Over the past few weeks, our world has seen particular violence and outcries to that violence. It’s a violence that has made us forget that there was even a pandemic and has reminded us vividly that our humanity and our world and our history is still broken and groaning for redemption. I know that all of us have been reflecting in many different ways. So I wanted to encourage us briefly out of Psalm 126.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
The nation of Israel, God’s chosen nation, had a very checkered life amidst the natio...
This list of roles and responsibilities seems to have grown by quite a bit over the past few weeks. And before all of this, if I am honest, I was barely getting by with what I already had on my plate.
Now we add homeschool and balancing working from home with the kids and making sure these people that live in my home eat 3 times a day!
It’s so much. And truthfully, I can't say that I am handling it all that well. I wish I could give you three tips for how to manage this season and the extra anxiety and stress, but I can’t and honestly I don’t think that’s what you need.
Solutions are great. Solutions give us a sense of control- and these days I bet most of us are grasping for any ounce of control we can find. But friend, if there’s one thing that I feel like we are collectively learning as a people is that we really don’t have any control. We have done a really good...
Living in a world we never imagined or desired. As much as we may try to ignore it, it’s reality, and it’s global.
A lot of adjustments have been made over the past couple of weeks. Changes we never dreamed of having to make and challenges we never anticipated facing.
I don’t know about you, but challenges and changes can invoke a number of emotions for me. Primarily fear. For you type A conquer or be conquered folks out there (enneagram type 8 anyone?), this is probably what you’ve been waiting for. But regardless of how we are wired or trained to approach challenges, everyone of us is prone to fear on some level. We all hold within us the nature of humanity that values something and fears losing it.
These “somethings” can be physical, relational, or internal. Things like jobs, homes, family, money, our image, knowledge, stability, security, peace, rest, comfort or even life itself.
These times are uncertain, unprecedented, and uncharted. With that comes a number o...
To be unraveled is a good thing. We hold ourselves so tightly. Our thoughts. Our emotions. The stresses of our days. The agendas, schedules, deadlines, meetings, programs; let’s just say the distractions of life, wind us up into knotted messes of anxiety, depression, worry, doubt, anger, indifference…you get the picture.
I was there. I didn’t know how much, but I was there.
Someone asked me the other day how sabbatical was. Was there any big takeaway from my time away? My honest answer was, I don’t know. I can’t fully pinpoint one big thing. One epiphany. One revelation. I don’t recall having a 2 Corinthians 12:2 experience.
However, I do know this, God was near. He began unraveling me. The knot within my soul, the stress and pressure in my chest has softened. Almost vanished I might say.
My six weeks off were filled with a lot of resting. Sitting. Listening. Thinking. Not thinking. Reading. Playing. Praying. Writing. Eating. I enjoyed time with my family, time with my friends, time wi...
This may sound a little funny, but the other day I was thinking about the game "Marco Polo!" and how it related to pastors. I am a pastor. I work with pastors. I'm growing in my understanding of the challenges that pastors face. I've worked with church leaders who were burnt out, fired, caught in sin, and on the verge of divorce. I've also worked with far more who just needed encouragement and support.
In them all, I have seen the humanness of the pastor.
In our culture today it's easy to dehumanize pastors and ministry leaders by placing them on pedestals and idolizing them as if their life is the life that should be aspired to because they seem to have it all put together.
This is often a two way street. What I mean is, it's not solely the congregation at fault for exalting the
pastor. Unfortunately our culture’s idolization of pastors is frequently inspired by and fueled by the pastors themselves. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. There is a lie that sneaks into th...
“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerful works within me.”
To live is to struggle.
I have yet to encounter a season of life that didn’t contain some sort of struggle. Whether it be financial, relational, emotional, spiritual, or mental there has been struggle.
There isn’t a human who has ever walked the earth who has not struggled. Jesus, the perfect human, God in the flesh, struggled.
However, I find myself avoiding struggle. I’m prone to dodge it like my children dodge my request for them to go brush their teeth. In my attempts to dodge struggle, I specifically find myself avoiding the things I know will cause it. Things that may be hard. Things that cause me to press beyond my own abilities and wit. Things that may lead to conflict.
I am prone to avoid conversations, conflict, and relationships that may lead to difficult situations and conversations. I avoid discomfort.
I avoid God.
I am prone to avoid His commands, His gentle nudges o...
"O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways."
Passages like this one aren't telling us how to get close to God. They are pointing to the fact that God is near to us - closer than we ever imagined! When we get trapped inside of routines and patterns that distract us from God's presence, it requires steps of faith to reengage the God who is powerfully and abundantly near. While that may require us to leave behind our comfort zones, we can be sure that God will not disappoint us, but will provoke awe and gratitude like what is found in the Psalms: "Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens." (Psalm 148:3-4)
We are meant to sing with the sun and moon and stars! Our humanity flourishes when we are enjoying God's presence. This joy will com...
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.”
- Valley of Vision
Heaviness. Unsettled. Confused. Frustrated. These are words that have been swirling around my mind the past couple of months. I know I’m not alone. In light of all that has transpired since August 27th, there seems to be a lowness to life for many people. A depression, so to speak.
We shy away from valleys, don’t we? Valleys are confining. They keep you from seeing what lies ahead. They can cause you to feel trapped or stuck. It’s on top of the mountain that you feel free. Open. Light. As if you could fly. It’s from the top that you can see clearly in all directions with no obstructions t...
We are two weeks away from Easter Sunday. For many, it will be the one time of year they wake up, put on their pastels, and make it to some church worship gathering. For others, it will be the end of Lent—a season leading up to the joyous celebration of Christ’s resurrection, marked by expectant prayer, fasting, and preparation.
Some observe Lent merely as tradition. For others there is a genuine pursuit of God, a seeking of holiness, and a desire to live differently than the cultural currents that so easily can sweep us deeper into the pleasures of this world.
I have been pondering this description of Lent:
“It is a period to empty ourselves of lesser things so that we might be filled with the greater things of the gospel.”
I love this statement because it puts the discipline of fasting in perspective. It helps me lean into fasting with joy and it shows what it is all about.
But the more I think about this statement, the more I desire it for all of my life, not just this season. Not j...
"...Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
'Peace be with you.'"
This past Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I kept thinking about the disciples and how they felt. Waiting in silence. Not knowing. Unsure. Questioning. All hopes shattered, broken to pieces like glass falling to the floor.
Was this all a lie? Did he deceive us? What do we do now? Where do we go from here? Are we next? Is denial our best option? Our only option? Do we admit we were wrong? Will they forgive us our treason?
The bible doesn’t tell us much about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Each of the renderings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe that period in a few sentences. Then they all make the shift by using one word.
“Now….” - Matthew 28:1
“When…” - Mark 16:1
“But…” - Luke 24:1
“Now…” - John 20:1
Though little is mentioned, we can only imagine the time between what...