Category Archives: Voices

Voices: The Luxury of a Simple Faith

“God has not given us the luxury of living in a simple time with a simple faith.”
—Bishop Ken Carter, Florida Conference United Methodist Church [1]

This is a hard, often unwelcome saying, but a true one nonetheless. We must study the Bible carefully, think deliberately, pray without ceasing, and rely upon the Holy Spirit to discern the will and ways of God in our time.


[1] Linda Bloom, Kathy L. Gilbert, and Sam Hodges, “Court Asked to Rule on Validity of Plans,” United Methodist News Service, October 23, 2018, accessed November 07, 2018, https://bit.ly/2SX96hw.

Voices: A Prophet Isn’t a Fortune-Teller

Biblically speaking, a prophet isn’t a fortune-teller or soothsayer who predicts the future, but rather a truth-teller who sees things as they really are—past, present, and future—and who challenges their community to both accept that reality and imagine a better one. — Rachel Held Evans [1]

Prophets sometimes told the future, but always they told the truth.


[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 119.

Voices: We Must Take Sides

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. — Elie Wiesel [1]

As Christians, we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; we worship a Jewish Messiah; we seek to live in the same Holy Spirit that spoke through Isaiah, Jeremiah and the other Jewish prophets of old. At it’s best, our faith is completely incompatible with anti-semitism. Sometimes we must interfere. In the face of the recent rise in anti-semitism, we must take sides, we must speak up.


[1] Elie Wiesel in his December 10, 1986, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech. Found in Elie Wiesel, Night, translated by Marion Wiesel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006) Kindle.

Voices: The Story of Jesus

I am a Christian because the story of Jesus is still the story I’m willing to risk being wrong about. — Rachel Held Evans [1]


[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 164.

Voices: All Shall Be Well

In the first published book written in English by a woman, Julian of Norwich recorded sixteen mystical visions. The book was published in 1395 when the world was no less a stranger to evil, sin, suffering, and death than it is now. And yet, from Christ, she had these words of comfort:

‘It is true that sin is cause of all this suffering, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ [1]

Evil, sin, and death are real and life is hard, but God is good, and in the end, all shall be well.


[1] Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, trans. Barry Windeatt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), chap. 27, Kindle.

Voices: Putting Away Childish Things

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. — C. S. Lewis [1]

I think back to this quote every time I want to revisit The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.


[1] C. S. Lewis, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (New York: HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017), Kindle, 38.

Voices: Scripture as a Wrestling Match

With Scripture, we’ve not been invited to an academic fraternity; we’ve been invited to a wrestling match. We’ve been invited to a dynamic, centuries-long conversation with God and God’s people that has been unfolding since creation, one story at a time. — Rachel Held Evans [1]

In my life, there are two different ways I would have taken the quote above. In the first part of my life, I would have hated it. Back then, I wanted to think of scripture exclusively as a book of good news, guidance, comfort, and consolation. I still like to think of scripture in that way, but I can no longer think of it exclusively. Having long ago encountered the more difficult and alarming parts of scripture, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has felt that I’m in a wrestling match.


[1] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 28.

God Works Through Ordinary People

God regularly works through ordinary people doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind. — N. T. Wright [1]

Hold yourselves ready for whatever God has in mind.


[1] N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 8.

Arguing With God

Yesterday Jenny preached on the book of Job and shared the following quote. I want to share it with you in written form this morning:

Arguing with God is an act of deep faith—deeper, perhaps, than a passive acceptance of whatever happens as God’s will, or a carefully articulated theological rationalization for why things are. — J. S. Randolph Harris [1]


[1] J. S. Randolph Harris, “Job 23:1-9, 16-17: Homiletical Perspective,” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, vol. 4, Year B (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 151.

 

God’s Reigning Attribute

“God is often styled holy, righteous, wise: but not holiness, righteousness, or wisdom in the abstract: as he is said to be love: intimating that this is . . . his reigning attribute, the attribute that sheds an amiable glory on all his other perfections.” — John Wesley [1]

Both above and beneath,  both before and after everything else, God is love.


[1] John Wesley, Explanatory Notes on the New Testament (New York: Lanes and Scott, 1850), 1 John 4:8. Explanatory Notes on the New Testament was first published in 1755. It remains one of the standards for doctrine in the United Methodist Church.

Terrible Misfortunes

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.”
— widely attributed to Michel De Montaigne [1]

This has so often been true of my life that remembering it helps me trust God with my future.


[1] I say “widely attributed to Michel De Montaigne” because I can’t track the quote back to one of his works.