Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Lately I've been thinking about suffering quite a bit. I'm not sure why that is. Partially I think it's from being with some friends who are in really difficult times in their lives and suffering quite a bit, and partially I think it's from working with the book of James.
Anyway, I have noticed that the people that I know who have the deepest, most vital, most robust relationships with God are those who have suffered the most--physically, spiritually, emotionally. I don't know why exactly that is, although I kind of think it has something to do with the fact that most of us have to reach the end of our ropes before we'll really and totally turn to God. And these people have all, at one time or another in their lives, found that end point of their personal ropes.
So, the question is, "Is it possible to have that kind of relationship to God without suffering?" This is a critical question for middle class Americans, because so many of us have been blessed to avoid so many of the major causes of suffering, all those caused by extreme poverty. The answer, I think, may be "Yes" and "No." I think that maybe if you have been fortunate enough in your life to have mostly avoided true suffering, you are obligated, especially if you are a Christian, to open yourself to, and help carry, the suffering of others. Your security is gift, not to yourself, but to others, so that you can, by sharing their pain and doing what you can to relieve it, not only be a gift and a blessing to them, but also grow yourself.
This is just a tiny, short 'brain dump' about what's been rattling around in my head the last few days. There is certainly much more to be said.
What do you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What do you want?

In, The Big Necessity, the author talks about how difficult it is to change people's habits. Since the whole book is about sanitation, you can guess which habits we're talking about. If not, read the book. Anyway, she talks about the fact that you can't get anyone to change their ways by talking to them about what they should do--doctors who smoke being the prime example. Instead, you have to connect with them about what they want to do, not what they should do. When you it say it out loud, that sounds like a 'duh' statement, but somehow we seem to miss it most of the time. Talking to kids, talking to friends, talking to co-workers, talking to spouses, and especially, preachers talking to congregations always seem to want to start with should instead of want. What are we thinking? Well, obviously we aren't thinking at all or we would know better. All we have to do is look at our own new year's resolutions. They are almost always about should, and they just fall by the wayside. But we don't even need to make resolutions to go after what we want, we just do it.
So, what do the people in the pews want? What do we all want from God? What 'want' brings us to church? Some want to know, not just think or believe that their souls are secure. Some want peace. Some want comfort. We all want to know we are loved. We don't want to just think about God, believe God. We want to feel God. We want to know God. Makes this week's sermon start to look all different.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do No Harm
So, I'm doing this sermon series on Reuben Job's Three Simple Rules. I did an introductory sermon last week, and I have to admit that it didn't look like I was getting a lot of response. Of course, it frequently looks that way. Anyway, so this week we're looking at the first rule: Do No Harm. That's really a much more complicated question than it appears to be. Like so many rules it appears easy, but like ripples on a pond it has effects that move outward much farther than you would expect. What does it really mean to do no harm to others--not just by deed, but by word and thought. I especially think of all the people I know who are so quick to say critical things about other people. I remember a time in my own life when I actively turned my back on living a Christian life because I didn't want to abide by that rule. Being snarky is so much more fun than being nice. And what about all the people, especially those in public life, who think that it's OK to be as critical and destructive as possible in the right cause. When exactly did it become OK not just to win, but to destroy anyone who disagreed with you. And how can anyone honestly believe that such behavior is ever OK for someone who claims to be a Christian? Honestly, sometimes Christians do more harm to the faith than any enemy the church has or has ever had. We have much to repent for.
Oh well, just a few beginning thoughts--and I haven't even begun to talk about not harming God's world, either.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I have almost come to the conlusion that there are too many ways to communicate out there! As a Twitter addict, I've got the short, stream-of-consciousness snippets covered. And since they are linked to both Facebook and Blogger, I can update all three at once. For longer snips (is that the longer version of snippets?) I can go directly to Facebook. By the time I've covered those, the well is kind of dry so I don't know what to put on Blogger that is both longer and still worthwhile. I am not nearly egotistical enough to think that anyone is that interested in every detail of my life. Nor do I think you all want to see the rough drafts/emerging thoughts for my sermons and my school papers. For devotional stuff, I prefer to write in a paper journal--although that is fast becoming a jumbled commonplace book. Just posting my sermons also seems egotistical.
Of course, all of this presumes that someone actually reads this blog. Not all that likely, really, considering all the blogs there are in the world today.
So maybe I'm just talking to myself. Wouldn't be the first time.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Testing mobile

I am spending way too much time on this#
Sent by Felecia Hensley
via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

What, me procrastinate?

It's Palm Sunday tomorrow and I still have stuff to do. So why am I spending all this time mucking around with Twitter, Facebook and my Blackberry. I must be insane! Oh, and then there's the wedding and the musical tonight, too!