Thursday, February 25, 2021

Loving Yourself is Essential

It matters that we love ourselves, for we can't love others properly if we don't love ourselves. I hope you'll be encouraged to practice healthy self-love as a way of being a more faithful follower of Christ.

 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Reshaping the Heart: A Lenten Journey

 

I wrote Lenten devotions for my church. You can access a digital copy here. It takes a little while to download, so consider it an opportunity to cultivate patience!

This video introduces the resource and talks a bit about Lent.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Something to Live For

Our life. . . provokes us with the evidence that it must have meaning. . . our purpose in life is to discover this meaning, and live according to it. We have, therefore, something to live for. The process of living, of growing up, and becoming a person, is precisely the gradually increasing awareness of what that something is.                                                                                            
                                                                                                    Thomas Merton

 Something to live for. I wonder how that something changes for us over time. How often do we consciously think about it in our daily round of life? Maybe the phrase only pops into our consciousness when we are shaken awake by some struggle.

 Or maybe it is a gradually increasing awareness, as Merton says, that happens in the ordinariness of life. We might think about what it is we live for from time to time—as we turn the calendar page to a new year, as we approach a milestone birthday, or when we experience a sense of restlessness with life as it currently is for us. We may wonder what it is that we are living for at such times. If we do think about what we are living for, then a follow up question is called for: What am I doing that moves me toward meaning in my life?

 It is easy to be distracted from questions about meaning and what we live for by the thrum of daily news, activities, and a thousand (or even ten) requests for assistance—good things, but must we say yes to every one of them? We are moving, always moving, it seems, but toward what goal? We have filled the hours of yet another day, but with what? At the end of the day, in the purely literal meaning of that phrase, are we any closer to awareness of what we are living for, or moving toward meaning?

 Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, speaks of getting caught up in “the thick of thin things.” As Lent approaches, I encourage you to walk with Jesus through this season, to see how he was aware of the meaning of his life, and how he lived according to it. He had something to live for, and he did. To reflect on the purposefulness with which he approached life can move us to clear away the clutter of “thin things” and focus on what it is that gives our lives meaning. What is it that you are living for?

 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Restlessness (aka Acedia)

Restlessness is not unique to us in the midst of a pandemic. It's been around a long time, and we can learn how to combat it from early church leaders.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Joy as Resistance


This past Sunday as I lit the pink candle on my Advent wreath, it sputtered and sparked as if it were fighting itself to remain lit. The pink candle represents joy. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means Rejoice in Latin. 

My candle’s fight to burn was a reminder to me that sometimes we fight joy. We don’t fight happiness (though some folks seem to have the disposition of Eeyore, always looking for the downside of every event or opportunity). Many of us spend our lives pursuing happiness, but often, that very pursuit keeps us from joy. In fact, the ways we pursue happiness may be seen as a fight against joy because it keeps us always on the surface, rooted shallow. It’s kind of like trying to satisfy hunger with junk food. It may work temporarily, but the deep need for food remains unmet. 

Joy is not dependent on our happiness. The seed of joy often finds its most hospitable soil for germination in suffering and struggle. When we have found ourselves in deep darkness, when we have fallen into the abyss of despair and still found God’s presence there, we know what joy is. Joy is the sense of rootedness in the heart of Christ that allows us to endure even in the midst of great difficulty. 

If there ever was a year we need joy, it is this one. From the pandemic to racial strife to a divisive election season, there have been many reasons to despair. So many people around the world have died or continue to struggle because of Covid-19. Here in the United States we realized afresh that we have not made as much progress toward liberty and justice for all as we might like to think we have. And we also realized that despite being the United States of America, we are not as united as our name would suggest. 

We live in a time where the fires of fear and hate are being stoked daily, and yet, we have lit a candle that says “Rejoice.” Joy is not denial of our circumstances, but the awareness that in the very muck and mire and ugliness that competes for our attention, a shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). God is not absent when the darkness is its darkest. A single pink candle keeps the darkness at bay. It is a testament of resistance. 

My prayer for you is that in a moment of stillness and quiet, you sense the joy of God’s ever-abiding presence. May you feel yourself rooted and grounded in the strong love of God, and celebrate, with wonder, that God was hopeful enough about humanity to enter the world as one of us.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

God as Disrupter

As we approach Christmas in the midst of a pandemic, I have found it helpful to reflect on the events leading up to the first Christmas, which was chock-full of disruptive events. In this video post, I consider Mary and Joseph, and just how much their lives were disrupted by God's choosing of them to be the parents of Jesus.