Your Sole Purpose In Life

Last night at my church's elder meeting we received into church membership a small group of students, who had just completed Confirmation.  As part of their confirmation process, they were asked to write their own faith statement, and then share it in small groups with elders and pastors at the meeting. 

I was blown away by the young middle school student who shared her faith journey with our particular cluster of elders.  She wrote something in her faith statement that has been resonating with me ever since.  She said that her "sole purpose" in life was to be in relationship with God. 

She went on to share what that meant as a Jesus-follower, and how Jesus embodied the love of God for her.   But I have not been able to stop thinking about the words she chose to describe how important her relationship with God has to be--so important that it needed to be her "sole purpose."  

This young student has begun her journey of faith figuring out what so many Christians ne…

When We Confess OUR Sins

In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller relates a moment when he and some Christian friends conducted an experiment on their college campus in Portland, Oregon.  They set up a confessional/photo booth at a Renaissance fair, dressed as monks and invited people inside. 

But when the curious would step into the booth they soon discovered it wasn't there as an opportunity for them to confess their sins, it was an opportunity for Donald and his friend to confess all the ways that Christians and the Church had let people down, wounded others, ostracized various groups, or otherwise alienated people from the Gospel, rather than drawing them to it.  

The results were amazing.  Tony Kriz, one of the participants in the experiment later wrote this about it: 

Over the weekend dozens of students slipped in and then out of our booth, each surprised and expectant. Some stayed for just a photo 1-2 few minutes. Most lingered as long as half an hour. Without exception, each one offered us the gift …

Don't Speak

I don't often suffer from writer's block, but today is one of those rare days when the words just don't seem to be flowing all that easily.  In fact, that last sentence was the first one I haven't  written and then deleted over the past half hour.  

You would think on the first day of Spring that I would have plenty to write about, but Spring has not sprung on my keyboard this morning.

Come to think of it, sometimes I suffer from "writer's block" when it comes to my prayer life, too.  I find myself not really knowing what to say to God.  I feel like there are words there to be said, but I can't seem to find them. 

There have been times when I've been too weary to search for words to pray. Or perhaps I've become a little peeved at God because of some trial or tribulation that I'm enduring. It might also come down to plain old-fashioned doubt.  I find myself wondering, "What's the point?  Is some prayer of mine really going to change a…

The Way of The Cross - Week 3: Grow

This week I'll be continuing the sermon series "The Way of The Cross: Following Christ On the Lenten Path."   

Each week we'll be exploring one of the core values of our church as a Lenten practice, a spiritual discipline that we can take up --both as individuals and as a community.  Our core values are: Worship, Connect, Grow, Serve and Invite.  

Today we'll be talking about what it means to Grow.  

First, this isn't a sermon about how to attain numerical growth.  We do track our attendance figures, but our goal isn't to increase the size of the church.  If that happens, we rejoice, but it's not the be-all and end-all of why we do what we do.

While all of the core values that we're lifting up are part of what it means to follow Jesus more fully, Grow is the value, the discipline that is most closely connected to what we would describe as "discipleship."   "Disciple" is a word that means follower or imitator.  So what we are talkin…

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Author Sarah Peck asserts that one of the biggest lies we are constantly being told in our current culture is that we "can have everything we want."  

Instinctively, we know this is a lie, but it's incredibly difficult to push back against the powerful narrative this lie creates.  

In the cult movieFight Club, Brad Pitt's character, anarchist Tyler Durden, offers an alternative to the greed and consumption of our dominant culture.  He tells a group of dissatisfied men:

 "You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank.  You are not the car you drive.  You're not the contents of your wallet."  

Durden's assessment might have been right on point, but his solution (anarchy) was not exactly the answer.  It's not enough to simply dismantle the system, to throw a brick through a window.   You need a better story.  

In my devotional reading today I read the following passage: 

"Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader …

You're An Overcomer

For today's devo, I am borrowing from something I wrote last year during Lent.  The incident I wrote about then came to my mind today, and I thought it was appropriate to re-share. 

A couple of years ago my wife and I had the great fortune to spend some time in the wonderful city of Vancouver, British Columbia.  While we were there, we decided to visit Christ Church Cathedral, a beautiful, historic Anglican church in the middle of downtown Vancouver.  

As we typically do when we visit beautiful churches around the world, Merideth and I decided to spend some time in prayer while we were there.  I claimed a spot among the seats facing the altar, and began to pray and journal.  I was praying fervently about some things that I was struggling to understand, and was seeking wisdom and discernment.  

 "God," I remember praying, "if you could just let me know what I need to do or give me some kind of sign--that would be great.  I could really use your help.  I don't know t…

When Jesus Gets Too Far Ahead

Have you ever had one of those friends who was just a little "too Christian?"  I've known a few people like this in my life.  I once worked with a guy who had a Bible verse for every moment of the day and every circumstance.  

You'd say, "I can't get my computer to work."
He'd say, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." 

You'd say, "I'm going to be late to the meeting because of traffic." 
He'd say, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

And this guy was so very, very confident all of the time that whatever was happening was an essential part of God's good will for your life, no matter how terrible it felt, and regardless of whether you felt God's presence in it or not. 

I envied his optimism and clarity.  

Much of my Christian walk has been marked by my struggles to follow Jesus--especially when I couldn't …