For 21 years, I’ve pastored a church within three blocks of our state Capitol. I’ve seen Republicans and Democrats come and go. I’ve prayed with and argued with governors and legislators from both parties. Have I handled every situation correctly? Not a chance.
Earlier this summer, I was asked to prepare a paper for a workshop at the Baptist World Alliance in Zürich, Switzerland. The topic was children and justice: how biblical perspectives on children can inform our larger work of justice for all humans. My study and preparation took me on an amazing journey.
Returning home after a memorial service for former Midwestern Seminary President Dr. Milton Ferguson, I started thinking. What do I remember from my seminary days? Does my theological education continue to impact me? In short, does a seminary education stick? After more than 45 years of pastoring, I can answer with a resounding yes.
Much has been written lately about our subtle, invisible idols. These false gods manifest themselves when we put our politics above the gospel, the U.S. flag above the cross or our cultural assumptions above the values of Christ’s Kingdom.
Earlier this winter, 48 years and one week after my younger brother Dennis died from injuries sustained in a car accident, my two siblings and I, along with our families, made a memorable trek to north Missouri. It began as a journey. It turned into a pilgrimage. Something holy took place. It was life-giving, emerging out of tragedy and loss.
In the wee hours of the morning on Dec. 25, parents everywhere were frantically assembling toys to be presented to children just a few hours hence. No doubt, about 2:00 a.m., some mom or dad remembered an old adage: “When everything else fails, read the instructions.”
Last summer, I had the privilege of hearing noted author Brian McLaren speak several times at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly. During one of the Q&A sessions, I asked him a question which had been rolling around in my mind for quite some time. “What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism?”