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July 11th, 2017

(If you do not receive FWC’s occasional emails and updates like this one, email me and ask me to add you to the distribution list.)

I sometimes describe the presence of FWC (Faithful & Welcoming Churches) at the UCC’s General Synod as “having an Obamacare information booth at a Tea Party convention.”  I don’t mean to suggest we are treated unkindly or unfairly – the response to our presence is overwhelmingly cordial and even appreciative.  I only heard about one aggressive ONA’er who came to the FWC booth with the intent of bullying us. Most of our booth staff reported engaging and constructive conversations.

Still, ECOTS (evangelical, conservative, orthodox, or traditional) are definitely in the minority! This report is about the experience of General Synod 31 in Baltimore (June 30-July 4) through ECOT lenses. Read more »

June 25th, 2017

The Big Picture

The devil wants us to forget he has already lost the war.

Revelation 12:7-17



Does this narrative sound familiar? You are a hobbit with a destiny to destroy Sauron’s ring of power in Mount Doom, ushering in a new age of peace in Middle Earth.

If you are Frodo, that “big picture” not only gives you a sense of purpose; it helps you respond to adversity. If you encounter evil riders on giant black horses, if no one feeds you second breakfast, if a member of your fellowship dies unexpectedly, if you encounter a giant spider who binds you in her cocoon, if… whatever happens… the big picture keeps you going. Read more »

June 18th, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come

His kingdom will come because we prayed. 

Revelation 8:1-12


The kingdom of God

The title of the sermon today, “Thy Kingdom Come,” is obviously borrowed from the Lord’s Prayer, and at the end of the sermon we’re going to pray the Lord’s Prayer in an unusual form. What do we mean by the “kingdom of God”? The simplest definition is this:  the kingdom of God is where God reigns. It’s where God is completely in charge. Thus the kingdom of God is in you – if you let the Lord rule in your life. The kingdom of God is also the church – his people, where he rules, now. But the kingdom of God won’t be fully realized until the end of the age. God won’t fully reign in all things until after the second coming of Jesus.

As I envision the kingdom, I’m indebted to Pastor Leon Rowland, who worships here regularly, for loaning me a series of sermons preached many years ago by John Ortberg. I’m sure they were preached “many years ago” because they’re recorded on cassette tape. The sermons are on the Lord’s Prayer, and the one that gripped me Friday was on the petition, “Your kingdom come.” Ortberg has me thinking about what I personally look forward to when God takes charge of everything. Read more »

June 11th, 2017


Won’t it be deeply satisfying to join in the great multitude of perfection and success?

Revelation 7:9-17


The whole &%$! point

Today’s passage in Revelation got me so excited in Bible study this past week that I cussed. I never cuss, and later emailed the group to apologize for my language. What got me excited was the heart of this vision of heaven and the joys that await believers in the Lord’s presence. What made me cuss was how easy it is to miss that great truth.

The book of Revelation in general, and chapter 7 in particular, tends to raise some disagreements among Christians. Read more »

June 4th, 2017

How Long?

Patience while waiting also teaches me wisdom when doing. 

Revelation 6:1-11


Introvert Island

It’s good to be back from what I like to call affectionately “Introvert Island,” aka Bald Head Island (BHI). It’s a place that feels very much cut off from the world, especially on the eastern end of the island. Bald Head has no fast food restaurants, no mini-golf or movie theater, no amusement park or aquarium.

On Wednesday of this past week I rode the golf cart up to the market. When I came out there were three adults who looked like they were in their 70s, staring at the BHI map. I asked them if I could help them find something. As if they were teenagers, one of them said, “We’re bored.” Read more »