Showing posts from April, 2014

Hiding Vegetables

Confession time...  Sometimes Jennifer and I would hide vegetables in other foods just so our daughter, who had yet to learn to enjoy eating the vibrant colors found in the garden, would eat them. It's really an easy trick that is shared by many parents - spinach in lasagna, kale in soup, broccoli in stir fry. The vegetables are good for them. Therefore, we feel justified in our slight of hand. And...your parents probably did it, too.

However, we must be careful. The same sneaky technique is not helpful in all areas of life. In fact, it can be downright harmful and even deadly.

But, yet we persist in doing it. We hide things that are ultimately unpalatable within the seemingly desirable in hopes that others won't notice until it is too late and both have been digested.

Recently from bully pulpits, political stumps, and sanctimonious soapboxes public figures, speakers, and authors have attempted to disguise the toxin of hate within the enticing jargon of religion. And the ruse…

Easter People

It seems as though we are bombarded with bad news.
There is always something pulling us toward feeling as though we are caught in a death spiral -
another wreck,
another shooting,
another person violated,
another system taking advantage of others,
another leader caught,
another church closing,
another member leaving,
and the list goes on.

It is overwhelming.

All of this mess can dominate our minds and lead us to forget that we are called to be Easter people even in the presence of death, dying, and dis-ease. Easter people are not people who possess a Pollyanna faith where the world is just right especially when you close your eyes and imagine it to be so. We are not called to live in a world that doesn't exist with a sanitized faith full of hollow promises and unrealistic expectations.

Rather, we are called to live into a world of pain and suffering and disconnect as Easter people -
people who know that death and death-dealing ways do not have the last word;
people who believe wi…

Lent - Day 40: Alone

When was the last time you felt alone? This is the day. 
Scripture: Matthew 27:57-66 57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.58He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.59So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth60and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” 64Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception …

Lent - Good Friday: Seventh Word

The Seventh Word of Jesus from the Cross (Friday, April 18, 2014 at Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana) -  "It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:44-46
Across the United States tonight in small hamlets, rural farming communities, and bustling cities, young girls and boys will lie down on their beds getting ready to go to sleep. Before their mom, their dad, their grandparent or their guardian departs their room leaving them to enter their slumber these words will be recited in many of the homes, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray The Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray The Lord my soul to take." For over 200 years, this simple prayer from the New England Primer ha…

Lent - Day 39: Silence

Good Friday


Psalm 31
1 In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.
3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
6 You hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord.
7 I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities,
8 and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, …

Lent - Day 38: Take...Eat

Do this in remembrance...

Mark 14:12-25 [12] On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” [13] So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, [14] and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ [15] He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” [16] So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
[17] When it was evening, he came with the twelve. [18] And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” [19] They began …

Lent - Day 37: Naming Stars

Names are a powerful thing.
Take a moment to consider your own name. 
Why were you given that name? 
What does your name mean to you?

Psalm 147:1-11
[1]   Praise the Lord!   
          How good it is to sing praises to our God;   
          for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.   
[2]   The Lord builds up Jerusalem;   
          he gathers the outcasts of Israel.   
[3]   He heals the brokenhearted,   
          and binds up their wounds.   
[4]   He determines the number of the stars;   
          he gives to all of them their names.   
[5]   Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;   
          his understanding is beyond measure.   
[6]   The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;   
          he casts the wicked to the ground.

[7]   Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;   
          make melody to our God on the lyre.   
[8]   He covers the heavens with clouds,   
          prepares rain for the earth,   
          makes grass grow on the hills.   
[9]   He gives to the animals …

Lent - Day 36: Pursue Peace

Where do you find peace?
Pursue it.
Where can you create peace?
Pursue it.

Psalm 34
[1]   I will bless the LORD at all times;
          his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
[2]   My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
          let the humble hear and be glad.
[3]   O magnify the LORD with me,
          and let us exalt his name together.
[4]   I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
          and delivered me from all my fears.
[5]   Look to him, and be radiant;
          so your faces shall never be ashamed.
[6]   This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,
          and was saved from every trouble.
[7]   The angel of the LORD encamps
          around those who fear him, and delivers them.
[8]   O taste and see that the LORD is good;
          happy are those who take refuge in him.
[9]   O fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
          for those who fear him have no want.
[10]  The young lions suffer want and hunger,
          but those…

Lent - Day 35: Linger

Activity: On this Monday of Holy Week, take a moment to consider the events of this week as a whole.  Where did your mind stop?  What is it that draws your attention? Linger there for a moment.
Scripture: Psalm 145
[1]   I will extol you, my God and King,   
         and bless your name forever and ever.   
[2]   Every day I will bless you,   
         and praise your name forever and ever.   
[3]   Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;   
         his greatness is unsearchable.

[4]   One generation shall laud your works to another,   
         and shall declare your mighty acts.   
[5]   On the glorious splendor of your majesty,   
         and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.   
[6]   The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,   
         and I will declare your greatness.   
[7]   They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,   
         and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

[8]   The Lord is gracious and merciful,   
         slow to anger and abounding in ste…

Lent - Day 34: "Let me see again."

