• Nationalism, Christianity, encouragement -- and regret

    It’s encouraging to see there are gestures in America toward a renewed humility in the so-called “prophetic” movement.

    This idolotrous, nationalist strain of the charismatic world is essentially the same thing as what we see corrupting evangelicalism.

    Both claim divine revelation in their effort to legitimize a “power-and-profit by whatever means necessary” mentality.

    For charismatics, it’s a supposedly direct “word” asserted with unjustified confidence and unfounded authority; for evangelicals it’s a conveniently malleable set of “biblical principles.”

    Both are false teachings with soul-poisoning consequences, because both are divorced from Jesus as the Supreme Revelation of God in the Gospels.

    Both demand a very different kind of life than our Lord taught us to live, namely a life enslaved to fear instead of liberated, quiet confidence.

    One of my profound regrets as a pastor and just as a Christian brother is not clearly and boldly doing constant ground work to address these destructive trends much earlier in the communities I am a part of.

    I knew they were problems “out there”; I simply (and naively) didn’t imagine they would take root (or had already become embedded) among people I know and love.

    I pray for grace and wisdom, true prophetic insight and evangelical zeal to follow the Spirit of the Lord and witness faithfully to the fullness of God in Christ, given for the world.

  • Behold the heart of God in Christ

    If Jesus gives us the Spirit of the Law in the Sermon on the Mount, then the Spirit of the Law is revealed as non-violent.

    If the Spirit of the Law is non-violent, the heart of God is non-violent.

    If the heart of God is non-violent, this changes everything for me:

    • my involvement in national politics,
    • my perspective on church governance,
    • how I join parishioners in praying for our loved ones who are in enlisted,
    • what I think about “last things,”
    • how I share the Gospel in and out of the pulpit

    My experience is that once you see the non-violent heart of God in Christ, you can’t unsee it.

    Christ alone reveals to us the fullness of the heart of God. The more I look on him–incarnating, teaching, healing, dying, rising, ruling, and loving non-violently in it all–the more compelling the vision becomes.

    And the vision just gets more compelling.

  • He directed Superman, and I loved everything about that movie

    Yesterday, I found out that Richard Donner, the director of Superman (1978) and The Goonies has died. I don’t know much about him, except his connection to some the biggest blockbusters of my adolescent years.

    Superman was no doubt the first real superhero movie I ever saw, and I Ioved everything about it as a kid. The incredible John Williams score, the now-iconic Christopher Reeve performance, the–for the time–incredible special effects…there’s just so much to love.

    I’m sure that film is the reason I love comic books and comic book movies to this day, and I have no doubt it contributed to my love of music (I used to go around humming the Superman tune all the time) and movies in general.

    I’m not a massive Goonies fan but I have fond memories of watching it with best friends and imagining that we too might have it in us to invent gadgets, follow clues, and live lives of adventure.

    I’m really thankful for Donner’s lasting contribution to some of my favorite and most enduring memories…they still have an impact.

  • Thankfully, my country is not my church

    As those of us in the U.S. prepare for 4th of July festivities, I want to recognize the main things I am grateful for as an American: Unprecedented freedom of religion, broad cultural support–at least in principle–for transcendent human rights, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

    At the same time I recognize my country has often fallen tragically–even horrifically–short of its ideals, and in fact was founded on and remains committed to certain concepts, assumptions, and practices that are fundamentally incompatible with my faith.

    It is important for me to rember that no matter how influenced the United States has been or will be by Christianity, my country is not my savior, my hope, or my church, and could never be.

    I am thankful to be a “resident alien” in the USA. And I pray for grace to be a good citizen and serve my fellow Americans so they will know the goodness of God in Christ.

    But my allegiance–and the foundational focus of my energy and attention–can only ever be to Christ alone and his people in every nation.

  • Love & Deconstruction

    Like many my age and younger, I went through a fairly severe period of deconstructing my faith, trying to make sense of what we read in the teachings of Jesus in light of my day-to-day experiences in places claiming to be expressions of his church.

    Let me tell you my deconstruction was catalyzed by both intellectual and relational challenges, but neither slam-dunk arguments nor platitudes initiated a reconstruction.

    Instead, it was faith working in love through a few of God’s people.

    Instead of simply throwing their hands up in despair, they encouraged (not guilted) me not to give up (I wanted to), faithfully walking with me, even as I grumbled and protested.

    Instead of deconstructing my deconstruction, they treated me like family.

    Instead of arguing with my reasons for despair, they actively showed me a reason to hope by their example.

