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Guns don’t work

November 28, 2016 — 10 Comments
Photo Credit: BigGreengo Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: BigGreengo Flickr via Compfight cc

Lately I have been more and more impressed with the undeniably nonviolent character of the life and teaching of Jesus. I believe it has tremendous significance for our day and age as Christians seek to answer the question: What does it mean to follow the Lamb who was slain?

Yesterday I was talking with a good friend about the plight of the poor and oppressed (news concerning the death of Fidel Castro got us moving in this direction). While I wondered how world leaders could speak admirably of a man who allegedly murdered so many people, my friend urged me to consider the political and historical context that formed Cuba’s circumstances in recent decades.This led to a discussion about the role of violence in resisting evil: To what extreme must we who follow Jesus hold the conviction of nonviolence? What allowance should we make for those oppressed peoples who finally break under pressure and decide to hit back? How much can I really relate to their suffering as a white American male living in the shadow of the world’s greatest superpower? Continue Reading…

Photo Credit: Tom Kavana Flickr via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Tom Kavana Flickr via Compfight cc

In case you haven’t heard, there was an election in America last week. People are up in arms about it on both sides of the table, with some even taking to the streets in protest. Social media is aflame with opinions, accusations, predictions, and scapegoating of every sort. World leaders are watching with angst over what it will mean for their countries. Minority groups are afraid for their very lives. Indeed, these are strange and trying times for many people.

Israel once experienced a similarly distressing time of transition: Her king, Saul, was descending into madness, while her soon-to-be king, David, was amassing an army of malcontents in the wilderness. Saul was hunting David like a dog in a wild bid to prevent David from gaining the throne, but the people who had tired of Saul’s reign were defecting to David day by day and revolution was in the air. Scripture says that among the people who joined David’s ranks were “men from the tribe of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

As I survey the landscape of the western world today, especially among the professed followers of Jesus, I wonder: Where are the men and women of Issachar? Where are the people who understand the times and know what we should do? Does the Church have any prophetic voice left in her? Can she speak to the issues of our day with any vestige of divine authority?

I spend a lot of time with both liberals and conservatives, and most of them are well-meaning human beings, believe it or not. I often lament with Elbert Hubbard that “if men and women could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate.” Yet I also realize there are genuinely bad people in this world who have no business holding positions of power and that there are systems in place which desperately need to be renewed. These matters should not be ignored.

What should we do, then? I don’t know. What I do know is that both the political left and right are continually speaking past each other. Politicians are pontificating as usual and social media pundits are hurling anathemas to no practical end. Opinions abound, but the clear voice of authority–the word from God–is hard to decipher amidst the cacophony.

Where are the men and women of Issachar? Today, unfortunately, I have only the question and not the answer.

Photo Credit: automodelli.brasil via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: automodelli.brasil via Compfight cc

As I type this post, I am enjoying a rare moment of quiet. The kids are in bed, my wife is away with her lady friends, and I’ve just settled onto the couch for a brief respite.

Life moves so fast, doesn’t it? Mine has been lately. Amidst a number of time-consuming projects and personal concerns, writing has been sporadic. At least concerning the projects, however, I am beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Continue Reading…

Being people of the Tent

January 23, 2016 — 15 Comments
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Photo Credit: YoshiSBX via Compfight cc

Long-time readers of this blog know that I offer a view of the Church which is essentially organic and founded squarely on Christ as Head over all. Of course, what you imagine when you read those terms and what I actually mean may be very different, so if you’re unsure you can always go back and read older posts or, better yet, contact me directly and we’ll talk about it.

Knowing this, you long-time readers may be surprised to find out that I am currently working with a local pastor to develop a network of small groups within our community (Did I tell you that already?). Most of the people who make up these groups are members of various institutional churches. Continue Reading…

A personal update & prayer

September 25, 2015 — 5 Comments

The crickets are making hay on the blog these days. Apparently life didn’t get the memo that I have three reading groups to keep up with and a blog to maintain.

Nevertheless, In Search of the City‘s readership has grown slowly and steadily over its short lifetime. I pray that you continue to find it valuable in your quest to know the Lord. And I hope you know how much you’ve helped me along the way, too.

Speaking of which, my journey has diverged again onto a new and curious path. If you’ve been around for a while you are probably familiar with my story of leaving the institutional church, the house church experiment I was part of for three years and subsequent time in the ecclesiastical wilderness, as well as my recent attempts at pioneering a deeper unity among Christians in my locale. Continue Reading…

Context counts!

August 20, 2015 — 6 Comments
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Photo Credit: catherinelaceyphoto via Compfight cc

My desire to reconstruct a viable model of first century history has got me wading out into the deep end of the pool. The kiddie pool, no doubt, but the deep end, no less.

I’m in two different reading groups right now, one going through the latest in New Testament scholarship and another surveying a plethora of literature on Second Temple Judaism. Among other things, they are teaching me to never stop learning, for the moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing.

Another major lesson they are reaffirming for me is the simple fact that context counts. Like, seriously.  Continue Reading…

What’s new?

July 14, 2015 — 3 Comments
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Photo Credit: MynameisDM via Compfight cc

Good news!

The In Search of the City podcast is now live on iTunes. I’m hoping this will increase exposure and make it easier for certain people to listen. Go check it out when you get a minute, and if you have time, leave a rating or review. From what I know this will help get the word out.

Also, have you noticed the new In Search of the City logo? Just scroll up a few bars if you haven’t seen it yet (Email readers: you may need to allow images in your inbox to make the logo appear in your browser). I thought after three years it was time for a fresh look, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the new design. Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: emotional-stuntman via Compfight cc

It was God, through Amos, who said this to the people of Israel:

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream! (Amos 5:21-24)

Hundreds of years later, when His Kingdom broke into the earth through Jesus Christ, and then through the Church, this gospel was proclaimed as “good news for the poor” (Luke 4:18). It amazes me to read accounts of the love and generosity of early Christians. Continue Reading…

 

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Photo Credit: C.Horvath via Compfight cc

When I first began to study the history of the Church outside Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, I found this quote from Martin Luther:

The right kind of evangelical order cannot be exhibited among all sorts of people, but those who are seriously determined to be Christians and confess the gospel with hand and mouth, must enroll themselves by name and meet apart, in one house, for prayer, for reading, to baptize, to take the Sacrament, and exercise other Christian works. With such order it would be possible for those who did not behave in a Christian manner to be known, reproved, restored, or excluded, according to the rule of Christ. Here also they could, in common, subscribe alms, which would be willingly given and distributed among the poor, according to the example of Paul. Here it would not be necessary to have much or fine singing. Here a short and simple way of baptism and the Sacrament could be practiced, and all would be according to the Word and in love. But I cannot yet order and establish such an assembly, for I have not yet the right people for it. If, however, it should come about that I must do it, and am driven to it, I will willingly do my part. In the meantime, I will call, excite, preach, help forward it, until the Christians take the Word so in earnest that they will themselves find how to do it and continue in it.

Continue Reading…

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Photo Credit: johndave892 via Compfight cc

Friends,

One of the greatest benefits I’ve received over the years while blogging here at In Search of the City has been the new relationships I’ve formed with readers. Not just to have people comment and respond to what I write, but to connect with them via email, phone conversations, or even face-to-face. I’ve connected with many of you in a more personal way over time and this is a privilege for which I’m very thankful.

I suppose the motivation for this post comes because I just spoke with a brother last night who has been a long-time reader. He is in Florida and I’m in Ohio, and apart from this blog we probably never would have met. But we had a nice conversation and I hope to stay in touch with him in the future. You know who you are, brother, and I enjoyed talking with you! 🙂 Continue Reading…