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 →

When Your Mom Burns Your Blankie – How to Be Fire-Proof in a Burning World

It’s not usually the big things that knock you on your keister, is it?

You brace for the big stuff. You hunker down or grab hold when a major turbulence appears on your radar. It’s not always pretty, but you lock down and you survive.

Or, at least, you think you have.

Working with families facing hardship over twenty plus years, I’ve encountered some terrible stories of abuse and neglect. In this field, you prepare for those. You steel yourself. Continue Reading →

The Crime Blotter of Your Internal Soul

As a teen, avoiding sin seemed a simple enough proposition. You figured you could protect yourself from most risky business by avoiding bars, bad company, and back seats.

No problem. Not your scene anyway.

When you grew up, you discovered something distressing about sin. (Cue voiceover for a horror film trailer “you think you can escape it by locking the door but turn around – it’s already gotten in!”) In other words, some sins are external and can be avoided by avoiding their location, but there are other sins that are insidiously home grown. Continue Reading →

The Secret Power of Scars

My son has glaring white scars that stretch across his back like an epidermal interstate.

When he was fourteen, he contracted a debilitating case of flu. After several hours, (before I knew this could happen), he experienced “vasovagal syncope” (from the strain of the illness) and fainted. He came around faster than I could get to him from the other room where I heard the thud, so, I thought all was well.

“Mom, I think I hurt myself,” he said, turning around to reveal second and third degree burns inflicted on his back when he’d fallen against our old-fashioned iron radiator. He was in shock, and I fought not to be. After one day in the emergency room, and a month of burn treatments, he was left with the lasting marks. Continue Reading →

To Those Seeking to Destroy the Church of Jesus Christ on Holy Week

To Those Seeking to Destroy the Church of Jesus Christ on Holy Week,

You think if you spray the walls of our churches with our blood, this will silence the truth. In truth, blood is nothing new to the church. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed for us all. The blood of those slain by humans cries out to our Father God and He hears the testimony of the dead.

The blood of the saints is a river that flows through human history since the death of Jesus Christ. You haven’t caused it – you’ve been caught up in its riptide. Better to join the river of blood than to be crushed upon the Rock when He comes. Let Him who has ears to hear, hear the truth.

You think you will control us or our message with your guns, your bombs, your terrorist claims. In truth, you control nothing.

Our lives are in the hands of Jesus Christ. This week, of all weeks, we remember that He laid down His life; no one took it from Him. We are His people. The timing of your acts this week perfectly coincides with His reminder to us that those who think they are in control, have no lasting power. Continue Reading →

The Cost of Bringing Life into the World

When I began my labor to give birth to Hannah, my second child, I confess that I panicked.

At the first pang, my mind went wild. Oh no! Wait a minute! I remember this! This is pain like no other. This is agony. This is hours ahead of loss of control and body-ripping pain! What was I thinking? I can’t do this! I change my mind.

Of course, the only way through that was through it and when I held her in my arms, she was worth every moment. Continue Reading →

How God Sees Us as We Become the Oldest Generation

My parents tell me a lot of things I already know. Does this happen to you?

I was at my folk’s house when my married daughter called. When she hung up, I explained she was home with a fever.

My dad rose immediately and went to the counter where he keeps his medications. “Call her back and tell her she should take some ibuprofen. I have some right here you can bring her. Sylvia, where’s our thermometer? Does she have one?”

Mom responded in the same vein. “She should drink plenty of liquids and if it isn’t better, she should call the doctor for an antibiotic tomorrow.” Continue Reading →