I recently heard about a movie named “Kids” where, according to the reviewer, “a band of teen-agers forages for sex, drugs, and booze on New York City streets.” Daily, the kids drank and smoked, and grabbed the always available fast food. The young people portrayed in this movie were apparently not an underprivileged group. Money was freely available. What they didn’t have, and what particularly troubled the reviewer, was the experience of regularly sitting down to a family meal. Meals… Read more

I learned earlier this week about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s death and offered prayers of gratefulness that such a man of courage and integrity could emerge from the corrupt regime of the former Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror. Solzhenitsyn fought in WWII as a Soviet Officer, and was held in high regard by his fellow officers. However, he, as did thousands and perhaps millions of others, landed in one of the many prison camps set up by Stalin. Solzhenitsyn,… Read more

“In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?” Those are the words that begin a Service of Committal, the time after death when the loved one is either buried or cremated. “In the midst of life, we are in death.” How true those words are, first written in a ninth century prayer book. So where does our help come from? The service goes on to read, “Our help is in the name of… Read more

A few months ago, I wrote about my concern that normal teen-aged rebellion is now being considered a mental illness to be treated with drugs that would make youth more compliant. In a recent news release, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children as young as eight start routinely being given cholesterol-lowering drugs, and that babies as young as one year old be switched over to lowfat milk. By the way, they also note this: “The academy has… Read more

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That phrase often serves as a succinct job description for those who serve as church pastors. The “comfort the afflicted” part is easy to understand. But the “afflict the comfortable” part carries complex implications. One of which is that most pastors could easily be considered “comfortable” so any affliction we think we are to put upon others should rightly land in our own laps as well. While the Bible abounds with words of… Read more

I was doing a bit of housecleaning and realized that I needed to discard some flowers that had passed their prime. This lovely grouping had been given to me by some special friends on the day of my long-awaited ordination, June 10, 2008. I had been enjoying them daily each morning as I sat at my dining table and enjoyed breakfast. But, as happens for all live things, decay was setting in. Time for them to land in the compost… Read more

Why doesn’t God_______? You fill in the blank—you’ve probably asked the same question. Why doesn’t God heal the sick and stop the tragedies and right the wrongs and turn back evil and make everything nice? Yes, why doesn’t God? Well, that question isn’t going to be answered in one short column. There are libraries full of books trying to answer that question as people wrestle with the whole issue of evil and nastiness and horror and general yuckiness in a… Read more

This time of year when the acorns and pecans cover sidewalks liberally here in North Texas, I start thinking about how nature, with its powerful urge to reproduce itself, shows us much about the nature of God’s love. There is so much of it that we can trample on it and still have plenty left over to feed wildlife abundantly and see many new trees sprout in the spring.  The nuts fall without apparently without discernment–they are not parceled out… Read more

Over the past year, I have been watching trust slowly erode between me and another person. We were never close, but had what I thought was mutual respect and goals coupled with an ability to bridge differences in style and methodology. Bit by bit, the trust links broke. Happened on both sides, I believe, but I can’t be sure. I can only know for sure what I experienced here. And if I am to use this as a learning experience… Read more

Just a little while ago, I was sitting at my desk in the church office in earnest prayer for a member of the congregation who had announced on Sunday that she was losing her job and needed to find another. She’s a single mother, doing a spectacular job with her children, a creative, hard-working, generous, intelligent woman and I had promised her that I would make this need my special care in prayer. A few minutes later, I was checking… Read more

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