Fletcher and the Nepal Earthquake

Fletcher and the Nepal Earthquake

As Nepal was being rocked by an earthquake, my Twitter and Facebook became the early alert system to me.  Each buzz of a new post reminded me how the world has changed. I used to go looking for the news. Now the news comes looking for me. A vibrating phone tells me something is happening somewhere in the world. News is now a fast chaser of humans.

My friend Fletcher Tink was in Nepal, in the middle of a sermon from Acts, when the quake hit. I followed his account of escaping the buildings, ongoing tremors, sleeping outdoors, getting food and health care, and watching humanity wax kind. The Nepal earthquake reminded me of more than fast news. It reminded me that God is present in the middle of any tragedy—and that our brothers and sisters are there whether we know their names or not. Knowing Fletcher, I am assured that God will be named and present in the suffering. He finished his sermon in the street as others joined them.

[Read more…]

Marital Sex: Bliss or Legalized Lust?

Marital Sex: Bliss or Legalized Lust?

Love intensifies within a covenanted marriage as two people yield themselves to each other. This love is a gift that makes us fully human. Christian couples find security in marriage when sexual desire is transformed and made holy.

A younger generation, fearful of committed relationships, desperately needs to hear stories of deep joy, security, and confidence found in a marriage of submission to God and to each other. When we “forsake all others” in our thoughts, habits, and actions, we give our spouse (and ourselves) the gift of a strong physical and emotional bond that comes from a healthy, holistic, spirit-filled sexual relationship. Our sexual desires are continually purified, turned outward toward our spouse, and transformed so that they grow deeper, richer, and more intense as we live in union with each other.

[Read more…]

That Teacher

That Teacher

I think we all have one. A teacher who impacted us in a way that we are forever different than what we would have been. A teacher who thought we could do more than we believed we could do. A teacher who inspired a bit of fear in us that we later came to call respect. A teacher who set a high standard and then helped us meet it. A teacher who taught more than the required material—because information came second to wisdom in their thinking. A teacher who forever lives in the balcony of our mind and always calls us upward.

I went to the funeral of such a teacher the other day. His name is Michael Moredock. I never sat in his classroom. But I heard what students said about him for 8 years before brain cancer forced his retirement and then took his life 3 years later. They complained to me, the university president, about how hard he was in the classroom. Demanding, they said. Unreasonable, they said.  Tough as nails, they said. Doc Moredock was an administrator and teacher in our Physicians Assistant program, a graduate program that fills the world with emergency room physicians, primary care office doctors, and surgical assistants. Trevecca established the first PA program in TN and regularly has 800 applications for 50 seats. The program is rigorous, demanding, and not for the faint of heart.

[Read more…]

“But Nobody Gets Hurt With Casual Sex”

“But Nobody Gets Hurt With Casual Sex”

The world’s sexual narrative says, “It’s private. It’s nobody else’s business. Nobody else is getting hurt.” I beg to differ. When you choose to practice casual sex—bonding and breaking, using and leaving—you are damaging your capacity to love another human being the way God has loved you. You’re harming something deep in your being in exchange for a moment of hedonistic pleasure.

No one’s getting hurt? Think again. As a pastor I’ve logged time listening to human stories. A trail of tears has left watermarks on my life. I’ve listened to stories of unplanned pregnancies and abortions, disease, date rape, acquaintance rape. I’ve listened to confessions of the use of pornography, which turns men, women, and children into objects of sexual pleasure. I’ve listened to testimonials of sexual addictions. I’ve seen middle-aged wives dumped by Daddy for a younger model. I’ve seen breakup, regret, depression, low self-esteem, adultery, ruined reputations. I’ve watched homes torn apart, children of divorce, and friends you can’t invite to the wedding. I’ve counseled the fallout from the moment the fiancé says, “Did you? And who?”

The sexual story of our world has created more pain than almost any other evil.

[Read more…]

The Practice of Saying No

The Practice of Saying No

Today’s post is the latest in my ongoing series, “What I’m Reading Right Now,” in which I highlight the articles, books, blogs, etc. that I find to be interesting reads. Click below to read the previous posts:


Every Lent I try to read one short book—the same one. It’s kinda like the movie Groundhog Day for me, reading the same book over and over and over every year. The book is by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Brown Taylor. It is really short, maybe 30 pages. The title is The Practice of Saying No. And I really need practice doing that because university presidents tend to fancy themselves as “can do” people who say yes to more than humans ought to.

Her book talks about God’s rest, Sabbath, letting fields lie fallow, and not making servants work. It deals with the old Blue Laws (which I’d love to resurrect) and personal habits. It makes me want to sit on a porch and accomplish nothing except appreciation for the breath going in and out of me. It slows the pace, calms the chase, and ends the race of our acquiring.

