In Community

We are in all kinds of communities, and we should be grateful for each of them. There are of course the neighborhood we live in, the one we work in, our city or town. Our churches are communities of faith but also communities of friendship.

Crossroads: The Answer Is Prayer

I’m a worrier. It’s who I am. I worry about test results, about family members and close friends, about the future, etc. Sometimes my worry feels overwhelming. And so I pray.

Formations 09.23.2018: Conflicts and Disputes

Today’s passage gives us a good example of how James constantly revisits his central themes. He has already urged his readers to be slow to anger (1:19-20) and love their neighbors as themselves (2:8). He has already commended gentleness born of wisdom (3:13).

Connections 09.23.2018: Real Wisdom Indeed

My maternal grandmother died suddenly in 2012. She was eighty-two and had lived a good, long life full of blessings along with heartaches, but we still weren’t expecting her to die, and her passing hurt us all deeply.

Formations 09.16.2018: Words of Wisdom

My grandmother Joan taught me, as she did with all of her grandchildren, to pay attention to language. She had been an elementary-school teacher, so she taught us with sharp, repeated, and mostly frustrating questions.

Connections 09.16.2018: The Danger of the Tongue

The pastor of my growing up years, the legendary Preacher Bill Coleman, liked to brag back in the 1970s that he hadn’t spoken at a Wednesday night prayer meeting in several years. The reason was that anyone who wanted to speak could sign up to do so.

Formations 09.09.2018: Making Integrity a Priority

A growing trend in the business world is to establish a position with responsibility for corporate ethics. Brooke Masters of the Financial Times recently found more than 400 openings at the recruiting site Glassdoor for chief integrity officers and more than 650 for ethics officers.

Connections 09.09.2018: More than Thoughts and Prayers

Over the past few years, numerous tragedies across the globe have torn at our hearts. From school shootings to natural disasters to war violence, we hear about specific events and feel helpless. We may cry. We may get angry. We may look the other way. All of these reactions indicate how helpless we feel to make things right.

Crossroads: Do Something

Theory and practice are two very different things. I may believe that I can do something, but until I actually do it, who knows whether or not I can?

Formations 09.02.2018: To the Twelve Tribes in the Dispersion

In the past week, my fiancée and I have spent more time than normal going through addresses. We’ve separated city, state, and zip codes from street addresses. When we saw unit numbers, we moved them to another column on the spreadsheet.

Write Something Meaningful

I love writing. It’s rewarding to transform an idea into words that offer inspiration or clarity, or both. Certainly, no one’s writings will be the bee’s knees to one and all, but they might empower two or three. I think the odds of making a difference are in my favor when I collect the gifts given to me by Jesus and faithfully steward them.

Formations 03.12.2017: Think Before You Speak

I must admit I wasn’t watching the Academy Awards last month when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced the wrong winner in the Best Picture category. Apparently, Beatty had been handed the wrong envelope—the one for Emma Stone’s Best Actress award for La La Land.

Facing Dualism

Like everyone else, I sometimes take a dualistic view of the world. Things are good or bad, black or white, true or false. This attitude always accompanies the temptation to be judgmental.

Time and Patience

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

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?”

Grateful for Mistakes

“Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive. Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.” (author unknown)

Formations 10.25.2015: Wholeness

Somewhere along the way in my days as a pastor, I began to carry a small vial of anointing oil in my pocket. I never made a big deal out of it. Honestly, I carried that oil at least as much for my benefit as for my parishioners.

Examining the Wreckage

A poem from On Paying Attention.

I am drawn to plane crashes….

Formations 08.16.2015: Making Peace

Kanye West is famous, among other things, for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards. When Swift beat out Beyoncé for Best Female Video, the rapper rushed the stage to explain why Beyoncé’s should have won instead.

That Dark Thursday Night: A Maundy Thursday Reading

“Go into the city,” he said. “A friend of mine will show you a large, upper room, furnished and ready.” Strange. Peter and I rounded a corner and there, coming out of a narrow alley was a man we didn’t know, but he looked at us as if we were expected.

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.

Thrive: The Request – Valerie Burton

The mother of James and John may have been the first “helicopter parent,” one hovering a little too closely to her children as they climbed the ladder of discipleship.

Uniform 02.23.2014: Talking with Toddlers

As the mother of a two-year-old, I spend a lot of time thinking about language. I delight in my son’s ever-expanding vocabulary, and I giggle at his sweet mispronunciations and the fascinating way he strings words together into sentences. But as much fun as it can be to help my son understand our complicated language, teaching him the power of words is a serious business.

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.

Uniform 2.09.2014: Loving Everyone in Snowstorms and Beyond

This week, the Southeast experienced a rare winter storm that wreaked havoc on our routines. A mass exodus from schools and businesses when snow started to fall on untreated roads created dangerous and impassable conditions. Commutes of a few miles that would normally take fifteen to twenty minutes stretched into hours and even into the next day.

Uniform 02.02.2014: Doing the Hard Thing

Nearly thirteen years ago, I made a commitment to a man. I spoke words and donned a ring. He heard those words, and so did everyone else in the church. God heard them, too. Over the years, I have learned again and again that those words and that promise are not enough. Sometimes, it’s harder than I ever imagined to live out those words.