What’s Up With the Methodists? Sin Boldly Episode 99.

5731f7ea00702_churchmethodist630I was joined by two Methodists to discuss the current state of the Methodist Church. Like all mainline denominations, they are currently divided over issues of Biblical authority and interpretation, sexuality and marriage…and more. Christy Thomas is a retired elder in the Methodist Church and currently blogs over at Pathos at www.christythomas.com. She argues for a more inclusive approach and for a church less dominated for purity concerns. Keith Boyette is an attorney and Methodist minister who is President of the Wesleyan Covenant Alliance (https://wesleyancovenant.org). He argues that the Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline should not change and the Biblical teaching on sexuality is clear. It is not uncommon for disagreeing factions within the church to speak about each other. My aim was to get them to speak to each other in the midst of the dispute.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below. 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

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Does the Church Need to Repent? Sin Boldly Episode 98.

repentu-turnI was joined by Todd Bullis, an activist against abortion with Abolish Human Abortion (AHA). In particular, Todd protests churches for their apathy concerning abortion. This has raised not a few concerned voices about the nature of intra-church fighting and caused some to ask just how much should/can we do about this evil? Todd is also the adoptive father of six foster children and speaks first about that vocation. It forces one to ask: how much ought Christians to be doing to truly be salt and light in the world today? Is it enough that we call ourselves Christian? I’ll say as a disclaimer that I have ecclesiological and theological disagreements with Todd, but I did want to give him free range to express himself. No doubt, some might have pushed harder against Church Repent. And I do not lay the guilt of abortion – at least not all of the guilt – at the feet of the Church, just as I do not lay the guilt of other sins at the feet of the Church. The Body of Christ needs the gift of patience as the message of repentance is proclaimed…and often ignored. However, the Church does need to be encouraged to do more, and on that point, Todd and I agree.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below. 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

Three Examples of Modern Theological Liberalism. Sin Boldly Episode 97.

1412068359390On this solo episode, I look at three examples of theological liberalism in my former church body, the ELCA. One is the Naked and UNAshamed, er, ministry. The other is a new church start tentatively called St. Jezebel’s. And the third is Decolonize Lutheranism. While each is relatively small, they seem to accurately represent where theological liberals are headed. They indicate a pretty clear lack of theological boundaries and postmodern attempts to redefine and reclaim evils of the past. As always, I’m open to dialogue on these or other movements if you’re interested. Just email me!

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below. 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

“Does God Exist?” Debate Review. Sin Boldly Episode 96

PrintThe congregation I serve, First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston, TX, hosted a debate on God’s existence a few Saturdays ago. This episode is dedicated to reviewing that debate. What arguments were made? What concessions were granted? Who was the most consistent? Who focused on the topic? How did each participant answer the question? We look at the highlights…and lowlights, and try to figure out who was successful in the debate after we offer our criteria for such an event.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below. 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

Sin Boldly BONUS, with Eric Hernandez: Does God Exist? (And lots of callers.)

dbeee6317e1280bd61d27b628ef8ca2fI was delighted to be on KPFT’s “Voices” again and to have the offer to present the Christian worldview on secular radio. KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston is community-supported radio and has a large audience of folks from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. It will be a while before I’m able to do this again (thanks a lot, vacation!) but it sure is fun to get this kind of audience feedback. Today I was joined by Christian apologist and friend Eric Hernandez. We looked at only one argument for God’s existence before the calls came rolling in. Friend me on Facebook to get notification of these shows in the future if you’d like to call in. And thanks Eric for your time!

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release. Otherwise, it may take a few hours from the time of publication until it shows up on the feed. To listen immediately, see below. 

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

Self-Feeders and Watered-Down Messages. Sin Boldly Episode 95.

