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Witnesses - Week Four: "The Same Gift"

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The Season of Easter has just begun, and we'll be celebrating Easter for the next several weeks, as we launch into a brand new sermon series.

And this is just about the time that those first-century followers of Christ started asking a question--which is the same question you and I ought to be asking, too:   "Jesus has risen.  Now what?"

It's a good thing that we are not alone in asking this very question.  Jesus' disciples wondered the same thing, and almost immediately after Jesus was raised from the dead.  We know this because of the book of Acts.

I love the arc that the story in the book of Acts takes.

It begins with a bunch of scared people in a room, wondering what is going to happen to them---disciples of Jesus, who are afraid to venture outside the door because they think they might be killed.  

It ends---literally---with the word "unhindered" as the Apostle Paul sits imprisoned in Rome, which was widely known as the "very end of the Earth,"…

Learning To Read The Bible Differently

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The other night I taught the first of a seven-week Bible study class that I've been really excited to teach.  At one point in the class, I was just reading and teaching from the text, and there was this great energy in the room that you could absolutely feel. 

And I thought to myself: 

"I'm sitting here on a wooden stool in a classroom teaching from a several-thousand-year-old passage of Hebrew scripture, and everyone is engaged, and the energy is crackling--and I am about to come out of my skin with joy!"  Who knew the Bible could still be so exciting?!?

Despite all of the energy that we felt in the moment last night though, I am constantly reminded of what an uphill climb it is to try to talk about the Bible to people.  

And the reason for this is because of the way the Bible is constantly misrepresented by people who claim to hold it in such high esteem.  

Far too many terrible conversations that exclude, diminish, discriminate, belittle and shame begin with the words,…

Anxiety Is The Dizziness of Freedom

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I struggle with acute anxiety occasionally--just enough for me to understand a little of what it's like for people who feel anxious all of the time.  It's not fun.  

If you have never suffered from acute anxiety, you may not know what it feels like.  It can take the form of tightness in your chest, accompanied by an overwhelming desire to run or scream or both.  

Sometimes it hits you so hard it feels like you can't breathe.  Or it will take the form of a sinking feeling of dread that you can't shake no matter how hard you try.  It can also fling you into a rage if you have an aversion to tears, or it can send you on a crying jag if you are afraid of your anger.  

I know, super fun, right?  

The other day I read this quote by the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that helped me reframe my anxiety and begin to think of it differently.  He said:  Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. 

Kierkegaard believed that life without anxiety was a life without any possibility. 

The reason we…

The Things We Wish Would Stick Like Glue

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The things we wish would stick like glue.
They never do.
They never do. - Tiffany Aurora

I wish I learned life lessons more quickly.  The things in life that I seem to learn with a certain amount of speed are the things that don't really matter all that much.  
I learned the lyrics to Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart when I was in high school after listening to it a few times and I can still sing along to it at the top of my lungs when it plays in my car. 

And, in case you were wondering, I sound amazing. 

Within a few weeks of moving to Austin, I learned not to attempt to drive to and from downtown unless it's between the hours of 10AM and 3PM.  "Just stay south of the river," someone told me after I complained about it.  Lesson learned.

But the lessons that I struggle to learn are the ones that are connected to faith and trust in God.  They include the lessons that I should have learned a long time ago about my weaknesses and how they are exploited... mostly …

Now Is The New Then

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The other day Merideth and I were having a conversation with a good friend about how we all needed to practice being more fully present in the moment. 

We talked about how easy it is to become anxious about all of the things that need doing, about the expectations of others and all of the challenges that tomorrow may bring.

Interestingly, as the conversation progressed, we all began talking about things we had to do in the coming week, schedules that were tight and deadlines that were looming. 

And then we paused as we all started grinning sheepishly, and one of us remarked, "Look at what we're doing, and after we just got through saying we needed to be more present in the moment." 

As we were talking, I remembered a quote I saw in something I read recently:
Now is the new then.It made me chuckle when I read it because of its simplicity and wit.  But the idea is one that I want so desperately to internalize.  
It makes me think of Jesus and how he managed his time.  He rested …

What To Do When You Are Too Busy To Know What To Do

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Today's Devo is a reworking of a Devo I did a few years ago during the Easter season.  I hope it still speaks.  Enjoy.  

I've been thinking about what it means to live into the hope of the Resurrection of Jesus, and how that transforms you and the world around you.  It's easy to say all the right things about how to live a Resurrection life:  "Live abundantly!"  "Experience joy!"  "Embrace happiness!"  

What I've come to understand, however, is that sometimes it's much harder to actually live an abundant, joyful, life--to practice the things we so easily say.  There are so many things that get in the way, aren't there?  

This morning Merideth and I were on the way to the airport talking about all of the things that we have to do today--places we have to go, people we have to meet, tasks that have to get done.  

Add to that about a hundred things that are swirling in our heads about issues that we're dealing with, hard conversations…

Witnesses - Week Three: "Tabitha, Get Up!"

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This is what is known as the Season of Easter in the historic church calendar, and for the next several weeks we'll be continuing to celebrate Easter, and we'll also step further into our sermon series, "Witnesses."

Because where we are in respect to Easter Sunday is about the time that those first-century followers of Christ were asking a question--which is the same question you and I ought to be asking, too:    "Jesus rises.  Now what?"

It's a good thing that we are not alone in asking this very question.  Jesus' disciples wondered the same thing, and almost immediately after Jesus was raised from the dead.  We know this because of the book of Acts.

I love the arc that the story in the book of Acts takes.

It begins with a bunch of scared people in a room, wondering what is going to happen to them---disciples of Jesus, who are afraid to venture outside the door because they think they might be killed.

It ends---literally---with the word "unhindered…