We need reminders. Our to-do-lists and calendars give us proof enough. We search for car keys. We use someone else’s phone to call ours. Then we listen through the house hoping it will reveal its location. I guess, too, that we’ve learned our forgetfulness the hard way. Lovers too easily forget why they fell in love, successful adults forget where they came from and entire generations can grow up with no memory of the wisdom an older one painfully fought to hold on to.
No wonder we can draw a blank when it comes to God.
“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” the Psalmist said.
“How do we get started?” we ask.
“Remember,” he answers. “Remember the wondrous works God has done,” (Ps. 105:4-5)
Jesus taught Peter about remembering. We too can learn. We can help others too. Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Spiritual Remembering, Part 1”
It is not easy to suggest to someone in our congregation that we learn how to practice God’s presence together. After all, for many, the idea of spending a moment-by-moment life with God doesn’t sound exciting. What if God is annoying or socially awkward; boring, or out of touch? Worse, what if God is like an Uncle who gets scary mean when he’s drunk? Why would I consider spending every waking moment with him? Continue reading “Tasting the Pleasures of God’s Presence”
The largest human questions are sometimes asked in the most ordinary and smallest of places.
“Where is God?” As a little boy, my youngest son Caleb asked this sacred question before bed.
“He is everywhere” I say.
“Is he in my room?”
“Yes, I say, He is here.”
“Is he on my pillow?”
“No” I say, fumbling for words. “Your pillow is like a small flower in his large hands. But he delights in your pillow.
“Is he on my head?” he says giggling.
“No, I say and laugh. I touch his head and rearrange his hair for no reason but love and trying to find words.”He is way too strong to sit on your head without hurting you. But, he created your head with love and care.”
As I turn out the lights and walk across the hall to my room, I’m aware that I’m sharing with my son, a belief that many of his friends and neighbors will not. Like the headline above, some will rightly respond to the arrogance of God talkers by urging greater humility. Yet, what if one can remain opposed to arrogance and still believe that God can be known; Not exhaustively of course but truly? Continue reading “Recognizing God’s Nearness”
We feel like we will miss out, or that we are not enough. This is why we cram days into each other. We blur them and force them to get along. But we are restless. Agitated. Irritated. Discontent. When is anything ever enough? Continue reading “Taking Each Day as it Comes”
The Apostle Paul was physically and emotionally wore out. Fear thunderstormed his soul. Conflict awaited him. He had no rest. Rather than hide this fact, the Apostle gave voice to it. As pastors, the idea of giving voice to the hurricane that batters against the boarded up windows of our souls feels dangerous. But God has a help in mind.
Continue reading “A Forgotten Remedy for the Stress and Fatigue of Ministry”
“Ah, look at all the lonely people,” the band sang in the old song. “Where do they all come from?” This question hums with haunted melody, as the song searches out the lonely lives of a priest, his congregant and the church they both serve. Why is it that those who give their days to a vocation charged with the enjoyment, love and glory of God remain so vulnerable to the loneliness and isolation that any human being can feel? Anton Chekhov’s short story, The Bishop, helps us. Without spoiling the story, I’d like to tell you why. Continue reading “Why are we Lonely in Ministry?”
Lingering among silences makes us feel like toddlers entering the nursery on Sunday mornings. When our parent drops us off, we feel abandoned. We either tantrum about, or we cling to anything or anyone that promises to hold us.
Continue reading “Why We Need Silences, Not Just Sentences”
The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out. (Prov. 30:1)
When you hear someone say that they are tired, or when someone says to you, “wow, you look exhausted,” it is time to ask God, “What kind of fatigue am I experiencing Lord?” Rightly diagnosing our particular brand of exhaustion graciously get us more truly and quickly onto recovery’s road. Continue reading “When We Are Worn Out”
Instant video streaming, on-demand programming, twenty-four hour grocery, credit-cards, texting, and next-day delivery are wonderful. They reward my desires instantly. Immediacy befriends me. Entitlement invites me to come over. We party at once and without delay. So, when I crave a food, want a mood from a show, or need aspirin from Walgreens at 3:00am, I feel quite grateful for this split-second, on the spot way of life.
But ask me how long I can handle no response after I’ve texted or emailed somebody before I begin to doubt whether they like me, or think I’ve done something wrong to offend them or ascribe negative judgments about their character, and you can begin to see through me into an area of weakness. Continue reading “Cultivating a Stamina for Waiting”