These are the resources that I'm brewing for real Christians like you. Look for digital downloads and products in the days ahead. And for now, feel free to browse the youth ministry, podcast, and preaching content below:
In advance of the Special Sex Conference in St. Louis, Jason and I talked with journalist, blogger, and former UMC pastor Christy Thomas. Christy breaks down the various proposals before the UMC regarding sexuality, why the Traditionalist Plan is the Mean Girl Plan, and why there’s no future for me in the UMC.
What does faithful living look like in the shadow of Christmas? Is there a difference between praise and gratitude? Are we allowed to wear hats to the dinner table?
Christian Piatt returns to the podcast to talk about the latest installment in his Surviving the Bible series.
The intersection of faith and doubt is viewed either as a badge of honor for some Christians but for others, doubt has no place.
Is it possible to hear someone blushing on a podcast? What is podophobia? Should we listen to people who wear robes on Sunday? These questions and more on the latest episode of Strangely Warmed featuring your’s truly and the one and only Taylor Mertins.
In a world that is messy and a church that is imperfect, it's easy to let our faith be lost. But that doesn't mean we have to lose God. It means we must consider that perhaps our idealized expectations are wrong.
Everyone has a backstory, and for preachers, that backstory sets the stage for preaching.
The Elephant in the Room according to Taylor Mertins
This episode was supposed to be a collection of interviews about the Commission on The Way Forward. But because no one wanted to go on the record, Jason, Taylor, and I talk about the one thing that everyone wants to talk about but doesn't want to talk about.
In this collection of sermons, you’ll find three United Methodist pastors doing what pastors do, sharing the good news. And trying to help us members of the laity get a healthy dose of some blessed catechism.
Jesus sought these three men out. Before he was teaching on the banks of the Sea of Galilee they were a group of business partners who had a bad night at work. Before Jesus stepped into Simon’s boat, Simon was just a guy trying to clean his fishing gear and go home. But that’s the way discipleship works. Before you or I decided to be a follower of Jesus, Jesus revealed the awesome abundance of G-d.
The awesome thing about the identity we receive through our baptism is that this identity is freely given to us without reservation and with the promise that the One who was chased from his hometown will be with us.
Like the magi, we approach the manger not knowing all of the answers. We approach the manger not having all of the junk in our lives we continue to carry with us not quite figured out. We approach the light of the manger still struggling to over come the curse of sin that we fall back into no matter how many times we think we have overcome it.
The reality of what happened in Emmanuel laying in the manger is found in those who had forgotten or ignored the promise made by G-d. The good news changes the reality for all people, and invites all of creation to enter into the grace of G-d regardless of what the powerful say. Regardless of what the darkness of sin says.
This is what makes the Good News different from the promise of security and peace offered to us by empires and the elite. The Good News of Emmanuel is a particular promise available and revealed through particular yet unlikely means, in particular yet unlikely places, and at particular yet unlikely times. We can expect the Good News to be revealed to us through powerful kings and prophets but also through those we are told are not capable of bearing such a promise and those who had forgotten the promise all together.
The preparation John is calling for is a change in orientation, not pointing to guilt or shame, but instead facing in a new direction. A direction that allows the refiner’s fire to burn away the damage sin has done to creation and then live in the hopefully light of the coming Christ.
While we look at this season of anticipating a birth we have to also remember that Christ has already been born, and we now live as a Church awaiting his return and with his return the fullness of the Kingdom of G-d will be made known to us.
When we are baptized, named and claimed as beloved by our Creator, we proclaim Christ as our Savior and promise to serve Him as Lord. That was a bold profession to make 2000 years ago and it continues to be so today. It is a declaration that Christ is Lord and everything else is secondary. Our allegiance lies with Christ, because of the promises made at our baptism which means the truth for our lives looks different from those who do not make the same proclamation.
The incarnation reveals to us is that while the darkness may seem dark, the Light of Christ always prevails.
The saints of the past and us today have flaws. They, we, fell short of what Christ describes as the greatest of the things we are supposed to do. But in Christ loving us as himself, the saints and each of us are made righteous. What once was thought to separate us from the love of G-d is no more and Christ invites us to join him and the saints around His table. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ through our Baptism into His life, death, and resurrection, and not our own self-righteousness, we are declared holy. The greatest commandments, loving “the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and loving your neighbor is a little less daunting knowing that before we ever attempt to fulfill it, Christ first loved us. Christ fulfilled it for us.
Andy Root thinks the church's obsession with growing young might be misguided. Joined by Rev. Drew Colby, Jason and I interviewed Dr. Andy Root of Luther Seminary and author of Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church's Obsession with Youthfulness on the latest episode of Crackers and Grape Juice.