When The Church Repels You

IMG_2393There’s something unique about sitting down to talk with your young adults pastor and you’re absolutely convinced you should be leaving said young adults group…and then by the end of the breakfast with him you’re questioning every single idea you had in your head.  No, it’s not as fun as it sounds but it’s absolutely necessary.

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What about the Change?

IMG_0842I’m about to bloody my theological knuckles, so buckle up.  Strap in.  Brace yourself.  And hold onto something.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I figured I should put that warning there since there’s a chance I’ll be metaphorically and rhetorically crackin’ skulls with today’s post.  And I can’t take credit for the inspiration of these words.  I blame the twitter user ENT Monkey.  Dude even has a website.  It all started in the early morning hours today with this tweet.

I got a kick out of it because it felt like a nudge in my side.  You when someone pokes you and taps you on the shoulder to draw your attention to something?  That was this tweet for me.  I responded.

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NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 28

IMG_0523It’s Monday.  Commence with the gnashing of teeth and tearing of ritual sackcloth!

I’m back podcasting about church, Jesus and the future of it all.  I’m a bit bonkers and wander with my ideas but it’s fifteen minutes worth of marinating on the future of The Church.  Give it listen and tell me how wrong I am.

NaBloWriMo 2013 Day 26

487600_10100102522805993_1931938180_nSometimes getting away from it all is the best medicine.  Upon leaving my former employer I began to discover as I job searched that I had more time than I knew what to do with.  I realized that I had allowed myself to get swallowed up in the job.  It happens to the best of us.  We turn into workaholics and while sometimes that is a good quality it is a very bad thing to run at full throttle all the time.  So I find myself out of gas and on a very large desert island.

I found that I now had time to write.  I found that coffee shops were something to visit.  And I found my way back to daily conversations with God.  That last one might need some explanation.

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NaBloWriMo 2013 – Day 3

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photo taken early 2000′s by Aaron DeLay at University of Colorado Hospital stairwell.

Often with NaBloWriMo the challenge isn’t sitting down every day and writing – it’s coming up with stuff to write to fill the space of a blog post.  That’s why NaBloWriMo is such a challenge – and why it’s fun and terrible at the same time.  You wonder how the folks whose life blood is blogging and writing manage to keep on truckin’.

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How Ministry Makes Us Better

You could also probably title this post “Volunteering Makes Us Better” but I like the ring of the original.

There is great truth in the statement.  I’ve been doing children’s and youth ministry since 1992.  That’s 21 years of my 31 years on this planet.  And I can tell you this right now – if those 21 years had been spent outside of ministry and volunteering – you wouldn’t recognize the man sitting at the keyboard right now.  You probably wouldn’t want to hang out with him.  There’s a good chance he wouldn’t care about much outside of his own world.  The women in (and out) of his life probably wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.  He’d be a jerk.  Douchebag.  Probably a slacker or even a player.  There wouldn’t be a humble bone in his body.  Oh and he’d have the language of several sailors and the respect of several less.

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King of Anything

That’s the song that’s playing in the background as I sat down to write this and that’s the title of the post I’m going to stick with for the moment.  It’s been a few months since I put hand to keyboard.  I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride in life.  My work schedule changed, responsibilities temporarily flipped and everything put on its head.  And in turn everything else in my little corner of the world went sideways.

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An Absalom Moment

imageI’m not a Bible Scholar by any stretch of the imagination. Nor have I been theologically trained in much of anything aside from teaching in children’s and youth ministry. So when I get into my devotions I’m usually quite blind to the history of characters or the deeper strings involved within – which makes me slightly nervous to be writing down my thoughts here. I’m always nervous I’m going to take a logical leap over a shark or two and fall face first into the sand.

Which is why I love today’s devotional. It’s a fairly simple tale that helps me remember that I shouldn’t want to be all those things in order to feel better about myself – or how I read His Word. His name was Absalom and he was the son of King David. The verse referenced is 2 Samuel 15:3-6.

The idea here is that Absalom promotes himself and builds up his image with the people of the kingdom into something that wasn’t his to have. The key quote here regarding Absalom is that he, “…stole the hearts of everyone in Israel.” Absalom’s selfishness was the cause of his sin – his want to be the next big thing. It’s a cautious reminder – and there are a plentiful bushel of warnings in God’s Word – about promoting ourselves above Him and the plan He has for our life. I’ve come to understand pieces of God and me over the years – by no means am I anywhere close to figuring it out – but I’ve learned that I’m not the most important kid on the block. I am second to Him. We were created to point to Christ and spread the glory, praise and honor across the globe.

