No athletes competing in the Olympic games have prayed themselves into a gold medal. They got up early, stayed up late. They swore off sodas and cinnamon rolls. They fell and got up again, fell and got up again. Most of them have sacrificed years of sweat, practice, failure, and sleep to get where they are.
Most religion deserves the criticism that it’s designed to keep people on a very short leash. Not one of those 20’ retractable kinds, but 6’ feet of inflexible, yank-your-head-back-quickly rope.
As a child, I was told to quit wasting my food. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, they said. Only dish onto your plate what you can eat. Otherwise, you’ll end up throwing half of it away.
The “black box.” There's a phrase that never harbors good news.
Another plane down.
Another mystery to unravel.
A thousand questions from survivors, the FAA, the media.
All demanding answers.
No matter how engrossed I might be in an episode of Bugs Bunny or Gilligan’s Island, my ears never missed the approaching rumble. It crawled its way down the alley, one man driving, two other men walking alongside. They hefted garbage cans and spilled their contents into the gaping mouth of the truck.
January 1 marks the day I first caught a glimpse of the most profound truth in the universe. I was 18 years old. I was fighting tooth and nail with God. And He showed me, finally, through one the weirdest acts ever performed on the human body, that He and He alone makes me His son. Here's how it all went down.
She was the kind of woman whose biography needed few exclamation points. Invisibility was her most striking feature. Few recalled her, and none remembered any story in which she was either villain or heroine. She was the very incarnation of average.
Snowmen hung like overweight acrobats from the light poles lining Main Street as the hearse crunched over the snowy pavement. Jingle bells, sirens yell, tears cascade like rain. All they wanted for Christmas was him back. Before he left his friend’s house. Before the curve of the bridge. Before he fell asleep at the wheel.
It's been baptized by my sweat. The soles of my shoes have shaped and smoothed its contours. It's eavesdropped on my conversations with God and men. Through darkness and light, I've sped along its vagabond ways, ducking drooping limbs and jumping tree roots.
The earliest the McKenzie family ever made it to church was during the closing stanza of the opening hymn. Every Sunday something delayed them. Little James would spit up his breakfast all over his church clothes as they strapped him in the car seat. Lindsey would hog the bathroom and delay Garrett’s shower. Tom and Cindy would hit snooze one too many times.
Each religion has its high and holy days. Islam has Eid al-Adha, Judaism has Yom Kippur, and Christianity has Easter. These aren’t just days where the religious sit around and think. They aren’t holy brain days. They are full of action, where the whole body is involved. There are rituals, prayers, sermons. Kneeling, standing, processing. Religious stuff embodied. And this sacred stuff communicates the meaning and importance of the day.
If there’s one thing that we in the church do extremely well, it’s ignoring the greatest threats that face us. We roll massive Trojan horses inside our sanctuary walls while feverishly battling the mosquitoes that buzz around us. And once we wake up and grasp the true danger—if we ever do—the damage done is often incalculable.
Every night my son and daughter would snuggle beside me on the couch and listen as I read a story to them from a children’s Bible. On one page was colorful artwork depicting the Israelites walking between the high wet walls of the Red Sea or Daniel in a den of sleeping lions. On the facing page was a digest version of the account.
Out of the depths have we cried unto Thee, O Lord. Out of the morgue, the hospital, the cemetery baptized with a thousand tears. Out of the rubble of our shattered lives, our dead children, our bitter grief and lacerated hearts.
The world of Facebook has its own language and culture. And lies. To someone new to social media, it’s like touring around a foreign country. You’re not sure what to consume, where to go, or who to talk to. And to make matters worse, you’re not sure what’s real and what’s not.
Five hundred miles north of us, near the San Francisco bay, sits a man named Curtis Roberts. I doubt he’s ever read a word of Luther or visited the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He doesn’t know anything about “Here We Still Stand.”
“There comes a time in almost everyone’s life when they feel like Adam must have felt the first time he watched the sun set. All the beauty and warmth of light morph into night. It doesn’t happen instantly. It’s not like the flip of a light switch. First there’s fear as the sun crawls toward the horizon, then bewilderment as it vanishes, then shock as the world we once knew envelops us with darkness.
Poor Samson, he always seems to make the list of bad role models in the Bible. He's put out there as the ripped hippie who whacked Philistines, chased skirts, got his head shaved, and eventually got himself killed.
When I need to pray the most is usually when my tongue tucks its tail and runs away. I’m left wordless. Rather than a prayer warrior, I feel like a prayer deserter.
There’s a woodworker inside us who won’t let the cross of Jesus remain the cross of Jesus. It’s raw material for a new, “improved” creation. And here are two of his favorites.