Sometimes Angels Sing the Blues

party-146582_960_720When I read the start of the Christmas story in Luke, a Blues Brothers tune replays in my head. “Hold I’m, I’m Coming.” Over and over I hear it until I wonder if the angels formed a gospel choir and sang the blues to the shepherds in the weeks leading up to Jesus’ birth. 

God’s people had been waiting and longing for generations and they were tired of waiting. We haven’t changed much since those times. Haven’t learned much either. Many of the Israelites had grown so tired of waiting for the salvation of the Lord they were devising their own Messiahs through politics, through religious legislation, through abandoning hope and seeking other gods. Humans needed saving and they turned to themselves for answers rather than trust in the One God would provide. Continue Reading →

Why We Shouldn’t Look Away – Unflinching in the Face of Suffering

homeless-845709_640I drive a lot for work, so I listen to talk radio. For the past two days, the hot topic in Rhode Island has been panhandlers. One lawmaker introduced legislation making it illegal for motorists to hand anything to panhandlers at intersections (essentially fining generosity for the sake of safety and traffic flow – debate among yourselves.) It wasn’t the legislation that concerned me, instead, it was an offshoot conversation that emerged I found distressful. Continue Reading →

A Modern Magnificat – for Our God Who is like No Other

abbey-1866549_640In the weeks of Advent,

we remember the waiting, the generations before us who searched and longed for your arrival, the millions who studied, prayed, and longed for a glimpse of Your promised deliverance. Countless God-lovers heard You whisper that it would be a people yet to come who would be blessed with knowing God made flesh dwelling among us, and here, now, we are that people. We are the generation blessed to live in the time after the waiting, the generation honored to have You in our history, in our now, and in our time to come, the people of Your own choosing who dare to call God our Friend. Continue Reading →

The Terrible, Horrible, Wonderful Discomfort of the Jesus Life

notepad-926025_640Don’t you just love life’s little comforts?

Hot coffee in the morning, warm bed at night.

Soft clothing, acoustic guitar, warm baths, and gooey pizza. Old friends, family nearby, and a car that always starts. Medicine when I’m sick and phone calls when I’m lonely. Reward for my efforts and answers to my prayers. People who understand me or who tolerate me when I don’t and the freedom to express myself in a way people can hear.

Yes, I love my comforts.

So, why does God so clearly love my discomfort? What motivates Him to press me on to new relationships that feel stiff, like jeans dried on a clothesline? Or new adventures to places that don’t serve my kind of coffee and take me far from family? Or inconveniences like cranky cars, illnesses for which there is no medicine, and situations where I’m misunderstood or silenced?

What is to be gained by my discomfort? Continue Reading →

Navigating Hard Conversations Over Turkey

abstract-1239146_640Brace yourselves. All across the land, we’ll gather in small groups this week to re-enact the most overlooked aspect of the first Thanksgiving.

Feasting on seafood (which was likely served along with turkey)? No, that’s not it. Thanking our Creator? No, that’s close and will be neglected at many a table but that’s not it.

What we often neglect to recall is that there was an inherent tension present at the first Thanksgiving that needed to be carefully navigated since the Pilgrims were settling on land that belonged to the Native Americans joining their feast. Now, that required grace on everyone’s part. Oh, to have been a fly on the stuffing. Continue Reading →

Fast-Talkers Need Not Apply – Hard Conversations in a Sound-Bite Driven World

politician-148838_1280I learn everything the hard way – are you like that?

I grew up in a world of sit-coms, bumper stickers, and snappy comebacks. In my teens and twenties, stand-up comedians, Late Night talk show hosts, and Saturday Night Live drove the social conversation. To be skilled at the one-liner was to be one of the cool kids, savvy, and in-the-know. I worked hard to be one of those comeback kids. Now, it’s a skin I have to shed when I’m approaching a hard conversation because there’s no fast way to transformative dialog.

Years ago, when I led a Bible study for a group of black belt women who hadn’t studied the Bible before, I was kind of stupid. We’d be in the middle of a karate class and one of the ladies would holler a Bible question across the dojo floor to me as we worked through our routines. Continue Reading →

The Gentle Art of Hard Conversations – and Coffee

coffee-692560_960_720As a nation, we need to start having some seriously hard conversations. This was true before last Tuesday but now, it’s not only true, it’s obvious.

What is less obvious is that this is an opportunity for the church to lead. Who better to guide people through hard conversations than an entire family of believers who have had to learn to talk about challenging topics like hell, sin, guilt, and brokenness and still show up together for bread and wine?

Oh, we’re going to mess it up. That’s a given. I hear you talking back to me even from my side of the computer. Something inside you just clenched up and you began arguing with me. What are you doing, Lori? Don’t give our brothers and sisters in the church encouragement to have hard conversations! That’s a recipe for trouble! That’s a sure-fire way to create problems, turn people off to the gospel, and create hurt feelings! What are you thinking? Continue Reading →

Reaching Back to Move Forward – an Ode to Hymns by a Contemporary Worshipper

church-1499312_640In the church, I am a bridge baby. Maybe you are, too.

I grew up singing hymns. I still weep at How Great Thou Art and It is Well with My Soul. I remember the thrill on Easter Sunday mornings at the low notes of Up from the Grave He Arose and how I reveled in the wonderful echoes of There is Power in the Blood. Even as a child I knew the number of my favorite hymns like Blessed Assurance (333) and Come, Thou Fount (well, I used to know it). It was a rite of passage to learn the harmonies of the hymns and join in the great “pew choir” on Sunday mornings.

But by the time I was a teen, the first praise music was being introduced (along with blue jeans on Sunday mornings and guitars on the altar (acoustic only – not an amp in sight at that time). This development excited me, too, since hymns were challenging to play on the guitar and this was the age of folk rock (plus, by then, we were pretty weary of endless choruses of “Do Lord” and “Kum Ba Yah,” especially when our friends were rocking out to The Eagles!). Continue Reading →

What God Caught Me Doing Today

earth-978959_640Brace yourself. This post has become a confessional. I’m not proud of this post but it’s important for me to come clean – part of the process of staying honest.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past week doing one of two things: a) thinking about myself and b) rolling my eyes at other people (not always in a way that others could see but, believe me, in my mind, my eyes were rolling).

My first thoughts about the election (and second and third) were about how me-1767683_640it will affect me and mine. Once I worked through the solid truth that I belong to Jesus and no matter who is in the White House, He directs my destiny, I exhaled. That’s when the eye-rolling thing happened.

Others around me were having these – reactions. Tears. Anxiety. Public outbursts. And there was hugging, a sudden exaggerated need for bear hugs from coworkers and peers. Outwardly, I made sympathetic faces and kept my thoughts to myself but inwardly, I scorned their distress. What would it be like to live with such a flimsy foundation that the direction of a presidential election sent my world spinning? Continue Reading →

Let Us Make a Plan Today – Before the Results Come In

bible-1136784_640Let us make a plan today – now – before the results come in –

To seek God’s face

To confess our sin and repent of all wrongdoing

To recommit our lives to Jesus Christ, to obedience, to sacrifice, to truth, and to love

To turn from fear and embrace faith in the Only One with true power over our lives

To read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word and to put into practice what we find there

To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths and to love our neighbors as ourselves Continue Reading →