Church is Boring

Well, yes it is sometimes. Entered into with a spirit of willingness and openness, time in church can mean that the spirit of God bores a hole all the way into the center of our beings. Oh—perhaps you didn’t mean THAT kind of “bore” with the phrase “church is boring.” Instead it meant, “I’m not being entertained in church.” Hmmm—definitely truth there as well. Although some churches do have “entertaining” worship services, the church really isn’t in the entertainment business…. Read more

White as Snow

For those of us who rarely see snow, the sight of the huge flakes gently falling to the ground and covering everything with pristine white fills us with awe. Things formerly nondescript or even ugly to the sight become beautiful, transformed by the layer of fluff. Chain-link fences turn into fine lace, tree limbs bend as though offering their load of snow as a gracious gift, free to the taker. When the snow falls heaviest, sounds are muffled, a deep… Read more

A Long Journey Nearly Over

On Monday, February 25, I met with members of the Board of Ordained Ministry of the United Methodist Church for a morning of interviews. In preparation for this time, I had written a definitive statement of my systematic theology, a defense of the sacraments, my understanding of an inclusive church and ministry, and my willingness to enter into a life of itinerant ministry, serving wherever the Bishop and Cabinet deem appropriate at any given time. I turned in two recorded… Read more

Medicine Cabinet Discernment

“I can always tell the state of someone’s soul by examining the medicine cabinet. And it’s always easy to take a peek when I visit a house. A well-kept medicine cabinet is a well-kept person–such a one can be trusted.” “I can always tell the state of someone’s soul by seeing how well that person cares for the family pet. Ten minutes a day is the absolute minimum that must be spent on grooming the animal. If that is not… Read more

The Time is NOW

“Of course, spiritual things are important—but there are other things a lot more important at the moment.” “I’ll find time for God later. Right now, there are too many things pressuring me.” “My children will make their own faith decisions when they are adults. I don’t want to influence them one way or another.” “God can wait until I’ve had all the fun I want to have.” As a pastor, I find these words both troubling—and common. I also know… Read more

Tote Bag Repentance

I’m continuing to consider the theme of “do no harm” during this Lenten season. So many resolutions to “do no harm” have really awful unintended consequences that I’ve finding this a particularly prickly path. However, I, along with a lot of others, may be on to something that really “does no harm” and does much good. There are two items ubiquitous to modern American life that are coming under increasing scrutiny as really nasty for the environment: plastic water bottles… Read more

Drag Them Down and Drug Them Dumb

Often when Christians observe the time of year we call Lent, we intentionally give up something we normally enjoy in order to enhance the important rigorous examination of our souls that is called for here.Generally it is a favorite food or perhaps some other habit, like too much TV.One year I gave up playing computer solitaire, something I will often do to relieve tension when I’m writing or working on a message. That was an eye-opener, to be sure. This… Read more

HDTV

“HDTV”—a pretty familiar acronym to anyone who watches TV or follows progress in the world of electronics. It stands for “High Definition TV,” a way of broadcasting that produces a significantly superior picture for those who have the kinds of TV sets that can receive the HD signal. I personally don’t have one, but was at my sister’s house a few weeks ago shortly after they had purchased and installed one. I spent a few minutes watching a football game… Read more

Religion and Immigration

It’s time to talk politics. As a pastor, and as one who fully respects the separation of church and state, I will not endorse a particular political candidate. I will say, however, that one’s convictions must enter the political arena and guide decisions. The idea that we should leave religion for the private sphere only and ignore religious convictions in public discussions is simply ridiculous. That is like saying that our personal circumstances should be ignored in when making political… Read more

The Gathering Place

There’s a really good story in one of the more obscure books in the Bible about people coming back from years away from their homeland. When they get home, the first thing they begin to re-build is their place of worship, which had been destroyed many years before. They started with the place to gather and get to know God. Not houses, not stores, not banks, not even gas stations (or in their case, hay stations for their horses and… Read more

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