Category "Uncategorized"

Contentment or More. Choose Ye This Day Whom You Will Serve.

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No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. —Ecclesiastes 1.8

This summer while on vacation, I read the delightful Joanne Harris book Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. There were a number of times I took out my phone and typed out a line or two from the book to save because something sparked my imagination.

This quote was one that I had saved:

“Sometimes, on a day like this… I find myself wishing for something more.

More. Oh that word. That deceptive word. That eater of lives; that malcontent. That straw that breaks the camel’s back, demanding – what exactly?”  —Vianne Rocher

Her question about more—the straw that breaks the camel’s back, demanding – what exactly?” is what really… Read More

Playing Hide-And-Seek With God

He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth… so that people might seek God—even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being,” as even some of your poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” —Acts 17.26-27

While I was on my solo camping trip last week, I read a number of books—including “The Spiritual Journey of a Misfit” by Francis Dorff. He was a priest and professor of theology and philosophy. My favorite chapter in his book was the one entitled “Playing Hide-and-Seek with God.” Here are some lines from that chapter…

After spending three-quarters of a century seeking God, I’m beginning to think that God loves to play hide-and-seek. I’m also beginning to think that God’s very good at it.

I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. I know that’s how long I’ve been seeking God, but I have no idea how long God has been playing hide-and-seek. If it’s even half as long as I suspect, it makes me feel… Read More

God is at work in your enemy’s heart (do you have room in your theology for that?)

How blue is the sea, how blue is the sky, how blue and tiny and redeemable everything is, even you, even your eyes, even your imagination. —Mary Oliver

This past Sunday I preached a message entitled The Princess And The Basket. Yes, it was the story of Moses and the circumstances surrounding his birth, but I told it with a primary focus on the women in the story… Jochebed, Miriam, Shiphrah, Puah, and Bithiah.

Bithiah (Pharaoh’s daughter) was the one who found the basket in the river with baby Moses wrapped up in it. Knowing he was a Hebrew child (and that her father had signed an executive order requiring the killing of all newborn Hebrew boys), she decided to adopt him as her own and raise him in the Egyptian royal palace.

At this point in the sermon, I said:

God is at work. God is at work in your life. God is at work everywhere. The Spirit of God is everywhere. God’s Spirit is wild and untamed. I mean, you can try to box God up all you want, but… good luck with that.

God was at work in Bithiah’s heart before baby Moses floated down the river. Do you see the significance of this?

It’s crazy. God is at work in your enemy’s heart.

Do you have room in your theology for that?

God is at work all over. Everywhere. God is working down the street, in the bad part of town, in the gang member and the drug dealer, in the embezzler and in the tax evader, in the bigot and the racist and the prostitute. God is working in the heart of the up-and-coming and the… Read More

When You Sit Alone At The Table It Becomes A Desk

I have a big table in my office. Most days, I sit alone at the big table (desk) and work on my computer. We also have monthly staff meetings in there, and when everyone takes a seat, the table is filled and the room comes alive with conversation and laughter (and occasionally some tears). The best meetings are the ones where Leslie has baked something and brought it in to share. This is true for all gatherings, but it is particularly significant among Christians…

When I hear bread breaking, I see something else; it seems almost as though God never meant us to do anything else.  So beautiful a sound, the crust breaks up like manna and falls all over everything, and then we eat; bread gets inside humans. —Daniel Berrigan

Communion (The Lord’s Supper, Eucharist) is a big deal at our church. In fact, it is really the centerpiece of our gathering. We received communion together on Sunday and I’m still thinking about what Pastor DJ Marin said before inviting everyone to come to the table. He… Read More

Now I See

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see. —John Newton

Now I see that God’s love does not seek value, it creates it.

Now I see that my identity is a gift from God, not an achievement of my own.

Now I see that I don’t have to prove myself, for God has taken care of that; all I have to do is express myself in deeds of love and gratitude.

Because I am held in the embrace of God’s love, I can’t run away—nor do I want to.

How much better to face it all—the imperfections of my soul and my… Read More

God’s Lover’s Quarrel With The World

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

*picture above: “Lover’s Quarrel with the World no. 3″ by Sarah Michelle

On Sunday I spoke from Genesis – the story of Jacob and Esau. The point of the message was how Jacob had spent much of his life on the run—avoiding the uncomfortable and difficult in favor running to a new place… until that one fateful night. Even as he was attempting to return home, he had a back-up plan to run. But the evening before his journey home, a Stranger came out of the dark and started to wrestle him.

They wrestled back and forth throughout the night. There were opportunities for Jacob to flee—to go on the run (again)—but for some reason he refused. He wrestled and wrestled and held on for dear life. He wrestled until there was breakthrough. He wrestled until the blessing came.

