I’m Listening

January 20, 2020 | Comments Off on I’m Listening

“Look carefully and listen slowly and pay attention.” Twice the LORD gave Ezekiel these instructions when showing him the plans for rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. The Lord has not called me–at least not as far as I can discern–to start measuring the lengths of walls. But I believe he has called me–has called all of us–to be people who rebuild, restore, and repair what is broken in the world around us. And it’s that very call that motivates me to lean in close–to “look carefully, listen closely and give attention”–so that I do not miss his directions for me or misconstrue what he has to say. I believe he has called me–has called all of us–to be people who rebuild, restore, and repair what is broken in the world around us. In particular, I’m leaning in to listen to what he would say to me about my engagement with social media. For nearly a decade I have wrestled with the concept of platform-building. I’ve had editor-friends offer me theological rationales for it. I have a sense of the market trends that would seem to make it necessary. I have been told that I don’t have to be a standout …

I’m Listening Read More »

Resources for pursuing inner peace

January 6, 2020 | Comments Off on Resources for pursuing inner peace

In December, I wrote an article for Made to Flourish about how pursuing peace on earth must begin with pursuing peace within our own souls. But I didn’t offer many concrete ways to start the journey. Yes, I suggested that this inner work should be done in community. Yes, taking a cue from Bonhoeffer, I suggested that confession could be a good first step. Some of us may need to find a counselor or spiritual director to help with the work. But here are a few resources that might help you do this hard work (again, in community with others). The first three books, while they may mention faith or spirituality, do not integrate the inner work they prescribe within any particular faith tradition. The latter three books are distinctly Christian. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. We use this as a textbook in a class that I teach, and my students love how it helps them think through how they respond to situations and engage with others. Every time I revisit it, I take away something new or am reminded of something to continue to work on. I think it’s a great entry point for …

Resources for pursuing inner peace Read More »

An Advent Prayer

December 13, 2019 | Comments Off on An Advent Prayer

This prayer was taken from The Four Mondays of Advent. King Jesus, I await the day when you will return in glory to bring justice for the oppressed and vindication for the righteous. When the burdens and sorrows of the world make my soul downcast within me, give me hope; help me to wait well. And, if you see fit, let my life point others to you. Show me my faults and my errors. Give me a spirit of contrition over my sins. Lead me to repent of my wrongdoing. And help me yield to the transforming work that you want to do in my life. By your Spirit, help me to love you and love neighbor. Let me be an agent of mercy, peace, and hope in this world in your name and for your glory. Amen.


December 5, 2019 | Comments Off on Traditions

CREATING TRADITIONS On Christmas Eve, our family typically attends an early evening church service and then returns home for a not-so-traditional holiday meal of pizza and cupcakes. We have a quick birthday party for Jesus before setting out a plate of milk and cookies and tucking our boys into bed for the night.  On Christmas morning, we exchange gifts in our living room and then emerge from a pile of discarded wrapping paper and boxes to share a breakfast of homemade cinnamon rolls, bacon, and orange juice, just as I did when I was a child. These are our simple traditions. While traditions can be fun, they can also be formative. It’s not always easy to see precisely how they shape us from one year to the next, but the Bible helps us understand how certain traditions can be instrumental in our spiritual development. When God set apart the people of Israel for himself, he put certain traditions at the center of their life together. And when Jesus set apart the church to be his witnesses in the world, he established a tradition that would bind them together around his death and the hope of his return.  ANCIENT TRADITIONS To …

Traditions Read More »

O Ye of Little Bread

July 3, 2018 | Comments Off on O Ye of Little Bread

Scarcity. Shortly before I was born, my parents experienced it at the gas pump as the Middle East oil supply plummeted.  Long lines of cars circled gas stations as drivers hoped to get a few gallons before the tanks ran dry. Growing up, the only scarcity I recall was the lack of milk and bread on the shelves in an Alabama grocery store the day before a snow storm. Now, the closest I get to scarcity is when the last homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffin disappears from the freezer.  My children whine and ask me to make more as if we have no other viable breakfast options.  Meanwhile, I pour them a bowl of cereal or pop a slice of bread in the toaster. Economic scarcity has been, well, scarce in my life.  And yet, I recently realized that I have been operating with a scarcity mindset for the past six years.  It took a familiar story in a children’s Bible to help me see the truth and reframe my situation. Seeing Scarcity After a long day of teaching a crowd, Jesus saw that the people were hungry.  The disciples asked Jesus to send the people elsewhere to find a meal, but Jesus instead …

O Ye of Little Bread Read More »

Master Craft: Building Walls

June 25, 2018 | Comments Off on Master Craft: Building Walls

Intention #4: Break Down the Walls When it comes to building walls, I am a master.  But don’t hand me a nail gun and a two-by-four.  That’s not my sort of wall. No, I am an expert at building invisible walls. About a decade ago, I built a rebar-reinforced concrete wall between a Children’s Pastor and myself.  I had been tasked with aligning the Vacation Bible School curriculum our church had purchased with the church’s philosophy of ministry and theology.  In my recent-seminary-grad-zeal, I may have gone a bit overboard in my changes and found myself drowning in the amount of work and responsibility I had assumed. The night before VBS started, I discovered a tremendous amount of work had gone undone because I had assumed a certain team had responsibility for it.  I had no idea that another team existed for that task.  I was furious that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I blamed the Children’s Pastor for poor leadership and lack of communication. And out of my frustration, I built a wall between the two of us.  I didn’t want to work with her ever again.  I wasn’t eager to learn about my missteps in handling the …

Master Craft: Building Walls Read More »