At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Ordinary Time

It sounds so basic, doesn't it? After the drama of those mountains and valleys between Advent through Pentecost, "Ordinary Time" sounds like a long, dreary drive across North Dakota. Those of us in congregations not using the church calendar are familiar with the high points of the first half of the Christian year: Christmas and Easter. Ordinary Time? Not so much.The name Ordinary Time does little to commend it to people who hear "boring" in the word "ordinary".  It makes it sound as though t … [Read more...]

At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Pentecost

He told them to wait.Wait for who?Every time I read the account of the first Pentecost, I'm struck by the fact that Jesus' followers had no clear picture of exactly who or what they were waiting for. But the risen Messiah told them to wait, so that's exactly what they did. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a … [Read more...]

Post-church church leaders: Now what?

What do these people have in common?The single woman in her mid-thirties with $40,000 worth of seminary debt now working as an office manager for a software vendor.The former youth pastor now installing replacement windows for a home-improvement company.The veteran minister with 20 years of pastoral experience now an anonymous attender at another congregation after losing his job when a nasty split took place in his old church.Each aimed at vocational ministry, believing … [Read more...]

At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Passover

When I was a kid, my family would gather in the Skokie, IL apartment of my grandparents for a Passover Seder. My grandfather read what seemed like every page of the Haggadah (order of service; the liturgy for the ceremonial meal) published by Maxwell House coffee. The house was filled with the smell of matzo ball soup, long-cooking brisket, and a table-groaning variety of sides warming in the oven, and it seemed torture to sit at the table and wait for the best meal of the year while Grampy and … [Read more...]

Blogging Is So 2010

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. - Mark Twain I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI last weekend. As usual, it was an incredible gathering of writers and readers, and my heart is stuffed to overflowing with the treasures from seminars and conversations.One bit of information I'm still processing are the continuing announcements from famous, infamous, and not-famous-at-all bloggers that they're suspending or greatly dialing back t … [Read more...]

Put Down The Church Attendance Scorecard

Church leaders are bound to remark about attendance. Maybe your pastor emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the Sunday gathering. Maybe the announcements about small groups stress how true commitment to the church means attending Wednesday night gatherings and dedicating extra time to live “life on life” throughout the week. Many hear these reminders as genuine concern for attendees’ spiritual health, but for some of us, it feels like peer pressure. [Read more] … [Read more...]

Praying For Healing: Advance Or Surrender?

I've attended churches that didn't believe in supernatural healing: "Those kinds of miracles occurred in the first century, but God doesn't do that any more now that we have the written Word of God. Except maybe once in a while for missionaries living in far-away places." Prayers for healing among these folks often took the form of asking God to guide the doctor's hands during medical procedures. Interestingly, many of these people who didn't believe in supernatural healing were into alternative … [Read more...]