Missional Prayer

Missional churches require missional praying. We do not inform God in our praying, nor do we instruct God in our intercession. But we do join God when out of love we pray for the mission of God in the world.

Assumptions about the Word of God

At the end of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 film The Ten Commandments, Moses and the future leaders of Israel stand on Mt. Nebo surveying the promised land.

How Will They Remember You When You’re Gone?

This past week, I conducted a celebration of life service at a beloved church I serve. The packed sanctuary was a reminder to all who were present of this church member’s caring spirit.

Don’t Blink

Right now, time itself seems to be doing some weird things. Even when it seems like the days are trudging along, the weeks and the months might then accelerate. There’s a sporadic nature to it all.

With All Your Heart

Good counselors ask good questions. The counselor who helped me work through my season of depression once asked me a question that revealed a source of my pain and a path I needed to take toward healing. She asked, “Who knows your whole story?”

¿Qué Quieres?

¿Qué quieres, Lorena? ¿Qué quieres? I repeated it to myself as I stared at my reflection in the window of an almost thousand-year-old church. What do you want?

Cancer Is Not Evil

The most significant source of strength I draw from as I deal with cancer is not some coping mechanism that comes naturally to me. I don’t have three keys for stress-free living to offer my readers. Instead, the most important, most helpful sources of inspiration and strength for me have been my beliefs about God.

9 Tips for Interpreting Scripture

Many of us grew up hearing preachers proclaim, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” By now, I hope we realize that the task of biblical interpretation is a tad more complicated.

Ancient Israel as God’s Archetypal Family

The story of Israel is then an archetypal story. All families of the earth share similar stories about their emergence as a people, the land or space that they inhabit, and the challenges and obstacles that they have overcome.

Getting It All Together

Jesus’ boat lands on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee—no longer in Jewish territory. This is like landing in Cuba. Along the edge of the lake, tombs are cut into the mountain. The village graveyard is this land’s version of a mental institution.

Who Blesses Whom

Isaac was a unique, funny, lovable guy, albeit frustrating at times. He had a way of wiggling his endearing, stubborn soul into your heart like I imagine a little brother would. He was a man of few words, but he could always communicate what he wanted in any given moment.

A Prayer for When Exhilaration Gives Way to Routine

We live on the highs, don’t we, Lord? At least you may have noticed that we try. Of course, this isn’t realistic. But that never keeps us from striving. We become accustomed to the thrill. Addicted to the high of achievement and feedback. We get used to accomplishment and growth.

Jesus’ Use of the Psalms

For ordinary Christians who experience opposition and negative feelings, we are invited to bring the full breadth of these experiences into the realm of God.

Imagining God

How do you and I imagine God? I realize that God exceeds our capacities for imagination, but most of us live with some mental image of the Divine. It’s almost necessary. For example, when I pray, I can’t speak with any intimacy to something that is formless, shapeless, and total mystery.

Bittersweet: A Meditation for Teachers

There are weeks, even months, when we look forward to arriving at school each morning. We open our doors and relish the start of a new day of learning and laughter with our students.

Fascination Matters: Chasing Something that Gives You Delight

My lifelong fascination with sports is not the only fascination I’ve had. When I look back on my life, I see a long line of interests: model airplanes, baseball cards, coins, stamps, African violets, bonsai plants, books, vegetable gardening, writing, running…

Interview: Theologian and Thinker Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass is a well-known Protestant theologian and scholar. She has written nine books and has preached and lectured in small churches and in the National Cathedral.

The Physical Resurrection

The Christian proclamation that God raised Jesus from the dead is the basis for the Christian faith and, at the same time, a huge stumbling block for many people. “When you’re dead you’re dead,” we say.

When Acts Just Ends

The book of Acts, which concerns the early church, seems like this, especially as it nears its strange conclusion. Leaving Athens, fortunately, Paul was able to start churches in Corinth and Ephesus.

Paul’s Reputation as Sexist

Paul’s reputation as sexist rests on two passages attributed to him. The first is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the second is 1 Timothy 2:11-12.

The Fourfold Pattern for Common Worship

When the people of God gather then for Sunday worship, the “order of service” is not accidental or simply because “we’ve always done it that way.” The structure of common worship should be determined by our very best understanding of who God is, what God is about, what God expects and wants, and who we are in relationship to God.

Scripture Matters: Wrestling with the Word

In Genesis 32, Jacob has a mysterious wrestling match with an unknown assailant. Everything about that wrestling match is strange. The assailant is unnamed and unidentified.

