Faith Postures: Noticing Our (God-repaired) Selves

Sometimes I mistakenly read the Bible like a Jane Austen book. Life seems so simple in Pride and Prejudice or in Sense and Sensibility; the good people are good, the bad people are bad, and everyone knows who is who.

Crossroads: I Doubt It

When I was a child, we always played a game called “I doubt it” when we went on vacation. It was a card game and the point was to be the person who got rid of all of their cards first.

Spiritual but Not Religious

Many would say, to use a modern phrase, that Lincoln was “spiritual but not religious.” Such a posture should be celebrated as an expression of heartfelt belief and longing, but it should also be considered with a word of caution.

Faith, a Prayer for Epiphany

God of life,
God of all our becoming
winding
changing
hopeful
fearful years—
we praise you
for your faithfulness.

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.

Crossroads: Being the Best

One semester in college, I asked my professor what I got on my final exam. He said something like a 94, and I asked what questions I missed. I’ll never forget his response: “Why does it matter? You got an A.”

Crossroads: The Storms of Life

I was always terrified of storms as a child. The thunder scared me the most, and my mom could never convince me that the thunder couldn’t hurt me.

Of Spirit and Mind: A Pentecostal’s Battle Against Depression

She stopped eating and looked at me. “Are you serious?” She was more commenting than questioning. “Why would you go see a counselor? They don’t have any wisdom. They can’t help you. Are you depressed?”

Crossroads: By Faith, pt 2

Tell your family’s story of faith. If your ancestors were immigrants, your family faith story may begin with something like “by faith my great-great-great grandparents left the home and land they knew and came to America in search of a better life.”

Crossroads: By Faith, pt 1

As Christians, we believe in what we cannot see. We cannot see God, but we know He is there. But believing in God and becoming a Christian makes a take a leap of faith; because we cannot see God but we believe anyway. We have faith in a lot of things.

Stay Grounded in Faith

The other day I went fly-fishing with a clergy colleague, Vern Collins, and a bishop with a reputation, Will Willimon. We went down to Boone Fork River to fish the waters surrounding Watauga County and found ourselves lost to the outside world.

A View from the Pew: Deconstruction is Only Half of the Job

A friend and mentor I quote often liked to say he was “unencumbered by a theological education.” That joke has always resonated with me.

Lost in Maples

They wander, these children of mine. They wander and they wonder, and then boom, you take them out of their comfort zone and here comes the whining.

Education Is a Faith Issue

School starts back soon, and my friend Molly Wright visited Stephanie and me in Boone this week. She has been a dear friend since high school, when she was the cool senior who gave me (the lowly freshman) rides home in her Jeep Cherokee.

A View from the Pew: Family vs. Faith Traditions on Christmas Eve

There are two kinds of families in this world: those who open gifts on Christmas Eve and those who wait until Christmas morning. I have been blessed to have been a part of both.

The Rhythm of a Faith-Filled Life

The faith-filled life has a rhythm to it. We ask, seek, proclaim what we learn, and then learn to ask anew. When I worked at an agency for youth in the state foster care system, this rhythm became our familiar soundtrack.

Faith and Science

Every great once in a while, my father, the late great Champ Ruffin, would decide it was time to get a new used car. He had one main criterion for any vehicle he purchased: it had to have four doors. The reason was that we transported “the ladies” (as he called them) to church every Sunday.

An Advent Prayer

O God,
As you come to us, please come bearing faith, hope, and love.
We need to trust, hope, and love more.

An Open Letter to My Mental Illness

I suffer from a mental illness. At times, it can be crippling and debilitating. I just spent some time in the hospital dealing with my illness. One of the doctors knew I was a divinity student and Christian minister and asked me, “Have you lost your faith?”

Praying Scared

Usually when we think of persons who pray, we imagine great women and men of faith. Cue the climactic music. They sound like an elite group of believers and are known to some as “prayer warriors.”

Becoming a Church

Peter Pan premieres at the box office. Eisenhower becomes President of the United States. The Korean War ends. These events all occurred in 1953, the same year that a church plant was created.

Why Did God Call Me?

I had the privilege of preaching recently on the well-known Exodus Chapter 3 passage about Moses and the burning bush. You know the one. Moses is happy in obscurity, herding his father-in-law’s sheep when—BOOM!—God appears to Moses as a burning bush in the wilderness.

Circle of Faith

A few months ago, we met a woman in her fifties from a neighboring prefecture who had come to visit Kanazawa Baptist Church, where we worship and work. We learned from our pastor that this woman’s father was a longtime church member, but had been in and out of the hospital and was nearing death.

A Guide to Four Types of Bible Study Learners – Mark Wingfield

Have you heard the story about a time long, long ago, in a faraway place, when adults gathered for Bible study and everyone in the class studied the same thing at the same time and learned the same way? Yeah, that day is gone—if it ever really existed.

What Jesus Means to Me – Daniel Vestal

Years ago I read the story from E. Stanley Jones, the esteemed Methodist evangelist, about his first sermon. He was 17 years old, and he was delivering it to his home church. Early in the sermon he fumbled with some words, and a lady on the second pew chuckled.