Why Pray?

Why Pray?

In high school I participated in something called Summer Institute at Eastern Michigan University. It was a great experience. For two weeks I lived on campus with a group of other high school high achievers from various disciplines. I was there for music. It was an amazing time. I learned a lot about writing and creating music. While we were there we had to do some "electives." One of them was meditation. I remember sitting on the floor on a squishy mat, that was surprisingly comfortable. The instructor spoke in a calm quiet voice and guided us through a time of meditation. I don't remember anything after the first fifteen minutes. Why? Because I fell asleep! (more…)...
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Holy Be Your Name

…or taking time to acknowledge God Photo by Thomas Griesbeck on Unsplash Over the last week I have been doing something new in my spiritual practice, not asking God for anything. I have simply been taking time to acknowledge God. It is ridiculously hard. No, I am serious. I have never done anything this hard in prayer in my life. Spending time in prayer simply acknowledging who God is has been beyond difficult. You would think that someone who has been actively seeking to follow God since 1995 and is a “professional Christian” would be able to spend hours and hours simply acknowledging God. Nope. I can’t. Monday it was about 5 minutes before my mind and heart wandered to other things and people and concerns. Tuesday it was about 2. Wednesday, I didn’t even take time to do it because, “What’s the point?” Yes, I’m firmly Gen X. Thursday, I figured I better make a bit more effort and was successfully able to focus on God and God alone...
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Don’t Be Crusty

…how to get out of your spiritual rut. Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash Part of being on mission with God is our continued growth as a follower of Jesus. It is realizing that we have not arrived nor will we fully arrive with God. As we are on mission with him we must continually hear from him, change, and draw ever closer to him. How do we do it? When you first start following Jesus it seems like everything is exciting and new. Your spiritual life feels fresh and real. The Bible “comes alive.” You’re reading it and praying. You and God feel super close. It is almost like you can audibly hear his voice. Then something happens. Those books in the Bible like Ephesians and Philippians feel stale. You try to read some Old Testament and it’s just confusing and hard. So you read a Gospel and it seems really long. All of a sudden your prayers feel like they are bouncing off...
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Where Is God?

In the dark we just need a glimmer of light… Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash I rolled over and opened my eyes. It was dark. The darkness seemed to drip from the ceiling. My body ached and my head was pounding. The gentle sound of my wife’s breathing was the only comfort in that moment. As I lay there the anger raged inside me as I thought again of my friend dying, as I sat next to him praying for a miracle. Staring at the imperceptible ceiling listening to her breathe in and out, listening to the fan occasionally creak, his face flooded my mind. The smile. The coy eyebrow raise when he knew he got you. The excitement of some new trinket in the man cave. There was a joy and a glimmer in his eye that always drew me in. He was a man. He laughed like a man. He cared like a man. She continued to breathe quietly. The fan continued to...
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What Good is Theology?

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash Honestly, theology is pretty useless. There, I said it. I have wanted to say it since seminary. Now I’ve said it. Theology is pretty useless. Well, let me clarify. Theology that isn’t applied is useless. Doctrine that is aloof and disconnected from the everyday life of the believer is pointless. It is nothing more than a noisy gong. Paul writes, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1–3) I think we can rightly understand “love” here as living out the gospel in...
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How Do You Do It?

…10 Things We Do As Parents I’m not an expert. I’m not even close to being an expert. I have a son who is 16 and a daughter who is 14. Both of them are excelling as human beings (in my all too biased opinion). They each have passions that they are pursuing with zeal. I think both of them are becoming good people. They have friends, they respect adults, they are both people that my wife and I enjoy being around. Any time I ask people what they think I should I write about, one of the most requested topics is, “How do I raise my kids?” I don’t think people ask me this because they think my kids are angels and they want to know how we did it. I think anyone who is raising a child wants help in making sure that they don’t screw up. In our culture we get more training to drive a car than we do...
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This All Sucks!

This All Sucks!

Every once in a while you come face to face with a brokenness that overwhelms you. It seems that lately this has been the case more than not. I look around and people are not being healed, they are losing jobs, they are experiencing death. This all sucks. I know, I know, I’m a pastor and my Mimi would be mad that I just used the “s-word.” But, you know what, it does suck. That’s the truth of the matter. The brokenness of this world is overwhelming at times. I am so mad and frustrated with it. I wish God would simply do what I want him to do. When I pray for him to heal someone, I want him to do that. When I ask him to save a marriage, I want him to do that. Every once in a while, I want him to supersede the secondary causes of human sin, frailty, and brokenness to make this world how I want it. He’s...
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What Matters Most? Outside or Inside?

Sadly, many Jesus followers struggle with guilt and shame. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed and dealt with. For pastors like myself, we need to speak into this issue and challenge the legalism of the new pietism that has developed in many of our circles. Paul writes in Galatians 6, It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:12–15, ESV) It struck me today...
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