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Showing posts from May, 2019

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…

God Didn't Cause This

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As I write this, I am still in shock over the news that one of my church members was just in a tragic accident that she will not recover from.  She was a vibrant young woman, mother to two boys, loving wife, and an incredible human being. 

Our church family is also in a state of profound grief, but nothing compared to what her family is feeling this morning as they wake up to a new and sorrowful reality. 

This isn't fair.  It's not right.  

There's no way to spin this positively that doesn't sound trite and empty.

Trust me, I've tried so many times.  In fact, I can still see the faces of the people I tried to comfort...

The couple whose three-year-old son drowned in their pool. 

The young man and his child whose wife had just committed suicide. 

A wife whose husband of forty plus years who fell dead just days after his retirement.  

The list goes on... and on...  

And don't try to tell someone who has lost their dearest one that God has a plan.  Just don't. 

Don'…

Be Astonished

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The word "astonished" occurs 92 times in the Bible.  I only know this because I looked it up in a handy online concordance that lists those kinds of things. 

"Astonish" is the go-to English word that is used to translate nearly a dozen different Greek and Hebrew words that have a wide range of meanings from "struck dumb with amazement" to "perplexed" and "thrown into wonderment."

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word "astonish" frequently used to describe the reaction that people have when God interacts with humanity and all of Creation. 

Interestingly, in the New Testament, it's most often used to describe the reactions that people had to Jesus' teachings, and the miracles he performed. 

Funny... the same word is used over and over again to try to frame what human beings feel when they encounter God--both the transcendent, completely "other" experience of God, and God in the flesh, up close and personal. 

In his mo…

You Don't Go Into This Alone

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I made a mistake this morning.  I was online, and it just happened.  I know it was wrong, but the link was there in my inbox, and I just clicked it.  I was instantly sorry if that helps.

But rest assured... that's the last time I start my day off clicking a link for a news website.  😉

Seriously... it only took a second to send my great mood this morning plummeting.  I was immediately whiplashed from the pleasantness of my morning coffee and wonderfully quiet house into all the bad news that's unfit to print. 

The world is messed up, people.  There are all kinds of horrible things happening all the time, all over the world.  And unlike when I was a kid, we don't have to wait until the hours of 6PM - 7PM to watch it on TV.  It's always on.  Everywhere. 

It's enough to make you want to shut it all out, retreat, give up or otherwise quit trying to make the world a better place.  I mean, what good could any of us really do in the face of such obstacles? 

It's in those m…