Self Righteous I Rise

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Self righteous I rise to meet my fall.

I point to the failures of others
failing to own mine own
mining my soul instead for some thing
separating me from you.

Self righteous I rise to meet my fall.

I call out others’ blindness
holes never seeing
whole never feeling
holiness never taking hold of me.

Self righteous I rise to meet my fall.

I push those who fail to walk the line
ignoring the evil lining
right inside my heart
incapable of right from wrong.

Self righteous I rise to meet my fall.

I am the Pharisee meeting Publican.
Rich Man meeting Lazarus.
Pro meeting Beginner.
I am the Saint meeting Sinner.

I am my enemy
failing to see him in me
myself in her
knowing our blood knows
no color
no creed
no nationality.

I am some of all, and none of some,
but I am not the sum of all
that has been done.

Because I fall
I will not rise
self righteous
this time.

Because I fall,
I am being
Redeemed
Recreated
Renewed.

Because I fall,
I am becoming.

Everyday I fall I am replaced.
Never quite returning to who I was
never quite reaching who I want to be
never quiet about who is saving me;
about who is saving us.

Self righteous I rise to meet my fall.

A Prayer of Lament

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A Prayer of Lament

I lament.

In the wake of another school shooting, I lament.

I lament 17 lost lives.
I lament their families
their community
their classmates
their living memory of the dead.

I lament shooters.
I lament the loss of family so young
the absence of community ‘round him
the lack of realized love in his life.

Continue reading

Netflix, The Magi, and Why Waiting Is So Difficult

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Netflix released a study earlier this year suggesting that nearly half of all couples cheat on each other!

I know that’s not necessarily newsworthy news for most of you. You’ve been lamenting this moral crisis of faithfulness for some time. What Netflix is suggesting, however, isn’t that kind of unfaithfulness…but a lesser kind. What Netflix discovered is that couples have a hard time waiting on each other…wait for it…to watch their favorite shows together!

The problem is compounded by the fact that Netflix doesn’t just host some of our favorite shows, but that they release every episode of our favorites shows all at once! Really, Netflix? How can we be expected to wait on our significant other when we just want to know whether or not Will really ever escapes the Upside Down (that’s a Stranger Things reference for the uninitiated).

Here’s what these couples have in common with every single one of us, and why Advent is so important for us to experience: they know that waiting is the hardest part. Continue reading

Three Questions Every Graduate (and the rest of us) Should Ask

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If I had 60 minutes to solve a problem and my life depended on it, 

I’d spend the first 55 minutes determining the right question to ask.

— ALBERT EINSTEIN —

Dear graduate, Congratulations! After years of hard work (or hardly working for some of you!), you’ve made it!

As great as this moment might be, I bet there is already a question working its way from the back of your mind to the front of your not yet fully developed prefrontal cortex – a question that is beginning to nag at you – and I bet that question is this: NOW WHAT?

How do I know this?  Because it’s the one question you, and every other graduate, will likely ask for the rest of your life!  As one achievement or accomplishment (or sadly, one loss or failure) ends you’re likely to begin the next chapter in life by asking, Now what? Continue reading

REPOST // 3 Ways Christians Can Graduate from Attending Church

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“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.” – James 1:22

It’s that time of year where high school seniors, and eager 20 somethings don their caps and gowns and march down the aisles toward a graduation ceremony that will conclude, in one fashion or another, with these words: “We’ve prepared you well, now get out there and do something!”

This seems appropriate, doesn’t it – that after spending 12 years in high school, and then perhaps another few years in college that those graduating would receive the commission to DO something with what they have learned?

Here’s the thing though, I rarely remember hearing these words from those standing before me in my childhood church.  They were, and many of them still are, good people to be sure, but there was never that turning point in my spiritual development where an older, more mature, Christian stood before me and said…Go! or Do!

It would seem that many of our churches are still full of such people who are stuck in a form of Christianity that leaves people stuck in their seats. Continue reading

Hillbillies, Saints, and the Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

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“I don’t believe in epiphanies. I don’t believe in transformative moments,
as transformation is harder than a moment.”
JD Vance, Hillbilly Elegy
“There is no such thing as not worshipping.
Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”
David Foster Wallace
“New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies:
They’re fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain.”
Unknown

 

I hate making resolutions.

Yet, for the longest time, I made them anyway.  I bet like you, I resolved to get organized, be more financially responsible, get fit, and other things I’ve tried to forget.  I made them year after year, and year after year I mostly failed at them! Continue reading

Twas the Long, Dark Night Before Christmas // A Devotional for the Fourth Week of Advent, 2016

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“Because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

— Luke 1:78-79

Mary and Joseph walked for days and miles from their home in Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem.

They walked for 70-90 miles and for 4-7 days depending on who you ask.

Why?  Well, Luke tells us it was because the Emperor told them to.

________________

One of our favorite traditions is to put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It’s a tree that has been in my family for THIRTY YEARS and the ornaments span from the childhoods of my wife’s and mine all the way up to our own children’s ornaments.  All that to say that putting the tree up means something to us.  It’s an event chocked full of tradition and memories and each year we attempt to create an experience worthy of such an occasion! Continue reading

Dylan’s Advent // The Times They Are A Changin’

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Advent is a time of sitting and waiting, but also for anticipation and preparation.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our preparation for the coming of God’s great gift is about preparing ourselves, and the world around us, for the change that will take place before our very eyes.  To some, this change will be redemptive – and for others, condemnation.

A prophetic singer-songwriter in our own era heralded similar words.  Bob Dylan, though his singing ability is questionable, has often been spot on with his message:

For the loser now / Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’…

The line it is drawn / And the curse it is cast

The slow one now / Will later be fast

As the present now / Will later be past

The order is / Rapidly fading’ / And the first one now / Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’

One can undoubtedly hear echoes of the Gospel in nearly every line of Dylan’s prophetic tale.  What we often miss, however, is that the heart of the Gospel is beating to the rhythm of Israel’s ancient prophets – especially Isaiah.  What John prepares the people for (remember, Isaiah 40?) is the coming fulfillment of God’s desire for justice.  The Gospels, then, illustrate in various ways how this will come about, but this one thing is clear:

Some will benefit from this coming justice more than others. Continue reading

How (Will This Be)? // A Devotional for the Third Week of Advent, 2016

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I love Christmas!

I love the trees, the lights, the presents.  I love the all the variety of nativity scenes, carols about the coming of Christ, and the profound attempts to discover joy this time of year.

I need you to know that before you read what comes next.

But (you knew it was coming didn’t you?) I’m afraid we’re missing quite a bit of what’s going on this time of year in the original Christmas Story.

One of the things our modern version of the “Christmas Story” misses out on is the uncertainty of the whole enterprise. Continue reading

Waiting on God // A Devotional for the Second Week of Advent, 2016

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3 Things You Can Do While Waiting on God

Kids are so impatient!  Well, at least mine are.

Maybe yours have learned from an early age to sit quietly and wait with hands folded for a response from you – never interrupting conversations between you and another or pulling on your sleeve while you’re responding to a text.

Not only are they impatient, but they are also insistent I acknowledge every time they ask a question or tell me something.  Dad, she won’t leave me alone.  Dad, did you hear me?  Dad, did you hear me?  Dad. Dad. DAD! Continue reading