During this time of the year, many of us spend time with family and friends. With some of them, there are deep tensions and it takes lots of work to remain calm. How can we better handle conflict when it arises, especially with those closest to us?
In the conclusion of our series, "Ask Anything," we're addressing a question that has divided the church over the years. The question— Is it a sin to be gay? Like it or not, it's a question that, sooner or later, we have to answer for ourselves. After all, how we answer it impacts the well-being of millions of people.
Do you ever feel like a fraud? Maybe you’ve been the recipient of accolades that feel, are underserved. Maybe you fear disappointing a manager, a supervisor, or a colleague because you feel that you don’t have all the skills that they thought you did. The terror of who we really are being found out has a name— Impostor Syndrome.
How do we live more authentic lives? And more importantly, how do we let our faith shape our opinions of ourselves?
That’s a big question. And an important question. It points to something in us that we all long for, even if we’re not aware that we’re longing for it— experience. Not just the knowledge about something, but the experience of something.
What role do the Historic Christian Creeds play in our lives today?
Many subscribe to the creeds solely on faith. But the same God that made a world in which 2 and 2 always equals four and where water always freezes at a specific temperature also made our brains. Is it wrong for us to use them?
Should we just faithfully accept what a creed says without questioning it?
The interesting thing about the times that we live in, is that there’s probably no stream of modern Christian thought that doesn’t touch on the topics of Heaven and Hell in some way, shape, or form. And It has to. After all, generations of employing Heaven and Hell as motivators for governing the behaviors of people have become (regretfully) necessary compartments of belief whether we want to think about them or not.
If someone ever comes up to you and says, “God just told me to (fill in the blank).” should you listen to them?
One of the more impactful passages about this topic from scripture is a passage that gets very little attention, and it’s unfortunate because it has some important things to say about discerning the voice of God.
For every painful experience in our lives, we often see lessons in hindsight. We gain a glimpse of what this is all just might be about. Our frustrations, our failures, our false starts, and even our frayed ends are not without meaning.
The desire for perfection drives all of us to a degree. Some of us might feel that perfection is something to be obsessively pursued at all costs. Then there are others for whom the idea of perfection is a bit less intense. It may not torment us, but we carry around a certain level of guilt about being less than we think we should be in our lives.
We all have things in our lives that we are professionals at hiding. Things so traumatic that the very thought of another person finding out about them is a terror far greater than we are able to endure.
How do we break out of the cycle of shame that we carry about our secrets?
For a rare few of us, life has panned out just as we’d hoped it would. We got the education we wanted, the job that we wanted, the partner that we wanted, the family that we wanted, the pension that we wanted, and now we look back on a life that, for the most part, is a success story.
If you were raised in the church, you might have been taught to think of Samson as an impulsive, self-centered, morally reprehensible person whose undoing was the result of a long list of horrible choices. But is that the real lesson of the story?
If you think about how we respond to conflict in our everyday lives, it could be in our work, our relationships, or even in our beliefs, we tend to seek peace with a peacekeeper’s mindset rather than a peacemaker’s mindset.
We might be in a conversation with someone with whom we fundamentally disagree; we may even see that their way of doing something, will, in the long run, be insufficient to meet the real demands of such and such a project, or such and such a problem. But because they are the louder voice or a larger personality, we might choose to hold our tongues and keep our opinions to ourselves. Yet, in doing so, we fail to see the ramifications of our silence.
Life can be difficult, filled with much pain and suffering. But what makes life worth living are the people in our lives— the people we give to and the people that give to us. The act of giving need not be lavish or expensive to make a difference in someone’s life. It simply needs to be the kind of giving that acknowledges the recipient's value in the world.
What is God's plan for your life? Is that even the right question to ask? Does God have plans for people, or is that something we ascribe to our experiences and pursuits to make ourselves feel important?
The Sixth Sacrament is The Sacrament of Matrimony (or marriage). This Sacrament is good news to those who've found someone for whom the stars collided and the planets aligned to unite you with your soulmate... but what about the rest of us?
Some believe that baptism makes a person a member of a church. Some believe that baptism is what keeps a person from going to Hell when they die. Still, others believe that baptism causes a miraculous change in the direction of one’s life.
If you were raised in the church, it's likely that you were taught one of these three things about baptism. But what is baptism, really?
Most of what we see being done and said in a house of worship finds its explanation in the scriptures. And that's not just for Christianity. There are scriptures for just about every belief system in the world.
Within Christianity specifically, there are different approaches when it comes to making sense of The Bible. What are they?
Why do we celebrate Pentecost? Wouldn’t we be better off learning about something more concrete, practical, and useful to our lives? If we aren't prone to seasons of celebration in our lives, Pentecost has something deeply important to teach us.
Rob Scalioni, Dr. Josie Hoover, Rabbi Greg Harris, Abdelhafid E. El Idrissi, Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rae, Cintia Cabib, Frank and Mary Frost, Rev. Rebecca Stelle, Jana Mason, Gary & Margarett Kunz, Jan Fox, David Yao, Michael A. O’Sullivan, Penny Yao