More Than Ecumenical Mush - An Appeal to Unity

More Than Ecumenical Mush - An Appeal to Unity
Jesus came and lived in a time when there was no closed canon of Scripture, and there were distinct religious groups who all had different perceptions of how they believed God wanted them to live.  You had Essenes, Pharisees, Zealots, and Sadducees. Some of them started following Christ, all at the same time, without everything being worked out—and it worked because God was in their midst.
Read More

To Run Our Own Race

To Run Our Own Race
I don’t know about you, but living life alongside so many different humans, along with having access to see thousands of other people’s lives through the media, it’s so easy to compare my life to theirs. In fact, more than easy. In fact, it’s probably kind of automatic for many of us.  What are other women wearing these days? What kinds of homes do other people my age have? How many kids? How much money? How happy are they? How perfect do they look? What kind of adventures are others having that I haven’t had? How old should my daughter be when I let her get a cell phone because “other kids have phones”!? What kinds of people are described as successful? How did they get to be successful? Am I successful? 

Read More

The Servant

The Servant
I recently went to a conference that was hosting thousands of people in a large arena. On the opening night, during worship, I kept noticing that my girlfriend Micah was periodically glancing over away from the stage to our left. I was intrigued and wondered why she kept looking over in the same direction time and time again. I couldn’t work it out. Eventually in a quieter moment, she turned and tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a man dressed all in black sitting just inside the barrier to the side of the large stage. 

Read More

Don't Raise My Hopes

Don't Raise My Hopes
“I don’t need anything.”
That’s what the woman told the holy man who sought to repay her for her kindness.
“I have everything I need.”  (So, leave “well enough” alone.)
She was a wealthy, influential woman of her village who had observed Elisha, this holy man of God, regularly passing by her way. From an earnest desire to extend hospitality, she and her husband persuaded Elisha to come in as often as he passed by: for rest, a meal, and ultimately a custom built roof-room, complete with bed, table, chair, and lamp.

Read More

Ash Wednesday, Les Misérables, and a Word About Grace

Ash Wednesday, Les Misérables, and a Word About Grace
But today, while I was kneeling between two hard pews after the oily ash was pressed into my forehead, I was thinking of Jean Valjean.
Jean Valjean, of course, is the protagonist of Les Mis, a man who was imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. Hugo describes those years of injustice with this: “from year to year this soul had progressively withered, slowly but inevitably. A dry eye goes with a dead soul. When he left prison, he had not shed a tear for nineteen years.”

Read More

Backed Against A Wall

Backed Against A Wall
A few years back my wife and I were setting roots in a community we loved.  We bought the house (a dream house, for a STEAL), I was applying to grad school again to get another masters in order to get more education in the field I was working in, and I was settling in to work at my quite enjoyable job for the long haul.  So confident was I we were staying where we were that I took the extra step of paying to renew my car tags for two years instead of the usual one.  Finally, in our 30’s, we had the sweet illusion of permanency, security, and stability on earth.
Read More

Parenting With The Holy Spirit

Parenting With The Holy Spirit
Parenting has transformed my prayer life in ways I never expected.  And not really in a ways that are glamourous or spiritual… but rather often pretty messy. When I was young I read stories of Susanna Wesley who had 19 children. It’s said that she would kneel throughout the day with her apron over her head to pray. When I read that story in my younger years, I had this image of a woman of piety, dignity, and devotion. I realize now, those prayers must have come from moments of desperation for Susanna which led her to her knees! And THAT desperation I have felt innumerable times.
Read More

'And God Said…"

'And God Said…"
I think at some point in our lives we all experience a situation or circumstance that we feel powerless to change. It’s in these moments that we realise how small and mortal we are and how our lives represent nothing more than a shallow breath in the vast realms of time and space. I have no doubt that sooner or later we are all faced with an unsolvable problem that no amount of wealth, wisdom or ability can fix. We suddenly understand that all the little things that we wrestle to influence every day are, in fact, very much out of our control.
Read More

The Face of God (Part Two)

The Face of God (Part Two)
We must not apply to ourselves passages in the Bible where God is talking about His enemies.  We are not His enemies.  If we are in Christ, then we are His adopted children, citizens in His Kingdom, members of His household.
When we were His enemies, it would have been accurate to say that the Face of God was turned away from us. The expression on His Face at that time was not a smile; it was one of sorrow, of anger, of deep disturbance within His Spirit. But the work of Christ on our behalf changes all that: changes it utterly.
 

Read More

Love Came Down

Love Came Down
Judy was my best friend who lived right behind my house during my childhood years and into high school. We used to climb the chain link fence separating our backyards on a daily basis.
I am sure we entertained the surrounding neighbors greatly - scaling that fence multiple times a day with arms full of school books or the latest faddish toys to share (this takes a measure of skill, balance and strategy, you know).

What a well-worn path from my house to hers.
Read More

Pursuing Advent

Pursuing Advent
Ushering in a new thing is hard work.  Immense amounts of character and integrity are required to steward well the advent of anything worthwhile—especially if it doesn’t take off right away or according to our expectations and/or hopes.  There is a certain painful grind we struggle with in our feelings and thoughts whenever we end up having to hang out in the day or decades of small beginnings. 
Read More

Pondering the God Who Had to Grow

Pondering the God Who Had to Grow
My favorite sermons every year come during the season of Lent, when the humanity of Jesus is explored. I love to ponder of our Savior’s childhood – what were his thoughts? What did his earliest years look like? What was his personality as a child?
I would love to ponder these thoughts during this season of Advent, this season focused around the birth of Jesus. 

Read More

Unity Across Generations

Unity Across Generations
If we look to Christ, His natural life didn’t look too spectacular.  His ministry consisted of lots of ups and downs.  There were times when people liked Him as well as moments where people left His ministry in droves.  His main cohort was a group of 12 rather immature, unstable and unreliable men.  Of these, one betrayed Him by helping lead the charge to have Him crucified, then shortly thereafter committed suicide; the rest simply abandoned or denied their even knowing Him.  All this took place after His leaving all He ever knew vocationally (a mostly forgettable career as a carpenter) in order to serve the obstinate people He was called to.  Some of us see failure, but this was precisely, with razor-sharp, GOD-given accuracy, what Christ was supposed to do with His life.  
Read More

Be Still: A Word For Those Who've Forgotten How

Be Still: A Word For Those Who've Forgotten How
Stop.
For just a second pause your reading, quiet your thoughts, and still your movements.
What do you hear? What do you feel?
So often we get caught up in the rush of the day. When the alarm goes off in the morning we’re jerked out of sleep and into pouring that first cup of coffee, pulling shirts and pants from the closet, crunching down a piece of toast and heading out the door. We move from responsibility to activity to ministry in a constant rush of motion all the while bombarded by information.

 

Read More

For Those Who Are Tempted To "Hang It All Up"

For Those Who Are Tempted To "Hang It All Up"
Such was the fate of real people – men, women, boys and girls – plundered, emptied, and taken as captives to Babylon. Though God had warned them, it is no less heartbreaking to consider their devastation.
And so, they did exactly what I would have done, and what I imagine many refugees across the globe are doing at this very moment:
They sat down and cried.
 
Read More