40+ And The Church / The Sermon Zone

sermon

At a social event last weekend, I ran into C., a woman I used to know when our kids were young. C. and her family were long-time, active members of a well-known megachurch in our area. Her nest had been empty for a couple of years now. C. and her husband were in the midst of relocating from this area to more temperate climes, delayed only by the sale of a home that has languished on the market for many months.I asked C. if she was still attending the megachurch, and told me she and her … [Read more...]

“Failure Is A Beautiful Gift Wrapped In An Ugly Package”

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I remember seeing an announcement a few years ago for the first Epic Fail pastors gathering, and wondering if the idea was an Onion-inspired joke. No pastors I knew - and I knew a lot of them from my time working at Trinity International University and then serving a Chicago-area church networking ministry - wanted to apply the word "fail" to themselves or their efforts. The leaders gatherings and pastors conferences I've attended over the years were all about ministry success. In those … [Read more...]

In The Cross-Hairs Of Middle Eastern Current Events

candles

"All's fair in love and war" the old saying goes, but true love is focused on the good of the other and filters itself accordingly. During the past few hundred years, Western civilizations fought their wars in the name of a king or on behalf of a country, with conventions (at least in principle) that were supposed to guide their warfare.Those old boundaries, the kind found on maps, don't matter quite so much anymore. Al Queda and their assorted ideological and spiritual cousins like ISIS, … [Read more...]

Heading To College With A Bit Less Baggage

move in

As I shopped for school supplies for my soon-to-be sixth grade grandson at Target last week, I passed by a mom and her daughter doing what looked to be the "stocking the dorm room" shopping trip. The young woman was eagerly scanning the aisles for just the right towels. The mom was pushing the overflowing cart behind her, watching every move her daughter made as she readied for her big launch.There are lots of nostalgic articles and reflections at this time of year written by parents who are … [Read more...]

Pop Goes The Blessing Bubble

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I've known a small handful of people who've had lives remarkably free from trial, reversal or loss. One woman I used to know had her entire life mapped out using the blueprint of the American Dream, Conservative Christian Version, from a very young age. Her life has gone pretty much the way she'd planned it: marriage, two kids, a dog, lovely suburban home, stable career, a bit of travel, a cozy group of friends. It was pretty amazing to witness over the years. If your life unfolds precisely as … [Read more...]

…On Earth As It Is In Heaven: A Prayer

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Like many of you, I am glued to the news coming out of the Middle East. An ocean of virtual ink has been spilled this summer in debate over the Israel-Gaza war, the Israel-West Bank conflict, and the hard shift caliphate-building ISIS has brought as its taken hold across war-ravaged Syria and Iraq. And the reality is that heart-breaking recent events in Somalia, South Sudan and Ukraine are not disconnected from what is happening in the Middle East.I am writing from a comfortable home in a C … [Read more...]

Independence Day At A Central IL Cemetery

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a short post here about the graveyard that abuts the property on which our small townhome/apartment development was built. Every time I visit these strangers, I realize how much I want to visit the graves of my own family members. Some are buried in a swampy Jewish cemetery in south Florida. Some are in New York. And some are buried in Peoria, Illinois.My grandmother, Leah Cohen Marks, was found dead in her tiny tw0-bedroom home on Independence Avenue in Peoria on … [Read more...]


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