Monday, January 23, 2012


"Pastor, I have a question about your sermon notes," said a visitor to our church. He had underlined one of my bullet points listed on the back. Each week I provide additional information, research that may not fit into the preached message (for it is too technical or tangential), but may help stimulate further discussion.

My point was worth discussing. It read: "Not only were monogamous, same-sex marriages envisioned in Eden, they were affirmed by Jesus and other NT authors (Matt. 19:1ff; 1 Cor. 7:1ff)." The phrase "same-sex marriages" was underlined. I gasped.

To be fair, my sermon was crafted as an endorsement. However, homosexuality was not its candidate. I aimed to endorse greater equality and, thus, more leadership opportunities for women in the church. 

Captivated by William Webb's "redemptive hermeneutic" in Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals, I find a compelling argument in comparing the ethic and narratives of the Old and New Testament against their surrounding cultures (e.g., Ancient Near East and 1st Century Mediterranean). Women stand out as YHWH's heroines, Jesus' disciples, and leaders of the early church. My sermon sought to endorse the return to Eden, where the image of God reflected equally among male and female (Gen. 1:27). To take a verse out of context: What God has brought together, let no one separate (Matt. 19:6).

One of the primary arguments against expanding the role of women in the church is considered "The Slippery Slope" argument. Once you open the doors for women to preach and teach, you might as well invite the gays to lead a parade for Sunday worship. The logic is terribly flawed and fear-driven. Ironcially, the glaring typo in my sermon notes had me sliding head first into the mud puddle of moral relativism at the bottom.

"Wow. Thanks for pointing that out," I said to the young man. "It should read "Hetrosexual" marriages." Fortunately, the young man was a former intern at our church. And better yet, a lady who overheard our conversation added, "Don't worry. No one reads your sermon notes."

Or my blog.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chipped Plate

My wife can make beauty from ashes. She takes delight in discarded picture frames sold for a dime in the local Goodwill. She collects old furniture and remakes it with gold spray paint. And she'll make a gloomy day of rain into an adventurous opportunity for puddle-jumping.

What I love about her clairvoyance is how contagious it is. My daughters imagination tends toward optimism; they learned from their mother.

The best example is our shrinking stock of dinnerware. Our mugs and plates and cutlery and glasses are in various stages of decomposition: bent and broken, smudged and stained, cracked and chipped. I am sometimes embarrassed to serve guests, so I break out the Dixie cups. My wife noted that our kids were following my poor lead. If Margot were served on the chipped plate, she would cry and reject her food. If Claire were given the fork with the bent prong, she would moan and eat with her hands.

One morning my wife turned the tables. Her eggs and toast landed on the chipped plate. She viewed breakfast with an irregular excitement. Hoisting her hands in the air, she pronounced, "Yes! I got the chipped plate!" Immediately, the chipped plate was a treasure.

My daughters still reject their food and eat with their hands, but they receive the chipped plate as a gift.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Last week reading Paul's missionary journeys helped me through a sleepless night. When Paul faced a sleepless night, he sang hymns and saved souls (Acts 16). I grumble and catch up on my Bible consumption.

My sleep did not fare well last night, either. I had visions of my mother-in-law falling, and my father-in-law's skin bursting open. I prayed for them.

As much as I delight in sleep, the occasional battle with restlessness is a gift. It calls me to spiritual devotion. It exposes the fears and stresses that plague my mind. And it reminds me that my help comes from the LORD, who keeps His beloved and does not slumber (Psalm 121:2-4).