June 19, 2020

There are no additional words on my calendar today. No addition words to alert me to the notion that the 19th of June carries any special meaning for anyone at all. According to the calendar on my wall today is nothing more than any other Friday in the summer of 2020, and no different than any other day of the week. 

It was 7 years ago, if my memory serves me correctly, that I first heard of the term 'Juneteenth.' Growing up it was not a term that I knew. It was never spoken of as an event to be celebrated or an event to be ignored. Even in elementary school this day was never pointed to. And I only say that because the school I attend for most of my elementary education was 80-90% African American depending on the grade level. But 7 years ago I learned that today is something more than any other day in June. Today is a day that points to freedom. 

I can remember years back the first time I spent the fourth of July outside of the United States. For everyone around me it was just anot...

May 22, 2020

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." -George Washington Carver

This morning I made the decision to read and drink my coffee on the front porch of the house I live in instead of the desk that I have. It's a place that I have moved away from reading in the morning recently because as someone with self-diagnosed ADD it can be a place of interruption as I try to sit and focus on reading Scripture. And this morning was no different, but God has a habit of interrupting. And that was also no different this morning. 

I keep two bird feeders up at my place. One is quite simple, it is more or less a hanging plate on which I have come to expect to see a fiery red cardinal more often than not. And my other hangs in view of where I sat this morning. It is a tall cylinder just filled up with birdseed that has 6 places for birds to perch and eat their fill. 

As I sat to read and attempt to contemplate I foun...

May 12, 2020

"Therefore your servant has found courage to pray before you." 

-King David (1 Chr. 17:25b)

If you are anything like me your prayer life look more like a graph of the stock exchange than you would like to admit. Some days I find that my mind is continually running towards Abba to thank, ask, plan, rest, and all the rest. And some days I find that I keep finding things to do when I feel that gentile prompting to pray. Maybe that's not you, perhaps you have perfected the art of prayer. If you I will save you time and let you know that you need read no further. But if you, like me, need all the help you can get...I hope this may be helpful. 

There could be a number of reasons for this up and down lifestyle of prayer. But this morning as I sat with my Bible open before me that caught my attention. David desires to do something for God, and God says no. (1 Chr. 17)

But more than telling David what he could not do, God reminded David of who he was. And God reminded David who God was. He reminded...

May 3, 2020

“Love one another: just as I have loved you, you are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another.” -Jesus (John 13:34b-35)

I can remember well when a time in my early twenties when I first began to dig into theology. Something happened to me that I have often seen happen to people. I began to lose my love for the people that Christ told me were my family. I believed that anyone who did not believe as I believed, or act as I acted were somehow lesser or wrong. 

Looking back on this season of my life I think that the most frightening this was that the theology that drove me to become such an ass was one that boasted of radical grace. I had a growing knowledge of the love and grace of Christ, but I was far removed from the experience of it.

In his book, The Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning captures this place that so many that claim the name of Christ can find ourselves by writing, “ We prefer the map rather than visit the...

April 7, 2020

I can remember a conversation I once had with an older minister. I was in my early 20's and was helping to pastor a church plant at the time. I can remember telling him how inadequate I felt and how I was so very fearful of so many things. And I will never forget what he told me. 

"God gave us fear as an emotion. And in the right place, it is a good thing. But we are only given so much. So I try to wake up each morning and get before God. And I waste all my fear before God in prayer and in the Word. So then when something comes us that day I don't have any fear left, because I gave it all to God."

In the Old Testament we read the seemingly never-ending story of God's people forsaking him and chasing after other gods and making idols for themselves. But there is an interesting aspect in 2 Kings 17 that gives us insight into one of the reasons they did this, and shines a light onto why we do it as well. In verse 7 we read that the people of Israel 'feared other gods'. And it was thi...

December 24, 2019

“Come in, -- come in! and know me better, man! I am the Ghost of Christmas Present. Look upon me! You have never seen the like of me before!” - Charles Dickens

Of all Christmas stories, save the story of that first Advent, none may be better known than Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. It’s a story that reminds us that no man, no matter how vile or cold, is beyond redemption. It’s a story that awakens within us the hope that things can change, and people can as well. 

Of all the renditions of this classic tale, I find none better than The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s one that I find myself returning to each year. I know the story, I can sing the songs. And yet year after year I come back to this film. 

In the film, as in the original novel, the main character Scrooge is met by three spirits. Each one has something to offer, and then each one leaves Scrooge to either remember or forget the lesson that was taught. After these beings left, Scrooge was alone. It was up to him to change.

Such a tale...

December 22, 2019

Nobel prize winner, Anglican priest, and anti-apartheid activist, Desmond Tutu once said that you cannot pick your family. Now to be completely honest there was more to his quote than just that, but he did say it. And he was right. 

None of us was asked who we wanted to comprise our DNA. We were not asked if we cared to be the only child, the eldest brother, the middle kid, or the baby of the family. We were each born to the family we were born to. And even for those who are adopted, the choice of adoption did not fall on the child who was being brought in but upon the family who was welcoming the new addition to the family.

And if we are honest, each of us has wondered what it would be like had we been born in another time or to another family. Maybe you wished that growing up your family had more money, or perhaps you wish that growing up your family didn’t care about money so much. Maybe you wish that you had better parents or siblings, or maybe you just wish that you had any at all....

December 7, 2019

“For we were the purpose of His embodiment, and for our salvation, He so loved human beings as to come to be and appear in a human body.” -St. Athanasius of Alexandria

We have now full into the Christmas season. Though some people have wrongfully had their decorations and Christmas music playing since Halloween, there is little excuse for those who are now without them. My decoration is in full display in my bedroom, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that is now as beat up as the tree it was made to represent. And I have begun to fill my Spotify playlists with Advent songs.

Of all the songs of this Christmas/Advent season, my favorite is the old hymn Come Thou Long Expected Jesus*. The old Weslyan hymn opens with the lines:

"Come, Thou long-expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us,

Let us find our rest in Thee."

Each time I sing these words I cannot help but think that ole Charles Wesley had the words from Matthew 1:21 filling his head and his heart. For at...

November 23, 2019

"When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead. When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out." -Ezekiel 46:9-10

Often I find that when I’m reading my bible plan for the day I can end up in portions of the old testament that I read quickly to get on to the ‘good stuff’ in the new testament and the psalms. Honestly, I almost feel shameful writing that. But I assume that I’m not alone in doing so.

Usually, these are the texts like the one I found myself in this morning in Ezekiel. The majority of the text was God telling His people how to act and what to sacrifice during a festival He told them to have. Which in itself is something that I love, a God who tells His...

November 16, 2019

We had already gone a few minuets past 8pm, and honestly I found myself stealing glances at the clock. It's not that I don't mind staying later than 8, I usually do. But I like getting done when we say we are going to get done. More than that, I like knowing what is going to happen. 

But as we went around the room with one last question around ten past eight something happened that has become a rarity in most midweek church groups, someone was honest. Not the vague type of honestly that makes people think you're opening up but the real type of honesty that places the speaker at the mercy everyone else. 

The question was a simple one that is all too often only said in groups like this because it's expected, "How can we be praying for everyone?" I have to confess that far too often I allow myself to keep silent when this question is asked, or I say enough to let people know I'm still in the group but not enough to allow myself to be vulnerable. But in contrast to my secure silence one of t...

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