I’ve purchased the eBook so I can get to it anywhere I have a cell phone handy. What I’m most hopeful of?

Getting the book off the page, beyond the cell phone, and into my body.

What’s So Wrong With Casual Sex?

What’s So Wrong With Casual Sex?

In our culture, sex has become recreation for many. It no longer requires intimacy or friendship. In the hook-up culture, you pick someone in a crowded room and go to a bedroom with them. The introduction of the birth control pill removed consequences for unplanned sex. Then the condom removed the fear of venereal disease. Then the morning-after pill removed the remaining worries. And if all else fails, abortion erases the “oops.”

Science has altered the consequences of sexual intercourse. Culture stepped into this new scientific world and detached sex from its deeper life-bonding meaning. And now, it’s just sex, nothing more. What’s the big deal? Why get so uptight? Protect yourself, use condoms, and if all else fails, there’s always abortion. What’s wrong with premarital sex?

I wish to challenge this assumption and mindset. Sexual intercourse is more than a physical act.

[Read more…]

April 7 Is World Health Day 2015

April 7 Is World Health Day 2015

I’ve been drinking water from a bottle that says “Drop by Drop.” During Lent, the students at Trevecca Nazarene University took up the cause of clean water for the masses who do not have it. The university students in our J. V. Morsch Center for Social Justice won an award from Nazarene Compassion International for the campaign idea. We are now field testing it for others to use. We are drinking water instead of tea and soft drinks and coffee. OK, I cheated on the coffee. The idea is that we donate the difference to the cause of wells in villages where good drinking water is not available. There are lots of Drop by Drop bottles around.

This cause hits my family in the heart. Anna Ryan, our granddaughter, has personally earned enough money to place two wells in Central American villages. One time she made bracelets out of rubber bands and sold them. The other time she did chores and made some more bracelets. We bought a lot. I don’t wear them, but I have lots of extra rubber bands if you need any. I hope I have not caused a worse human crisis over a dwindling supply of rubber bands.

So on this World Health Day 2015 (this year highlighting the theme of food safety), I encourage you to also consider the importance of safe water.

Think twice and pray at least once when you tip a cup to your lips. Good health begins with clean water. And like our friends in the Salvation Army, we are all called to “Do the Most Good.”

World Health Day 2015 #safefood

Is The Indiana Law About Discrimination?

Is The Indiana Law About Discrimination?

Before heading to Palm Sunday service this past Sunday, I was listening to George Stephanopoulos interview the Governor of Indiana on “This Week” on ABC. Their discussion was centered on the heated reaction to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  A pin-the-tail-on-the-governor game was underway. The goal of the game was to affix to the State of Indiana the culturally detestable label “DISCRIMINATION.” Of all the sins out there, this seems to be the unpardonable one.

So let’s look it up in the online dictionary.

[Read more…]

A Bloody Weekend Awaits Us

A Bloody Weekend Awaits Us

The beheading of Egyptian Christians is still bothering me. And the idea that their drained blood flows in a river toward those who are next is even more troubling.

I find myself on this weekend as I anticipate the events of the Holy Week to come, trying to place the bloody beheading tactics of radical Muslims alongside the crucifixion tactics of the early Romans. Both sent a message – we are in charge and you must submit to our ways, or pay a price. Both made it public – one by virtue of crosses lining well-traveled roads, the other by use of media. Both extracted blood – from necks and backs and heads and sides.

And neither has made the world new. Only more fearful, more angry, more sad.

As you experience the Maundy Thursday betrayal, the Good Friday crucifixion, the quiet Saturday Sabbath in the tomb, and the glorious Easter Sunday celebration, pause to ask a simple question – whose use of power makes the world new?

Is Sex a Private Matter Between Two Persons?

Is Sex a Private Matter Between Two Persons?

For the Christian, the distinction between a private life and a public life does not exist. Our thoughts, feelings, emotions, fantasies, and actions are a help or hindrance to the people we live among.

To say that sex is a private matter between two persons is a misunderstanding of Christianity. What we do is everybody’s business!

The health of our relationships depends largely on the way we live our most personal lives. As I understand scripture, God via the church has the responsibility to tell us what to do with our money, time, and genitals.

Most Christians have not yet comprehended this. Early in our walk with God, we assume there is an ethical difference between deeds done in public and private, and we place primary emphasis on public deeds while minimizing the impact of private deeds. But what a Christian does in private is everybody’s business. Now I am not making the case for total vulnerability to the paparazzi, removal of curtains and boundaries, or the tell-all rags that adorn the grocery store checkouts. Privacy is to be respected as an act of human decency. What I’m suggesting is that our private lives have public consequences.

[Read more…]