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Showing posts from April, 2016

Jesus And We - Week 1: Faith Filled, Big Thinking

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There's a huge problem brewing in the Church in America.  

And when I say this, many of you are going to assume that what I'm talking about is what the dominant Christian voices in our culture have identified as the huge problem in the Church in America--that far too many churches have begun to resemble the culture that surrounds them.  

When I was growing up in conservative, evangelical communities of faith we called this, "Compromising," or "Looking too much like the world."  Mind you, this was directed at things like women wearing pants, listening to rock and or roll music, watching the "devil box," commonly known as TV... stuff like that.  

Come to think of it, not that much has changed--except the things that are now being called out by the dominant Christian voices in our culture are just different sets of sins and transgressions.  

Strangely, I actually agree with the assessment that many evangelical Christian leaders have leveled at the Church…

What To Do When Your Wounded By Others - Daily Devotion: April 29, 2016

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I recently had someone I care about deeply do something that not only caused a rift in our relationship, but it also diminished my trust in them.  I found myself thinking afterward about all the ways I should have seen it coming, how I should have been less gullible.  

In those moments of pain, after we've been hurt by other people, it's easy to want to put on our armor, and become less vulnerable--to shield ourselves from further hurts.  Or we can become cynical and hardened, which is often my go-to defense mechanism.  

A few months ago, my Facebook "time-hop" feature reminded me of a year-old Facebook post from a church member who had just angrily left the church.  One year prior to leaving in a huff, they gushed in a message about how much they loved me and loved the church.  As I read it again, I kind of snorted.  "Figures." I said bitterly.  

The fact of the matter is that people will always let us down.  And the even more sobering fact of the matter is t…

Did You Know That Breakfast Is A Holy Meal?

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This past month at my church, I've been preaching on what it means to lead a Resurrection life--to live life as Jesus desires for us to lead it: filled with hope, purpose, meaning and joy.   All of this sounds good, but how do we make this happen in a practical sense?  This week we're going to spend some time thinking about just that. 

I'm not much of a cook, but, since I am passable at making breakfast, I often prepare it for the family in the morning.  It's nothing fancy, mind you, just bacon or sausage and eggs, waffles or pancakes for my youngest son (the frozen kind), and generally a second cup of coffee for myself and my wife.  

It makes me happy to do this.  My wife Merideth tells me that the feeling I get is often what she experiences when she prepares meals for "her boys."  Merideth is actually a really good cook, and she truly enjoys it.  So, it makes it even more special to me that she relinquishes something she loves to do, in order for me to experi…

When Nobodies Become Somebodies - Daily Devotion April 27, 2016

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This past month at my church, I've been preaching on what it means to lead a Resurrection life--to live life as Jesus desires for us to lead it: filled with hope, purpose, meaning and joy.   All of this sounds good, but how do we make this happen in a practical sense?  This week we're going to spend some time thinking about just that. 

"There is no way that God could ever use me." 

"If you really knew me, you wouldn't be asking me to serve."  

"I'm nothing special."  

"If I ever show up to church, you better check the ceiling--it's sure to fall in on me."  

"I'm not a very good Christian, whey are you asking me to help out."  

These are just a few of the things I've heard over the years when I have approached people about attending worship, serving in mission and ministry or stepping into leadership in the Church.  The fact of the matter is, most of us feel unworthy to do things for God.  

When many of us were youn…

Stop And Smell the Resurrection Flowers!

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This past month at my church, I've been preaching on what it means to lead a Resurrection life--to live life as Jesus desires for us to lead it: filled with hope, purpose, meaning and joy.   All of this sounds good, but how do we make this happen in a practical sense?  This week we're going to spend some time thinking about just that. 

Living your life in the name of Jesus (living as Jesus would have you live) makes your ordinary extraordinary.  When I surrender my ordinary days to Jesus, incredible things can happen.  For starters, I begin to notice things that are beautiful, eternal and filled with Resurrection hope.  

Last night I informed my kids that there would be no television watching or video game playing for the entire evening.  They were just going to have to find other things to do. It had been a long and challenging day, and I just wanted to have a bit of peace in the house.  

I was grilling up some pork chops outside, and decided to sit on our back patio to look int…

Take the First Step In Living a Resurrection Life

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This past month at my church, I've been preaching on what it means to lead a Resurrection life--to live life as Jesus desires for us to lead it: filled with hope, purpose, meaning and joy.   All of this sounds good, but how do we make this happen in a practical sense?  This week we're going to spend some time thinking about just that. 

The first step in learning to live a Resurrection life is to desire it.  

