Posts in Knowledge
How to Trust a Sermon

Because so much of my writing and podcasting as well as the teaching in TRIBE are deeply Scripture-centric, I am often asked how to recognize a Sunday sermon as theologically sound.  It is a difficult question, no doubt, becacuse the deeper you go with truly reliable Scripture study methods, the more the proof-texting and quicky applications so prevalent in today’s mega-churches and would-be mega-churches (isn’t that everyone’s aim these days?) ceases to resonate. Recognizing the Bible’s slow and steady pace to the margins of American religious life, I felt it was time to start answering this question for us all.

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Mind: The Thoughts and Perceptions that Inform Us

The frame of the SOUL triggers our BODY into action or inaction. The frame of the HEART drives all our our prevailing narratives, impulses and will to exist. In between the SOUL and the HEART is the translation center of the MIND: life’s incredible tool for extracting meaning, interpretation and theory out of the rich and various experiences of life and how we respond to it.

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Creating a Terrible God

As I engage with people over the years, I find that there is little about God which draws out more confusion and emotional milieu than the concept of God as Father.  For most people, this is in part because they start with “Father” as they’ve known it and then apply this frame to God. Of course, like any title which we start with our own definitions of and then expect God to fit the confines of our expectations, the frame bursts with failed containment early and explosively. This failure of God to meet our expectations, unfortunately, rarely leads us to reconsider the expectations we’ve levered against Him. Instead we blame the Monet for not fitting within an ill-measured frame. 

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Windswept Faces

Most believers I talk to wrestle with deep, unmentionable questions about their faith.  They have silently and shamefully accepted massive contradictions about the culturally assumed gospel in the hopes that no one will notice, particularly themselves.  They, with much effort, put on a brave face, attend their church of choice, read their devotional material of preference and soldier on, in the hopes that the so-called mysteries with which they struggle will be resolved on eternity’s white shores. 

This is a great tragedy.

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A High and Holy Comedy: Our Search for Truth

I have stated previously that desire is a sequence. It is a way of functioning in the world that draws us from the surface of our lives into our deepest heart. In the murky crevices of our
being is where we meet the Triune God who subsists as Faith, Hope and Love—an infinite giving and receiving of desire in relation. This, to say the least, is a mouthful. More than a
mouthful, it is a life-ful because attempting to live conscious of such a pervasive reality as the desire of God working through the distorted desires of human hearts is something that only
the unfettered and ordained days and years of a lifetime can begin to untangle.

Daunting as it may be, we must begin here, because desire in the beginning of everything.  And for our surface wants and preferences to transition into the deeper waters of intimacy with God, it is required that we have accessible places to being. To have categories. Categories are like rungs on a ladder or grips on a climbing wall. They don’t define the precipice your climbing, but they sure make the summit a whole lot easier. In the grand context of desire and longing, I think there are such ladders. The frame of them was acknowledged by Plato millennia ago and has been affirmed by thoughtful people ever since. Plato called them the “forms:” truth, goodness and beauty. Not only do these three useful frames of reality occur around us with regularity, drawing us into God’s presence, calling us into the Trinitarian life, they are also the spheres in which our desires play out. The desire to know the Truth, act out the Good, be the Beautiful.

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