Reflecting on the Calling of Fatherhood (Father’s Day 2014)

[Been out of pocket this week - a few belated postings going up in the next few days.]:

Most days I feel like a good father but I’m just being humble. It turns out, I’m actually “The #1 Daddy.” My six year old confirmed this for me in writing and I can produce this document at a moment’s notice.

I’m tempted to set it all on cruise-control but in a moment of self-awareness, I thought maybe I’d reflect on the goodness and the challenges of fatherhood.  I’m thinking about my personal joys, I’m thinking of two friends celebrating their first father’s day among a few other scenes featuring fathers and grandfathers playing out in my head.

This Father’s Day, I was surrounded by my family, my wife, my children, my own father and mother, brother, sister and her husband and kids. We’re vacationing together and it all fell on Father’s Day weekend. We all live in different parts of the country now so these days are special.

If we’re local or Facebook friends, you know we just announced that Susan and I are expecting baby number 4. If you don’t know us, we’re a couple who spent 6 years in fertility treatments, quit them and adopted our first [Read more...]

The “Slippery Slope” Argument is the Adult Version of the Boogieman and It’s Not True

My least favorite excuse these days is the “slippery slope” argument. It goes something like, “If you bend or change your mind on this, then you’ll have to do the same for everything else. And then you’ll end up in chaos and destruction. Therefore it’s best to avoid the slippery slope.” In my mind is a particular context that I want to be sensitive to. It affects people I agree with, people I disagree with and I have friends on both sides. Still, I feel the need to call it out.

First, the slippery slope feels like a modern day boogieman for adults who, pardon my saying so, are afraid to change their minds. I’m struck by how unhelpful a Google search of “slippery slope” turns up. From my perspective, It’s a lot fear language preached from a loftier and often overly-conservative position.

[Read more...]

A Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-15 from My Egalitarian Perspective

I had the opportunity to write our church’s small group study this week. We create every other week based on the text the sermon will be preaching and while the study is not always sermon centric, the guide aims to study the passage through small group discussion. We’re big believers in the importance of Scripture in community.

Also, it must be mentioned, the sermon this past Sunday was incredible. Our pastor, Bryan, gave one of the clearest and strongest messages for the egalitarian position that I’ve heard. He includes his “conversion” from complementarianism to egalitarianism, his look at I Timothy 2:-15, and a fantastic historical understanding of evangelicalism and the role of women. I had no idea how mindful early evangelicalism was to include women in leadership and am shocked at its regression. Here’s the link to the video or if you prefer, audio only.

So the text for my study was the infamous 1 Timothy 2:1-15 and here are a few of my reflections from [Read more...]

Reflecting on #Yesallwomen

This week, I’ve been thinking about the #Yesallwomen hashtag. And like most hot cultural issues of the day, I keep avoiding putting my thoughts down for public consumption. Even with the sincerest of intentions, it’s often feels difficult to contribute anything positive to such loaded conversations.

It always takes longer than it should but eventually I realize that loaded conversations never go away. They may slip out of the public scene but it’s only temporary and they keep coming back with greater tension, sometimes they come back with fury. It’s better if we can speak into them and in the best case scenario, contribute progress, redemption and hope into them. This will of course, expose our pre-suppositions, philosophies and guiding narratives and frankly, I have a lot of faith in mine. Hope you join me.

When I look at my Twitter feed, I’m struck by how many times #Yesallwomen comes up. I follow a [Read more...]

Reflecting on Memorial Day 2014

There is generally a bit of unrest in my heart when it comes to the observances, remembrances and celebrations of our patriotic holidays. If you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog, this tends to come up from during July 4ths, Veterans’ Day, 9-11 and of course, Memorial Day.

Normally, I’m a fan of social media but I tend to avoid interacting on it on these days because it tends to add to my unrest. Too much sounds either trite, or overly-militant, and some sound overly-passive, borderline dismissive. The point of such an observance is that we stop what we do and remember the cost it took to allow us to do what we do. Some of what I observe takes me out of that but I try to be grateful for those who are encouraged from what they find on social media.

To be sure, I have nothing but respect, admiration and gratefulness for those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Further, members of my own family have served in their respective militaries voluntarily and involuntarily and again, I have enormous respect and admiration for them. My heart breaks and I pray for the families who find this day painful as they remember their loved ones. May God’s peace and strength find you.

But it’s not necessary to have lost a loved one to feel the pain of this day. How can you not pause and pray upon seeing pictures of a widow knelt by a graveside? How can you not feel the remorse of a child [Read more...]

The Need for Christian Unity Post 1 – The Gospel Coalition Fallout

I was having a conversation recently that discussed the needs of the Church.  We began discussing unity and if the North American Church was more or less fractured now than ever before.

We cited recent events like what’s going on with the Tullian Tchividjian, Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition and the comment sections of the blog post 6 Heretics Who Should Be Banned From Evangelicalism – original and Relevant’s posting. (Note: I appreciated the post, comments – ugh. Though it goes against my hope for conversation and community, comment sections on mainstream blogs are painful and often void of conversation and community).