This point—wrestling and continuing to wrestle until there is breakthrough—is not a sign of something unhealthy or wrong, but rather a sign that you are… Read More

Laughter And The Bible

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Frederick Buechner, in his book Peculiar Treasures, writes:

Quantitatively speaking, you don’t find all that much laughter in the Bible, but, qualitatively, there’s nothing quite like it to be found anywhere else. There are a couple of chapters in the book of Genesis that positively shake with it. Sarah was never going to see ninety again, and Abraham had already hit one hundred, and when the angel told them that the stork was on its way at last, they both of them almost collapsed. Abraham laughed “till he fell on his face” (Genesis 17:17), and Sarah stood cackling behind the tent door so the angel wouldn’t think she was being rude as the tears streamed down her cheeks.

When the baby finally came, they even called him “Laughter”—which is what Isaac means in Hebrew—because obviously no other name would do.

Laughter gets mixed up with all sorts of things in the Bible and in the world too, things like sneering, irony, making fun of, and beating the competition hollow. It also gets mixed up with things like comedians and slipping on banana peels and having the soles of your feet tickled. There are times when you laugh to keep from crying, like when the old wino staggers home in a party hat, or even in the midst of crying, like when Charlie Chaplin boils his shoe for supper because he’s starving to death. But 100 percent, bonded, aged-in-the-wood laughter is something else again.

It’s the crazy parrot squawks that issue out of David as he spins like a top in… Read More

The Entire Bible Is A Story Of Immigration

**pictured above: Eliana (left) and Inna (right) before church on Sunday in Kent, WA.

The other night, author and theologian Diana Butler Bass shared a Twitter thread on the subject of immigration and the Bible.

Pastor Brian Zahnd said, “Diana Butler Bass is a scholar and a better theologian than you or me. Read this 32 tweet thread and learn about the Bible and immigration.”

Here’s why this issue is important to me… because it’s not merely about an issue, it’s about individuals. It’s about people I know and love. It’s about my youth pastor’s wife who has DACA status, or I should say she was DACA status.

Eliana was just 1 year-old when she was brought to the USA. She is now 26 years old. Obviously, this country is all that she knows, and she has lived in the PNW her entire life. She is a beautiful woman of God who leads worship in our church, loves young people, and contributes to our community in a significant number of ways. I can’t imagine any scenario where she could possibly be viewed as a threat or… Read More

That Kid Who Ran Across Your Lawn

Dr. Preston Pouteaux is a bee keeper, author, and pastor in Alberta, Canada. His new book, The Bees of Rainbow Falls, is about finding faith, imagination, and delight in your neighborhood. In the chapter on “Awe,” there is a section entitled “People Are Sublime,” which is quoted below…

*     *     *     *

For all the beauty of mountains and space, I am discovering that people are the most sublime.

Yes, strangely I’ve come to believe that boring, frustrating, and annoying humans are perhaps the pinnacle of all that is wonderful and good in the world.

This may be surprising to some; people seem to be so common. An hour stuck in traffic can almost make us feel like other humans are simply a part of the mundane fabric of the world around us, nowhere close to the breathtaking experience we think would be associated with awe.

Give yes mountains and beauty, not people. Stick with stars, birds, and bees. That’s the good stuff. Yet even from space, astronauts stare in awe at both the beauty and the fragility of the people too small to see. These mundane, boring, insignificant people may in fact ignite the highest sense of awe a person might experience.

I’ve often felt that mountains are not the pinnacle of beauty in the world, that they are not the most meaningful source of spiritual awe and satisfaction. Neither are bees, or birds, or stars. I leave the mountains with renewed life, but I return to my neighborhood and city to encounter the most stunning source of beauty in its most sublime form: people.

Eugene Peterson, a spiritual theologian who loves  nature and beauty wrote that “Even a bare-bones human existence contains enough glory to stagger any one of us into bewildered awe.” Just by their very being, people proclaim something astonishing about the world we live in.

Not convinced? Read on… Read More

The Enriques

If you’ve read Father Greg Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart, you know he typically travels with some “homies” (guys who are in the program at Homeboy Industries – leaving the life of gangs, drugs, and violence behind in order to build a new life and career). When Father G came to speak at our annual Together Nights in 2015, he brought two homies with him: Enrique and Enrique. The Enriques – as I like to call them.

That’s right. Both guys are named Enrique.

This trip to the Northwest was the first time either man had flown in an airplane. It was the first time either Enrique had been out of Los Angeles. Father G took them out for a day of exploring Seattle.

Father G said the Enriques were… Read More