1715_thumbnailBack in January, Dr. Gary McIntosh, Dr. Eugene Wilson and Karl Vaters and I gathered to talk about the Church Growth Movement at large. There was so much to talk about, we did it again, only this time without Dr. McIntosh (who is a very busy man and we hope to catch up with later!). We look at the need for small groups and the need for Christians to be “self-feeders”, as well as whether or not churches can grow if they preach the “hard sayings of Jesus.” Also, how do pastors of small churches deal with the frustration of churches that aren’t growing and what do they do in the wake of that reality?

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

One Post. Two Sin BoldlyEpisodes: A Joel Osteen Review Live on Houston Radio and a Kooky episode on All Manner of Cultural Changes

17817449_1835101686757073_1162669315137208320_n-300x300For the first time in Sin Boldly’s history, I moved from the HD channel of KPFT to the flagship FM band. My goal for this show has always been to offer a defense of the Christian faith on secular radio. There are already more than enough incredible Christian podcasts. This is a radio show first and a podcast second. So it was fun to get the opportunity. I believe it may become somewhat regular, but we will see.

The content is probably already familiar to regular Sin Boldly listeners as I did a review of a portion of a Joel Osteen sermon and a quick discussion on the relationship of Christianity and capitalism. I got several calls during this episode which looked at other questions as well. My goal was to introduce the broader KPFT audience to the kind of show I do and given that Pr. Osteen pastors about a mile from KPFT studios, I thought an evaluation of his preaching would be worthwhile. Some of the callers seemed to agree.

At my normal time slot, I looked at a handful of topics: the contraction of the Church due to perpetual adolescence; a parent’s rights in a transgender case; a 1952 Planned Parenthood pamphlet that calls abortion the killing of a baby; and the Kooks Burrito company being forced to close because of “cultural appropriation.”

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

Joel Osteen Review and Capitalism:

All Manner of Kooks:

Two Reasons that Account for 90%* of Church Contraction

image1A lot of ink has been spilled and church members lost because of the contracting of the American Christian church and the various blame games and strategies proposed to deal with it. The Church Growth Movement has alienated many Christians (and attracted some too, I’m sure) as attempts have been made to “reignite” the Church. Liberal theology is often embraced to woo those left-of-center who otherwise might not darken the door of a church. Leadership summits are hosted to encourage leaders to use better techniques to attract and lead churches.

But is it wrong to ask, without trying to sound or actually to be apathetic, if some things are just beyond our control? What if it is possible that the challenges the Church faces are so profound that no conferences or contemporary music will be a savior in their wake? I sometimes think that is the case. Which doesn’t mean we stop doing all we can. (I host a radio show and debates to try to make the case to as many people as possible, for example. I’m not quitting.) But are we aware of why the next generation is staying away from the church? And do we really think pop music will reverse the trends?

In thinking about the same issues that every other pastor has considered, I think the Church is up against two powerful forces that can be overcome, but not without great difficulty. The first is the single most obvious and easily abused vice that is more accessible now than at any other time known to man: pornography. The second is a way of life that has recently gotten a word: “adulting.”

The first problem is so obvious, it hardly needs commentary. Christianity and pornography are basically incompatible. I say “basically” because like all sins, the sin of pornography can be forgiven. But no confessing Christian can engage in pornography and feel good about it. Something will have to give: either the porn or the faith. Given the incredible numbers of people who are viewing porn, and given that they cannot keep up that habit and be adult members of a Christian congregation, it should be no surprise that the church is shrinking. The choice is before men: Jesus or porn. Jesus loses a whole lot of the time.

Now, Christians are going to struggle with porn like anyone else because Christians are human beings, too, with the same impulses and temptations. The difference is that, over time, a serious Christian can and will defeat the porn habit or addiction. It is possible. It isn’t easy, but men and women do it all the time. And it must be defeated, because so long as porn is a part of the Christian’s habits, the unease with all things faith-related will only grow. The guilt and the shame will become an every day barrier to faith and trust in Christ. And then, when the porn user is tired of the guilt and the shame, they will grow numb to the voice that is yelling “Stop!”