Which got me thinking, if Tim Keller and Tullian Tchividjian can’t get along, are we in trouble? If the best thing to do concerning comment sections on Christian blogs is to NOT read them, then what does that say?

First the Keller-Tchividjian-Gospel Coalition Fallout. From what I can tell, both are high integrity, laser focused people with no time for distraction. Yet, our Twitter feeds are filled up with what transpired with Tullian kicked out of the Gospel Coalition. TGC is offering a clarification that’s it’s due to a theological difference and Tullian has called that a “flat out lie.” As an outsider who does not follow Tchividjian that closely (he’s too intense for me at times) and as one who is not a faithful reader of TGC, I’d like to hear about another time when a blog kicked someone out over the doctrine of sanctification – Come on TGC. I appreciate that it’s complicated, I chuckle that it has [Read more...]

On “Helping” and Brian Fikkert’s “First World Poverty” Q Talk #QNashville

The Q talk I’ve been thinking about this week is “First World Poverty” by Brian Fikkert.

Some readers of this blog might know him from his book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … Or Yourself that he coauthored with Steve Corbett.

Lately, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with that book. I appreciated when I read it, but it was all the conversation that I had with those who read it (and said they read it :) that I found some frustration. Normally for me, the conversation brings added dimensions and greater appreciation for the book and while some of that happened, there was also an unexpected negativity and condescension. To be cheeky, the book isn’t titled, Helping Hurts but in fact preceded by the word When.

My frustration was this part of the conversation didn’t push people to help more and in a better way, but instead, it pushed help away (This is a similar point I tried to make in yesterday’s post). Now this not the intent of the book of course, it argues the opposite, but it’s a pattern that keeps getting repeated in my small corner of life.

So when I saw Brian Fikkert listed as a presenter, I had a mixed reaction. First one being, I’m kinda tired of this conversation, perhaps time for a differently framed one, maybe I’ll skip this one. Glad I didn’t because in all truth, his talk was one of my favorites.Here are some of the notes my friend and I took (thanks Jon!):

1. How would you describe success in your own life?  Strong family. Healthy Church. God-sized call.
2. How do you think you can get there? The Spirit, the Church, and community.

Western Economist believe that success is consuming more things, so you need more [Read more...]

Do Hashtags Like #Bringbackourgirls Make a Difference?

I have been walking around wondering if the hashtag #Bringbackourgirls campaign makes a difference. Is it helpful or is it hindering or is it pointless?

The ultimate desired outcome is for these girls to be rescued unharmed and for the evil-doers to be brought to justice. I don’t say this to sound trite but this really is the plot to the movie Taken with Liam Neeson – even better if it could all be done without violence. If this does not happen, it’s obviously tragedy as the most desired outcome is unrealized and things like hashtags feel pointless.

Or are they?

As soon as we saw Michelle Obama holding up the #Bringbackourgirls sign, we probably all  knew this [Read more...]

Reflecting on Donna Freitas’ Talk on Hookup Culture at #QNashville

Another presentation that I find myself thinking a lot about is Donna Freita’s “Hookup Culture.”  Feel free to psycho-analyze – I have been too.

She’s the author of  The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy and she sees answering the hookup culture as a “justice issue.” While I have never thought of it in that light before, I certainly think exposing the damage of things like the hookup culture potentially contributes to the common good, the betterment of society, and better-lived lives.

The first line of her talk:
“I feel like I have to warn you, I’m Catholic. We have the Catholic explaining hookup culture.”

IMG_3465 Rest of my notes:
Young adults believe they are supposed to be casual about sex in college.

The official social contract of the hook-up:
[Read more...]

Reflecting on Andy Crouch’s Talk on Religious Freedom at #QNashville

I was grateful to have attended #QNashville and wanted to share some of my highlights. First, pardon my northeastern snobbery, I had to adjust being in Nashville. Though I spent my adolescent years in a small town, I’ve always been around major cities with huge buildings, crazy traffic, people everywhere, confusing streets, and airports with multiple terminals.

At the Nashville airport, there’s one terminal and its slightly larger than my local Target. But small airports are not unusual. What is unusual is that people were allowed to park their cars in designated “Pick-up” spaces and they didn’t leave them running either. They parked, put some music on, got out and waited for their family/friends.  I think one family had a grill they were about to set up and start tailgating but then grandma came out while they were assembling the tent.  And then when the security officers went around, they would all wave to each other. At Logan airport, my wife and I fold the stroller, dodge the buses, load up our luggage, buckle our three kids in carseats and survive an interrogation from the legions of officers faster than a NASCAR pitstop. And the weird part is, we’re not upset by this because we think this is safe.

Well there I was, waiting for a great friend I knew since college to pick me up in his Prius. He used to want a Ferrari. Now he was on time, he drove carefully, he listened, and his music selections were [Read more...]