Activity:Look around you. What do you see?
Look again.  Now what do you see?
Scripture: Mark 10:46-52
[46]They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. [47]When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" [48]Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" [49]Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." [50]So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. [51]Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." [52]Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the…

Lent - Day 33: Treasure

Activity:What are the things in your life that you would count as treasure? How might you give of that treasure into the lives of others?
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 [5]For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. [6]For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness", who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
[7]But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. [8]We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; [9]persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; [10]always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. [11]For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus ma…

Lent - Day 32: Seek

Activity:What is something after which you seek? Write it down.  Fold the paper small enough that it can fit in the palm of your hand.  While holding the paper reread the passage below. 
Scripture: Psalm 27
[1]   The LORD is my light and my salvation;   
         whom shall I fear?   
    The LORD is the stronghold of my life;   
         of whom shall I be afraid?

[2]   When evildoers assail me   
         to devour my flesh --   
    my adversaries and foes --   
         they shall stumble and fall.

[3]   Though an army encamp against me,   
         my heart shall not fear;   
    though war rise up against me,   
         yet I will be confident.

[4]   One thing I asked of the LORD,   
         that will I seek after:   
    to live in the house of the LORD   
         all the days of my life,   
    to behold the beauty of the LORD,   
         and to inquire in his temple.

[5]   For he will hide me in his shelter   
         in the day of trouble;   
    he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;��…

Lent - Day 31: Pleasing Aroma

Activity:Light a candle.  Be still. Listen to the voice that says you are enough and you are the aroma of Christ. 
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6
[14]But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal
procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes
from knowing him. [15]For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who
are being saved and among those who are perishing; [16]to the one a fragrance
from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is
sufficient for these things? [17]For we are not peddlers of God's word like so
many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God
and standing in his presence. 

[1]Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some
do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? [2]You yourselves are
our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; [3]and you
show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with…

Lent - Day 30: Accusation

Activity:Who was the last person against whom you spoke? What was the nature of your comment? What sparked your comment? Pray for that person. 
Scripture: Psalm 34
[1]   I will bless the LORD at all times;   
         his praise shall continually be in my mouth.   
[2]   My soul makes its boast in the LORD;   
         let the humble hear and be glad.   
[3]   O magnify the LORD with me,   
         and let us exalt his name together.   
[4]   I sought the LORD, and he answered me,   
         and delivered me from all my fears.   
[5]   Look to him, and be radiant;   
         so your faces shall never be ashamed.   
[6]   This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD,   
         and was saved from every trouble.   
[7]   The angel of the LORD encamps   
         around those who fear him, and delivers them.   
[8]   O taste and see that the LORD is good;   
         happy are those who take refuge in him.   
[9]   O fear the LORD, you his holy ones,   
         for those who fear him have no want.   

Lent - Day 29: Welcome

When was the last time that you felt welcomed in a place you initially felt out of place? Who is someone who needs to be welcomed? How can you be a part of that welcome?
Scripture: Mark 9:30-37

[30]They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; [31]for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." [32]But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

[33]Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" [34]But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. [35]He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." [36]Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his…

Lent - Day 28: Blazing Bushes and Holy Ground

Either every bush is ablaze, and all ground is holy;  Or none of them are, and none of it is.  Go outside and behold.  What is God calling you toward?
Scripture: Exodus 2:23-3:15 [23]After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under
their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to
God. [24]God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [25]God looked upon the Israelites, and God took
notice of them.

[1]Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of
Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the
mountain of God. [2]There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of
fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not
consumed. [3]Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight,
and see why the bush is not burned up." [4]When the LORD saw that he had
turned aside to see, God called to him out of the…

Lent - Day 27: Remembering Faithfulness

Activity:Take time today to consider your story - the defeat, the triumph, the agony, the joy. Consider God's faithfulness throughout.  Place a stone somewhere in your yard or home as a symbol of your remembrance.
Scripture: Psalm 105 [1]   O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name,   
         make known his deeds among the peoples.   
[2]   Sing to him, sing praises to him;   
         tell of all his wonderful works.   
[3]   Glory in his holy name;   
         let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.   
[4]   Seek the LORD and his strength;   
         seek his presence continually.   
[5]   Remember the wonderful works he has done,   
         his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,   
[6]   O offspring of his servant Abraham,   
         children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

[7]   He is the LORD our God;   
         his judgments are in all the earth.   
[8]   He is mindful of his covenant forever,   
         of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,   
[9]   …

Lent - Day 26: Unity

Consider a new way that you might use your gifts and talents to build up the unity of the body.

[12] For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. [13] For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
[14] Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. [15] If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. [16] And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. [17] If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? [18] But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. [19] If all were a single …

Lent - Day 25: Gifts

Who is someone you look up to?
Write down their name and the reasons you look up to them.
Pray their name.
Give thanks for their gifts.
Give thanks for the gift they are to you.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit choo…

Lent - Day 24: Hungry

Where are people hungry? What can you do?
"How many loaves do you have?"

Mark 8:1-10
1 In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2 "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way - and some of them have come from a great distance." 4 His disciples replied, "How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?" 5 He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven." 6 Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. 8 They ate and were f…