It’s In The Approach

A few weeks ago on the first day of our big Seattle snow, I went for a walk with my dog around Lake Wilderness. It was morning, and the park was blanketed with thick snow and a silent hush.

When we walked along the trail near the water’s edge, I noticed the blue heron sitting there. We stopped and watched. The heron didn’t move. I wanted to get a good picture (and maybe some video too), so I began walking slowly closer to the heron. I knew there would be a limit… at some point, the heron would be alarmed at the human and dog invading its territory. We got closer, and paused, then moved again… and again.

As I thought, there was a threshold. When we crossed it, the great heron spread its massive wings and slowly flew away.

This experience makes me think about how we approach the other…

Do we approach others (especially those who are “other-than”) with fear, anger, revulsion, skepticism, and a general sense of dismissiveness?

Do we have a better approach than that? I really hope so.

Franciscan Friar Lester Bach writes about the Christian… Read More

40 Love Lessons

I’m reading Jacqueline Bussie’s new book, Love Without Limits. In her chapter on “A Mother’s Love [Charlotte],” she writes 40 love lessons from her mom…

(note: I’ve bolded my favorites)

1. Even if you are not a great singer, sing anyway. God will love the sound of your voice, simply because it is yours.

2. If it gets to be too much inside, go outside. The sun on your face feels like an “I’m sorry” from the world, or from God.

3. Always visit sick, old, dying, and hurting people. Most people avoid looking hardship in the face, but you must always sit down beside it and look it straight in the eye.

4. Everyone just wants to be loved. It’s always within your power to give this to people, even when you don’t feel it yourself.

5. Even if you didn’t get to have/see/do it, you can still create a world in which your children might.

6. Always put a little lipstick on in the car at the first red light. Smiles need to be seen.

7. If you make a promise, keep it. Forever is forever, even if it hurts.

8. Never lend money, but instead give it away—especially to those who have less than you. The love of money is a slave trader who will auction off the souls of the people you love.

9. Showing a person that you remember what they… Read More

Those Times When You Think You’re Being The Blessing And Then You Realize It’s The Other Way Around

God has entrusted the Church to keep the soul of childhood alive, to safeguard our candor and freshness… Joy is the gift of the Church, whatever joy is possible for this sad world to share… What would it profit you even to create life itself, when you have lost all sense of what life really is? —Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Sunday is NWLife’s annual Toy Give. Over 500 presents will be wrapped, labeled, and stacked. Hundreds of kids in our community will receive a gift at the party… and there will be prizes, a dancing panda, food, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a few surprises too. It’s one of those events that makes your face hurt because you smile so much.

snow at toy give for post

The Toy Give is a lot of work and we put out the call for “all hands on deck.”

We give and serve in various capacities—and at the end of the night we are all janitors… stacking chairs, vacuuming floors, taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms, etc.

It’s one of those times when you think you’re being the blessing and then you realize… Read More

What A Wonderful World

For the past 8 weeks, our church has been in a sermon series called “Unchained Joy” – looking at the book of Philippians, half a chapter  each Sunday. The most cheerful book of the Bible was written from a first-century prison cell—and it reminds us that despite our difficulties, there is a joy that runs deep.

We have God’s joy in our blood. —Frederick Buechner

The series has come at a particularly “good” time for me personally (good, not in the sense that all is well, but in the sense that the timing is good because all is not well). While walking through some difficult things—betrayals of friendship and painful losses—the “Unchained Joy” series has allowed me to preach to myself as I am sharing with the church.

The most helpful discovery of today has been that right in the midst of my sorrows there is always room for joy. Joy and sorrow are sisters; they live in the same house. —Macrina Wiederkehr

We often create what we call… Read More

Role Reversal Communion Had Me Crying

At YOUTH last night, Pastor Andy gave a message about belonging. He talked about his love of the Muppets – particularly how they are such a collection of oddballs and misfits, but they somehow belong together.

He also shared the passage from the book of Acts where Peter has a vision from God – and describes it like this: “God has just shown me that no race is better than any other… It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God… the door is open.” (Acts 10.28, 34-35)

Andy said church looks like the Muppets – oddballs and misfits who wouldn’t normally be together, but we are because we belong. We belong because of Jesus.

