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.
Jesus said it would have been better for this man not to have been born.
Shocking words, sad words.
But they are not the saddest words in Scripture.
Every congregation is a dying congregation. This is not up for debate. The sun is hot. Water is wet. Congregations are dying. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
One of the best gifts we can give our children is to stop trying to be perfect parents.
Don’t set out to be a hero to your children.
Throw away your capes.
I never could put my finger on why Mrs. Snodgrass didn’t like me. Her name certainly wasn’t playground safe, but I never sang mean little ditties about her like some other 4th graders. I wasn’t little boot-licking Johnny Do-Gooder, but I also wasn’t shooting spitwads across the room or letting Buster, the class hamster, run free. But Mrs. Snodgrass had it out for me.
As if it weren’t enough that a monumental solar eclipse is one week away, the world is abuzz with ominous predictions of a looming nuclear war with North Korea. None of us might live to unwrap our Christmas presents this year. We might all be blown to smithereens. We might all die in nasty, horrible ways. The world might end in one gigantic kaboom.
Grace is uncivilized and rebellious. We make rules for it and it breaks them. Grace is a constant embarrassment to the prim and proper religiosity of the squeaky clean. It is what Brennan Manning called "the furious longing of God."
Someone was once asked to pen a six-word novel.
They wrote: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
Many, including me, could have written those sad, six words.
When you complete an ATM transaction, you expect cold hard cash to come spitting out of the slot. Not a handwritten note that reads, “Please help. I’m stuck in here, and I don’t have my phone. Please call my boss."
There are times when a man and a woman, even though they’re good people, even though they’re both married and committed to their respective spouses, even though these spouses love them, find themselves falling in love with another person whom they think is their soulmate.