Showing posts from April, 2019

Millions Of Drops Of Water

My youngest son is perhaps the most persistent human being on the face of the earth.  If he requests something of you and is denied, he will almost assuredly ask again, immediately.  

And if he gets the same reply, he will continue to ask unabated until your patience runs out and you say something sinister through clenched teeth like, "I said 'No!'  Now go ahead and ask me again... just go ahead.  See what happens."  

Honestly, there have been moments when that or something like that has been said and my boy will pause, and actually consider trying it out.  He's that persistent.  

It is my fervent hope that he will one day channel that persistent nature of his to do awesome things in the world.  Because sometimes you have to keep at it if you want the world to change.  Sometimes if you want justice, you have to seek it relentlessly.  

Jesus got this.  He once told a parable about a widow who kept appearing before a judge wanting him to decide a case in her favor.  Sh…

Jesus Is Risen, Now What?

As I write this, it is the Monday after Easter.  I've drunk about four cups of coffee, and none of them seem to have taken.  I'm groggy, tired, wrung out and generally feeling kind of less than my best. 

I am having to resist the urge to go somewhere and eat pancakes... lots of pancakes. 

For those of us who serve as pastors or church staffers, the Monday after Easter is a tough day.  All of the effort, planning and the energy that was spent preparing and then facilitating Easter worship services ends abruptly and then you start realizing how tired you are. 

I got to thinking today about Jesus' disciples and how they must have felt on the Monday after Easter.  I imagine that they were all pretty stunned and exhausted from all that happened that weekend.

The Gospel accounts don't really give us a timeline to the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus to his followers.  But I think that the Monday after Easter was a day when the disciples sat around groggy, tired, wrung out …

Post Easter Breakfast Reflections

I wrote this devo a couple of years ago, but I thought it was an appropriate reprint for the Monday after Easter... 

I'm not much of a cook, but, since I am passable at making breakfast, I sometimes 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 experience some of the same joy she feels.     

One day she and I were talking about the scene from John's Gospel where the risen Jesus appears to his disciples by the Sea of Galilee while they are out fishing.  When they finall…

Easter 2019 - "Let Us Not Mock God With Metaphor"

This is it folks.  The Day of Days.  The Moment we've been waiting for... 

We dressed up and came ready to party, am I right?  I mean I feel that way, don't you? It's Easter Sunday, people, and I'm wearing my bow tie.

In our Presbyterian tradition, we get all giddy with our liturgy even in the worship services where we don't do all the formal things.  And so that's why when I say, JESUS IS RISEN, you will respond by saying HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Visitors be like...  Man, these Presbys are flat crazy.  Why yes... yes we are. 

Just so we're clear... just so we're clear... We are celebrating the impossible.  That's why we get all crazy.  We are celebrating the impossible.  Because it's impossible that someone would die, be buried for three days and then rise again.  Impossible.

And that's the Big Question for so many people---including some of us who just lost our minds shouting.  "The Resurrection really happened right?" 

Or we could pose the…

Never Lose Hope

All week long I have been sharing prayers from a prayer book I've been using throughout the season of Lent.  But today, since it's Good Friday, I decided to write my own prayer. 

Good Friday is part of what is known as the Triduum---the three holiest days of Holy Week:  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  It is the day we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus which happened "between noon and three" in the afternoon on the Jewish Sabbath, which is Friday. 

So today I thought I would share some thoughts about the loss of hope, and this particular prayer came to me this morning:

May I discover the peace that comes from never losing hope even when all seems lost.  

I was reading something that the renowned lecturer and author Joan Chittister wrote in her book The Way of The Cross:  
Sometimes things don't have a happy ending in life.  They just grind on until loss becomes the new normal.  It's true.  There are times in our lives when we fail.  We fall flat…

Giving Yourself A Break & Some Grace

Throughout Holy Week I'll be sharing some prayers from a book I've been using as a prayer guide through Lent: Prayer: Forty Days of Practice.  I hope that these prayers and the reflections that accompany them will be meaningful to you as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.  

Prayer for Thursday of Holy Week: 

May I have hope for myself the way I do for others. 

The prayer for today prompted me to reflect on the number of personality assessment courses that I've taken over the years.  Spoiler alert:  I've taken a lot of them, but here's the skinny on where you'll find me on some of them:

I'm an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs assessment.  I'm a "D" on DISC.  I identify as a "3" on the Enneagram.  My number one Signature Theme on Strengths Finder is "Achiever." 

You don't have to know a lot about these kinds of assessments to understand that I'm probably pretty hard on myself when it comes to performance, results, and achie…

Notre Dame, Hope & Resurrection

Throughout Holy Week I'll be sharing some prayers from a book I've been using as a prayer guide through Lent: Prayer: Forty Days of Practice.  I hope that these prayers and the reflections that accompany them will be meaningful to you as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.  

Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week: 

May I never grow tired of starting over or helping others do the same.  My hope is always in renewal and resurrection.

Two days ago, much of the world watched in horror and dismay as a fire raged in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Firefighters were able to save as much of the iconic structure as they could, but the damage was devastating. 

Like so many of my friends who have had the fortune of visiting Paris and touring Notre Dame, I had my own memories to draw upon as I watched the story unfold yesterday.  I've shared some of those memories before in a devotion: 

In 2007, while on an epic trip to London and Paris for our anniversary, Merideth and I found ourselves …

Seeing Yourself In Others

Throughout Holy Week I'll be sharing some prayers from a book I've been using as a prayer guide through Lent: Prayer: Forty Days of Practice.  I hope that these prayers and the reflections that accompany them will be meaningful to you as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.  

Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week: 

May my awareness of faults in myself or others never open the door to spite but grant me a deep appreciation for grace. 

Like the prayer from yesterday, this prayer has a two-fold focus for the one praying: Self & Others. 

If we would enter fully into the power of this prayer, we would first need to recognize that our own faults are intimately connected to the faults we perceive in others. 

A very kind and wise spiritual guide once taught me to repeat this phrase whenever I began to explore the faults I saw in other people--the kind of faults that cut me to the core, angered me beyond belief, or otherwise got my goat. 

My spiritual mentor would say, "What I see in …

Don't Distance Yourself From The World

Throughout Holy Week I'll be sharing some prayers from a book I've been using as a prayer guide through Lent: Prayer: Forty Days of Practice.  I hope that these prayers and the reflections that accompany them will be meaningful to you as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.  

Prayer for Monday of Holy Week: 
May my disappointments in myself and others lead me to hope for and work for change rather than lead me to distance myself. 

There's almost nothing worse than when someone lets us down, disappoints us or betrays us--especially when that person is close to us, a loved one or even someone we admire greatly.

Perhaps the only kind of disappointment that can feel worse is when we let ourselves down.

We've all been there.  It's when we make promises to ourselves we don't keep... or we stumble on our own pride and fall flat on our face... or we find ourselves in a situation where we've allowed our values to be compromised...

These kinds disappointments--the one…

The Lord Needs It - Palm Sunday 2019

Today is Palm Sunday---the beginning of Holy Week.

I'm not one to blindly follow tradition, but there are some things that you just don't do---and you can't just ignore the story of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

We need to read the story of how there were cheers and palm waving on Palm Sunday as Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and we also need to know that many of the same people who were shouting praises to God and lauding Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem, were screaming "Crucify him!" five days later.

And lest we get all superior from the sanctimony of our historical distance... we, too, are quick to turn from praise to jeers when God's plans don't coincide with our own.  Or when Jesus turns out to be the exact opposite of how we've constructed him.

That's a good sermon.  I've preached that sermon, and I may preach the same kind of sermon again.  But this year I've decided to focus on something different in the story…

Second Effort

When I was a kid and just learning how to ride my bike, I foolishly decided that I was going to ride down what seemed to me like the steepest hill in all the world. 

There was a moment before I pushed off and began my descent that I remember thinking, "I'm not sure this was a good idea." or whatever the equivalent of that thought would be for a six-year-old boy.  I'm sure it was more like, "Oh no! This is bad!  Mama!?  Dad!? Jesus!?  Anyone!?"  

By now you can probably tell where this story is going.  Things got hinky fast as I picked up speed down that hill.  The front tire began to wobble, and instead of trying to use my brakes, I stuck out my legs.  

The thing about falling on asphalt from a bike when you're wearing shorts and traveling at what feels like the speed of sound is that it doesn't hurt at first.  You feel it more intently, however, when you look down and see most of your leg and the palm of one hand skinned and bleeding.  THAT's when…

Black Holes, Faith & Doubt

Yesterday the story broke of an actual photo that has been taken of a black hole in space some 55 million light years away in a galaxy known as M87.  

The photo shows some of what scientists have suspected for years based on Einstein's theory of relativity, which just goes to show you how freaking smart Einstein was.  But to a person, the scientists interviewed about the photo stated that despite all that was confirmed, there was still so much that wasn't.  

One of the headlines read, "Stare Into the Unknown."  

I love that.  I love the fact that there is even more uncertainty about the nature of black holes than there was a day ago.  I love the fact that sometimes even the smartest people on the planet have to shrug and say, "I dunno."  

What I don't love is that it seems to be easier for scientists to do this than most of us who call ourselves Christians.  It occurs to me that if those of us who call ourselves Christians embraced our doubts and uncertaint…

All The Broken Things

I look at broken things and all my eyes and heart can see are beautiful possibilities. - Tiffany Aurora

My grandfather died when I was ten years old.  The only lasting, vivid memories I have of him are from a few impressionable moments that are embedded in my mind.  There was the gift of a book, an afternoon learning to tell time from his watch, watching him smoke his pipe and listen to polka records...

And the day I spent with him in the junkyard of the old farm where my dad grew up in Eastern Colorado.  We dug in around the rusting parts of old cars that day, and he would tell me where each, disparate hunk of metal I dug up had once belonged. 

He was never stumped.  There were times when he would have to hold a piece of rusty metal in his hands for a moment, but he would always recall what kind of car it had been a part of, once upon a time.

Sometimes I see my own life like that small junkyard.  There are plenty of pieces and parts that I've buried.  Things I may no longer need beca…

Waving Your White Flag

A few years ago, there was a spate of uber-popular Christian books that made the rounds in Church-y circles, and like a number of my pastor friends, I decided I probably needed to read them in order to be able to speak to them properly.

Truth be told, I did get a lot out of those books, and I'm glad I read them, but they did seem a lot like a lot of the popular "self-help" books on the non-fiction bestseller lists--only with Bible verses. 

What has since struck me is that most of the authors of the aforementioned books all seemed to be addressing the same kind of issue within the Christian church: How to live the Christian life in a way that is more consistent with Jesus' teachings, and more winsome to people outside the church.

Interestingly, in almost every case the propositions the authors put forward were grounded in the notion that its personal piety that is the key to a more authentic Christian life.  

In other words, if you change your habits and get busy doing pi…