I was sent to the grocery store for one thing. Sweet and condensed milk. (I'm not completely sure what it is, but I know it's in a can.) I walked through the automatic door and saw bananas. I accidentally grabbed organic bananas, so I went back to exchange them for "real" bananas.
Then I saw blueberries on sale. Then Frosted Mini-Wheats. "Do I get the brand name or off brand?" And then I realized we needed salsa. There are 33 kinds of salsa! Decision overload! Then I noticed cute little bottles of Tito’s vodka for $1.89. "Whoa! That woman just put 50 little bottles of Tito’s in her cart. Why not just get one big bottle?" Then I paused, "I came here for one thing. What was it?"
There’s so much in the store, you forget the one thing you came for. Life is like this too. There is so much in our lives, we forget the one thing. In a world of "too much," we need the ancient Christian discipline of simplicity.
After the killing of Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani and retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. bases, there are millions of prayers being prayed around the world.
There are many Americans praying for Americans. For our leaders, military, and national security.
There are Iranians praying for Iranians.
There are Christians praying for Christians.
There are Muslims praying for Muslims.
In all the praying, here is the most radical prayer: Christians praying for Iranian Shia Muslims.
Snow globes are mesmerizing. Peaceful. Hypnotic . . . until a five-year-old comes, picks up the globe, and SHAKES IT!
Sometimes life feels like a snow globe shaken. We are cozy in our "silent night." Family gatherings at Christmas. Sentimental music. Comfort food. And then something happens and life is SHAKEN. A loved one is sick. The family can't get along. The child is lost. The account is empty. Life is disrupted.
Last summer I stopped by St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN. Like most monasteries, St. John's has a guesthouse that is open to any visitor, Catholic or otherwise. In the entryway is a wall hanging of chapter 53 of The Rule of St. Benedict.
"All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say, 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'"
In this rule, Benedictines bind themselves to welcoming the stranger as a guest, as if Christ himself. What would it look like for all Christians to adopt this rule, especially in the frenetic holiday season?
The impeachment proceedings have me thinking about power. Who has power? How are they using it? The characters are before us. Donald Trump. Nancy Pelosi. Mitch McConnell. Adam Schiff. And so on.
We tend to think this is an exceptional time in history, but the struggle for power is a repetitive story. Same plot, different characters. Caesar Augustus. Herod the Great. They were the power brokers of their time. Today they are mere footnotes in a history book.
Trump. Biden. Pelosi.
Even if I knew that tomorrow the whole world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." - Martin Luther
Is it worth all the work?
How much difference does it make?
What do I do when I want to quit?
Thanksgiving is in two weeks. We all have our rituals.
Turkey cooking and pecan pie baking.
Passing out in a tryptophan-induced food coma.
Vegging on the couch while watching the Cowboys or the Lions lose.
Another admirable Thanksgiving Day ritual is to “count your blessings.” Allow me to put a spin on that. On November 28th, count your curses.
I was on a date with my nine-year-old, Emily. Over ice cream, I quizzed her with a number of questions. I came to, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?"
"With you, Daddy."
Cue the "dad tears." For now, I'm better than Disneyworld and the beach.
Too often, we hear that the stated goal of Christianity is heaven. It's not.
Kanye West, who released albums like Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has now released an exclusively Christian album titled “Jesus is King.” The same man who once rapped “I am God,” now sings on a song titled “Jesus is Lord”: “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
There’s plenty of scuttle over the genuineness of his conversion. Is it for real? Is this true faith, or another ambitious career stunt? Will he continue to confess his Christian faith in a year, or ten? Is he making money off of his “Sunday Services”? Where does the gospel fit in a world of celebrity, paparazzi, and Kardashians?
Pastors feel pressure to have the perfect congregation. We won’t ever say it, but we want to show off our “best people.”
The dynamic (and good looking) young adult.
The talented worship leader.
The pretty couple with the nice house and 2.5 kids.
Those with miraculous stories of conversion after a troubled life of debauchery.
Then we show up to church and bump into reality.
People who resist everything.
People who need more help than they can give.
People with memory loss and mental illness. The gossipy. The hypocrite. The flaky.