Shock Value

I think part of the problem with our society today is that nothing truly impacts us emotionally anymore, especially if we've been through it before. Oh sure, we're offended by about everything under the sun, but no longer are we shocked or saddened. The first news story we heard about a school shooting, for example, horrified us, shook us to our core. Now we see the headline "Teen brings gun to class," and we don't even read the article; it's too commonplace, and we're too numbed. What once shocked us is now just the way the world works. Christians have become largely the same way in regards to the sin of the world around us. We used to have homes for unwed mothers, caring for them while vi

Let's Have Church

Our Homecoming service is over for another year, and if I say so myself, it was one of our best services this year. You all have said the same thing, just in different words. The number one comment I've received since the closing prayer on Sunday has been, "We had church!" I agree with you wholeheartedly -- but that tells me a few things about a few things. First, it tells me you know what it is to truly worship. Psalm 100:4 says, "Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." You know how to do that. You know how to have joyful singing and Spirit-filled worship. Even on a day when we change the bulletin on the fly to accommodate the b

Pulpits & Politics

I recently received a piece of mail asking the church to sponsor a "Sunday Voter Registration Day." It provided all the guidelines for how to get people registered to vote and how to encourage voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections. Please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say. I vote every chance I get (which is to say, every election). I'm a firm believer in civic duty and participation. And I think if you don't vote, don't make your voice heard at the ballot box when it counts, you have now right to complain later about the results. But I still get decidedly antsy when the church tries to be a full-on civic organization. This is for several reasons. First, as a pastor,

Sportsball

They tell me it's football season. I know this is true because, well, as I've just said, they tell me. As some of you have rightly guessed, I'm pretty good at croquet and decent at badminton. That's the extent of my athleticism beyond the fantasy baseball teams I had in college (the other band guys talked me into it). My friends often joke I know nothing of "sportsball," and they're not wrong. The rest of the world is largely the opposite. They teach you in seminary that, on average, about 96% of any given congregation is going to have a meaningful personal connection with sports in some fashion. They played in school, they coach, their kids play, they always root-root-root for the home team

Enough's Enough

I think if I had one wish to use, I would wish everyone in the world had enough. It's a wish I believe would take care of a lot of specific wishes, and I don't think it would be terribly easy to abuse after I made it. If we all had enough, we'd have money to pay our bills. Enough food on the table. Enough clothes in the closet. Enough gas in the tank. Enough work to do. Enough vacation days. Enough sleep at night. Enough time with our loved ones. Enough health, enough happiness, enough sadness, enough patience . . . You get the idea. We live in a world of lack, of need, and of want. We never have enough of everything we need or want, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. There's n

Patriot Day

I think each of us remembers where we were on this date seventeen years ago. I was in an art history class in high school, then in sophomore social studies, and my friends were coming into class explaining what was happening. My class was then combined with another one, and I watched the Twin Towers fall from a strange seat in a strange classroom. My school system dismissed early, and I stepped into a strange world which has never been the same. Airport Screenings. Body scanners. The Department of Homeland Security. Afghanistan. Iraq. Terrorism. Radical Islam. All of these -- and so many more -- have become household phrases, parts of life. Our country and our world still reel in response to

Blank Slate

Each of us has, at some point in life, wished for a blank slate. We want a chance to start over, to not make the mistakes we've made in the past, to get it right on the second time around. Part of this desire stems from our regrets over the past; part of it comes from discontent with the present; another part is based on hopelessness about the future. It's why some people move across the country or quit their job with no plan in mind. It's a way to get a blank slate. Standing in my office at the moment awaiting use on Saturday morning is a blank whiteboard. Saturday morning is our planning breakfast, and we'll be sharing both good food and ideas for the future of the church. We're literally

Culture Shock

I went to a birthday party on Friday, and dinner was at a Brazilian steakhouse in Lexington -- specifically one in the new Summit at Fritz Farm. I have lived in another state, I have been trained by different churches and denominations, and I even spent a week in Asia, but I have never felt more out of place in my life than I did in that little shopping block in Lexington. My t-shirt and jeans were decidedly wrong, and I couldn't afford to even look through the windows of most shops. The waiter at the restaurant pulled out my chair for me and spread the napkin in my lap. It was, by a landslide, the most uncomfortable I had been in my life. Yet this was simply the culture, the way the other h

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