Because I Could Not Stop for Death . . .

There’s nothing clever in this blog post. If you’re in the mood for clever, click to the next blog on your list. No harm, no foul.

I want to be careful not to cloud this message in a flurry of metaphors or a pile of prose. The word on my heart is best delivered straight up, like the ghost of Christmas present in the Bill Murray movie Scrooged. She appears to the main character and plants a blow that brings him to his knees. “Sometimes you have to slap them in the face!” she says. “Sometimes the truth is painful but it’s made your cheeks rosy and your eyes bright!” That line is so funny because we know it’s true. Continue Reading →

Christmas. It’s SO not about the Children

If the radio, TV, movie theaters, and Facebook are on target, then Christmas is full of loving, laughing families, fireplaces, the best gifts ever, and last-minute miracles. And, there’s some of that, of course. But around the world and even in the next room, Christmas looks quite different for millions of us. This Christmas Eve post is for you because despite the version you see on screen, Jesus brought Christmas and He didn’t bring it for children, He brought it for us all. Continue Reading →

Because Not Everyone is Excited about Christmas

A new king is a welcome and exciting development
Unless you’re the current king and you’re not interested in being dethroned.
You think I’m talking about Herod, don’t you?
Really, I’m referring to myself.
Some days, I make room for Jesus and
Flock with the shepherds to the manger
Other days, I’m enjoying the fit of my seat on the throne of my own life
And I order all potential threats murdered in my own streets,
a bloodbath by my own decree.

Continue Reading →

The Linus Papers

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

Because the world is obsessed with its numbers. Because power takes polls and counts, finding comfort in masses and multitudes. Because Caesars and kings and rulers of this world take only their own affairs into account and not the impact of their decrees on the poor and the humble. Because we are often not considered valuable people with important lives to those in power but only signatures on licenses and numbers on forms and pins on maps. And little has changed since the time of this night in Bethlehem but neither has our God so we are not at the mercy of rulers and kings though it may feel that way sometimes . . . Continue Reading →

The Twelve Sanity Checks of Christmas

7cdfzmllwom-william-boutSanity Check Number One: The world has always been in trouble at Christmas even before there was Christmas. Through every generation there has been trouble, suffering, and trial in the world as Christians lit candles for the Christ child and slipped gifts under trees. We inhale the world’s toxins and exhale the breath of Christ with every carol. He entered a world of suffering with full knowledge of what He faced, so celebrate Him even amidst screaming headlines.

Sanity Check Number Two: Good godly Christians disagree about how to celebrate. Families argue. We see things from different perspectives. The family of Christ is one in Him but we come from every tongue, tribe, and nation so we’re likely to have differing thoughts on what it means to remember Christ at Christmas. Know why you choose what you choose and be at peace with Him in that. Don’t judge your Christian siblings but don’t handgirl-714212_640 them your joy. Continue Reading →

The Very Best Bible Reading Plan You’ll Find This Year

book-1156001_640One of the saddest experiences I ever had happened years ago, with a family who lived one street over from a popular touristy, restaurant district. Christmas was near so I asked the teens if they had a wish list. I expected them to clamor for video games, trendy sneakers, or iPods, instead, they showed me a dozen magazine clippings of recipes.

“We think we figured out how to make this stuff if you could get us the ingredients for Christmas.” Continue Reading →

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 →