Lent Is a Time to Adjust

The church year has brought us to Lent, the time of penitence and self-reflection before Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I once heard it said that you can’t have Easter without Lent; how could you know the joy of the mountaintop without the realities of the valley?

Persecuted

There are people all over the world who are being persecuted—truly persecuted—for righteousness’ sake, for the sake of their faithful witness to their relationship with God and to the ways of God’s kingdom.

Missing Nothing

When Johann Sebastian Bach died in 1750, he wasn’t thought of as an especially brilliant composer, and within a few years of his death, he and his music were largely forgotten.

Now I Know How John the Baptist Felt

My curiosity grew as Friday approached, then arrived. “Hello, Harold,” I greeted my octogenarian guest. C’mon in. Please have a seat.”

“It Was My Privilege”

When retired Army Colonel William Albert Porter Junior died, his family found the directions he’d left in his will specifying how he wanted his funeral to be.

A Room of My Own

Most of our waking hours are spent in the company of others, and this is as it should be: “It is not good for man[kind] to be alone,” God said, and we sense that truth in our bones, in the missing slat of man’s ribs.

Opened Heavens

Jesus’ baptism somehow prompted an amazing representation of the thing that Jesus’ life in its entirety was about: the barrier between heaven and earth was penetrated and the way from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven was opened.

Demands of the Season

It turns out that you can’t just go in and look around in such an important place. The place demands more of you.

When We Have to Choose: The Indecisiveness Roadblock

God’s word is packed with informative insights for Christians who want to move around the roadblock of indecisiveness. In addition, many characters introduced to us in Scripture flesh out these insights in their lives.

Hard Things Are Hard

Hard things are hard. Sometimes life is just plain hard. You can’t escape it or get around it; you just have to live through it.

The Issues Paradox

Churches in the modern age troll for pastors who know how to grow a church. They are desperate for men and women who know how to promote, market, and sell. When the pulpit becomes empty, churches now look for sales-types, the same kinds of people who would succeed in real estate and life insurance.

Catching a Glimpse

The first Christmas comes and goes, and most people don’t notice. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and a few others catch a glimpse of what is happening, but they’re just a handful.

Waiting During Advent

In the Advent/Christmas season, let me encourage you to learn how to wait. I know we don’t want to do that.

Facing Grief, at Christmas and Always

I am neither a nihilist nor a pessimist. For heaven’s sake, I am pastor of America’s home of Positive Thinking. I am, however, a realist. And as such, I have a theory about life. Here it is: Life is not the last five minutes of the movie.

Meditations on Luke: Our Given Identities

When my wife was pregnant with each of our daughters, we felt a degree of stress in coming up with names for them. For one thing, we didn’t want to offend anyone in our families of origin. Use names from only one side of the family and you may alienate folks on the other.

An Invitation to Joy

If we relied on Mark, we would have to stretch to get a story worth a Christmas carol. Mark has no shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, no Mary, no Joseph, no manger, no wise men, no Herod.

“Special Diagnosis”

In a lower desk drawer in his study in Greensboro, Randall maintained a confidential file he labeled “Special Diagnosis.” Recorded within the file were names of individuals who had made him aware of potentially life-limiting health circumstances.

Reminders To Be Generous

Begin this month by thinking about generosity. If you live in gratitude, you will naturally be a more generous person—generous with your attention, generous with your support for others, and generous with your material resources.

Saints, a Reminder of Life’s Beauty

Renowned writer and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky said it best: “The world will be saved by beauty.”

Death and Life

We lose so many good people. When Jesus finally arrives at his friends’ home, Lazarus has been dead for four days.

Time and Patience

In my work with mediation and conflict resolution, there are two major tools: time and patience.

Faith Postures: Noticing When We Obstruct Christ

I did something one weekend of which I am ashamed. I did something I can never take back and something for which I can never be sure of the ramifications.

The Baggage We Carry

My excitement about being on El Camino De Santiago—the Way of St. James—walking in the footsteps of the millions of pilgrims who came before me, carried me for the first portion of my journey. My feet were still in good shape—no soreness or blisters, not even any calluses yet—and I was sticking to the schedule I’d designed to keep myself from overdoing it.

A Worship Hour Outline: Dreams

We come to dream with you, Spirit of Hope. We confess that some of our dreams have been selfish ambitions, and that we have often been driven by personal gain and little interest in others or your will.

Learning to Walk on Water

I once saw a saying that really spoke to me: “Be like Jesus; rebuke the storm, and if it persists, walk on it.” How many times have storms taken control of our lives?

Interviewing Randall Lolley

Among the first questions a friend asked when I floated the idea of a Randall Lolley biography was, “Is Randall able to help?”