Clean Hands, Full Hearts (Can’t Lose): A Sermon About Purity and Tradition


7Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them.3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze k … [Read more...]

Cloud By Day: Living With Ambiguity and Measuring Ministry


In every generation, people of faith journey across the hazy plains of “What does this mean,” and “why are we here?” Right about the time one band of believers establishes a clear sense of purpose and identity for their time and place…well, they die. It is time for them to step aside and let the kids figure out what’s next, with nothing but "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night" to guide them. And is that ever a painful hand-off, every single time.We can wax poetic and … [Read more...]

10 Signs of Life: Your Church Might Just Make It

flower in cracks

I once took a group of church leaders on a planning/visioning retreat. We read and discussed a great article, something to the effect of “10 Traits of a Healthy Church.” Or a growing church... Thriving church? Something like that. And it wasn’t the usual variation on a theme, this particular piece was insightful and inspired. And it was exactly the right mix of challenge and affirmation for where that congregation was at the time.In preparation for a similar gathering this week, I tried to fi … [Read more...]

We Who Are Alive (or, 10 Reasons the Church Ain’t Dead Yet)


"The mainline church is in decline.""Religious leaders no longer carry any authority in the community.""Most churches spend more on building expenses than they do on mission."" [arbitrary number of your choice] people leave the Christian faith every [another arbitrary #] minutes.""And where, oh where, ARE THE MILLENIALS? We gots to get us some millenials!"We get it. Times are tough. We've all heard/seen/lived the truth of these despairing stats over the past 5, 10, or 25 … [Read more...]

Prepare the Way: Why I Need Carbs (and Coffee) for Lent

This week, Patheos asked its bloggers to reflect on spiritual practices that we find especially meaningful during Lent.For the life of me...I've got nothing.Maybe I lack the discipline to give things up. I've never even attempted giving up chocolate or alcohol. I believe in moderation, but dang...a girl's got to live. I'm sure sacrificing carbs or sugar or caffeine would purify my body in some powerful way, while also providing soul benefits, but I'm only a person. I run a church, I have … [Read more...]

Zumba-dy Stop Me

Maybe you don't know this about me, but i'm a 'retired' dancer. I've been missing the dance part of my life lately because my daughter has recently started ballet. All those little leotards are making me remember 1)the time when i could fit into such a thing and 2)the sheer joy of movement. For the past 12 years or so, the yen to dance again has come and gone in seasons. This time, in looking at dance studios for my kid, i found one that had an adult Zumba class, and figured I'd try it.  I've … [Read more...]

Tomato, To-mah-to…

Well, about this time every year, i commence whining. About the miserable desert heat, about the astronomical utility bill, about the utter lack of lightning bugs to bring an element of joy to sweltering summer nights... and maybe, most of all, about the fruitless (ha ha) search for a good tomato in the desert.Growing up in Kentucky, i was spoiled. Every May-August or so, I could go to the farmer's market, i could count on gifts from friends' gardens, i could even find beautiful local tomatoes … [Read more...]