How You Talk About Yourself Matters

It's a terrible feeling to discover that someone close to you has been talking badly about you behind your back.  The feeling of betrayal in those moments is enough to take your breath away.  We all know that feels like, sadly.  

But over time, I've discovered that the person who spends the most time talking trash about me and tearing me down is none other than the same person who I squint at in the morning when I brush my teeth--namely, me.  

Debilitating and defeating self-talk is one of the most bruising and awful things that we do to ourselves.  It often sounds something like this:  

"I'm not good at those kinds of things..." 

"This always happens to me..." 

"I'm so stupid..." 

"Why do I always get myself into these messes...?" 

"That's the story of my life: one bad thing after another..." 

You can probably come up with a few of your own that you've heard yourself say from time to time. My own list is a lot longer m…

When Your Plans Are Thwarted By Others

Not that long ago, I was trying to leave the parking lot of a shopping center during rush hour, and get turned around in the right direction for home.  

This meant that I was going to have to navigate my way to a narrow median and then wait for a break in traffic before flooring it to get into the desired lane. Suddenly, I saw my moment--things were going to work out perfectly with the oncoming cars moving just in the right sequence. 

Everything was perfect until one of the drivers decided to make a turn, and the whole sequence fell apart.  

"Aaaaghhh!" I exclaimed.  My wife Merideth sat quietly for a second and then asked, "Did you seriously just get mad at the person for making a turn?"  "Yes!" I exclaimed, "They messed up my whole plan!"  "You're ridiculous," she told me.  I knew she was right, but I didn't admit it.  

Until now, that is.  

I once read a quote from the Roman Emperor and Stoic, Marcus Aurelius that spoke right int…

You Were Made To Worship

I believe that the Spirit of God within us creates a longing to connect not just with other people, but with God, who knows us better than we know ourselves.

We long to know and to be known.  We long to truly feel.  To not give in to the despair that comes from the resignation that this is all there is, and there is no Creator or Designer, no plan or purpose.

Because when we resign ourselves to this--even slightly--we end up trying to fulfill our longings with other things, other feelings or even what some might call other "gods."

But when those longings are met for real. We know it.  When we realize (sometimes surprisingly) that there really is a God, and that God is actually connected to us.  It draws out emotions, feelings we didn't know we had.

And when we respond to these emotions we often sing... or pray... or weep... or stand up and dance... or we fall down to our knees or on our faces...

This is called "worship" by some people--a full-on, emotionally-charged…

The True Meaning of Gratitude

Yesterday I was feeling a little raw and got vulnerable here in this space about the challenges that my family has been facing this past week.  It wasn't the first time, and I imagine it won't be the last.   

So many of you responded with stories of your own, words of encouragement and offers of help, prayers, and positive vibes.  It meant a lot to me because as a pastor it's not easy to be vulnerable and to admit that things aren't always hunky-dory.  

I am grateful for the grace I receive from you, dear reader.  I can actually feel it sometimes if that makes any sense at all.  It fills me with such gratitude.  

I'm actually preaching on gratitude this month, and so I've been reading and thinking about it for a couple of weeks.  

I'm learning that being able to feel and express gratitude is one of the most vital aspects of experiencing what the ancient Hebrew writers referred to as shalom or the peace of God.  

But I'm also learning that it's not always…

Because You Say So

It's been a tough week for me and my family.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say... I've been hard-pressed to think of a worse stretch of days, other than the week my mom died.  

I always try to be real on these daily devotions--to be honest and forthright about what I'm thinking.  They are as much for me some days as they are for any of you who might be reading them.  

And I have to say that God and I have been having some tough moments lately.  I was journaling yesterday and the words that formed on the pages of my journal were hard and angry.  I wondered where God was and found myself asking repeatedly, "Will you just show up?"  

Then this morning a passage of Scripture from Luke chapter 5 came into my mind, and I can't think it's a coincidence.  
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But…

You Come By It Honestly

Some time ago, a friend of mine had shared a video on her Facebook page.  It was a compilation video of children and teens showing kindness and good sportsmanship to one another on the playing field. 

In one memorable moment, a high school softball player, who had been paralyzed from an accident, was carried around the bases by members of an opposing team so she could experience one last home run.  

My friend commented that she had tears streaming down her face when she watched the video.  I have to admit, I, too, felt a knot in my own throat as I watched. 

I got to thinking about all of the similar "feel-good" videos I've been seeing lately on other friends' Facebook pages---quite a lot of them actually.  I've often wondered about the popularity of these videos.  What makes us watch them, share them and cry over them?  

In the book of Genesis, the Creation account declares that God created humankind (both male and female) in the "image of God."  In brief, …

Your Thoughts And Prayers Aren't Enough

The news is grim this morning.  We all woke up today to the news of yet another mass shooting--this time at a club near Pepperdine University in Southern California.  13 dead, including the gunman and at least 10 injured.

I heard a television commentator remark, "This is the worst mass shooting in the United States... in the last twelve days."  

In fact, there have been eleven mass shootings in America since the shooting that took place at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27th.  10 people were killed in those eleven other mass shootings and 46 people were injured.  

People of faith always struggle to know what to say during these tragedies, but far too many Christians end up saying the wrong things, and sometimes publicly.  

Today, as I watched the news, I was reminded once again of the lyrics of a song by the rock band A Perfect Circle. 

In the song "Talk Talk" the band criticizes Christians for the way we will often send our "thoughts and prayers" to the…