I sometimes get a big head – and when it happens I just want to throw myself into a deep hole and never come out. I’m ashamed that I thought I somehow knew better, was better or was that thing I tried to portray. It’s a constant battle and consistently under construction.

The key section of tonight’s devotional that sticks with me is under the “PRAY” section. It says this – “Spend time inviting God to remind you that he loves you just the way you are, that you cannot earn his approval. Welcome God to show you your true identity as His child, an identity that is defined not by what you do but by who you are and to whom you belong.”

Boom goes the dynamite.

God’s Track Record with Me

imageWhen God moves, you’d better watch out. And I’ve seen him move, I’ve felt him clearing His throat and I’ve missed the “DUCK!” command when He suddenly shifts directions in the midst of something. It’s one part terror and one part awe. It’s one of those thing I’ve come to have a healthy respect for because those moments when the paradigm shifts, when the rug is pulled and when the clouds clear – those moments are the most amazing.

Tonight’s devotional is from 2 Samuel 7:18-29 and it’s content is King David talking to God about these things that have happened to bring him to this point – and in his conversation with The Big Guy David relates his understanding of the ‘Why’ as it concerns the promise to God’s people and the long term effect of bringing praise and honor to God from all corners of the Globe.

It’s a fascinating verse to read – and that’s the extent of my writing on today’s devotional. I’m going to go and dig into this chunk of verses with a highlighter and a critical mind. I’d encourage you to do so as well.

I use the term “marinate your brain” more than I probably should – but it’s exactly what I mean. Letting your brain soak in His Words for a good long while. Stir in the juices of contemplation, consternation and compassion – and let it sit for awhile longer. Take in the words, the phrases and the meaning of it all on a deeper level.

There’s reading The Bible and then there’s chomping down on it like a voracious and starved Lion on the hunt that won’t be satisfied until it tastes the depths of His Words for Us.

And God Help You!

imageI know I probably shouldn’t have been in bed before midnight on a Friday night. I knew that eventually God was going to give me a good shake or two for thinking I could avoid my quiet time. And I was right. So here I am at 11:30pm sitting in a barely lit corner of my living room hastily putting words to keyboard remembering that God has an incredible sense of humor. That sometimes I don’t get.

Tonight’s devotional is from 1 Samuel 17:31-40. It’s the classic story of David and Goliath in which King Saul puts the momentous armor on the little boy and watches as he shrugs it off. This same boy will come to haunt the old man after this moment because God has chosen David to be the next King. The path he takes to becoming King is one of the most incredible stories in itself and it is a telling one that leaves Saul and his son dead at the end.

I have my favorite parts of this story. The imagery of David ripping apart Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my!) in defense of his sheep is a powerful one. In imagining it tonight I turned my thoughts to Jesus and His Love for us – and how he would tear through the legions of Hell in defense of His Beloved Bride. It was a heartening reminder to me of the greatness of Jesus and how little I remember the depth, width and intensity of His Love for us.

The other part is a recent addition to my list and it comes tonight. It is Saul’s reaction to David’s impassioned speech about his actions protecting his flock and how God protected him then. David emphatically says that God Alive will deliver him from the Giant Goliath. Saul’s reaction? In the “NIV” it’s, “Go, and The Lord be with you.” In “The Message” it’s put plainly – “Go. And God help you!”

David’s absolute faith in his fate and his complete lack of worry leveled me tonight. In reading through the notes in my devotional it spotlights the idea of making the choice to move, “…the attention of our anxious hearts away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them.”

I’m a worrier. I’m big into carrying stress, fears and everything else for myself and others. Tonight reading this gave me a good ole’ fashioned Gibbs slap to the back of the head. I’ll leave you with what the devotional suggests to do. “Look at Him and say, ‘Lord have mercy.’ Say it again an again not anxiously but with the confidence that He is very close to you and will put your soul to rest.” The words come from Priest and Author Henri Nouwen.

And so that is my challenge today and through the weekend. Lord, have mercy.

Have mercy.