Micah 6:8 Reformation

Anne Lamott writes, "Pope Francis says the name of God is mercy.  Our name was mercy, too, until we put it away to become more productive, more admired and less vulnerable." 

This is what I feel has happened to what I would best describe as "Corporate Christianity" in America.  It's lost it's way.  It's become triumphant and obsessed with bigger and better, and forgotten what it means to be merciful. 

But I've come to believe there is a "silent majority" of Jesus-followers who have grown weary of the pretenses and posturing of "Corporate Christianity" and are waking up at last to pursue their deep longing to simply be more like Christ.  

For all of the negative news stories that surface from time to time about a few angry, and loud Christians, who are boycotting things, banning books, shunning other Christians who don't agree with them, and the like, it's good to be reminded that there are far more Christians simply trying t…

Letting Go of Worry

This morning I am reflecting on the fragility of my well-thought plans.  I had some stuff all worked out, and now whatever I worked out is kind of falling apart.  

I have the best intentions when it comes to planning, mind you.  But it seems that no matter how much I fret and worry, my fragile plans often don't work out exactly the way I envisioned them. 

Worrying over the outcomes of our planning and arranging can keep us awake at night.  It can also steal our joy, and rob us of hope when our planning comes to nothing, and we find ourselves where we had no intentions of going.  

Oswald Chambers has a hard word for that kind of worrying and fretting:  

"It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives..." 

Sometimes the best way we can renew our belief in God's sovereign love for us is to pay attention to the moments when our worrying and fretting fade away, and we simply rest, conne…

The Wind In Your Ears

I love being busy.  

Like a lot of people, I wear it like a badge of honor. 

Do you ever find yourself comparing busy schedules with your friends, and suddenly you feel as though you are in some kind of competition? 

"Well heck, that seems like you've got a lot going on there, Joe... but OUR schedule is absolutely insane by comparison.  When you get to insane-level scheduling, my friend... let's talk then. Until then, don't even think of stepping to me."  

It's easy to get addicted to the adrenaline rush of busy-ness, isn't it?  

But the problem I face when I am riding the emotional high of busy-ness is a significant one:  

It's hard to feel the presence of God when I'm rushing to and fro.  It's even more difficult to attune my spiritual hearing to hear God's voice speaking with all of the noise created by my busy-ness.  

When you're trying to hear God in the midst of busy-ness it's a lot like trying to have a conversation in a speeding c…

Deep & Wide - Week 3: "Genuine Humility"

This week we are continuing the sermon series that we started last week--a series that is going to take us all the way through the month of May.  The series is entitled, Deep & Wide.  

We need to be the kind of church that is both deep and wide.  We want to be deep in our faith, and our love of Scripture, but we also want to have a wide embrace, welcoming everyone to journey with us.  

Over the last two weeks we've discovered the two biggest reasons people give as to why they don't attend church:  They feel judged, and they feel lectured.  

We've also learned that the best way we can overcome those objections is by practicing Radical Hospitality (welcoming people just as they are) and having Fearless Conversations (not being afraid to listen, engage and be open to people with real issues). 

Today we're going to take a step further and discuss the third biggest reason that people have shared as to why they don't want to attend church--they think the Church if full o…

Constant Collisions

In my morning reading today, I read this incredible and uncomfortable quote from Anne Lamott's latest book Hallelujah Anyway: "The world has an awful beauty.  This is a chaotic place, humanity is a chaotic place, and I am a chaotic place." 

I do feel pretty chaotic most days.  Maybe you feel that way, too.  Much like the particles of the subatomic world that exists below our ordinary vision, we are constantly colliding with one another, exchanging energy and being transformed (for good or ill) by these constant collisions.

I hold to the belief that God is at work in our lives all of the time, and it is our own limited ability to perceive that keeps us from being aware of God's guiding, loving presence.  

Because of this belief, I also hold to the notion that God also places people in our paths (and us in theirs) for a reason.  

Sometimes it's easy to see the reasons when being with a particular person fills us life, light and love.  But it's more difficult to see…

The Bends In The Road

In architectural design there is a concept known as "denial and reward." Essentially, the idea is to offer users a view of their target, or destination.  It could be a staircase, a fountain, a ballroom, or the center of a city park.  

But then you divert the path so they can't see it, and reveal it again from a different angle to create intrigue.  You continue to reward them with additional experiences and views on their way.  According to author Matthew Frederick, "It makes the journey more interesting, the arrival more rewarding."  

I talk to a lot of people who struggle in their journey with Jesus because of their frustration over the unknown.  They speak to me about how they have had glimpses of a possible future where they are firmly in the will of God, but then confess they lose sight of it when circumstances divert their attention.  

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 25 offered this prayer: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and…

A Church of Living Stones

As I mentioned yesterday, I've been attending some of the Festival of Homiletics, a preaching conference that is being held in San Antonio this week.  

Being in a room full of a couple thousand pastors and church leaders has been a great experience, but it also has been a sharp reminder of the very real issues facing the Church right now.  The Church is going through a reformation, and reformations are painful.  

Not all followers of Jesus who call the Church home, receive the evidence of that reformation with the same enthusiasm.  It's pretty clear that the Church is sharply divided over many of the same issues that divide our society.  

I read something today by E. Stanley Jones that spoke to me.  He wrote, [The Church] must be held together by a single-minded devotion [to Christ]; otherwise we begin to disintegrate."  

I've been watching the news lately, and it's disturbing on so many levels. Our society is seemingly being torn apart by constant partisan divisions …