A Word in the Wilderness

A Word in the Wilderness

It’s kind of like when you sit in the airport and hear boarding calls for different flights. Most of those announcements don’t matter to you. But when the call comes for your flight, it’s time for you to get on board.

We Are Not Alone

We Are Not Alone

Imagine that you are on a voyage of discovery back in the fifteenth century. Your ship goes down in a storm. You find yourself as the sole survivor on a deserted island. Nobody knows you are there, and there is no hope of rescue. Fortunately, there is water and food available on the island, but the island is deserted of human habitation, and you are all alone. What would you do?

Positivity

Positivity

I was not always so negative, so pessimistic. Once, in my youth, my hay day, I thought better of people and their possibilities. I was going to change the world! I’m going to get out there and get those once-racist-sexist-materialistic, homophobic rascals to change for the better. And they can change, if they really want to change, and who better to tell them to change than me? But that was long ago. As a pastor, I got my nose rubbed in the human condition, was made to stare at the sheer ugliness of people.

On a Need to Know Basis

On a Need to Know Basis

The expression probably has military origins. When the government or the military believes that certain information is extremely sensitive, the files are placed under severe restrictions. Access to the information is limited only to a few people who absolutely “need to know” in order to fulfil their duties. In these cases, the government does not want someone who is unauthorized or lacking proper security clearances to be privy to sensitive data. God subscribes to the same philosophy of “on a need to know basis.”

What Love Looks Like

What Love Looks Like

I can’t help but wonder if we’ve met the legal experts, the scribes, the perverters of God’s grand temple, and they are us. It makes me wonder, what is the damage that I am currently doing, all the while thinking that I am doing good?

Lines that Shape Our Lives

Lines that Shape Our Lives

“We're all together, mourning. And it really allowed me to lift up my anguish and say, you know, just put it on God’s hands. And it gave me hope, because, as Pastor Russel was speaking, the sun started to shine, and it’s been cloudy all day in Pittsburgh. The sun was shining, and I felt like that was God telling me that, you know, I’m going to part these clouds. It’s going to be dark and gloomy for a little bit, but I’m going to part these clouds and show you that I’m still here. I’m still lifting you guys up, and that’s what made me smile. And I feel a little bit better.”

Finding Your Voice

Finding Your Voice

“Asking for help is a universally dreaded endeavor,” writes M. Nora Klaver in her anti-self help book, Mayday: Asking for Help in Times of Need.

Whether we’re struggling with getting that heavy bag in the overhead bin on the airplane, or fixing a flat tire by the side of the road, Americans are much more likely to say, “I’m good” instead of “Can you help?” 

“I got this,” we’d prefer to say. We’d rather die a thousand deaths than have someone else think that we can’t do things on our own.

The Importance of Being Kind

The Importance of Being Kind

From the Psalms:

Do you really love life?
Do you want to be happy?
Then stop saying cruel things
and quit telling lies.
Do good instead of evil
and try to live at peace.


From my head:

Easy to say.
Hard to do.
What is the key?
I've a message for you.

When God is Silent

When God is Silent

According to a CBS News report, a “survey of more than 2,000 Americans conducted by the Harris Poll… on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, showed that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of Americans experience loneliness. And for many, it’s not just a once-in-a-while occurrence—one-third said they feel lonely at least once a week.”

The Power of Words

The Power of Words

When looking at the natural world—from the heights of mountains, to the mighty oceans, and then into the molecular and cellular structure of all that exists—one cannot help but get the message. “Can you hear me now?”

God has spoken.

Death Cleaning

Death Cleaning

Clean out those things in your life that get in the way of your relationship with God.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Come meet this motley crew of misfits
These liars and these thieves
There's no one unwelcome here
So that sin and shame that you've brought with you
You can leave it at the door
And let mercy draw you near

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Who are you? What do you believe about yourself? Who are you really? What if people knew the real you? Who’s your daddy?

And Are We Yet Alive?

And Are We Yet Alive?

“You have a tongue in your head and two tongues in your shoes, and no matter what the tongue in your head is saying, the tongues in your shoes tell what you’re doing and where you are going. And the awful truth is that the tongues in your shoes have the last word.”

Ethel Barrett

Am I Ugly?

Am I Ugly?

Her screen name is "sgal901", and she wants to know if she's pretty or if she's ugly. But rather than ask her parents or ponder it with her friends, this middle-school student decides instead to pose the question to the world at large, via YouTube. Smiling sweetly at her laptop and donning a knit cap made to look like a koala bear "sgal901" does what middle school girls do: She complains of being called ugly by some and "oh-my-gosh-so-beautiful" by others.

Dare to Imagine

Dare to Imagine

The first pig was killed and hung by its back legs, but Sarah had forgotten the container in the car, and she ran to retrieve it. I wondered what this was all about. I quickly learned what the container was for as she cut the pig’s throat and collected as much blood as she could. I was horrified! What in the world was she doing?

Living With Anger

Living With Anger

In the heat of an argument, when tempers are flaring, you wonder who's going to go first.
Who's going to break first?
Who's going to say they are sorry first?
Who's going to say I forgive you first?
Who's going to cross that line first? 
​​​​​​​Not me… not me. 

We Are Not Worthy

We Are Not Worthy

It is easy to get confused into thinking church is mostly about us, and that the supreme test of a good worship service is that we get something out of it. In actuality, it is not about us at all. We are not here to be entertained. We are not here to perform. We are not here because it makes good business sense. We are here for one reason and one reason only.

Fragments of Hope

Fragments of Hope

Clay pieces of a communion chalice lie scattered on the floor after a heated debate at the United Methodist General Conference in 2004 over its stance on homosexuality. A clay chalice had been shattered. A cup of forgiveness had been deliberately broken as an act of protest.

Don’t Be a Stranger

Don’t Be a Stranger

I was sitting in the office when the phone rang. The woman on the other end started screaming at me… “If you think you are going to bring those people into my church, you better think again.”