African-American children, there is much to ponder concerning what it will be like to raise children of color in a country where

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Reading the Gospel in Someone Else’s Mail

The church in Corinth did not get the gospel.  They believed it and were genuinely converted, but in many aspects of their personal lives and relationships within and outside the church, they simply did not get the gospel.  And I am glad they did not. Thanks to their need for

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The Spirit and Ministry Month

Over the Christmas break Julia and I drove to San Diego in order to visit family.  Our custom during our drives is to catch up on sermons that we miss due to our busy schedules.  One of the sermons that we listened to was by Matt Chandler, a pastor from

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Entering the Drama of God’s Story

As we begin a year of reading through the Bible, I get a jump start by taking a class called “Acts to Revelation” at the seminary.  So along with Genesis and Psalms, I am reading through Acts in preparation for next week’s class, when we will cover Luke’s sequel. In

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Christmas Eve Meditation

We as humans are wired to be concerned about origins.  Scientists who are not content with the Bible’s word on origins have spent billions of dollars trying to figure out where we as humans come from.  Films such as the Jason Bourne movies or X-Men have characters consumed with discovering

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Meditations on the Purpose of the Advent

Without going into long details, I recently had the privilege of interacting over e-mail with the editor of a magazine for movie screenwriters.  I thought I would share a question he had along with the answer I plan to give.  I hope the meditations on the gruesomeness of Christ’s death

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Significant Odds and Ends at Whitton Avenue

I want to use this space to highlight a few significant things going on at Whitton Avenue Bible Church, along with the other important announcements contained in this weekly e-mail: Eldership On Wednesday evening the elders, after much praying, seeking guidance from others, and sitting down with various brothers, presented

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A Good Time to be a Christian

It is not extreme to assert that 2009 will be a year of great uncertainty.  This morning’s news claims that more jobs were lost last month than any month since December 1974.  We are feeling this in our own congregation.  The stock market is not far from being half of

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Thanksgiving to God for You

Thanksgiving is a fantastic holiday.  It is not yet commercialized (unless you cave in to “consumerism Friday”), it focuses on family, and it reminds us that God has given us far beyond what we deserve.  This Thanksgiving I want to express my gratitude to God for the gift he has

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Watching T.V. With King David

Back in the good old days, say, 2002, we lived in a world where the declaration, “We don’t have a T.V.” was both shocking and indicative of a desire not to imbibe broadcast media.  Those days are gone, however, as the world of free online T.V. shows has officially arrived. 

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Pulpit Hobo Stew

When I was growing up, my dad found a way to clean out the refrigerator in one fell swoop: hobo stew.  At least, that’s what he called it.  If any leftovers lingered in the chilled box because the serving wasn’t big enough to eat at the next meal, he solved

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Beholding Christ in Miami

I write this article from Miami, where I am attending a pastor’s conference with some dear brothers, most of whom are African-American.  The conference is focusing on the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, which delights my heart as we as a church read Revelation this month.

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Redirecting our Focus to the Reign of God

On this Halloween, I thought I would cautiously lead us to the haunted house of the New Testament: the book of Revelation.  Some avoid it like kids dodging Old Man Wilson’s place ever since his wife “disappeared,” while others get a thrill out of rushing into its fantastical and grotesque

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Don’t Let the Engine Flood

When I told a seasoned minister about our church’s Mission and Mercy Month last year, his only caution to me was that we not let Sunday morning mirror the evening news and simply replay the reel of all the needs in our world.  Such an approach would run the risk

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