Author Archives: Steve Harper

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Shepherd’s Care: The Jesus Pattern–The One We Need

Jesus had a clear pattern for his life and ministry.  Luke described it in 5:15-16, “Huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed of their illnesses.  But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.” His pattern was a … Continue reading

Posted in Shepherd's Care

Love: Son Love (Jesus)

​Two great thoughts bring the love of God the Father into the love of God that we see in Jesus: the Word was God…and…the Word became flesh (John 1:1, 14).  In Jesus we see the incarnation of love.  Reading the … Continue reading

Posted in Love

Along The Way: Our New Friendship

​On the night of his betrayal, Jesus gathered with his disciples.  John records it in chapters 15-17.  The evening was filled with one treasure after another, which we can read and re-read for our edification. One gem was Jesus’ definition … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Son Love (Christ)

​To see the love of God in the second person of the Trinity, we must explore the love of the universal Christ and the incarnate Jesus.  We look at the universal Christ today and the incarnate Jesus next week. [1] … Continue reading

Posted in Love

In-Sight: We Never Get There First

​Paul’s visit to Athens (Acts 17:16-34) is insightful with respect to evangelism and missiology.  Today, I want to highlight only one insight—that we never get there first.  God is always ahead of us, present in people and places before we … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Love: Parent Love

I am comfortable with using “Father” in describing the first person of the Trinity, and that’s because I had a great dad.  But I recognize many are not comfortable with “father” language, and I respect that.  Some are uncomfortable because … Continue reading

Posted in Love

Along the Way: Mastery or Mystery?

​The longer I explore a theology of human sexuality, the more I realize that the differences we hold regarding it are produced by something larger than the topic itself.  With respect to anything, we are directed to a great extent … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Along the Way: On Point

​If I were a pastor, I would make youth ministry the cutting edge of my church’s mission.  There are a number of reasons why I would do this.  I write today only about one, and it is a reason fueled … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Trinitarian Love

​For much of my Christian life, the Holy Trinity has been simultaneously a central doctrine and a marginal attraction.  I would never hesitate to say, “I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” but either out loud or to … Continue reading

Posted in Love

Along the Way: Dreaming

​For the first time in our nation’s history, Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls in the midst of a presidential impeachment/trial process. [1]. The juxtaposition of these two things shapes my thinking as we observe MLK Jr Day today. On … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: Amazing Love

Every language has a word or words for love.  The biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek are no exception. The two main words are hesed and agapé.  [1]  In both words, love reaches its apex as “love for the sake … Continue reading

Posted in Love

Along the Way: What’s Going On?

We are living through an intense time of polarization, with resulting fragmentations of all sorts and sizes.  Every day adds new impetus for asking, “What’s going on?”  The depth and breadth of our conflicts makes a blanket answer impossible.  I … Continue reading

Posted in Along the Way

Love: God is Love

Three words sum up the essence of everything: God is love.  They not only tell us who God is, but also who we are, and who/what everyone and everything else is.  At the creation level of cosmos and cells, love … Continue reading

Posted in Love

In-Sight: Incarnation

​Having recently celebrated Christmas, the Incarnation has been front-and-center in our faith.  In the birth of Jesus, the Word became flesh, and lived a while on the earth full of grace and truth (John 1:14).  The coming of the pre-incarnate, … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Love: Introduction

​Decades ago, a popular song said  “Love is a many splendored thing.”  Indeed it is, and I have been blessed to know this throughout my lifetime.  This coming April, Jeannie and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and every year … Continue reading

Posted in Love

Christmas: Descent Into Oneness

​Christmas is the time for experiencing the formative work of descent.  We sing, “Love came down at Christmas.”  It is the hymnodic way of declaring with John that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).  Christ’s “coming down” was a descent … Continue reading

Posted in Connections

Oboedire 2020

Except for a meditation on Christmas day, I’m taking a break from Oboedire until January 1st. But here’s what’s in store for 2020–a continuation of some themes and the beginning of some new ones… (1) 2020 Theme: “Love.”–Each Wednesday we … Continue reading

Posted in Site Updates

Holy Love: A Final Word

​I hope your reading of ‘Holy Love’ and these related posts has been helpful.  In the book, I include two additional writings: a word to LGBTQ+ people (“You  Are Loved”) and a word to those who disagree with me (”A … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Holy Love: The Life

In the final chapter of ‘Holy Love’ I hope to turn theory into practice, beliefs into behaviors—what John Wesley called “practical divinity.”  He believed that faith had to be practiced, not just professed.  He called it “living faith”—in the spirit … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

In-Sight: Immanuel

​Michael Card has been one of my favorite musicians for a long time, recognized by many as a musical theologian, not just a performer.  His composition, “Immanuel,” is the song Jeannie and I turn to every Advent. We are still … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Holy Love: Passages #4

Romans 1:18-32 There’s no doubt that this passage is the focal text for interpreting human sexuality in general and LGBTQ+ sexuality in particular.  Romans links in spirit and substance with Leviticus.  Just as Israel was entering a new land, so … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Resting

​Our journey this year through the lens of “Here and Now” has taken us in many directions.  As we conclude the series, we must remember that here-and-now living brings us into a deep rest.  We live from the rest of … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Passages #3

​1 Corinthians 16:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 Paul’s missionary journeys had taken him to Corinth and Cyprus before he made it to Rome.  So, I decided to treat these two passages before Romans 1.  What he experienced with respect to … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Engagement

