Power Up: Week One - "Powered Up To Love"

Today we are launching a brand new sermon series that is going to take us all the way through the summer months--it's entitled "Power Up" Becoming Empowered By The Holy Spirit.

That's right, we're going to be talking about for the next several weeks--the Third Person of the Trinity, or the Holy Ghost if you're into the traditional, spooky kind of thing.

Some people have written about the Holy Spirit as the "Forgotten God," because most pastors, churches, denominations or church-y organizations spend most of their time talking, preaching and singing about Jesus, with a healthy dose of God, the Father, Creator and Sustainer in there, too.

But the Spirit seems to get short shrift in most churches, unless you happen to be Pentecostal, and then it's all about the Spirit, baby.

What or Who is the Spirit?

What images come to mind for you when you think of the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Ghost?

A dove?
A dove on fire?
Casper the friendly ghost?
Is it in you, like G…

I Am No Longer What Happened To Me

There is a thing that happens to us when we experience trauma, or we find ourselves the victim of abuse, violence or a tragedy. 

It's a thing that sometimes finds us sometimes later in life when repressed memories or feelings come flooding to the surface.  Or in many cases, it simply hangs over us like a cloud, always there, never really allowing the sun through. 

What am I talking about? 

It's the thing that happens when we lose our identity in what happened to us so completely that we believe we are defined by it.  It's when we become synonymous with what happened to us, and without that identity, we don't even know who we are. 

I know this intimately, as do many of you who are reading this.  But we don't have to live this way.  The self that has been created when we lose ourselves in what happened to us, is a false self.  It is not who we really are.

Who we are instead is defined by the great love of God, the One who is constantly speaking into our brokenness and th…

Take The Long Way Home

When I was a kid and used to read the comics in the newspaper, one of my favorites was Family Circus, created by Bil Keane.  

Keane would often run comics that depicted the circuitous paths that his son Billy would take on the way home from the bus stop, to the mailbox, or a short cut with his grandma.  

Here's one that I found today that shows Billy's journey from bed to bus: 

I often find myself asking my 8-year-old son where he is going when he heads off in the wrong direction on an errand.  I want him to move in straight lines, but he seems programmed to do the exact opposite. 

At what age do we lose the desire to take a long way home?  

I think it happens slowly over time as we grow busier and busier, and so full of ourselves and our abilities.  

At some point, we stop longing to wander.  We don't get lost anymore.  And when we do, we immediately pull out our smartphones to show us the way.    

And this inability to make the road by walking affects our life of faith, I'm…

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

I'm always looking for prayers, poems, quotes, and lines that inspire me and make me think... Or ones that convict me to be a better human... Or give me a platform from which to leap further into the world, rather than away from it. 

And sometimes the thing I discover is so unbelievably perfect that I can't help but write it down, ponder it, and sometimes share it with you here in these little reflections I write every day. 

I recently discovered a prayer that was adapted by Fr. Thomas Keating, and then adapted again by Fr. Richard Rohr, and adapted by me. 

Feel free to shape your own adaption to it---apparently, this is a thing. 

Welcome, welcome, welcome. 
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it's for my healing and growth. 
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control. 
I let go of my desire for affection and esteem,
approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and sec…

The Most Perfect Prayer

I've been reading the fourteenth-century Christian masterwork, The Cloud of Unknowing, and it's been blowing my mind.  

There's a lot of archaic language in Unknowing, to be sure.  But still, it's an odd feeling at times to be reading it, and to forget that it's seven hundred years old, and yet so incredibly relevant.  

Take the passage I read today, for example.  The anonymous English author of Unknowing insists that the most perfect prayer that a person can pray is made up of one, simple word:  "Help!"

The author wrote this by way of an explanation:  
Why do you suppose this little prayer of one syllable is so powerful enough to pierce the heavens?  Well, it is because is the prayer of a person's whole being.  A person who prays this does so with all the height and depth and length and breadth of their spirit.If this sounds overly simplistic, it's because it is.  And yet, it is also incredibly profound and deep.  To coin a phrase from one of my favo…

Lessons Learned From Falling Into The Pool

I fell into my pool this morning (Friday) at 4:49 AM. 

I'm aware of the exact time because I glanced at the clock on my cable box as I walked shivering back into the house afterward, glad that there was no one there to see it. 

Oh. I bet you want to know how I fell in the pool.  I just bet you do. 

It happened, like a lot of accidents in the home, prior to coffee being consumed. So, I was not at my best--mentally, or physically, as it turns out. 

Both myself and Elway the dog were awakened at the same time around 4:45AM to the sound of cats screeching at one another.  One of the screeching cats was mine, but the other was an interloper. 

[So it wasn't that kind of screeching, okay. Get your mind out of the gutter. My cat has morals. And also... she's "fixed."]

Elway and I went downstairs and outside to investigate and discovered the strange cat under our patio table.  I grabbed a broom to force the new and awful cat out, and it fled, pursued by Elway. 

As I stumbled alo…

Pentecost 2019

Today is Pentecost Sunday--the birthday of the Church!

We read the story of that day from the book of Acts just a moment or two ago, but we need to set the stage as to why that day was so important, and why we are here celebrating it today.

The passage began with this line:

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

And then there is this line after that:

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.

So what was happening here?  Why were there so many people gathered in Jerusal…