He Told Me He Was Muslim & Asked If He Could Attend My Church

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. —2 Corinthians 5.19

A few years ago, I noticed a new family at the church – husband and wife along with their three kids. They were good at slipping in and out of church quickly… but I hunted them down, introduced myself, got their names. I made it a point to chat with them – even if just for a few seconds – each Sunday.

After a few months, the husband asked if we could meet. He seemed like he had something heavy to share with me. At lunch, he told me how he had served time in prison – about a decade. After getting out, he met his wife. She’s the one who got the family coming to church.

Then he got to the point. He said, “In prison, I… Read More

A Place From Which Life Can Be Viewed & Lived More Redemptively

I recently read (and absolutely loved) a book by David Dark called The Sacredness of Questioning Everything. Among the many sections I highlighted in the book is this line:

For some, their religion is nothing more than a special interest group, a bastion of offendedness and anger, the powerhouse of the saved – rather than a place from which life can be viewed and lived more redemptively.

I want… Read More

Shari’s Unscripted Commentary

Each Sunday, when I’ve finished my sermon, Shari joins me on stage for a few moments of unscripted commentary. I get the sense that this is what people most enjoy about the “sermon time.” And it’s not included on the videos we post online…

Interesting thing, that.

Maybe the best bits about church can never be accessed via the internet.

The bread and the cup. Water baptism. Child dedication. Hugs. Standing in prayer with our brothers and sisters in Christ – shedding tears together, celebrating together. Serving on a Sunday. Those few moments of unscripted commentary.

Anyway, back to Shari’s unscripted commentary…

In my sermon, I had read from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ “The Jesus Storybook Bible” – the story of the Prodigal Son, which she titles Running Away.

“The son takes the money and goes on a long, long journey to a far off country. And everything’s wonderful and perfect—for a while. He can go wherever he wants, do whatever he wants, be whoever he wants. He is the boss, he is free!

Sometimes he gets a strange, hungry, homesick feeling inside his heart, but then he just eats more, or drinks more, or buys more clothes, or goes to more parties until it goes away.”

Shari said how she… Read More

I Know Their Church Faces & Their Church Clothes But I Don’t Know Them

Shari was telling me about this podcast she enjoyed listening to – it was about a business woman who was encouraged to participate in a group with other business leaders whom she didn’t know. The purpose of the group was so that people could share their plans, ideas, concepts… and receive input, feedback, encouragement, and helpful insights.

The woman said she was surprised to have received such help and made a number of life-long friends from this group of people who would otherwise have never found their way together.

Shari said, “This is church. It’s what church does – bringing people together who wouldn’t normally be together. We open ourselves up to one another, we love and encourage and help one another, and build a number of surprising life-long friendships.”

She paused for a moment, then continued, “But not always. People aren’t always willing to… Read More

To Give Space

An excerpt from Jean Vanier’s book Community & Growth:

To welcome is one of the signs of true human and Christian maturity.

It is not only to open one’s door and one’s home to someone. It is to give space to someone in one’s heart, space for that person to be and to grow; space where the person knows that he or she is accepted just as they are, with their wounds and their gifts.

That implies the existence of a quiet and peaceful place in the heart where people can find a resting place. If the heart is not peaceful, it cannot welcome.

* [I want to add a little note here on the subject of having a peaceful heart: Plato suggested a metaphor for the mind—that our ideas are like birds fluttering around in our brains... but in order for the birds to ever settle, we need periods of calm and quiet, solitude and reflection.]

To welcome is to be open to reality as it is, with the least possible filtering.

I have discovered that I have many filters within my own self where I select and modify the reality I want to welcome: the reality of the world, of people, of God and of the Word of God. I select what pleases me, boosts my ego and gives me a sense of worth. I reject that which causes inner pain or disturbance or a feeling of helplessness; that which may bring up guilt feelings or anger or a broken sexuality. We all have filters created from our… Read More

Maybe We Are “Knowing” The Wrong Thing

The movie Beasts of No Nation is one of those gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and yet very necessary stories… it’s a film that is difficult to watch, but it is one that we should watch.

It depicts the story of Agu – a young orphan boy who has lost his family and is taken in by a commander of guerrilla soldiers.

When I saw the movie, I was haunted by this one line—spoken by Agu shortly after he had killed someone.

“God… I have… Read More

If You Listen You Will Hear

Behold the One who can’t take his eyes off you. Marinate in the vastness of that. —Father Greg Boyle

Our world is a noisy place. Especially right now it seems.

There are so many voices clamoring for our attention.

But there is a voice that matters most. And if you listen, you will hear…

Henri Nouwen said:

Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are… Read More

Do You Know What God Dreams About?

*this post comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s children’s book God’s Dream

 

Dear child of God, what do you dream about in your loveliest of dreams? Do you dream about flying high or rainbows reaching across the sky?

Do you dream about being free to do what your heart desires? Or about being treated like a full person no matter how young you might be?

Do you know what God dreams about? If you close your eyes and look with your heart, I am sure, dear child, that you will find out.

God dreams about… Read More