Then he started setting up communion by talking about the kinds of people Jesus spent time with and ate with: rich, poor, educated, uneducated, sick, healthy, insiders, outsiders, faith-filled, doubters…

And he talked about the people who sat with Jesus at the Last Supper (the first communion): a tax collector, a doubting Thomas, a soon-to-be denier, and even a betrayer.

Andy called out a few youth leaders to join him up front and asked… Read More

You Have Nothing To Prove

Hi.

It’s me again.

I’m still reading CJ Casciotta’s little book Get Weird.

On Sunday, when I spoke in church, I shared this part from CJ’s book:

I remember sitting down one night with Kelly and admitting to her that most days I wake up feeling I have something to prove to the world, how this problem seems unshakable, a weight chained to my ankle that only gets heavier with each passing season. She looked at me with a calm, earnest glimmer in her eye, the kind that first drew me to her, the kind that will still shine just as strong once the rest of her has faded and folded, and asked, “What if you changed your perspective from having something to prove to having something to give?”

In that mundane, painfully ordinary moment, while I was sitting on the couch in our living room, truth came crashing into me through this strange and profound little thought.

Something to give.

It’s a phrase I write on my hand whenever I’m about to do something that makes me nervous. It’s something I let rise to the surface of my soul whenever I’m busy comparing myself to someone else.

*     *     *

It’s such a simple truth—one we need to be reminded of often: You have nothing to prove… you have something to give.

Today, I read this:

There are those quiet, constant people whose arms our… Read More

Just Trying To Scratch Out A Broken Hallelujah

On Wednesday at YOUTH, Pastor Kyle spoke about being asked to do something crazy, something stretching, something you’ve never done before. He told stories about being invited to CrossFit, being asked to sing a solo with the youth choir at church, and being asked to lead worship for the first time.

His point was that even when we feel unable, unqualified, and unsure of ourselves, God wants us to be willing to offer what we have.

In groups, we shared our own stories of being stretched and challenged. And we talked about what we think God might be asking us to offer for God’s use.

I’m reading a book called Get Weird by C.J. Casciotta

Your weirdness is your worth. It’s the value you bring to the universe simply by breathing air with a set of lungs no one else has ever used before.

I love the story he tells about hearing some odd sounds on his way to the communion table at church…

*     *     *

Yesterday I went up to take the Eucharist at church. There are a lot of religious traditions I don’t understand, but there’s… Read More

I Asked Them To Remember A Time When They Felt Deeply Heard

I was a youth pastor in the Northwest for 15 years. I’ve been a lead pastor for the past 10 years… so I still have more youth ministry experience than leading a whole church. Hey, I’m a rookie! Cut me some slack por favor.

I think I’m going back into youth ministry. At least for a season. We’ve had some staffing changes at our church and our youth ministry needs leadership right now.

So I got youth ministry on my mind.

At my age, I know better than to plan a trip to the hipster barber shop or go to the mall and drop some bills on the coolest shoes. Trying to impress young people is no longer my game plan.

Impressing young people with my coolness factor? Nah. Impressing young people with my oratory skillz? Lol, nope.

I’ve got a different plan these days. It’s maybe a little more mature (I hope?).

My plan is to… Read More

My Favorite Thing About Together Nights

God has entrusted the Church to keep the soul of childhood alive… Joy is the gift of the Church, whatever joy is possible for this sad world to share. —Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest

Our church does a thing called Together Nights. This year, we had three Together Nights spread out over the months of March, May, and June. The idea behind them is to gather our people (from multiple Sunday service times) together and expose them to something valuable that they wouldn’t normally see or hear. Our guest speakers this year included Scott “The Painter” Erickson, spoken word and hip-hop artist Propaganda, and Pastor April Carter. SCOTT PROP APESAnyway, it’s always easy for us to celebrate celebrity. We all tend to do it and it seems to come naturally to us. But having these unique, gifted, exceptional guests wasn’t my favorite thing about Together Nights.

My favorite thing was celebrating … Read More