​When we are  present to life here and now, we become engaged with life itself.  Communion, celebration, and compassion connect us to life in the present moment in ways that are life-giving to us and to others.  We see this … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Passages #2

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 Honestly, I was not prepared for the complexity regarding these two passages.  Far from being cut-and-dried as a one-sentence, straightforward condemnation of male homosexual activity, the passages are in relation to a cultural and religious context … Continue reading

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The Soul of Impeachment

​As the public phase of the impeachment process begins, nothing is more certain than this: it will occur in a whirlwind of confusion, fueled to a great degree by political partisanship that will seek to frame the matter along party … Continue reading

Posted in Editorials

Here and Now: Community

Being reconciled to one another in Christ here and now, we can move to establish community.  It is community based on grace, nothing else.  We do not have to be alike.  We do not have agree.  Our community is not … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: The Passages #1

Introduction  I have not counted the total number of passages in the Bible that refer to human sexuality in general or sexual behavior in particular.  There are many, hundreds I would assume.  What I do know is that only a … Continue reading

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Here and Now: Reconciliation

​When our life in the present moment brings us to the point of seeing that everything belongs, it also reveals that God has given us a ministry–the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).  From that moment on, we know why … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Consummation

​When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  The previous facets  of the hermeneutic of love have helped us see love “on earth.” When we turn … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

In-Sight: What a Wonderful World

Jeannie and I have just returned  from a great visit with our family in Kentucky.  The trip included several opportunities to experience the wonder and beauty of nature as fall settles in.  It really is a spectacular season. Seeing the … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Here and Now: Inclusion

​When we live in the present moment with the fullness of our true personhood in play, we experience inclusion and offer it to others.  We are included in everything, and everything is included in us.  As Richard Rohr has put … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Church

Expanding on the hermeneutic of love in the Church beyond what I write in the book means enlarging the idea of the Church as the Body of Christ.  I write some about it this in the book, but today I … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: True Personhood

​Living here-and-now makes all of life formative, and it evokes the emergence of our true personhood.  By not being tethered by the past (e.g.”What I should have been or might have been”) and by not being pulled into the future … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Christ

​The fourth vantage point for seeing the hermeneutic of holy love is Christ, the one who reveals the creator (“whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” John 14:9), the one who made the creation (“ everything came into being … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Suffering

​There are other positive things we could note about living here and now.  But it would be a mistake to think that the blessings of present-moment living are limited to them.  We must include suffering as a portal for our … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Covenant

The third vantage point for seeing the hermeneutic of holy love is the Covenant.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  This is the creator/creation … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Gratitude

​David Steindl-Rast introduced me to gratitude as a sign that we are living in the present moment. He wrote, “Our eyes are opened to the surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Creation

Creation is the second vantage point for seeing the hermeneutic of holy love. We live in a God-made world (Genesis 1:1).  It is reasonable to assume that there would be congruence between who God is and what God has made.  … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

In-Sight: Surprised into Transformatiom

​A writing project I am engaged in has taken me back into the books of E. Stanley Jones.  I have spent large amounts of time re-reading them. I have been reminded why he is the overall major influence in my faith … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Here and Now: Freedom

​In last week’s post, I wrote about the importance of simplicity in present-moment living.  Such simplicity is the means for another quality of here-and-now living: freedom. It is the freedom that arises when we are available to life here and … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: Creator

​The first vantage point for developing a hermeneutic of holy love is the Creator.  In the previous post we began our look at God through the core attribute of love.  There are multiple words for love in Hebrew and Greek, … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Simplicity

​Nearly forty years ago, Richard Foster introduced me to simplicity as an essential discipline in the spiritual life. [1]  His own witness about simplicity has been exemplary, but he has also pointed me (and so many others) to additional witnesses … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: A Hermeneutic of Holy Love

​The Bible is simultaneously sixty-six books written over a period of approximately 1600 years, and one Book that communicates a unified revelation.  With respect to a theology of human sexuality, we must begin by discerning the overarching view before looking … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Compassion

​The courage born of living in the present moment is not only what we usually think of as strength, standing up to opposition, and the will will to take risks.  It is also living so as to encourage others.  The … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now

Holy Love: The Hermeneutic

​Chapter two of the book opens the door to many things which call for our attention.  I will devote multiple posts to this chapter.  This one deals with hermeneutics—that is, the necessity and means for interpreting Scripture. Everyone reads the … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

Here and Now: Courage

​Living in the present moment is living with “eyes wide open,” seeing into things so that their realities come into view (see Mark 8:18).  This kind of seeing gives us courage. First and foremost, we gain the courage to become … Continue reading

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Holy Love: The Journey

​When I was asked to write ‘Holy Love,’ it included the hope that I would not only write from the Christian tradition but also from within the Wesleyan tradition.  To do this meant including the hermeneutic of experience.  I accepted … Continue reading

Posted in Holy Love

In-Sight: Excavating the Feminine

​One of the marks of Pentecost was, “Your sons and daughters willl prophesy….upon my servants, men and women  I will pour my spirit” (Acts 2:17-18).  This same inclusive mark is evidenced whenever the Spirit is moving.  Women’s voices arise in … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight

Here and Now: Discernment

​Life is a gift.  But like every gift, it comes wrapped.  We can think of this as the immediate impression which each moment provides.  And as with some gifts, what we see first (i.e. the wrapping paper, bow, etc) is … Continue reading

Posted in Here and Now