I know that sounds almost too simple, right?  It reminds me of an ancient Eastern phrase that I read once (quoted by the poet Rumi from the 13th century):  "As you start on the way, the way appears." 

You can save that last quote up, if you like.  Use it at just the right moment when you're at a family reunion and your cousin is describing to you how she can't figure out what to do with her life.  

It really is that simple, though:  If you want to live a Resurrection life, you have to begin by desiring it.  You have to see the value in it.  Without that first…

It's Time To Wake Up And See The Light! - Daily Devotion, April 22, 2016

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It was pitch black outside this morning when my wife and I woke up--the proverbial "darkest hour" just before the dawn.  I staggered in to make us coffee, feeling bleary and a bit worn out from a week away from home, and long day of travel the day before.  

All week long I have had a passage of Scripture in my head, and I haven't been able to figure out why.  I know, I know... what a cliche:  a pastor walking around thinking of Bible verses.  The fact of the matter is, it doesn't happen as often as you might think.  So when it does, I kind of pay attention. 

This passage that's been rattling around in my head for the past several days is from Paul's letter to the Ephesians.  It reads: 

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  (Ephesians 5:13-14)

This morning as the sun began to break over the horizon and the…

Finding Hope When Your Life Is In Ruins: Daily Devotion April 21, 2016

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I've been attending a seminar this week in Colorado, working on my speaking and presentation skills, among other things.  When everything ended today I had just enough time to take a short drive into the Rocky Mountains before dark.  

The drive took me west out of Loveland, Colorado and up into the mountains toward Estes Park in what is known as The Big Thompson Canyon.  In July of 1976 a huge flash flood rushed down that canyon and killed 144 people in the worst disaster in Colorado history. 

Nearly forty years ago, I remember driving with my family down a portion of the highway next to the river, and seeing all of destroyed homes, debris and washed out bridges and roads. It looked like a wasteland even almost a year after the disaster.  

Today I marveled at all of the houses that have been built over the years on the very sites of some of the houses that washed away.  When I was a kid, I never dreamed that I would one day drive that same highway and see things restored, looking as …

Shut out the Noise And Listen To God: Daily Devotion - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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I recently did a guided group exercise where we were asked to sit perfectly still with our eyes closed and listen to a piece of stirring music.  After the piece ended, we were then asked to describe what we'd heard.  Many of the participants described the instruments they heard, or a particular tone in the music.  

Then we were asked to listen to the music again in silence, only this time to concentrate on the other sounds in the room.  This time participants described hearing coughs, papers rustling, the sounds of voices from other rooms, the air conditioning running in the background, the buzz of lights and electrical equipment. 

This exercise helped me to realize something.  There is a lot of "white noise" happening around us all of the time.  We think we are tuning it out, but are we really?  When I lived in downtown Chicago for several years, I recall the city had a particular sound--created cars, sirens, trains, and the like--that was always humming in the background…

Life In His Name - Week 3: Play

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Over the next several weeks we'll not only be celebrating the season of Easter--which will continue until Pentecost in May--we will also be seeking to answer a very important question.  The question that we'll be wrestling with is simply this:  Jesus is risen, now what?  

We celebrated Easter, we got excited, we sang, praised, proclaimed and otherwise lifted up the notion that Jesus is risen.  But what does it mean that Jesus is risen?  What does the Resurrection mean to you and to me--especially during this time after the big celebrations, after the build up and the big event?  

I believe that we are Resurrection People called to live in the name of Jesus. We are called to live abundant, purpose-filled joyous, intense, engaging lives--lives lived in hope.  As we learned last week, those who have hope must live different lives--a life lived in hope will inherently be different as opposed to a life lived without it.  

How do we live into the hope of the Resurrection on a daily bas…

Life In His Name - Week 4: Live

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Over the next several weeks we'll not only be celebrating the season of Easter--which will continue until Pentecost in May--we will also be seeking to answer a very important question.  The question that we'll be wrestling with is simply this:  Jesus is risen, now what?  

We celebrated Easter, we got excited, we sang, praised, proclaimed and otherwise lifted up the notion that Jesus is risen.  But what does it mean that Jesus is risen?  What does the Resurrection mean to you and to me--especially during this time after the big celebrations, after the build up and the big event?  

I believe that we are Resurrection People called to live in the name of Jesus. We are called to live abundant, purpose-filled joyous, intense, engaging lives--lives lived in hope.  As we learned last week, those who have hope must live different lives--a life lived in hope will inherently be different as opposed to a life lived without it.  

How do we live into the hope of the Resurrection on a daily bas…