September 3, 2021

In spiritual direction, we explore a person’s experience of God. What we discover is that God loves showing up in really diverse ways! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that an experience of the Spirit always or only happens in a way they find acceptable. Just look at all these ways we find people in the Bible encountering God. Jacob’s dream at Bethel. Genesis 28: 10-17. This is Jacob’s first experience of God, and it includes a promise. God makes... Read more

July 20, 2021

The denomination I am ordained in, United Church of Christ (UCC), has a catchphrase: “God is still speaking.” That means God continues, throughout all of time, to reveal Godself to us, just as God did to the people of Israel in the ancient near-east and in the time of Jesus. For a long time, the motto was mostly used to counter those brands of Christianity that tried to say the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God and... Read more

April 15, 2021

Kindness might need a defender. From the 2016 presidential election on, there’s been a debate about effective responses to racism, sexism, heterosexism, questions of immigration reform, systemic injustice — and even just plain rudeness. Do we meet “fire with fire” in our response, do we walk away, or do we handle such dialogue with kindness? Self-proclaimed “kindness enthusiast” and Presbyterian pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow explores those options and more in his new book, “In Defense of Kindness: Why It Matters, How... Read more

March 15, 2021

  In a world full of solutions, opinions, and advice, listening is one of the most important gifts we can offer one another. It is an act of healing and vision. For people of faith and their communities, the gift of listening both to one another and God offers a path to spiritual renewal and grants congregations a vision of their identity. In a time when congregations are experiencing a steep decline in membership and facing significant uncertainty, learning to... Read more

February 9, 2021

We’re stuck online for now. Are Zoom, Skype, or Doxy the way we’ll do spiritual direction forever? This is the question for spiritual directors and their clients after 10 months of pandemic social distancing. There are pros and cons to the online life, and tricks to doing it with style that I will address here. Some spiritual directors have decided that working from their home computer via online video has opened a new world for them. Prior to the pandemic,... Read more

January 19, 2021

Imagine the shock and disgust that rippled through mainline and progressive Christianity in this country after the New Yorker video from the January 6 insurrection showed a group of rioters standing around the Senate President’s chair in the Senate chamber pray, holding hands in the air praising God for their success at storming the Capital. One rioter who was interviewed after the event said he consulted God three times before coming, and each time “he didn’t hear a no.” Discerning... Read more

December 21, 2020

The Bible isn’t one-way communication, we can engage with it. This living text invites us to respond, question, debate, and celebrate its offering. When we begin to “talk back” to scripture, it comes alive and becomes interactive. Our critical thinking skills engage with our spiritual “feelers,” strengthening our faith. There are numerous ways to engage with scripture, but below is one I find incredibly useful: Read the Luke version of the birth of Jesus, Luke 2: 1-20. Read it slowly... Read more

November 29, 2020

  Sports psychologists use visualization. So do shamans and spiritual directors. Visualization is a powerful tool for releasing minor fears and negative self-talk. Here are a few suggestions from experts in imagination: Lock It Away: In “Bird by Bird,” writer Anne Lamott shares a technique for silencing negative self-talk. Each nagging voice is visualized as a mouse that she picks up and puts in an imaginary jar. The mice lose power as their voices are silenced in the lidded jar.... Read more

October 23, 2020

Two commonly heard phrases (or some variation) I have noticed on social media: “Are you OK?” “2020 can’t come to a close fast enough.” So, I thought I’d ask: are you OK in this long presidential election pandemic year? Can you say with Julian of Norwich “all will be well” and mean it? I’m mostly OK, thank God, but I have moments of cloudy thinking, blue moods and yes, sometimes, a small crisis of faith. I’m grateful that no one... Read more

August 28, 2020

What exactly is spiritual direction? Shepherd Heart Ministry Consulting’s Executive Director Dr. Melissa Hofstetter sat down to interview me about that very question — because the term “spiritual direction” needs to be fully understood. Generally, spiritual direction means meeting every few weeks with a spiritual director, or spiritual companion. Since there’s a form of it in just about any religion (it comes up a lot in the Catholic faith), directors go by many names. What all of these forms share... Read more

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