From the monthly archives: October 2016

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'October 2016'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

It's the Theology of 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!'


Editor’s note: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! turned 50 on October 27. We have a deep appreciation for Charlie Brown around these parts, and Mr. Sides has been writing about the theology of Charles Schulz’s Halloween animated special all month in our weekly Summitviewer emails. This post is a compilation of his thoughts from those emails, with a couple extra pieces of candy just for fun.

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Pastors Are People, Too


Several years back, John Meyer shared a verse at a leadership training class that I often think of in relation to our pastors:

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! (I Thessalonians 5:12 -13, The Message)

October is Pastor Appreciation month, and we’ve been encouraged to sit down and write our leaders a card of thanks. But perhaps this is also the time to think beyond the card of gratitude we write every fall and examine how we communicate with our pastors on a regular basis.

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Relationship Status: Do We Really Have a “Personal Relationship” with Jesus?


Being a relational creature, I had to wrestle with a popular phrase that came to my attention very early on in my Christian journey. To this day, it is used like bait for the spiritually hungry and emphasizes a dimension of experiential faith that stodgy religion rarely even acknowledges. You won’t find this phrase in the Bible. The concept is there but its connotations have elevated our expectations so high that we can actually succumb to frustration, disappointment and even despair.

So what is this tantalizing carrot-on-a-stick that seems to have trumped all other benefits of the gospel—including eternal life itself? It’s the popular phrase, “My personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Humanity craves spiritual experience like I crave a stout, French-pressed dark roast on a crisp fall morning. It’s why saints throughout the ages have employed stained glass and statues, icons and artwork, candles and incense in order to heighten their sensory “connection” with the divine. In contrast, unassisted faith in God’s word can seem drab, cognitive and unsatisfying. There is nothing inherently wrong with subjective experience but it can easily morph from means to end. Is this “personal relationship” really an orthodox summary of what is offered us in the gospel or is it a therapeutic placebo, catering to a culturally conditioned version of Christianity?

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Election 2016: A Guide to Casting Your Vote in Larimer County


Anyone who desires to make the most of their vote this November has likely struggled with motivation and feelings of despair. Only 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the United States, leading to anger, resentment and desperation. It often seems preferable to take a one-month vacation right about now and return after all the election hoopla is over. But we’re called to engage our political responsibilities with our families, our neighbors and our God in faith.

We have a right and a role in this country to be informed about issues and candidates and to cast our vote in elections. We have an albeit small but important role in shaping the governing forces around us. It is a privilege and a responsibility that we all should take seriously, in a clear conscience and full faith.

Here are three things you can do in the coming weeks to make the most of this election season.

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Truth, Justice and a Better Way: A Conversation about Racism and the Gospel


You will most likely read an article similar to this one later this year and probably again a year or so after that. This is not meant to devalue your current use of time and oxygen. It’s meant to underscore a problem in our country that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Much of the time we forget there is a problem. Our 24-hour news cycle ruins our memory. Sorry, can’t recall what happened two weeks ago—something super important is going down right now!

Trayvon Martin was killed nearly five years ago. Michael Brown was killed just over two years ago. But in our collective conscience, these stories may as well have taken place a generation ago. Even the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, two black men who were shot and killed by police officers on July 5 and 6, respectively, of this year, have already faded from our memories. This is particularly strange given that it was their deaths that prompted the Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas on July 7.

Do you remember Dallas? Five Dallas police officers, who were providing security for the rally, were shot and killed by a sniper. I remember Dallas. I watched it unfold in real time on Twitter. I remember the feeling of despair sinking deeper and deeper into my gut. I remember thinking that our country was coming apart.

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