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The Other Side

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As I write this, I am sitting by mother's bedside as she slowly slips away.   She's fought hard these past few weeks, but this morning she was weary of fighting and slipped into a coma.  We were told that her time with us is measured in days.

It's late and everyone else in the house is asleep--most of them exhausted from a long and emotional day.  I volunteered for this "shift."  

Over the course of my pastoral career, I have done hundreds of funerals and counseled hundreds of families at the time of their grief.  

I have lost count of the number of beds I've stood beside where a church member's loved one was in the last days (and in some cases, the last moments) of their life.  

The view is a lot different from the other side.  

I see so much more clearly how important it is to know that you are not alone.

When the Apostle Paul wrote that those of us who follow Christ do not mourn as those who "have no hope," he definitely was referring to the Resurr…

Know Peace

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I have known what it's like to feel perfect peace about a decision I've made, a problem that is before me, a crisis that I have to face.  I know that feeling, and it's amazing.  

But sometimes in the midst of dealing with decisions, problems and crises, I find myself having a hard time connecting with that feeling of peace.  

And most of the time the reason why I struggle to connect with that feeling of peace (one that should be familiar) is because I am trying too hard to control the outcomes.  

The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Philippians:  
Do not be anxious about everything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which passes understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)E. Stanley Jones once wrote, "We are not meant to be reservoirs of worry.  We are instead channels, attached to infinite resources."  I love that quote.  The feelin…

Sadness

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I'm having a difficult time writing today.  

We've been going through a sad season in my family's life.  

Sadness can weigh heavily on you.  It can cover you like a heavy, grey shroud that keeps you from feeling the warmth of the sun, or seeing the bright colors all around you. 

It can also permeate the nooks and crannies of your home like a fog, touching everyone who lives there, and making it difficult to see one another clearly.  

Sadness is an unwelcome, but familiar guest for many of us.  

When Sadness makes it's way into your life, you find yourself wavering between holding on to it in a desperate embrace, and violently shoving it out the door.  

Some days you wish you could banish it forever from your life.  

Other days you wonder if you'll ever be able to live without it. 

One of the most important verses in the Bible (John 11:35) is also one of the shortest. It's just two words:  "Jesus wept."  Jesus was at a funeral for Lazarus, one of his closest f…

Like A Dove

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Several years ago, my wife Merideth and I visited Rome and spent some time at the Vatican.  

At the time I was feeling a bit dusty and dry spiritually. I figured that if there was anywhere on earth that I might experience a sign from God it would be in St. Peter's Basilica in the center of Vatican Square.  

As we waited for Mass to start, Merideth and I went into a gift shop.  Merideth hates to shop, but I love it.  Merideth got tired of shopping and went outside while I stayed inside poking around for gifts. 

Suddenly I heard a commotion outside and went to investigate.  Merideth said, "You're not going to believe this!  A perfect white dove just flew down into this square, hovered over everyone who was here and then flew away!  It was amazing!"  

I was dumbfounded.  I'd been searching for a sign, and I had missed the one that God had sent.

We went inside to attend Mass.  I was beating myself up, and wondering what was wrong with me, why I always seemed to be missing…

One-Upper

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Different - Week 3: "Speech"

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I have a list of words that I would like to see eradicated from our cultural lexicon.  I don't ask for much--perhaps issuing hefty fines to people who use them until they learn not to would be a good place to start. 

Honestly, if everyone listened to me on issues like this the world would be a better place. 

So... to the words:

"Bromance" - This is a word that is used to describe the affection that exists between two dudes who want to ensure that no one mistakes their relationship as something other than manly friendship---and so they use a word that combines "brother" and "romance," which honestly just makes the whole thing worse.

"Foodie" - This word is used to describe someone who really, really, really likes food.  People will use it in a pretentious sort of way, "Oh, I really don't care to eat at Chipotle--I'm kind of a foodie, you know."  Oh, you like food?  So does everyone.  Find another word. 

"Irregardless" -…

Taco Dreams

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I'm on day 13 of The Whole 30 diet, which is designed to eliminate sugar, gluten, dairy and alcohol from your diet.  In other words, all of the things that are enjoyable and awesome. 

I know I may have mentioned this in a previous devo, but I'm suffering and need to share.  

The instruction manual for this diet states the following about the phase of the diet I am happen to be inhabiting at the moment: "This is the part of the program where our brains are desperate to drive us back to the comfort of the foods we used to reward ourselves with."

I know this is true because I was watching a Taco Bell commercial last night and I had this vision of sitting down with a 12-pack of those tacos with the Doritos shell and eating every... single... one.  

At this point, I am doing this diet because I have to make some changes in my life.  I am not feeling joy about it.  There is no happiness here.  I am told that it gets better, but right this second, I am putting one foot in front…