Posts

New - Week Four: New Hope

Image
Today we are concluding the sermon series that we started three Sundays ago--a sermon series that took us all the way through the month of January.

The title of this series is "New" and it is centered on how we can begin the new year with a new focus, a new outlook and a new way of seeing ourselves and others.

Transformation is in our DNA--we were created to grow and to change, but the best kind of change leaves a mark.  And this is where our imagery of tattoos comes in...

So what do you do when you realize that the tattoo you got... isn't good at all? 

You get it remade--just like the people on the short-lived show on the Lifestyle network entitled "Bad Ink." 

It  ran for two seasons from 2013-2015, and it was glorious.  These two guys who were amazing tattoo artists in Vegas would actually go out and try to find people with really bad tattoos and would offer to make them over for them. 

Here are some great examples of tattoos that desperately needed to be re-done..…

When The Truth Approaches

Image
One of the many issues that those of us who call ourselves Christians face is the fact that we seldom actually pay attention to the example Jesus set for his followers. 

But when we are confronted by the radical truth of what Jesus taught, and the embodied truth of how he lived out those teachings... it can mess us up.  For some of us, it can change everything.  

Let me explain---in a round about way by talking about swans, philosophy and Karl Popper... 

In the Logic of Scientific Discovery, the Austrian philosopher Karl Popper asserted that we can never absolutely confirm any scientific theory.  But what we can determine with a fair amount of certainty is the opposite of the theory. 

Using the example of the color of swans, Popper stated the following: 
"No matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white."  In other words, you can't assume with any real certainty the exact color that all  swans com…

When My Heart Got Bigger

Image
I  was at a house concert the other night at the house of one of my church members, and the artist who was playing sang a song with a bit of a chorus that I  wrote down.  

Here was the line he sang:  
When my heart got bigger I could see you better.That line spoke to me, and I've been thinking about it for the past several days.  And I think I've finally figured out why it spoke to me so much.  

I spent a lot of my life as a Christian thinking in small terms, and it kept me from seeing God in the world.    

I believed that God's grace was small, limited and used sparingly on a select few.  I believed that people were excluded from God's kingdom based on a lot of arbitrary and capricious reasons---all of which reflected my own world view.  

I didn't really care all that much about the poor, the friendless, the downtrodden.  I was too busy going to Bible studies, doing church-y things and feeling superior.  

And then my beliefs got turned upside down, my heart began to bre…

What Matters The Most?

Image
One of the most frequent questions I get in my role as a pastor is a question that is centered on discovering one's unique purpose, and it goes something like this:

"How do I know what God wants me to do with my life?" 

It's an excellent question, and there's no easy, pat answer.  To be fair, I have lots of things that I  say when I'm asked that question, and most of them are prescriptive in nature.

In other words, I typically give people guidance on disciplines, practices and habits that will enable them to be better positioned so that they can see their unique path more clearly. 

In the end, I have to admit that anything I might have to say is highly subjective, and may or may not work for the person who is inquiring.

You see, we are all unique, and are all gifted with particular talents, desires, longings and we are also gifted with a purpose to which we are specifically suited.

But far too many of us spend an inordinate amount of time fretting and worrying ove…

Prayer Is A River

Image
Once in a while I've run across a piece of Scripture, a prayer or a poem that just captures where I  am in a particular moment... and when this happens I often sit with it for days, thinking about why it spoke to me.

Here's a poem that I recently read by the Lebanese poet Said Akl that I've been sitting with for a while:  
lordi  refuseto engage prayer as a weaponi  wish it to be like a riverbetween two shoresfor i  seek neither punishment nor gracebut new skinthat can bear this worldThis prayer/poem spoke to me on so many levels.  

As read this poem, I had a vision of prayer that was so beautiful and true that it made my heart ache.  I had never thought of prayer as a river before, but it made perfect sense.  

But when you imagine prayer as a river it is easy to see how it truly is the flow between the "now" and the "not yet," and a moving demarcation line between heaven and earth.  

The flow exists whether we acknowledge it or not, and we can enter into it…

The Ones Who Mean The Most

Image
I often feel the presence of God through other people, which I think is one of God's most wonderful, surprising means of self-revelation.  

I can feel God's presence when I see someone do something kind and gracious, giving and merciful.  I can feel it when someone reaches out to me with encouragement and unexpected affirmation.  
As odd as it might seem at times, I can feel the presence of God when I'm gathered with friends laughing, talking, eating good food, enjoying great beverages...  
I've also felt the presence of God when I've gone through tough times in my life and people reached out to me to share their own stories, offer sympathy, or affirm their support.  
But there are some people who do much more.  These are the people (and there are precious few of them) who don't let me off the hook when I'm trying to put up my armor, and hide from the world.  
They are the ones who will listen to every hard, bitter, angry, blasphemous thing that pours out of me …

New - Week Three: "New Challenges"

Image
Today we are continuing the sermon series that we started two Sundays ago--a sermon series that will take us all the way through the month of January.
The title of this series is "New" and it is centered on how we can begin the new year with a new focus, a new outlook and a new way of seeing ourselves and others.

Transformation is in our DNA--we were created to grow and to change, but the best kind of change leaves a mark.  And this is where our imagery of tattoos comes in...

There is a moment during the tattoo process when fear can get a hold of you.  You might even say to yourself, "What the heck have I just done, and now there's no going back?" 

Interview people with tattoos...  ask them about the fear, and how they overcame it. 

So this is a real thing, but once you're done and you stand up to admire yourself in the mirror... you realize something.  You made it.  You endured the pain.  You had a vision and now that vision is imprinted upon you.  

And you didn…