Category "Uncategorized"

An Attitude Of Listening

Continuing in this theme of stillness / quiet / silence / listening / hearing… a few more words from Sue Monk Kidd’s book God’s Joyful Surprise:

The aim of silence is to create an attitude of listening to God.

Without listening, silence is just a vacuum. Inside our silence, we seek an encounter, a dialog, a participation with His presence. But learning to hear His whisper is the most delicate miracle of all. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears…”

If. That little word says a great deal to us, doesn’t it? It says God speaks, He knocks, He awakens… but… perhaps we will not hear Him.

Not long ago I stepped outside into the deep velvety darkness of an… Read More

Silence. Quietness. Stillness. Is There Anything We Neglect More?

There’s a gas station near my house that I frequent. When I stopped in the other day, something was different. We were headed out together as a family for an adventure. As I stepped out of the car to fill it up, there was instant noise and flickering of lights… the gas station had upgraded their pumps—the new ones featured little television screens and speakers.

This is not my favorite.

I realized as I stood there waiting for the tank to fill that I had come to enjoy these 2-3 minutes of quietness. And now that space has been filled up with news reports, entertainment, and advertisement.

Sue Monk Kidd, in her book God’s Joyful Surprise, writes…

Silence. Quietness. Stillness. Is there anything twenty-first century America neglects as much? There is no reprieve even in the elevator where music is piped in to cover the silence. We drive to the store or home from work through a maze of billboards screaming more words at us.

All day the roar of technology around us is constant: traffic, planes, phones, dishwashers, television, videos, electronic toys that talk, blip and bleep incessantly. We are buried under a… Read More

Every Event Carries The Hidden Possibility Of A Word From God

*Photo above: Rhythm & blues recording artist Liz Vice at NWLife, May 2017

My little family of three has this dinner-time conversation on a regular basis—it’s usually prompted by my wife… she will ask, “Where did you see God today?” The question could be asked a number of ways: How did you see God today? What experience brought you closer to God today? What reminded you of God today? What did God whisper to you today? 

There is no right or wrong answer. That’s not the point. The point is to share those encounters, experiences, thoughts, and feelings that somehow made us mindful of our Creator.

When Liz Vice came to sing at our church’s annual Together Nights last month, it was one of those… Read More

We Must Not Spend God’s Mercy, As If It Were Ours To Spend

The real meaning of mercy is that it can look on failure and still see a future. —John Claypool

 Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser has written…

Shortly after ordination, I found myself working in a church with a saintly old priest. He was over eighty, nearly blind, but widely sought out and respected, especially as a confessor. One night, alone with him, I asked him this question: “If you had your priesthood to live over again, would you do anything differently?” From a man so full of integrity, I had fully expected that there would be no regrets. So his answer surprised me. Yes, he did have a regret, a major one, he said: “If I had my priesthood to do over again, I would… Read More

Getting Over My Hatred For Small Talk Means I Need Better Questions

As an introvert, small talk is my kryptonite. I can literally feel the life draining out of me as I’m hit with, “What do you do for a living?” or “Did you see that Mariner’s game last night?” or “How you doing, Bro?” What usually follows are some quick answers, awkward pauses, and a drummed-up reason why I gotta leave now.

I should probably take a class on social graces.

Even among my own tribe—pastors—I fail miserably with small talk. After every conference, I think about how annoying and predictable the conversations were (How you doing, Bro? How’s the church? You guys growing?)… and then I tell myself I need to come prepared with 2 or 3 interesting things to say.

The truth is, I would love to circumvent small talk altogether and move right into some real, true, deep stuff (How has your theology changed in the past few years? What’s one thing you’re too scared to change at your church but you really wish you could? What hurts in your life right now?).

Of course, I have a weird and goofy side too. Sometimes I want to ask… Read More

I Can Wait, Says God, I Like What I See

When we’ve ignored a thousand invitations, there’s still another one waiting. —Ronald Rolheiser

“Covenant” by Margaret Halaska

 

God

knocks at my door

seeking a home for his son.

Rent is cheap, I say.

I don’t want to rent. I want to buy, says God.

I’m not sure I want to sell,

but you might come in and look around.

I think I will, says God.

I might let you have a room or two.

I like it, says God. I’ll take the two. You might decide to give me more some day.

I can wait, says God.

I’d like to… Read More

I am You Are We Are Complex.

A few months ago, I stumbled across this quote by the avant-garde Icelandic singer Björk:

I am very stupid, I am intelligent. I’m clumsy, I’m a coward, I’m funny, I’m witty. I’m a five year old and I’m a sixty year old and I don’t want to let any of these things go.

3.-Björk-Vulnicura-album-art

Something about her words rang true to me. Of course, I’d change some of the words to more accurately reflect my quirks and strengths, and I’m guessing you would too… but you see what I mean, right?

I am, you are, we are complex.

There is never just a simple label, one-word descriptor, that can fully represent the complexity of who we are. Maybe it’s a personality thing, but I resist being crammed into a box. Whenever someone has “figured me out,” my soul smirks with delight over this wonderful little secret: that is barely a crumb of who I am.

It’s easy for me to hold this truth that I am complex. More difficult for me is remembering this truth when someone else is bothering me or disagreeing with me or just being stupid. Because everything in me wants to throw a label on them, give a one-word descriptor, and cram them into a box… but that would be intellectually dishonest of me and I know better.

Bishop Jake Owensby recently… Read More

The Illusion of Superiority

We are in a series on the Beatitudes of Jesus at church right now… it’s called “Dance to the Beat.” One of my favorite lines came from a message on humility:

The essence of “God blesses those who are humble (or those who are meek)” is that God can work with people who don’t think they are superior to others—but where there is arrogance and aggression, God’s blessing is not there.

Jean Vanier, in his book Becoming Human, says:

The illusion of being superior engenders the need to prove it; and so oppression is born. A bishop in Africa told me that, even though there were few Christians in the area, he had built his cathedral bigger than the local mosque. All this to prove… Read More

It Doesn’t Look As If There’s A Hero Among Them

*photo above: guys who live in the local group recovery home—helping build 300 bicycles for our Bike Give last month

We are currently in a series on the Beatitudes of Jesus at church… it’s called “Dance to the Beat.” The following is Frederick Buechner’s thoughts on the Beatitudes from his book Whistling in the Dark:

If we didn’t already know but were asked to guess the kind of people Jesus would pick out for special commendation, we might be tempted to guess one sort or another of spiritual hero—men and women of impeccable credentials morally, spiritually, humanly, and every which way. If so, we would be wrong. Maybe those aren’t the ones he picked out because he felt they didn’t need the shot in the arm his commendation would give them. Maybe they’re not the ones he picked out because he didn’t happen to know any.

Be that as it may, it’s worth noting the ones he did pick out.

Not the spiritual giants, but the “poor in spirit;” as he called them, the ones who, spiritually speaking, have absolutely nothing to give and absolutely everything to receive, like the Prodigal telling his father “I am not worthy to be called thy son,” only to discover for the first time all he had in having a father.

Not the champions of faith who can rejoice even in the midst of suffering, but the ones who… Read More

The Irish Word For Forgiveness

Pádraig Ó Tuama, in his book of poems: Sorry For Your Troubles, says…

The Irish word for forgiveness is maithiúnas. It comes from the word maith, meaning good.

The word is the same, or similar, in Cymraeg, Gaelg, and Gaidhlig—other languages spoken across the islands of Britain and Ireland.

To forgive someone is “to good” them. To forgive someone is to treat them with the goodness with which they did not treat you.

Curiously, this syntax arranges power as the possession of the troubled one. It is they who can… Read More