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Spinning

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Some Sundays at my church, when the worship music is particularly lively, there is a little girl who will pry herself loose from her parents, and make her way down to the front of our worship space where she'll begin to dance. 

She'll twirl and jump in time to the music, reveling in worship in a way that most of us would daydream of doing, but would never dare.  

The unexpectedness of her dance always brings smiles of joy from everyone who experiences it.  She is a leaping, spinning, joyful reminder of what it means to be a Jesus-centered community of faith.  

I've learned that when a church is at it's best is when it is able to hold on to it's traditions and expectations loosely enough to experience a new song, and to engage in a new way of dancing to the rhythms of the Spirit of Christ.  

During this season of Advent, those of us who claim to follow Jesus need to expect the unexpected.  We need to be ready to sing a new song, and dance a new dance.  The world is watc…

Snow

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It snowed in Texas yesterday--a real snow that came down in big wet flakes that actually stuck.  

I happened to be making a grocery run when it started to snow really hard.  As I made my way to the entrance to the store, everyone I encountered had a surprised and joyous look on their face.  

At one point in the evening my boys were having a snowball fight with the neighbor kids down the street.  I stood on the steps watching the snow fall and could hear them shrieking for joy.  

I've lived in places where it snowed more than once every few years.  But this particular little snowstorm in Texas ranks up there with the most memorable in my life--mostly because it was so surprising.  

This Advent season I have been reading through the book of Revelation from the New Testament. It's a difficult book to decipher with all of its first century references, and strange images.  

But what I love about Revelation is that in every moment when you think that the world is about to end, when every…

A Light We Can't Always See

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It is Advent, and we are waiting.  

We are waiting for things to change... for the world to be made right.  

We are waiting for healing, and restoration of our bodies and our spirits. 

We are waiting for the light to dawn.  

And sometimes it feels like the light will never come--that all we will ever know is darkness. 

Which is why I am so thankful for poets.  

I was listening to the new U2 album Songs of Experience and the song "There Is A Light."  

The lyrics spoke right into my waiting heart today: 
When all you've left is leavingAnd all you got is grievingAnd all you know is needing...There is a lightWe can't always see. One of my Advent readings today included this verse from an ancient Hebrew poet, who was waiting in darkness for the coming of the light of the Lord.  He wrote: 

"I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope."

There are moments when explanations, and theological ramblings about this doctrine or that simply won't do…

Hanging By A Thread

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I was reminded today in my daily reading about the story of Damocles from ancient Greek lore.  According to the story, Damocles, who was a courtier to King Dionysius, was running his mouth about how wonderfully easy it was to be the king.  

Dionysius then offered to switch places with Damocles for the day, which Damocles eagerly accepted.  The only caveat that Dionysius placed upon the arrangement was for a sword to be hung above Damocles head, held only be a single strand of a horse's tail.  

Damocles learned the lesson: being king is perilous, and you don't want to be caught doing something terrible when/if the sword falls upon you.  

There's another side to that lesson as well.  Sometimes we can live our lives in complete dread of God and God's holiness--as if the Sword of Damocles was hanging over our heads, ready to fall at any time.  

When this is our image of God, we often find ourselves acting out of obligation, guilt, duty or a combination of all three.  There is …

Enough

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For the next four weeks, we'll be reflecting on Advent in the daily devotions--extending the conversation from the sermons I'm preaching each week on how to: Give More, Spend Less, Worship Fully and Love All. 

This morning I came across a prayer that was attributed to St. Francis, and it spoke to me as I step further into this Advent season:   
Most High, Most glorious God, Enlighten the shadows of my heart. Grant me a right and true faith, A certain hope, and A perfect charity, feeling and understanding Of You. So that I may be able to accomplishYour holy and just commands. Amen. I don't know about you, but when I am waiting on God (like I seem to be right now during this season of expectation), I find that the "shadows of my heart" tend to tamper my sense of joy, and keep me from being expectant of God's abundance.  

This prayer is so perfect because it speaks simply of our need for God in the middle of our moments of struggle.  This is a prayer for faith that…

Stuff

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For the next four weeks, I'm going to be reflecting on the season of Advent in my daily devotions--extending the conversation from the sermons I'm preaching each week on how to: Give More, Spend Less, Worship Fully and Love All. 

On a trip that included a stop in Denmark, I bought an awesome watch made by the Danish company Skagen.  I loved that watch.  It looked cool on my wrist.  I felt like it made me look like a well-travelled, debonair man of the world.  

And then one day someone stole the watch out of my duffle bag at the gym.  I left it in a locker only for a few moments while I was showering, but that's all it took.  My cool Danish watch was gone forever.  I no longer felt debonair.  

We've all had those moments when we've lost our possessions or had them taken from us.  Sometimes it happens in epic fashion.  

I've had some recent conversations with people who lost everything in the floods that rose after the recent hurricanes in Texas.  While they were hea…

Advent Conspiracy - Week One: "Give More"

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Once when I  was strolling through the Walmart around Christmastime,  I saw a sign hanging from the ceiling.   "Save money. Live better."  

I have to say that I am encouraged to see that Walmart is so concerned for my welfare that it decided to run a campaign where I will be compelled to save money so that I will live better.

First, I have to say that I actually agree with the idea that saving money will result in better living.  

Second, and most importantly, the fact of the matter is that Walmart doesn't want me to save money.  It wants me to spend it...in the Walmart.  But if it can convince me that SPENDING money in the Walmart will actually SAVE me money and that I will live better as a result... man, that's something.

In the end, Americans will still spend nearly $600 billion on Christmas this year.  And most of that will be on credit.

One Christmas, a few years ago,  my oldest boy got over 50 Christmas presents.  FIFTY.  That year I went to like a hundred stores to…