The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has begun. We are planning, shopping, cleaning, and wrapping. Christmas is almost here. The same can be said for the church. We just put up the Christmas trees at Westbrook. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it’s not Christmas yet. We’re in a season of waiting.
This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. You’re probably familiar with the term because of Advent Calendars that mark off the days of December leading up to Christmas. Advent is, in fact, an official season in the church calendar that begins 4 Sunday before Christmas and ends with Christmas Eve. It’s a time set aside to wait on the coming of Jesus and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas. We remember how Israel waited for the Messiah and recognize that we are waiting for Jesus to come and restore all things.
It’s a time of waiting and expectation, and let’s be honest, most of us are bad at waiting. Continue reading
Where are you going? What is your aim? I find myself asking these questions while reading Acts 3.
This is where we find a well known story from Acts. Peter and John go to the temple to worship and meet a beggar. Instead of giving them money, they offer him Jesus. And he went walking, and leaping, and praising God.
If I would have been in the same situation, I’m not sure if I would have reacted the same way as Peter and John. I probably, like I do now, would have tried to scurry along without making eye contact. Continue reading
The kingdom of God is a pretty big deal.
In Jesus’ first recorded sermon he said that, “the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”  When his disciples asked him how to pray, he instructed them to pray, “Father, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come…”  And right before he leaves, the disciples ask, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 
The Kingdom was and still is a big deal. So what is it? Continue reading
In Acts 1, Jesus leaves the disciples waiting. It was just a few days, but I’m sure that for a few of them it seemed like it would never happen. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come on them, so now they waited. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, just waiting.
It can be hard to wait, but here we find out that waiting on God is essential to the mission of Jesus.
I found myself waiting in seminary. I knew that my time in school was wrapping up, so I started looking for ministry. After perusing online job listings for hours upon hours, and sending my resumé to various churches, I found myself at graduation with no prospects for ministry. So Lindsay and I waited. Over the next year I had a few promising interviews, but nothing turned up until the summer of 2013. That’s when I started interviewing at Westbrook, where I am now serving in ministry. The few years that I waited felt like a long time. On top of that, those years came with their fair share of disappointment.
While the disciples did not wait for the Spirit with disappointment, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for some of them. Jesus didn’t say how long, he just said to wait. And then when Holy Spirit comes, they would be his witnesses, but not before. Continue reading
Most of us had the same morning on Tuesday. We got up and at some point we turned on the news, checked social media, or listened to the radio. It wasn’t long before we found out about the attack in Brussels. Another bombing. Another day that we woke up to tragedy. The news progressed in the same fashion that it does when covering these kinds of stories. They interviewed experts, reviewed the actual events, speculated as to the cause, and got reactions from the various politicians and candidates. Some of the reactions condemned those who committed the act and many offered up condolences, thoughts, and prayers for victims and their families.
After some time in shock and disbelief, I got ready for my day, ate my breakfast, made my coffee, packed my things and left for work. This is probably where my day differed from yours. I turned on my car, and started of the CD that is currently living in my car’s CD player. Brother by The Brilliance began to play. Continue reading
This word drives our culture in many ways. In some ways, you’re only as good your best accomplishment. I know that in many parts of our world this is not the case, but when you look at the media what we see is a pretty clear testimony that our accomplishments define us.
Championship games, award shows, game shows, and even politics all point to what we have done and can do. It’s not hard to understand why, then, we strive to do. We want to succeed and to be recognized for our accomplishments. We have task managers and attend time management classes. We want to be able to do more and to do it better so that we can be the best. Your value is only in what you have done. Continue reading
“Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.” Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
When I started to work on the Discipleship Pathway at Westbrook, I looked for a metaphor that would do a decent job of describing our life in Christ. What does it look like to be a life long follower of Jesus Christ? After a lot of thinking and searching a landed on the idea of a pilgrim. In America, we tend to think of pilgrims as the people who started thanksgiving, but a pilgrim is a person who has set out on a journey for some sort of religious or spiritual reason. Some pilgrims travel to holy sites, other travel to discover themselves, or, like the pilgrims who came to america, they are traveling to find religious freedom.
For me, this has become one of the best metaphors for being a disciple of Jesus. There are a lot of good ways to describe what it’s like to be a Christian, but I think that this one does a fantastic job of capturing the lifelong journey of becoming more like Jesus. Continue reading
It’s been a while since I have been regularly posting on my blog. From April to September of Last year, I was posting almost weekly. After September, however, it seemed like the ideas weren’t coming as readily and October is the month where things start to get really busy for me, so I let it slide. Since then, I’ve only had three posts.
Part of me feels like that’s a failure. At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to write weekly. I wanted to be more consistent in my writing and be more intentional about sharing what was on my mind and heart. The great thing about last year is that I seemed to go through a season where I had a lot of ideas and I was able to be really consistent with my writing habits. That is, until I found myself in October with a lot to do without much to write about. What I’m beginning to realize, is that it’s not a failure when I don’t post. I’m not a professional blogger and I don’t have thousands of readers waiting for me to make another post. So this year, I’m changing my expectations for this blog. Continue reading
My heart is heavy and my spirit is weary. There’s so much happening in the world right now. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, but it doesn’t feel wonderful. The countdown to Christmas is on, but it also feels like in many ways that the world itself is falling apart.
First, the violence in America (and even around the world) feels like it is escalating. Maybe it’s just more media coverage, but still it’s bad. The more shootings and attacks happen in our country and around the world the more my heart sinks. To make matters worse, every time shootings happen it’s followed by a very predictable set of responses. I can’t help but think our division over these issues only makes matters worse and postpones any kind of an attempt at making things better.
As I begin writing this post, I’m sitting in Sam’s Club waiting for tires to be put on my car. From the café area, I can see most of the store and it’s stocked to the brim with bulk food, low prices, and junk. I spent some time in the electronics area thinking about getting a Roku TV to replace the old TV/DVD/VCR combo tv we have (yes, we still have a VCR). Because of the time of year, my thoughts quickly jumped to Black Friday sales.
Most of us have the same kind of thoughts this time of year. “What’s on sale? What do I want? Where can I get it? What time do I have to get up to get the deals? I’ll be done with dinner by the time that store opens on Thanksgiving, maybe I’ll just run over and pick something up.” Then, of course, a week later we realize we still have Christmas gifts to buy since we’ve mostly bought for ourselves. Continue reading