Rediscovering Centering Prayer

I went on a run yesterday. I’ve always wanted to be a runner but have never been able to cultivate the strength and endurance and discipline to bring that dream to life.

Dead Skunk (Possum, Squirrel, Armadillo) in the Middle of the Road

I tend not to notice roadkill until it’s too late. I’ll be driving merrily along, and I’ll feel that little bump from running over something that’s already dead. If my Good Wife is a passenger in the car I’m driving, she’ll cringe when I run over a dead animal.

Worship: Communion

The most intimate and meaningful family times I can remember are around a table. Whether it is just the immediate family or a larger gathering such as a family reunion, there is something very special about gathering for a meal.

Formations 09.08.2019: A Light in the Darkness

I have consciously been on my faith journey since I was about ten years old. Before that, as far back as I remember, my religious upbringing consisted of church three times a week and prayers before meals and bedtime.

Worship: Participation

Last week we read about Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple in chapter 6. Isaiah obviously heard God’s call and opened his heart to whatever God wanted to tell him.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Connection

I have vivid memories of October 31, 2013. I woke up with excitement because that afternoon we were debuting Tabernacle Baptist Church’s first Hallelujah HYPE Night.

Worship: Expectation

Some of my most profound worship experiences have been in large settings where those in attendance were inspired by and engaged in the event; and they were focused on the group’s communion with God.

Worship: Preparation

Did you ever memorize Hosea 6:6? “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants to meet with us, to commune with us.

Worship: What and Why?

Throughout its years of use, “worship” has garnered many experiential definitions depending on the culture of the community, the denomination, and the purpose of the gathering.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Grace

A few years ago, my wife and I became the happy parents of two girls. Then a funny thing happened when we announced there was a third baby coming.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Prayer

When I enter the hospital one cold January morning after a frantic drive up a North Dallas freeway, I found my dad unresponsive due to complications from surgery.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Forgiveness

I have two children. My son is 14 and my daughter is 9. As much as I want to, I cannot recall all of details of the day I first became a father.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Gentleness

I picked up my three-day-old daughter from her bassinet, but I couldn’t make her stop screeching. I bounced, rocked, and swayed. Twenty squats later, I began to question my competency as a parent.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Jump

“What a little jerk!” is a publishable paraphrase of what I thought as I reread the story of young Jesus missing for three days in the temple while his parents frantically searched.

Are We There Yet?

Summertime is here. And the Great American Migration (aka summer vacation travel) is about to begin. Along with this annual Rite of Family Adventure, will come the most-often uttered phrase in human history, “Are we there yet?”

From the Flame

After the Halloween season, I purchased some seasonal candles on sale. A large one consisted of a layer of orange wax followed by a layer of black wax followed by another layer of orange wax.

A Resurrection

Deep into Avengers: Endgame, a brief moment knocked the wind out of me, even though I knew it was coming. If you haven’t been keeping up with the blockbuster behemoth, the previous movie (Infinity War) ends with the intergalactic villain Thanos…

Imagining the Apostles’ Creed

Some years ago, our minister admonished us to repeat the Apostles’ Creed regularly. Although I memorized the Creed, my mind often wandered as I fell into rote memorization.

Praise, a Lenten Devotion

I recently attended a session of my son’s Science Explorers club. The children were learning about rocks. Who knew there were so many different kinds of rocks?

The Bell Lap, a Lenten Devotion

In long-distance swimming, the last two lengths of the pool are called “the bell lap.” When swimmers reach the final 2 lengths of the pool in competitions, an official rings a bell.

Restorative Forgiveness, a Lenten Devotion

The second grade Sunday school class was visiting in the home of the pastor and his wife. The teacher had issued a strong warning to be careful in Reverend and Mrs. Cline’s home.

Bear Fruit, a Lenten Devotion

“This is your last chance—1, 2, 3!” How many times have I shouted those words in order to correct my disobedient children?

A Fox and a Hen, a Lenten Devotion

Spending time on my grandparents’ farm in the summer was the highlight of my young life. My Granny and I would rise each morning and head to the chicken house to gather fresh eggs for breakfast. I learned to reach under the hens and remove 2 or 3 eggs, with great excitement!

Turning Evil Away, a Lenten Devotion

The first time I remember being faced with temptation, I was 4 years old. I was in the checkout line at the drug store with my mom and sister.

“Influencer,” a Lenten Devotion

“Influencer.” The bright yellow sweatshirt with blue font immediately grabbed my attention from it’s place on the sales rack. Before I could process the implications of being an “influencer,” an excited mother hastened to the garment

Healing

Sometimes it’s not just lemons life throws our way. Sometimes life comes at us with a Medieval flail. So, what do we do? Life is certainly no respecter of persons when it comes to trials and tribulations.

Paradox

Ugh, we had a tough night. It’s been a tough month really. Such a paradox. I read this verse this morning and it jumped off the page. Like Paul was in my head. He has had to discipline the church he loves so much. He disciplined because he loved and he tells us in verse 4 that he was “heartbroken.”

