I need to tell you this story.
When I was a pastor over ten years ago, I preached at a tiny conference & after a young woman approached me. She had tears in her eyes, said she was single & anxious all the time & nearing 40 & “accomplished nothing.” I hurt for her. Then suddenly,
I drew a blank on what to say. My seminary hadn’t prepared me for this. And I was scared for her. How would her church reply? Her pastor? Was this place safe? All I could do was process with her, validate her feelings, remind her of her inherent value, pray with her. So then,
After I met this young anxious woman, I changed two things.
1) I rewrote the rest of my sermons.
2) I vowed to always think of this women & others like her every time I spoke or wrote.
I knew up to then, to my own shame, I had never preached for the ones in the back row.
To this day, if anything I say does not speak to the person in the back row, to someone like me or her, it’s not worth saying. If it doesn’t work in hurt, it won’t work at all. I have to remember where people really live. Hope cannot smother or bypass, but must only gently enter.
If our words only work for the well-off, able-bodied, & undisturbed, then maybe we’re 1) only speaking to popular powerful folks, 2) expecting profit from big pockets, or 3) comfortable outside reality. I made that mistake as much as others have with me. Keep me where people are.

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More from @jsparkblog

27 Jul
If you tell me “just follow the Bible & not worldly things” but you ignore justice issues of race, mental health, climate, & corruption, it is clear to me you have cut Christ in half & have fallen for a worldly version of the Gospel that relies on western moralism.
If the Great Commission to you is enforcing memorization of a pamphlet & mandatory attendance to a building, you’ve departed from Christ by falling for a western model of sales pitch that’s only a few decades old. It is persuasive transmission of information but not living faith.
If you only teach Christian activity within the church & call it “discipleship,” then the church is a pyramid scheme recruitment center. Christians exist in workplaces, in crisis & grief & trauma & headlines. You cannot open your Bible while closing your eyes to the real world.
Read 4 tweets
27 Jul
Hey friends. I updated on covid last year as a chaplain who works at both a hospital & homeless shelter. I had meetings at both today about covid & I hate to give this bad news, but it’s bad again. The hospital is converting back many floors plus more to covid floors.
As expected most of our covid hospital patients (which are back to 2020 numbers) are not vaccinated. Delta variant is ripping through Florida. Visitations are soon to be limited again. Many hospitals in FL have already banned visitation.
Here’s a problem. Visitors are now too relaxed. Multiple families refused masks & have been kicked out & made no re-entry. There are suspected cases of visitors giving covid to patients. I feel for the families. But if they can’t wear a mask in a hospital, they need to be out.
Read 4 tweets
3 Mar
A philosophical breakdown.
When I watch a sermon or seminar with titles like “Achieve Your Best” & “Healthy Habits” & “How to Succeed at Everything,” I suspect they only work for a certain group of people. Those who have. Those who can. Those with no obstacles in their path. 1/
This “believe to achieve / you attract your energy” mentality assumes an up-and-up trajectory with no variables and a perfectly contained environment where one unit of input equals ten units of output. It doesn’t consider systemic failures or baked-in environmental pitfalls. 2/
Hustle Culture is like those physics formulas where you shoot a cannon ball & you calculate vertex (height) & parabola (curve). It never considers the wind or weather or slight imperfections in the cannon. Those sort of inspirational advice-laced speeches only work in a vacuum.3/
Read 10 tweets
3 Mar
Someone needs to hear this. Your value cannot rest on your usefulness. No one must prove to be a cornerstone of their community, a pillar of their people, a positive net worth, to be a whole person or to be treated as one. You have value apart from what you do. #ableism
Those who contribute are pouring out of given resources in an environment they did not choose by generational accomplishments they did not earn. They’re to be applauded, but not inherently worth more than others & not to be rewarded for passing on the blessing they received.
We are not tethered to our gifts, our purpose, our utility. We are called to do good, but not because it makes us good. Not to earn a point value. The good we do is an extension of the grace we were gifted. To do good is simply good in itself, just as you are too.
Read 6 tweets
15 Feb
For those saying “I can still appreciate Ravi Zacharias’ teaching”—I disagree. The “good” he did is only cruelty & hypocrisy to his victims. But was his teaching actually any good? As a former Ravi fan & ex-atheist, here’s a breakdown of why it was not. 1/
I first heard Ravi when I was 19, still an atheist & learning about religion. I was impressed by his delivery & argumentation. I became a fan. I read two of his books, saw him live twice, listened to 100s of hours of his sermons. But I noticed a pattern. 2/
I noticed Ravi would raise an incredibly interesting question, bring in Philosophy 101, then describe a time he stumped someone in an argument (or stumped a person seeking faith), and tie it up with a sentimental eloquent illustration. He did this over & over. The thing is, 3/
Read 13 tweets
28 Dec 20
I have to be honest. This year I nearly lost my faith again. Like many of us, I was in a bad place. I turned to the church for hope. Online & off, I asked how to deal with the isolation, the loss of George Floyd, & hate crimes against Asian-Americans because of “China virus.” 1/
I was angry & afraid. I needed something, anything, to speak to my anxiety. But it seemed the church did not hear my worries. It turned these events into a culture war that I barely understood. The answer for our suffering was apparently self-righteous politics & posture. 2/
I know many churches, including mine, have done good things in this time. Yes, I still love the church, always. But my inbox, comments, & interactions told one story: too many Christians were more offended by my grief rather than listening to it. They couldn’t wait to argue. 3/
Read 8 tweets

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