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.

Pain Can Give Birth to New Life

The day my first grandchild, Liam, was born, Linda and I arrived at the hospital and went to my daughter Elizabeth’s room to spend time with her and her husband, Josh. Every two or three minutes, Elizabeth would have a contraction, a passing moment of tension and discomfort.

Bringing Our Pain to God

Think about the people you know who are in terrible pain right now. Violence, death, loss, trauma, or physical or mental illness has touched them, even destroyed them. If they should come to worship, is there an appropriate context for them to acknowledge their pain before God?

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.

The Weight of Pain

Why does pain almost always seem to weigh more, to have more substance, to impact us more powerfully, than joy? For many people, the moments that have been most life-changing have been, not the moments of joy, but the moments of pain.

Crossroads: Anger and Words

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” How many times did we say this to someone growing up? How many times have you heard it before? When I said this as a kid, it was because someone had said something hurtful and mean to me, and I said it to cover up the fact that those words did hurt.

Headlines

Many mornings when we check the news, the headlines announce an event that will alter the course of our lives. If you had the power to change one headline that has occurred in history, what headline would it be?

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.

Where Prayer Meets the Road

We talk about prayer as if it is always easy, like it presents no complications. No experience required. Anyone can do it. Our prayer directions read: bow head, close eyes, fold hands, and add words. “It’s a conversation.” “Relax, you’re just talking to God.”

Writing When It Hurts

Writer and activist James Baldwin concluded, “The price for pursuing any profession, or calling, is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” When I answered the call to preach the gospel, the invitation was delivered by one of Gabriel’s mail-angels.

Praying Unbelief

So, I hate to begin with bad news but Jesus knows that we don’t always believe. I don’t know if Jesus uses measuring spoons or cups but he knows the quantity of our faith. Maybe he eyeballs it.

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.

Busy Is a Sickness

I’m busy. I don’t know about you, but anytime I am asked, “How’s it going?”, I never just say “fine” anymore. Instead, my stock response is always some degree of frazzled.

Holiday Interrupted

I’ve been busy with the holidays since last week. When the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson was announced, I was picking up extended family from the airport. When a local action took place in my city the next day, I was gathered at my church for our annual Thanksgiving meal and service.

Breaking Things

I am not terribly clumsy and yet I have a way of breaking things. Now, I am not the artist that my cousin Stan was. When we were boys, I dreaded when Stan, who was a few years younger than I, came to our house because he would want to play with my toys and any toy that Stan touched broke.

A View from the Pew: Making the Most of a Ministerial Transition

An unexpected resignation of a church staff member can feel like a punch to the gut. When a trusted staff member resigns, it’s not unusual to feel an acute sense of loss and even betrayal.

Mending the Saints: Teaching That Helps Us Heal

If you polled your congregation about why Sunday school matters, would they agree that it does? Would specifics about class content rank high on their response list?
“I love studying those dietary laws in Leviticus.”
“Learning that the Corinthians had more problems than we do actually helped us.”