Advent Devotions: Joy

Merry Christmas! Technically, Advent is over, but as I’ve said before, even though the Christ child has come, in a way, we are still waiting. We wait with hope. We wait with peace. We wait with love. And today, we wait with joy.

Advent Devotions: Love

When I was in junior high school I began going on mission trips each summer to New Orleans. Our youth group would break up into teams and lead backyard Bible clubs in neighborhood parks. We always carried Evangecubes—an interactive tract—with us. One day I was sitting at the bottom of a slide with a little boy who was around 8 years old.

Advent Devotions: Peace

Isaiah tells us of a promise that will be fulfilled. Though he expects to see the promise fulfilled in his lifetime, he is left waiting and faithfully pointing toward the truth. This is the same promise that we are waiting for as we move toward celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

Advent Devotions: Hope

As I’ve prepared to explore Advent and journey through this season of waiting and watching, I’ve had one song stuck in my head. Well, one line from one song stuck in my head: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices….”

Advent Devotions: Introduction

On Sunday we will begin a journey through the season of Advent. During Advent, the start of the church year or liturgical calendar, we wait expectantly for the coming Christ child. I’ve never been a huge fan of waiting…is anybody a fan of waiting?

Two Advent Hymns

At this time of year, we look forward to Advent worship. A few years ago, I realized that we might benefit from some additional Advent hymns, so I wrote a couple and set them to the tunes of well-known Christmas hymns. If you think your church’s Advent worship might be enhanced by them, I’d be honored for you to sing them.

Extending Forgiveness

This morning, one of my small dogs needed a little TLC. As she cuddled next to me and I stroked her fur, I reflected that over the last year, a particularly hard one, God had often offered me TLC too. Some years ago, a trial by fire presented itself when I had been asked to step in and run two affiliated companies whose owners had passed away.

Connections 11.25.2018: Because Christ Reigns

As you probably know, we had an election back on November 6. As of this writing, they’re still counting votes here in Georgia and in several other states. As the process stretches on, one can detect a touch of holiday rancor in the air.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Nine

From the time I was a child all I wanted was some peace. I swore to myself all through my childhood and teen years that my relationship with my future wife and children would be centered in peace. No fighting! Blessed are the peacemakers. I was down with that.

Connections 11.18.2018: Insight for Divisive Times

The United States political and religious climate is nothing short of divisive, often in devastating ways. Within my own extended family, there have been threats of withholding contact due to political and religious differences. One person asked how the other could claim to be a Christian while holding a particular point of view.

The Gospel According to the Enneagram Eight

I am an Eight. At my best, I stand up to bullies. At my worst, I become a bully. I am strong. At my best I protect the weak and vulnerable. At my worst, I’m paranoid about my own vulnerability and weaknesses. I am heroic. At my best, I seek justice, bringing down systems of oppression. At my worst, I push boundaries too far and destroy lives.

The Blissful Affliction of Writing

I used to set my schedule around Monk on Friday nights. In case you missed it, Monk was a detective series on the USA Network that let us follow the adventures of an obsessive-compulsive genius named Adrian Monk. There was no doubt that Monk was a detective genius. He could solve crimes no one else could solve.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Seven

In the deepest motivations of my heart, I am struck by how similar I am to the disciple Peter. I’m quick to come to the fight and chop somebody’s ear off all for a good cause (John 18:10). I am so energized by an exciting moment and eager to work that I miss the point (Matthew 17:1-8).

Different Drummer

Years ago, I was sharing with a very dear friend some issue with which I had been dealing. Very much like my mother, my friend always laughs at my stories, even the ones in which I’m complaining or seeking her advice.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Six

As a child, after lights out, I would use a flashlight to illuminate my journal as I wrote list after list of the things I was worried about. First on that list was always gym class. Also making frequent appearances: tests, friends, and anything out of the ordinary.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Five

When Drew asked me to consider adding to a blog series of all nine Enneagram types, I was intrigued by the challenge, honored to serve, and immediately overwhelmed by the pressure and world-wide-webyness of whatever I would submit. Welcome to the world of the Five (The Thinker).

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Four

As an Enneagram Four, I tend to want the world to be ideal. I’m caught in a constant internal struggle of how my actions can create a more authentic experience for myself and how I can feel more connected to the world around me. As a Four, I’m all about the ideals and feels.

Follow the Leader

One day, Jesus asked his disciples what they were hearing people speculate about him. They offered various answers. Then Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was. A disciple named Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Three

Enneagram Threes find their value in how others perceive them, especially in regard to what they do and accomplish. For this reason, we Threes are very goal-oriented. We tend to be the people you call to get something done. We adapt to situations so that you will still think we are great even when we aren’t.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram Two

I love when science and religion so perfectly come together to enhance our overall health. Healthy Twos are compassionate, unselfish, and generous. Sincere in their love for others, they focus on a life of service and encouragement. In truth, however, most helpers have ulterior motives.

The Gospel According to an Enneagram One

It’s a familiar story. The Pharisees, concerned that Jesus cares nothing for the law, test him with a real life case study: a woman caught in adultery. Jesus, instead of answering, stoops in the dirt to write with a stick.