Posts

The Reality Of The Present

Image
This past summer, while driving on the scenic Highway 1 in California, I stopped in the little town of Cambria on the coast of the Pacific Ocean to look around and have lunch.   During my stroll, I happened upon an A-frame sign that was set up outside of a shop with these words written on it:  Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.  I took a photo of that sign with my phone because it spoke to me.  It spoke directly into the issues I’d been dealing with as I traveled and reflected on my life, the Universe, and everything.  You see, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time over the past year letting yesterday use up too much of my today.   I also expend way too much energy looking back on my mistakes, bad decisions, wrong turns, and all of the things I couldn’t control that negatively impacted my life.   And further, I also find myself projecting all of those worries into the future.   What gets lost in all this spinning and worrying is that all I have is today.  Yesterd

Silence In The Midst of Noise

Image
I am sitting inside my little cottage high above the Pacific Ocean at the Hermitage of New Camaldoli in Big Sur, CA, the breeze from the chilly waters below is blowing through the open windows, and I can hear the sound of countless birds calling outside.  It’s pretty awesome, I must say.  There is no internet, no cell phone coverage, and the few others who are on retreat here are, like me, abiding by the rule of silence.   I’ll be honest, I’ve spoken to a few of the monks here, but only when they’ve talked to me and the various bookstore clerks, but that’s been sporadic at best.  What I’ve been doing, however, is trying to learn what it means to be quiet, disconnected from the world, and introspective.  When you have hours at a time with nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company, it can be challenging if you are someone like me.  I’m used to noise—and a lot of it.  Even now, I am listening to music, but it’s soft, introspective music, to be fair. What I really mean is I am used

The Roads We Build

Image
Just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a beautiful little exhibit called the Writer’s Museum.  It’s dedicated almost entirely to three of Scotland’s finest authors: Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson.  Stevenson was a childhood friend of mine, if that makes sense.  I read many of his books: Treasure Island , Kidnapped , David Balfour , and A Child’s Garden of Verses when I was a kid .    Scott’s Ivanhoe was a well-worn book on my grade school shelf, and later I found an old copy of The Lady of the Lake among my mother’s possessions.  She’d received that worn copy from her father, who found it, and several small bound Shakespeare plays in an old house he renovated when she was a teenager.   By now, you are probably wondering if I was a nerd when I was a kid, and the answer is an emphatic yes.  I was a total nerd.  But then again, there were only four channels on TV and no video games to play or smartphones to stare blandly at for hours.  So I read.   So with al

It's Astounding, Time Is Fleeting

Image
We dropped my middle son Jackson off at the University of Arkansas this past month—by “we,” I mean my wife and youngest son, Jacob.   It’s an odd thing to drop your kid off at college.  Most likely, you spend nearly an entire day setting up their dorm room with everything you brought, then invariably heading off to Target to purchase all the things you didn’t bring.  And then you get all the posters and whatnot hung, the sheets on the bed, the desk arranged just so, and you take photos of everyone standing in front of the newly decorated space, and eventually, you say goodbye and drive off.  That’s the point when either right then or the next day, they rearrange the damn thing all over again because that’s kind of what they need to do. This is precisely what happened.  Even though my wife had sworn she wouldn’t cry when we left him, she did. I kind of laughed at her and told her a hundred times that he would be all right, she would be all right, and everything would be all right.  Mean

In Praise of Thin Places

Image
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London has always been more than just a special place in my heart.  It’s been a “thin” place for me for over twenty years now—a place where I’ve had more than one mystical experience.  St. Paul’s isn’t the only thin place where I’ve had mystical experiences. Still, I must tell you that most of my mystical experiences happen in churches, cathedrals or basilicas, and monasteries.  It’s almost like God knows that I need to travel halfway around the world to spaces of worship before I can finally open my eyes and see what was in front of me all along.   I  feel God could think of a less expensive way of communicating with me.  But then again, I like the rhythm we’ve negotiated with these things.  Also, it’s amazing what happens when your expectations are wide open.   So, during this summer’s sabbatical, I again found myself in St. Paul’s Cathedral with my wife and middle son.  We took him on a trip to the U.K. after his graduation and before he journeyed off to coll

All In - Week One: Invited

Image
Today we're going to launch a new sermon series entitled "All In!" This series is going to help us see more clearly how we can live an "all in" kind of life as we seek to follow Jesus together.   Over the course of the next few weeks we're going to be learning what it means to be Invited, Included, Involved and Invested not only in our church family, but also in the family of God. Today we will focus on what it means to be Invited.  Invitations come in all sorts of forms, don't they?  We receive a lot of invitations via email don't we?  Invitations to buy things, follow people on social media, donate money to causes, attend events that, interest us, and a host of other things.  But when it comes down to it, what kinds of invitations are the most effective?   I did a little research this week and this is what I  found out.   The most effective kinds of invitations are ones that are:  Personalized and Intentional.   When I say personalized, what I mean

Roswell & Other Worlds

Image
There’s no easy way to describe Roswell, New Mexico.  I could say that it was interesting, but that doesn’t cut it.   More accurately, I should say that it is in the middle of the high desert of central New Mexico and hot as hell in the summertime.  It’s also utterly devoid of pretense.  Which is to say that it knows what it is.  It’s a town famous for a conspiracy theory surrounding a U.F.O. crash site that may have been covered up by the U.S. Military, the F.B.I., and even Harry Truman himself.  I have to admit that after I spent a couple of hours at the National U.F.O. Museum, and read all of the materials, examined the evidence, watched videos of eyewitness accounts, and a whole host of other stuff… I was starting to wonder if something might have happened there after all.  Common sense can get tossed out the window when you hear only one side of the story.  I know that sounds preposterous considering all the common sense in our current culture among a populace wholly dedicated to