Why I No Longer Take God on Vacation

We look forward to vacations, because they give us a chance to exhale and breathe. But, sometimes, in an attempt to escape life as we know it for a week, we leave God at home.

We don’t do it on purpose. We even pack our suitcases with good intentions: Bible, journal, Bible study, and pens. Check, check, check, and check. It is at this point our experiences may differ.

You may follow through as intended. Too often, however, I don’t.

Once home, unpacking an unused Bible left me feeling as if I’d missed out on something special during my vacation. And I had. But life quickly ensued and the yearning for something more while on vacation faded into the background of a busy life. That is, until the next time I unpacked an unused Bible. Continue Reading →

When the Headlines Mention Crematoriums and Mass Graves

You consider yourself a fairly positive person.

You don’t load every text with smiley faces or wish everyone a nice day, but you’ve made it a habit to live by faith, to open your eyes to the good that God may be working through trials, to praise God in the storm.

But, when the evening news rolls footage of those who stagger, displaced, along the Syrian border,

when the headlines contain words like “crematoriums” and “mass graves,”

when weeping mothers appear on screen and you don’t need to hear the translation to understand their agony,

positive fades in the rear-view mirror of your soul.

These are Psalm 120 times. Times of distress, of lying lips and deceiving tongues, when even pew-sitters sense the urge to call upon the Lord. Continue Reading →

Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned

Things just aren’t coming together the way you’d planned.

This was the road you felt sure God led you to take. You’re no day-tripper with God. You’ve signed on for life. The eternal kind.

And you’re not one to go off-roading. No. You take the directions seriously. You keep your eyes on those Jesus tracks in the sand. You pray. You obey. The best you can for someone relying on grace. You avoid the shadowlands and live in the light – even when it reveals your failings.

Maybe that’s what’s getting to you. The glare. Continue Reading →

Cowards Stay Home from Worship (Brave Hearts Gather)

Sometimes staying home from weekly worship is a necessity. Children need tending, bodies need resting, illness strikes, weariness sets in. There are occasions to pull back, to regroup, to lay low.

Sometimes, though, staying home from weekly worship is an act of cowardice, a passive rebellion, the first step in a walk away from God.

I love the church and believe it was one of God’s best ideas. When we enter into relationship with Him, we enter into a family. We are no longer alone on this outpost of glory. We belong. Continue Reading →

God May Not Be Your Father (or the gospel is only good news if . . .)

My college professor used to repeat this line, “The facts are our friends.”

Out of the dozens of notebooks I filled during those four years, that phrase remains embedded in the fabric of my thinking. Especially valuable in a world rampant with lies.

The air we breathe is part oxygen, part nitrogen, and part delusion. Like helium, this delusion leads us to believe we can fly to heaven with our own wings, rise on the currents of our own empowerment, and soar on our own strength. Continue Reading →

Six Secrets to Share Amongst the Sheep

I speak less now than I ever have. This isn’t a bad thing.

We live in risky times. Sides are being drawn from the White House to the watercooler. Deception is rampant, as are tempers and indignations.

Rumors fly, half-truths circulate, and fingers click on headlines designed to spread viral fear and pestilent propaganda, with high rates of success. We’re still amazingly adept at erecting towers of babble.

People navigate their days with fists-raised, slogans ready, and litmus tests buried like IED’s in everyday conversations. It’s more than a little nerve-wracking for the meek still awaiting the day of our inheritance. Continue Reading →

You May Be Worshiping Wrong

There was a great sadness in the woman before me as we discussed the dysfunction of her marriage.

“Does he ever bring you gifts?” I asked.

She nodded, staring out the window. “He brings me gifts all the time, but nothing I desire. He brings what he wants to give, what he wants to be seen giving, things he wants a woman to have. Each one, as valuable or costly as it may be, simply reminds me that he doesn’t even see me. Our relationship is completely about him. He gives what he wants to give, nothing more or less, and revels in his own satisfaction.”

It appeared the man’s emotional maturity halted in toddlerhood. Many a mother or father has received a well-intended gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day from a child that reflected the child’s own interests with little thought to the recipient. Continue Reading →

The Scandal of Vanilla Christians – the Deeper Story

The fashionable flavor changes with the times. There was a time when vanilla was exotic.

Originally cultivated by pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people (think Aztecs), vanilla is derived from orchids. That’s right. Orchids.

Cortes introduced it to the Europeans along with chocolate. Montezuma drank his chocolate flavored with vanilla. Eventually, the orchids came to be grown in Madagascar and Indonesia. Nothing ordinary about this.

It’s the second most expensive spice after saffron.

Recently, vanilla’s become synonymous with terms like bland, flavorless, banal, tame, and unexciting, but its rich history tells a contrasting tale. Continue Reading →

The Person God Wants You to Avoid

It was my first times being “called into the pastor’s office.”

I didn’t like it. I’d spent the night before wondering what type of complaint about my Bible study had instigated my requested appearance. The ensuing conversation didn’t exactly clear things up.

Me (trying to appear open rather than defensive, hoping that by some infusion of the Holy Spirit I’d actually be open and not defensive.): “So, you’ve received a complaint about my Bible study on Revelation?”

The pastor smiled reassuringly. “I’m sure we can clear it up right here.”

I exhaled a little. “What’s the nature of the complaint?” Continue Reading →

How Even Fishers of Men May Be Missing the Boat

For fishers of men, the American church is at great risk of missing the boat.

We know our calling is to make disciples. We’re bursting with the truth of Christ. It’s too good, too powerful, too transformative to keep locked inside. We’re as compelled from within as commanded from without to want others to experience freedom in Jesus.

But we’re myopic about who we target with our message. We’re fixated on reaching young souls. Young people are a vital part of our ministry, but not the entire scope and sequence.

It’s the heart of Jesus to love children and young people, but in the eyes of an eternal God, we’re all about a minute old. I don’t believe He makes as much distinction between reaching twenty-somethings and reaching octogenarians as we do. Continue Reading →