Our society has gone from accepting porn, to tolerating porn, to celebrating porn. It was once the case that engaging with porn was aberrant. Not to abstain from porn is aberrant. It seems obvious to me – blindingly so – that this single change in our society has effectively removed millions from the pews because the power of porn is so strong. And when something has to give in the lives of millions of Americans, it isn’t the porn. It is the commitment to Christ and the seeking of holiness that he demands.

To those who struggle with porn, you know the guilt and the shame that is weighing you down. There is a better way. Porn does not have to define you. Speak with a pastor or a professional. Take measures to remove it from your computer or TV or phone. Confess it to someone in confidence. Because in the long run and even in the short run, porn and Christianity cannot and do not co-exist.

The second reason the church is shrinking (and in a way that has nothing with all of our lame attempts to be relevant) is that an entire generation or two of young adults are still functionally children. But in case you think I’m being judgmental or patronizing, “Adulting” is a term that the Millennials came up with, not me. Just Google “Adulting memes” sometime. These did not exist 50 years ago or even 5. Apparently, paying bills, saving money, making hard choices, keeping a job, etc., are the hard things of life that a whole lot of people just want to avoid.

Well, nothing about church life is easy for those who wish to remain children. You will be held accountable in a good church or small group. You will have to meet and get to know new people. You will hear hard things about yourself. You will be asked to be financially generous on occasion and forsake some of the goodies of the world. You will be asked to sacrifice some of your time on the weekend and even during the week. You will be asked to place your ego at the door so Christ can reign supreme in your life.

If the memes reflect an actual and lasting reality in the younger generations, it should come as no surprise that those who do not want to be adults also do not want to be in church. After all, hardly anything is more description of an adult than voluntary dedication to a church. Perhaps these memes are just good for a laugh. But I think they have tapped into the perpetual adolescence of our younger generations.

So there you have it: the two reasons the church is shrinking. And if you are thinking of an awesome sermon series that addresses these problems, good luck. The ones who need to hear it already aren’t in the pew. The pulpit is a great place to start. But Christians must extend the message of repentance beyond church walls. And I believe we must name these two issues. And as always, in love, but firmly. A lot depends on the reversal of these two trends.

*This number is totally made up. And probably pretty accurate.

A Debate: Did Christ Die For All? With Jordan Cooper and Dr. Theodore Zachariades. Sin Boldly Episode 93

cross_the_passionWell, I have been looking forward to this episode for a while. I was honored to be joined by Dr. Theodore Zachariades of Reforming America Ministries and Jordan Cooper of the Just and Sinner Podcast and Blog to discuss the Limited Atonement. Did Jesus die for the sins of the whole world, or only for his elect people? What is the extent of the work of the cross? Jordan comes from a Reformed background but is now a Lutheran pastor and theologian. Theodore came to the Reformed Baptist tradition after growing up Eastern Orthodox. This debate features conversation around many of the relevant Biblical passages and demonstrates the different ways that these two traditions come to see the way God has worked in the world to save sinners. Thanks again to both of my guests for their time and expertise!

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.

5 Signs of a Progressive Church. Sin Boldly Episode 92.

progressive churchThis solo episode looks at some signs that your church is becoming more progressive, i.e. less orthodox. We also look at some celebrities and their relationship to faith, including Val Kilmer and Brad Pitt.

If you want to listen via the podcast feed, that link is here. That link will take you to iTunes. To subscribe to the Sin Boldly podcast with an Android phone, I recommend the Cast Box app, which easily finds Sin Boldly via search. Your iPhone (or iOS) Podcast app finds it easily on iTunes. If you subscribe to the show, you get the episodes immediately upon release.

Why the name “Sin Boldly”? Martin Luther wrote to his friend Philip Melanchthon in 1521: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [sin boldly], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.” To sin boldly, therefore, is not to seek unholy living, but to follow the course we believe the Bible demands even if the world is against us. And if and when we sin, trust in an even greater savior.