Disruptive Love: The Father

Disruptive Love: The Father

I have plenty of stories where my soul was disrupted by something powerfully painful. But the disruptions that I’d fight and die for? 

They were the beautiful ones.

It’s the day i met my wife at Starbucks up in North Beverly.

The day I married her. 

It’s the day we found out we were pregnant, even though the doctors had told us we’d never conceive on our own without medical intervention. 

It was the day my daughter was born. 

Holy Lord but I couldn’t stop crying. 

For days. I mean, I was way worse than my infant.

I still can’t not cry when I think about it four years later! 

It’s the day we birthed this church. The day we baptized Zhenyang.

The beauty of it all forever changed me, because in each of these moments, I saw, if even through a mirror dimly, the most powerful kind of disruption the world has ever known -- the wholly disruptive power of God’s love. 

And it's this disruptive love that we witness and remember in the character of the Father that Jesus painted in his parable. 

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Brotherly Loath

Brotherly Loath

We all have a propensity to be younger brother-ish in the way we approach responsibility, sometimes.

But other times, we have a different problem when it comes to responsibility. 

We tend towards being over-responsible. 

We want to live up to and even exceed every expectation put on us. We never want to disappoint others and are perpetually looking to please those who we look up to. We play by “the rules” and never step out of line. 

We’re dutiful and obedient to a fault. 

But here’s the thing. 

Eventually we start keeping score about our responsibility. 

And if it looks like they’re getting ahead and we aren’t? 

Well…a tiny, tiny seed of envy and resentment starts to sprout. But even the tiniest seed can grow into a field of bitterness.   

Before long, all we see are the ways we’ve stepped up and they haven’t. 

And before we know it, we’re lost in self-imposed exile of bitterness, just like the elder brother did in today’s scripture passage.

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Far Country

Far Country

When it comes to choosing churches or neighborhoods or schools or companies to work for, most people place a premium priority, usually without realizing it - on whether or not they think can belong there. But fitting in is not the same as belonging. Belonging means telling our whole story - the triumphant parts AND the messy parts - and being embraced in it. Belonging means being at home where you are.

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Sheep and Coins

Sheep and Coins

Repentance was this idea that we can look at what we’re doing, realize it’s very wrong, feel reeeeally badly about it, and then do the opposite thing.  This was virtually the universal understanding of repentance among Jesus’ contemporaries, and clearly, it still lingers to today.   But then Jesus gives the Pharisees and us these three parables about kids and coins and sons that together, tell quite a shockingly different story about repentance than anyone would have heard before.

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Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Of all the people groups that are described in the New Testament, the group that those of us who consider ourselves Evangelicals are closest to in terms of ideology and theology, political activism and pragmatism, Evangelicals are more akin to the Pharisees of the New Testament than to any other group.

But here’s the rub. 

Just like the Pharisees were then, Evangelicals are now known for what and who we’re against, rather than who and what we’re for. Evangelicals, just like the Pharisees, are known more for demarcating who’s in and who’s out, rather than reaching out.

Does this seem unfair? 

You tell me.

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