Should women be permitted to read Scripture aloud in a church service? Probably for many of you reading this, the answer would be a simple yes. Neo-Reformed church leader and uber blogger Tim Chailles delivers an emphatic “No!” in this post.  In his congregation as well many others in both fundamentalist and neo-Calvinist camps, including this one, only male leaders are permitted to read Scripture: Because of the importance of the Word of God, at Grace Fellowship Church we ask… Read more

It should be obvious to anyone who meets me that I am a graduate of the Wendy Ward Charm School program. Key word: should. Reality: No one will ever mistake me for either Miss Manners or America’s Next Top Model. Wendy Ward fail. Two things from my sojourn in the Wendy Ward program have stuck with me through lo, these many years. The first is the fact that I learned to do a runway-perfect 3/4 pivot turn. Not exactly a… Read more

I’m posting this in hopes that maybe one of you can offer some insight to my calendars quandry. Plural intended. I’m not wrestling with the 365-day, 12-month calendar hanging on my kitchen wall and filling the pages of my Day-Timer. The calendars that don’t make sense to me are the calendar marking the cycle of feast and fast observance prescribed in the Old Testament and the calendar used by liturgical churches to mark the Christian year. Jesus celebrated the former,… Read more

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free / ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be / And when we find ourselves in the place just right / ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight. Click and enjoy the haunting voice of Allison Kraus on this lovely Quaker melody, accompanied by Yo Yo Ma.   Read more

Being backed into a corner brings clarity. When you are fighting for your life, that punch list of Thursday afternoon errands (Grocery store: Eggs, toilet paper, broccoli; Dry cleaners: pick up winter coat; Office Max: Business envelopes; Make dentist appointment) is nothing more than ephemera tumbled into a northwesterly breeze. The corner – no visible exits, no trap doors, no possible way out – strips life down to its essence. Who are you? Who is your God/god? In the last… Read more

When we first met Carlos 9 years ago, he was working as a busser in a Mexican restaurant. He didn’t have papers, but he did have our daughter’s heart. The two married, and after a couple of years, they began the long process of getting Carlos a green card, and then applying for U.S. citizenship. Today, Carlos completed that journey. He is now an American citizen. In my second book (Uprooted: Growing a parable life from the inside out), I… Read more

On Thursday, November 3, about 350 leaders from northern Chicago churches and non-profits gathered for the 6th annual Christ Together Forum. The shot above was taken during the main session. Well, that’s what we all call the time when we sit together in a big auditorium and pray, sing, hear some keynote messages and learn about some of the things the big “C” Church is doing in Lake County such as educating kids in underserved schools, feeding families, reaching out… Read more

I want to celebrate the incredible gift of music that African Americans gave to the church and to the whole world. It is amazing that these people, many of them enslaved by Christian people, saw beyond their owners hypocrisy and embraced the real Jesus. I believe that these miracle songs are an example of how God can take our deepest pain and, in response to our faith, create something beautiful. Well-known calligrapher Timothy Botts offers these words about what shaped… Read more

Anyone who has ever read a book and then told a friend, “It stunk” or “Buy it!” is a book reviewer. Of course, book reviewing can be a lot more formal than a verbal “thumbs up/down”. I have long relied on thoughtful print/web book reviews to help me decide what to read as well as to inform me about ideas and trends happening in the world. I may not have time to read every book that interests me, but intelligent… Read more

My big, beefy imagination is usually overkill for most of the tasks requiring creativity in my life. But that inner world becomes a whimpering Barney Fife when it comes to one really important area. I can not comprehend how God can transform the church from a weary, jaded and frequently unfaithful renegade with a kaleidoscope of personalities and terrible habits into a pure, innocent partner with eyes only for the Son. But that is Scripture’s story. The author of that… Read more

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