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As WBC members protest in Kansas City, opponents meet them with condolences.

Of course you probably know that Fred Phelps died last week.

The event was a bit more significant here in my neck of the woods, with Westboro being just about 90 minutes away.  That’s close enough that there have been plenty of Westboro Baptist Church pickets here in Kansas City.

Just about anyone would consider Westboro Baptist Church a hate group. Just about anyone would consider the life of it’s founder, Fred Phelps, to have been wasted.  His legacy has been a waste.

He was a frustrated, angry man on the fringes, who as a lawyer used to work civil rights cases, then was defeated for political office seven times, and then built a church as a platform for his frustrations.

And even though he is gone, WBC lives on, with enough energy to even protest the Lourde concert here in town, for no apparent reason.

I have spent the last few days thinking about what the death of this man means, a man so famous for being so hateful.  

And the thing is, perhaps quite by accident, the life of Fred Phelps quite plainly confronts many of the truths that you and I hold to be absolute. Continue Reading…

What is wrong with this picture?enhanced-6798-1394548095-1

It’s been floating all over the internet the last couple of days.  It doesn’t take a Where’s Waldo expert to notice that something has gone horribly awry in the process of photoshopping the model to make her more…er…”appealing.”

I wasn’t sure exactly what Target was going for with this photo hack job at first.

Are girls supposed to be aspiring to have no crotch?  Because that is a standard no one can reach.

Are they supposed to be emulating Stretch Armstrong?  Because I’m not sure if we are looking at a young lady or a shaved orangutan.  I’m almost as gangly as guys get, with my measurements being 15.5 / 34-35 (yes, you can applaud my bravery for posting my real measurements), and I can tell you that there’s no way that girl is ever going to find sleeves long enough.

It turns out that the object of the ad was to give the girl a “thigh gap” a term that heretofore I was not aware even existed.  Trust me ladies, no gentleman suitor is going to be using his measuring tape on the space between your thighs to determine if you are an acceptable mate.

So it turns out that despite all we talk about positive self-image, there is still a lot that needs to be done to help ladies (and gentlemen) accept themselves.  And I think there is an especially large amount the church can do.

Because I happen to think that this problem (and a myriad of others) stem from how the church of past dropped the ball when it comes to our bodies.

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It makes the world go around…offering

It makes empires rise and fall…

It is becoming a perennial topic of discussion within the American church…

It’s money.  Specifically, tithing.

Tithing is kind of a funny thing.  Formerly a non-negotiable for every church-going Christian, it’s gotten a bad rap lately.  Every so often, I’ll read another blog post or Facebook update about the old-fashioned practice of tithing isn’t Biblical, isn’t necessary, isn’t even good.  And the studies show that, whether we say it publicly or not, we just don’t tithe anymore.  Very very few of us still set aside the traditional ten percent of our income for Jesus.

I’m not going to tell you that you must tithe or go to hell.  But I do think the discussion has somehow veered into the weeds and we’ve, once again, missed the point all along.  What if we’ve just been tithing wrong all this time?

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What do we talk about when we talk about “non-negotiables?”6a00d834515f9b69e201310fc671c7970c-800wi

When it comes to our faith, what is not up for debate?

What are the hills we are willing to die on?  The lines we are willing to draw in the sand?

It seems we have a lot of those lines and hills.  Thou shalt not cross this line, or thou shalt be thrown out of the gates, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The more complex our society becomes, the more choices we have, the more divided we can be.

A few weeks ago, a blog friend asked on Facebook if Christian unity were possible, without compromising “non-negotiable” tenants of our faith.  Those non-negotiables are important.  So I’m wondering if, in our sea of dividing lines, our nearly infinite “non-negotiables,” could we do it?

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At age 30, I feel that I sit on a generational dividing line.Doubt

On one side of me is generation Y.  On the other side is the Millennial generation.  People my age kind of started the modern trend of going to college and leaving church forever.  I cannot tell you how it felt to see so many friends from my church and youth group gradually fade from their faith.

Today, that trend has become a full-force phenomenon.  The statistics are direly grim, as we all know.  At least 75% of young people raised in the church will leave the church.  I have a special concern for the oldest students at the school I teach at, because I know they are headed into this phase of their lives – the phase where they give up on their faith.

Volumes have been written on why a generation is leaving the church.  Could it be technology?  Could it be dusty old music?  Could it be irrelevant preaching?

Probably all of the above.

But I think there is something else I think we’ve missed.  It is not an external matter of music or preaching or iPhones, but an internal one.

We have never taught our kids how to honestly doubt their faith.

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What if the Bible was not actually inerrant?BIBLE

What if there were verses that were really true, historical, God-breathed, and others that snuck in there under the radar, but don’t really belong?

Of course, plenty of people already think that is the reality, that pieces or chunks of the Bible aren’t really reliable.  I don’t see an end in sight to the inerrancy debate.  I have been clung to inerrancy and written about my definition of what it means to be inerrant here before.

But today, I am not so sure of myself.

You see, I think I found a mistake in my Bible.

I think I found a mistake.  It didn’t take much investigation, or a magnifying glass, or parsing words in their original language.  It was pretty easy actually.  The offending verse comes from Jesus’ own mouth.  I am convinced that Jesus had to have been wrong,

What mistake could I have possibly found that would send my whole view of scripture into a tailspin?

Continue Reading…