I’m reading “The Divine Commodity” right now, a book about how our consumer culture in the western world has affected church life.  It’s an important topic for me right now because we’re in the midst of assessing the health of the church I lead as we digest the results of an internal survey we recently completed. I’ll begin by suggesting that consumerism is a two-edged sword, rather than wholly evil, and spend the rest of this post looking at both edges… Read more

Yesterday my wife and I drove up the Mt. Baker highway to its very end.  She wearing snow shoes, and I backcountry skis, we made our way higher and higher in the silence of a spring snowfall blanketing the upper reaches of the Cascades.  Light and shadow, wind and stillness, moments of clear visibility suddenly shrouded in cloud, silence:  this is the sensual feast of the mountains in springtime.  These elements do something to me that can only be described… Read more

Psalm 104 is one of my favorite parts of the Bible because it poetically articulates what we enjoy hear in the Pacific Northwest with such clarity:  the water cycle.  The sun heats the ocean and water evaporates, condensing as it cools on the rise, to become clouds.  Prevailing winds push the clouds inland, where the clouds empty as rain or, in the cold places, snow.  This water becomes life – for plants, animals, humans, and bloggers like me.  All of… Read more

Having spent last week in at a conference in San Diego, I was struck by how cool it was to come to my room each afternoon and find that someone had made my bed.  This someone (I met her) was hard working, knew more languages than me, and was terribly polite – possibly even more polite than some of the conference speakers and attendees.  I appreciated her acts of service, and wondered if she could live on what she was… Read more

I pack the car early this morning, coughing after a fitful night’s sleep as the virus creates a dripping in my throat, like a faucet.  I need to prepare my sermon for this Sunday, which I’ve not been able to do this past week because of other obligations, in the San Bernardino mountains with 450 guys, and then in San Diego, with directors of camps from across the US.  Both places were filled with exhilarating discussions, and teaching opportunities for… Read more

I carry my metal water bottle with me everywhere, and the conference center at which I’m staying is offering Nestle’s bottled water in the rooms!  $1 per bottle if you drink them.  This is the height of consumerism, the depth of environmental degradation, and cuts to the heart of a fundamental shift in the view that water is a to be free for everyone.  “The earth is the Lord’s” is what the Psalmist said, but when we take ownership, we… Read more

I finished teaching at a men’s retreat yesterday and left the mountains heading for San Diego.  I’d been given a backroads way to travel, which was both beautiful and sparse; horse ranches and orange groves, hillsides in full bloom with spring wildflowers, all with the snow clad higher peaks reflecting the afternoon sun, off to the east.  I love these kind of drives.  They’re a ripe environment for pondering. I turn on the radio and start fiddling with the AM… Read more

Our church is raising funds to put wells in Africa through the “Spilling Hope” initiative. It would be easy, for many of us, to just write a check on May 23rd, 50 days after Easter, and call it a success.  But success, in this case, requires more than writing a check.  We’re trying to “put on a heart of compassion” as Paul says, which means to “suffer with” those who are suffering. The relationship of suffering to water is, presently,… Read more

There’s a delightful little passage that I came across yesterday morning during my coffee with God.  I’d read it before, but one of the things I love about reading the Bible is that the same passage, read at a different time and place, brings to light different truths.  It’s like a gem, held up to the light, and refracting differently depending on the angle and the light; the living word indeed! Anyway, the story is in I Samuel 30, where… Read more

I’m getting ready to study the passage for this coming Sunday about the ten virgins, five of whom had oil in their lamps and five who didn’t.  On the surface of it, the whole story seems to run contrary to the golden rule.  “Do for others what you’d want others to do for you.”  If I was out of oil, I’d want you to give me some oil – so if I have oil, and you don’t, I need to give… Read more

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