Connections 07.01.2018: Journeying through Grief

“Grief Is Complicated.” My first thought when I read the title for this lesson was Well, that’s an understatement! Anyone who has experienced grief—no matter the cause—knows that it is more than complicated.

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.

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.

A View from the Pew: The Beauty and Challenge of Baby Dedications

Whether they are innocently sleeping or desperately screaming, we can’t take our eyes off babies. This is especially true during baby dedications at church. Spend any amount of time in church, and you’re likely to be a part of such a service, especially in Baptist churches with young families.

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.

Helping Each Other Grieve

As well as being a joyous time, Christmas can be difficult for people touched by tragedy or loss in the past year. Grief is isolating. While the rest of the world seems to be celebrating, tragedies years and decades old resurface.

Crossroads: All Saints’ Day

For me, it is fitting that November 1st is All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is a time of remembering those who have been part of our Christian journey who are no longer with us. It’s a day to remember the people throughout the history of the church who came before us.

The Tale of Two Prayers

My friend was dying. When we met, she told me that she had cancer. Though, right now, I can’t recall why that was a part of our first conversation.

Holy Ghosts: Deadly News (For Raymond)

The news came crawling
Like dreaded, deadly spiders into my ear,
Spewing their gossip like a lethal poison.

Praying in the Shadow of Death

The Internet has been good for us in many ways. But, I feel that a warning should be issued at this point….If you begin to experience any of these symptoms, please stop using the Internet and consult a real person in real life.

Death and Life

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

Crossroads: All Saints’ Day

Tell your family about someone who has influenced you, but who has also died. It can be someone from your family who influenced your faith or identity, or someone from church who was a big influence.

A View from the Pew: A Day for All Saints

For years I thought the end of October was solely the devil’s territory. Trick-or-treat, scary or revealing costumes, and general tomfoolery were reserved for Halloween leaving churches few good options for experiencing the season.

Praying in the Dark

More often than not, we talk to God with the lights on. This is not to suggest that prayer is scary, that there are monsters under the pews or in our prayer closets.

To Those Waiting and to Those Mourning on Mother’s Day

I don’t know how you feel. And that is my important disclaimer here. I don’t know what it’s like to wait months or even years, only to see a little negative sign that hurts in such a big way.

Crossroads: Praise the Lord!

As I write this, my family is getting ready to remember several losses in our family. On January 25th, we lost my great-grandmother (my mom’s grandmother) and my aunt (my dad’s sister), two years apart.

Uniform 01.25.2015: Effective Prayer

People love stories of miraculous healings. When I log on to social media, I am often greeted with links to stories about babies who are diagnosed with serious illnesses in the womb but are born perfectly healthy.

Uniform 01.11.2015: A Grandmother’s Voice

As I read these words of Jesus this week, I am grieving the loss of my grandmother, who died just after Christmas. My mind is running a constant feed of the time my family and I spent saying goodbye.

In Pursuit of the Spirit: Remembering the Saints

October has never been my favorite month. It always opens with such promise and warmth, and then ends with a blustery quickness that is downright abrasive.

Uniform: Seeing through Grieving Eyes

When my 3-year-old is upset about something, he suddenly becomes upset about everything else, too. After suffering from an injury or disappointment, he begins to see all the other things that are out of place in his world.

Crossroads: Experiences of Grief – Mary, Martha

One of the saddest experiences in life is when someone or something we love dies. I remember the first time one of my pets died. Blackey was our family cat.

A Meditation for Good Friday – Amy Butler

I had the strangest experience just a few weeks ago. I’d been asked to participate in the funeral of a woman I did not know well; she grew up at my church, Calvary, and I knew her family from a couple of chances we’d had to be together.

Uniform 02.16.2014: They’re Doing the Hard Thing

Two weeks ago, I posted an entry about doing the hard thing. “Do the hard thing,” I wrote. “Don’t just listen. Don’t just talk. Act on what you hear and say about Jesus. That’s what makes it real.” This idea is one of James’s main themes, and today’s text highlights it again.

You (Plural) Are Not Lacking

“You Are Not Lacking.” That was the title of the sermon I planned to preach on Sunday, January 19. But before I got to it, on Friday, January 17, the daughter-in-law of some beloved church members went on a walk near the church in the afternoon and never came home. Her name is Leanne Hecht Bearden.