What's So Good about the Dark?

What's So Good about the Dark?

The writer of Hebrews penned a passage that long ago became known as the “faith chapter” or the “hall of faith.” Chapter 11 begins this way: 

Faith is the assurance of what we hope for, the evidence of things not seen.

Put another way: Faith is the “sureness” of what we hope for…to be certain of things we cannot see. 

This verse seems to paint a picture of what it is to walk in the dark. Faith isn’t required in the light of day, when all is visible. Those “things we cannot see” are not merely out of sight, but rather...

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One Agenda. Only One.

One Agenda. Only One.

It’s curious to me how many end goals, expected outcomes… or agendas we attach to caring for someone. 

With sincere hearts we create agendas from a sense of obligation, responsibility… even calling. We mean well. We feel an obligation to be helpful. We feel responsible to lead people to hope. We feel called to rescue and deliver. But too often our agendas for an expected outcome get in the way of what we’re actually trying to do

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Made in the Image of LOVE

Made in the Image of LOVE

I often feel like I’m supposed to have the spiritual stuff of life all figured out. I think I mostly feel that expectation from other people; after all, I am a clergy-card-carrying pastor. That doesn’t mean every person expects this of me. I do plenty of projecting onto unsuspecting, even anonymous, people, assuming I know what they’re thinking. Turns out, what I do have figured out is that I’m still a work in process. But I digress. 

I don’t have all the “spiritual” stuff figured out.

  • Like, the problem of evil. Why?
  • God’s take on the notion of “original sin.”
  • Why God heals some people and not others. Or does he?
  • Why God protects some people from certain death in the face of danger and allows others to die. Or does he?
  • What it means to be made in God’s image. 

God’s image. There’s a “spiritual stuff” question. You and I…created in God’s image. Really? Just what might that mean? There are many explanations about what it means to be image-bearers of almighty God. Among those explanations are the following…

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    I Don't Want to Stay Where I Am

    I Don't Want to Stay Where I Am

    This past week was a staycation during "spring" break. You know what I mean. Don’t spend the money you would on a trip away. Lay low. Sleep in. Get projects done around the yard and house. Watch more TV and movies. Drink more. Coffee.

    I did lay low. I didn’t sleep in – at all. I got some chores done, but no projects to speak of. Yes, The Voice is headed into final competition and Designated Survivor still has Keifer Sutherland in the Oval Office. So, I enjoyed my normal TV viewing with my wife, Laura (and relished lunch with her nearly every day). And I absolutely drank more coffee. More coffee in various coffee shops, not just a cup at home. I tried new flavors in new places with the same special people in my life.

    But the week wasn’t about being lazy while taking in abundant portions of caffeine.

    I’ve read...

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    The Lens of Awareness

    The Lens of Awareness

    My wife, Laura, and I shared breakfast at "our" Starbucks this past Friday just before I headed for the airport. As I kissed her goodbye, I looked into her stunning eyes and reminded her: "I'm so thankful you're here...that you are alive." She responded with the same heart-felt expression of gratitude about me. 

    And we both knew exactly the journey that led to this depth of thankfulness we share...

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    Right Where You Are.

    Right Where You Are.

    A common mantra in the Church about God’s love goes like this: “God loves you right where you are, but too much to leave you there.” I’ve said it too. It’s true. 

    Sometimes I wonder if our mantra risks communicating an unwillingness to love people right where they are. 

    I talk to others a lot about accepting people right where they are. It’s at the core of the guest services training I do with churches and organizations. It’s what I teach. And yet, I’m embarrassed that I am still learning...

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    I Kept Living

    I Kept Living

    This is my view everyday at my office. It has been for years. The picture of my wife, Laura, and our daughter, Olivia, on the right was taken 20 years ago at our home in Tacoma, WA.

    I'm not pictured with them, because I was an hour away in Seattle, trying to gain the courage to fight for my life. I'd gotten to the edge of despair enough times for several months prior that...

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    Broken

    Broken

    I admit it: I am broken.

    There was a day I wore my brokenness as a badge. Right below a larger badge that boasted I was aware and in touch with my brokenness. Both of those badges were worn on a coat of "I've dealt with my crap" self-righteousness. I was so proud of my humble condition. Which only further compounded my brokenness.

    Eventually, I shed my coat of self-righteousness along with the badges that announced my prideful humility. I put on a different coat. A "normal" coat. An "I'm ok" coat. There were initiatives to lead, objectives to accomplish and, quite frankly, people to impress. More symptoms...

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    Expect New People

    Expect New People

    This really happened to me.

    I walked into a restaurant with my family early in the lunch hour. Like, 11:00 a.m. On the dot. As in, we were the first customers of the day. Surveying the place, I saw…well, nothing. Lots of open tables. And still I was told “give me just a couple of minutes and we’ll have a table for you.” I could see at least 12,000 seating options. But I waited.

    As I sat down I intuitively wiped bread crumbs from the table onto the floor and thought, “This doesn’t make sense. There’s no way there have been other customers in here for lunch already.” Of course, the mess had to have been left over from...

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    Story-telling. And Story-listening.

    Story-telling. And Story-listening.

    The numbers we count in our weekend services represent faces. Faces of men and women and children. And those faces hold stories, everyone of them. Personal and real stories. And while we may not get the opportunity to engage every detail of every life story on the weekend, if we're listening, we will walk away with stories.

    On one weekend alone, I heard stories...

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