    Instead of picking apart my faulty doctrine, they simply, patiently, gently witnessed to the character of God in Christ.

    Instead of asking me to get it together, they invited and included me in the liturgical and social life of the church.

    Room was given for doubt, for questions, for frustration, for grief, for healing, for exploration.

    The main thing was that I always knew I was loved–and that love was from God–but it was made visible and tangible by his people.

  • Prescott, AZ. What a beautiful part of the great state of Arizona!

  • Updated nathanrhale.com today. A bit more color. A little more homey. Less navigation. And I’m bringing the newsletter back?

  • So thankful to be the father of these amazing humans

  • Sun’s going down

  • Erin Go Bragh tobacco Knob Creek 9 Year bourbon

    Happy Father’s Day!

  • View from the deck where we’re staying right now in Prescott, AZ.

  • Finished up the final track and published a little EP today.

  • When the glory of God has left the Temple

    One time, I was visiting a mainstream, large, influential American Evangelical church for a mid-week special service.

    They had invited a denominational leader to come and speak.

    He said in his talk–which I will not dignify by calling it a sermon–that he believed in capital punishment. With a gleam in his eye and a delighted smile, he said if it was up to him, he would “line them up and fry ‘em three-at-a-time!”

    This was met with laughter, applause, and even cheers.

    Then a worship song.

    ⁜ ⁜ ⁜

    I knew then that the church and its leadership in America are so sick, and so twisted in on ourselves, that we have lost sight of the heart of Jesus.

    The gods we worship are preference and privilege, comfort, cliques, and convenience, along with the evil spirits of nationalism and military might.

    Much of the church as we see it is a shell of a thing, an empty form, having long rejected the lordship of Christ and actively quenched the Spirit.

    It’s easy to see:

    where tears of compassion have been replaced with condescension and anger,

    where tender-hearted pleading has been supplanted by top-down dictates,

    where kind, patient conversation has been subverted by orders to speak only what is allowed by a select few,

    where the word “justice” is met with suspicion,

    where the the poor know they will be blamed for their plight,

    where the segregation of language and culture are maintained,

    where the appeal to fear is made so much more than the declaration of hope,

    and ESPECIALLY where’s there’s little interest in speaking about Jesus, learning about Jesus, and walking with Jesus in every day life,

    and ESPECIALLY where the radical, non-violent, forgiving way of the Cross is dismissed as “not practical” and “unrealistic,”

    …the glory of God has left the Temple.

    ⁜ ⁜ ⁜

    But I believe our God pours fresh water into dry riverbeds.

    There is a Rock that quenches the thirst of those in the wilderness.

    There is a holy habitation that will not be demolished, before which the gates of hell must dissolve.

    Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

  • Happy Monday of Easter Week, friends! I’m giving Royal Yacht a try and so far I like it!

    A prayer for today from my Anglican tradition–in hopes it will be a blessing:

    Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast may be made worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

  • Early morning, an Easter poem


    The Resurrection of God-come-to-as-us-one-of-us–


    can only be

    the Declaration: no one else has to die– not one– to right the world, humanity is healed, true Light will always scatter the darkness,

    the Proclamation: self-preservation is wholly unnecessary because the Holy One never saw corruption, entrusting instead of defending,

    the Announcement: there is no King but Christ, making many nations one multi-lingual people of Redemption, answering to no State but Love, in Word, Spirit, Divinity,

    the Hope: humanity destined for divination, Creation-cosmos, restored at last!

    Angels sing with Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve,

    –as we weep from relief, falling into the eternal rest of mercy and grace–

    Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God!

    To know you and to be known by you is to find you All in All,

    forever and without end.


    Photo by Jordan Wozniak

  • The profound goodness of God on display in the mystery of Holy Week is too deep to articulate with words. I can only direct my heart God in all the gratitude I have, and ask God in his grace to grant me more. Thank you, Lord, for the unending depths of your love.

  • In my experience, it seems the default position of many Christians towards their siblings in Christ is one of distrust.

    Often, there are good reasons for this.

    Other times, it’s really about a lack of faith in the power and provision of God in Christ–by the Spirit–to see us through relational risk and disagreement.

    Either way, God calls his people toward a kind of Spirit-powered love that results in well-founded mutual confidence over and against underlying, anxious suspicion.

    It is not so much about simply trusting people more per se, but rather a deeper entrusting of ourselves and our Christian family to Christ, so that confidence is built on the demonstrated desire for one another to have–above all–greater communion with Christ, in the non-violent, non-coercive, truthful-yet-graceful way of Christ.

    Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

  • All anyone truly has is the love of God in Jesus Christ and that love is everything, more than enough.

  • New vehicle. Hover-1 Alpha.

  • Why discuss potentially controversial topics in church?

    Why discuss potentially controversial topics in church?

    4 reasons:

    📖1) To educate the Church in light of the Gospel – in other words, to examine real-life, important issues in light of the teachings of Jesus, and together ask what then we can do with the Spirit’s help. Anything less is to undermine the total Lordship of Christ in our lives, and put an arbitrary limit on our discipleship.

    🤝2) To encourage the faithful – there will always be pressure to conform to the world’s ways of thinking, doing, being in regards to controversial topics. Speaking about them openly with Christ at the center allows us to encourage one another to be conformed to Christ.

    🌐3) To engage the world – our witness and worship is public. Speaking truth and bringing the Gospel to bear on controversial and important topics is an important way to proclaim Christ’s engagement with and sovereignty over all things.

    🕊4) To entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit – when confront controversy openly together, in a spirit of truth, charity, and clarity, we are acting in faith that the Holy Spirit will indeed guide us into all truth and keep the Church of Christ together—not because we agree about everything, but because we are united in the love of Christ.

  • When we are found in Christ, his light becomes our light. His Spirit becomes our Spirit. We partake of the exact same divine nature as we are filled with the fullness of God the Holy Spirit.

  • Smoking a clay pipe

    A clay pipe can very inexpensively obtained from Pipes & Cigars. I got this one as a Christmas present this year. It offers a great, pure-flavored smoke, with some caveats:

    First, the bowl gets super hot, so be careful if–as I do–you have a habit of holding the bowl. You will have to adjust to grasping the stem in order to keep from burning your fingers.

    Second, since the entire thing is made out of clay, I found clenching as I am doing in photo to initially be not very pleasant due to the chalky texture of the material. I will say after some practice I’ve gotten pretty used to it. I don’t think it’s ever going to be as comfortable as other materials, but you figure it out, and if you’re not a big clencher it’s even less of a deal.

    There’s something very pure, unassuming, and honest about a clay pipe; the simplicity coupled with a quality, consistent smoke is what I find attractive.

    Fr. Nathan smoking a clay pipe
  • Replaced battery in my aging laptop… Been a loooooong time since I’ve done anything like this. Very cool that it was overall very easy. Are Dells still built like this? If so I’ll stick with them for my next laptop…

  • In last Sunday’s sermon, I tried to work out the distinction between capability (raw power) and credibility (real authority), and to communicate the transforming power and authenticity of Jesus' divine love.

    The point is: while we can’t always trust every earthly authority and power has a corrupting effect on fallen humanity, the Good News is that God in Christ is always trustworthy.

    You can trust his love for you and for the world.

  • A brief outline of my spiritual journey

    A brief outline of my spiritual journey though theological “phases”:

    • Childlike faith in God in Christ, interrupted by:

    • Fear-based “conversion”, leading to:

    • Semi-fundamentalism, which (due to the faithful way my parents discipled me in the grace and love of Christ as the fulfillment of the law) didn’t last too long because of an instilled resistance to letter-of-the-law thinking which opened the door to:

    • A desperately relieved re-discovery of the grace of God in Christ, which I found articulated most clearly by Reformation Christianity, which in turn formed me in:

    • A sacramental understanding of how God ordinarily communicates himself, a profound mystery that I found pervades all of life, and I understood to be articulated by the Church Fathers, who are presently convincing me of:

    • The truly cosmic implications of a God that is not simply a being but Being itself, that loves humans by becoming a human–Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary–, that defeats death by dying on a cross, that lives to give life via union with him, in his Spirit.

    Through it all there has always been an undeniable charismatic/mystical experience of God walking with me in a million ways:

    • sometimes through intentional practices

    • sometimes in unexpected breakthroughs

    • sometimes through the right word from the just right person at the just right time

    • always somehow intertwined with his Church…

    …guiding me always and only to Jesus.

    It is not as if I am developing a greater/ deeper understanding of Jesus' “part” in God’s plan. I am only ever more convinced Jesus is God’s plan. Jesus' way is God’s way. Union with Christ isn’t an aspect of life, it is life itself.

    And what a journey it is…here’s the thing…I find the news to be better and better the more I believe the simple teachings of Jesus:

    “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”

    “Blessed are meek”

    “Turn the other cheek”

    “I have come to give life and life abundant”

    “I will draw all men to myself”

    (obviously I could go on)

    I mean it’s almost too good to be true but somehow I believe it so deeply