Recipe for Joy–Review

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It's always fun when people send you free books.A few weeks ago, I got a package in the mail containing a couple of books that other Patheos writers were going to read and review, forming a  virtual book club. The fun part (other than getting free books in the mail!) was that both seemed timely for things I'm doing in ministry right now. I mean, I'm in the midst of a sermon series called "Manna: A Gospel of Food." And what shows up in my mailbox but a book called Recipe for Joy. It's like ge … [Read more...]

Psalm 23-and-a-half

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The Lord is my shepherd,whether I like it or not.I shall not want.Except for a bigger house, a nicer car a slimmer waistline;a newer device, a little more power;and to always, always, every day, be right about everything.He makes me lie down in green pasturesas the world grays with concreteand browns with toxic fumesand bleeds with violence and rage.He leads me beside still waters                           even though I pull away, and make a run for the … [Read more...]

When Good People Say Dumb Stuff

In the wake of a tragedy like yesterday's bombing, we ask the age-old question: why do bad things happen to good people?And in the hours and days following such an event, we might also find ourselves wondering: why do good people say dumb things?Through our collective prayers, we seek understanding; we ask for God's comfort with the wounded and those suffering loss; we give thanks for our own loved ones, safe at home, by some stroke of grace or luck; we pray for justice and peace. These … [Read more...]

Head and Heart

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When a church is dying, The Body wants to know why. When people are leaving (or just not coming), when no new programs emerge, when there's no money for outreach, and no passion for mission, we start asking questions: what are we doing wrong? what are we just plain not doing? It's a sad conversation, with fatigue and frustration involved. The physical weight of the unknown and unknowable...it sits heavy on the congregational heart, and smothers everything. Even--maybe especially--the spirit of wo … [Read more...]

Baby Jesus to Bloody Jesus: The Children’s Ministry Challenge

I'm finally letting myself believe it: the enormous pile of children in our sanctuary is not a fluke, and this is not just an Easter spike. These kids are coming, and they're staying.And we need to teach them about Jesus.Of course we've been teaching children about Jesus--in small, manageable increments. Now they have outgrown their space, seemingly overnight. Loaves and fishes up in here--but with children. 'New Program for Older Elementary Kids' just went from about #8 to numero uno on  … [Read more...]

To Witness

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I've got a testimony.That's a word we don't throw around in mainline progressive circles very often. Nor do we say things like 'give a witness,' 'get saved,' or 'invoke the Holy Spirit.' Sure, we may affirm/believe/enact those words, but we don't say them. They are icky, fundy words that reek of proselytizing evangelism and a judgmental language of faith. Think tri-fold brochures with comic-book drawings of non-believers...going down a fire-y staircase and straight to hell.In the effort t … [Read more...]

The Trouble With Your “Lifestyle”

I'm going to say a thing. Stop me if you've heard it: "Just because I don't accept someone's lifestyle, doesn't mean that I hate them!"I've heard it before. So have you. If nowhere else, you've seen it (blowing up your newsfeed) on a meme quoting Rick Warren. But more broadly, you’ve heard it in conversations with people who do not support equal marriage rights. Maybe you’ve even said it, written it, or thought it yourself.This line of discourse is the new ‘love the sinner/hate the sin.’ … [Read more...]

A Song and a Prayer: The Holy Week Playlist

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Throughout the season of Advent,  Christmas music (for better or worse) blares at us everywhere we go. That means, for those of us who preach/lead worship/make church happen, we stay in a nearly constant state of season-mindfulness. Whether we like it or not. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we cannot escape the fact that Christmas is coming.The season of Lent has not quite seeped into secular culture in the same saturating way. Where is the soundtrack for Holy Week? How are we to … [Read more...]

Showing Up

The desert in blessed springtime… Crystal blue skies, perfect temperatures, and actual green stuff creeping up through the sand; birds singing, bunnies hopping, colorful citrus ripe for plucking and juicing. All this abundance, AND, come Holy Week? You don’t have to order palm branches. You just ask folks to bring you the trash from their yard cleanup, and there you go. Instant parade.Church folks love to march down aisles. Even in a place like mine that is decidedly ‘low church,’ we queue up … [Read more...]


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