Seeing & Believing

I was recently asked if there were any empirical evidence, any measurable data, for faith "working." The person wanted to know if there existed concrete evidence for "person believed x, then x happened," when x would have been impossible under other circumstances. It's an interesting question, but a common one in our scientific (and scientistic) age. My first thought was Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (NIV). The King James is more accurate here, particularly in the last clause: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." "Evidence," "proof," or "proving" is the right word there. So at f

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that You have done for us. We thank You for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank You for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank You for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us. We thank You also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on You alone. Above all, we thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedie

Deep Breath

It's Thanksgiving week -- a fact difficult for me to accept. I distinctly remember planning for spring events just yesterday . . . didn't I? They say time flies when you're having fun, so I guess 2017 must have been a barrel of monkeys. (It wasn't? There were hard times, just like every other year? Hmm.) Another year will be over soon, regardless, and that means we're in the busy season. Still, as busy as we are (and will be), I invite you to pause for a bit right now. Just take a deep breath. Let it out. Relax. It's going to be okay. I know you're stressed right now. On top of normal life, there's Christmas shopping, more things to do at church, family to see, the looming threat of another

The Christian Calendar

We're mere weeks away from our second Hanging of the Greens service, so today I wanted to talk about the Christian calendar. For centuries the Church as a whole has divided the year into specific seasons based on major days of worship. Most denominations follow those seasons and use them to help plan worship and other events. Our own Hanging of the Greens, for example, will always fall on the first Sunday of Advent, the Christian "new year's day." Advent lasts four Sundays until Christmas and begins the Christian calendar year. It is a time of preparation, both for the birth of the Christ Child and for the return of the risen Lord Jesus. Advent ends at midnight Christmas Day. Christmastide,

The New Ball and Chain

You used to hear husbands refer to their wives (usually jokingly) as "the ol' ball and chain." I guess that's now considered misogynistic, as I haven't heard it for a few years. At any rate, the idea is that the ball and chain keeps you from having fun, from living life like you want. It makes you a prisoner just as much as the ironworks do. I submit to you today we, as a culture, have a new ball and chain, one we voluntarily carry with us wherever we go, one which holds us captive for hours every day: our cell phones. They began as objects of utility. Being out and about meant not always having reliable communication in the event of an emergency. Pay phones weren't everywhere you could be,

Food

You don't really appreciate food until you can't eat. This is my major lesson of the past week. I'm doing alright with softer foods at the moment, and my follow-up appointment tomorrow will determine if it's safe to graduate to "real food" again. Not being able to even eat a sandwich has proven to be the hardest part of having my final wisdom teeth removed -- more difficult than even the pain. Believe it or not, I like food, and I'm looking forward to us getting back together again soon. Somewhere there is a cheeseburger with my name on it. There is, of course, more than one type of food. No, I'm not talking Italian vs. Mexican vs. Korean. I mean physical food for the stomach and spiritual f

Tired

I'm tired of writing posts like this one. Tired of seeing yet another horrific shooting in the headlines. Tired of knowing another congregation went to worship and was slaughtered in a house of God. I'm tired of how evil the world has become. It's far easier to look around us and see the bad, for surely the bad must outweigh the good these days. The news programs blare about this scandal, that killing, the other war. I have yet to see a feature-length interview about "Man finds most adorable puppy ever" or "Is eating dessert the secret to losing weight? A recent study says yes." Instead we have wars and rumors of wars, whatever those conflicts might be. And I'm just tired of it all. Brothers

In Its Season

Commercial retailers need to remember their Old Testaments. We're all familiar with the Time Poem of Ecclesiastes 3 ("To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven") -- and yet I still see Christmas things in stores before Halloween. There is a time, people, and that time is not now. We rush the last three holidays of the year, cramming them one on top of the other. Halloween begins in September, but the Christmas decorations show up before the candy starts going on sale. Today is November 1st, but I've been hearing about Black Friday sales for a couple of weeks. It should be noted, too, that every year we speak less about Thanksgiving and more about Black Fr

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