Sitting In Silence

My head is a very noisy place. While I’m sitting in my quiet living room, among other noises, I hear the noise of thinking through this article, the whispering demands of multiple aspects to my business, the intrigue of the Denver Broncos coaching the Senior Bowl, the angst of wondering when we’ll find the right quarterback, the reminder that a friend wants me to read an article and share my thoughts on it, and the rush of knowing that my kids will be coming home soon, at which time this apparent silence will be gone. Read more

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The Path of Safety

A half century ago, Martin Luther King Jr. marched with his arms locked with friends, neighbors, and strangers in the pursuit of greater unity, freedom, and liberty for the oppressed. It was a dangerous time that ultimately proved to be deadly for him. As they marched forward, their eyes held the combination of hope and fear, while their jaws clenched in the strength of forward movement. They were anything but safe. Yet, they marched. Read more

Hear His Voice and Believe in Yourself

My son Blake is a pretty confident kid. He loves putting himself out there and trying new adventures. So when we bought him his first bike two years ago, I was excited to see how he would have a whole new world opened up to him.

When he first got up on the bike, his eyes were wide with excitement and fear. His body was tense as I held onto him and his bike, and slowly walked him around the driveway. Of course, he had training wheels. But he had never been that high, never felt that much potential. And eventually, he got it. Read more

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The Silence of Women in Conservative Christianity

It’s been twenty five minutes, with at least twenty still to go. I’m sitting in a comfortable chair, listening to someone share what God has been revealing to him in the Bible. Their sermon is usually very interesting to me, with a mix of deep theological insight, whimsical humor, and life-giving poetry that calls me into a deeper rest in who I am as a child of a good Father. And as he speaks, my heart is both stilled and awakened. Read more

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The Spirit of Oz

“We’re off to see the Wizard! The wonderful Wizard of Oz!”

So goes the song that awakened joy and wonder in the hearts of millions of children over the past century. Who is the Wizard? What is he like? Will he answer our requests? Will he keep us safe? What will he do to those who stand against us?

I’ll never forget the first time I heard that deep, long voice bellow, “Come! Forward!” Suddenly, the hopes and dreams turned into terror and trembling. Fire and smoke filled the room. And you were left with this eery feeling that the main characters had better not tick this Wizard off. Read more

Socks On Box

Last night, one of my sons was watching a YouTube video of someone attaching a balloon to a Sprite bottle, and watching the Sprite cause the balloon to inflate.

Immediately, he was inspired. He asked me for a balloon. But we had none. So he went and got a sock. But we didn’t have a Sprite bottle either. So he grabbed a piece of paper and rolled it up. He asked me for some tape. But I told him that I didn’t know where it was. So he decided to look for a rubber band. But after finding none, he settled on a wristband. Read more

God Of the Seeds

We are a culture of instant gratification. Do you want food? Just say the word and the waiter will bring it to you. Do you want to watch a particular tv show? Just click the button and have it on demand.

We often bring this mindset to God as well. We think of God’s word in these instantaneous “Let there be light” moments where God just commands something to happen, and it immediately happens, and waiting for things to happen is simply waiting for Him to finally decide to instantaneously command it into being. Read more

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Does Jesus Make You Smile?

Sunday mornings are fun. As a church, it’s the opportunity to pour out your hearts to your Father with your brothers and sisters. As a worship band, it’s the opportunity to pour out, not just your heart, but your art as you engage your Father with your brothers and sisters.

But for most contemporary Western churches, the morning starts early. We tend to do a sound check long before the first service begins, and often do a run through of the songs. And to make it on time for that, you usually have to wake up around 6:00 a.m. So it is quite common for worship musicians and vocalists to lack energy during the sound check.

If you have ever served on a worship team, you’ll often hear one of your pastors or worship leaders tell the team after the run through to make sure they are smiling. They’ll often say, “This song has uplifting, joyful lyrics. So let’s make sure we look joyful. I know it’s early!”

After one of these such conversations about a year ago, I began to think about that concept of smiling while leading worship. But my mind went, not to a corporate worship setting, but to the ABC hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

I have a friend that actually was on that show! And if you’ve seen that show, you’ll know that every episode features the person receiving the new house in tears, weeping for joy.

My friend is a pretty emotional person. I’ve seen him genuinely cry before, on a number of occasions. But when the producers of the show had the cameras in his face, they told him, “Okay, we need you to cry now. We need to see the tears!” They were trying to get him to cry on command for the camera because it fit the moment they needed.

And as I think back to the Sunday morning conversation we’ve all had as worship team members, I wonder how often we go through emotional expressions from a production standpoint, rather than as overflow. I’m not saying it’s wrong for pastors and worship leaders to encourage vocalists and musicians to smile. It’s important to shepherd your people toward more wholistic worship. But I am speaking to where the smile comes from.

There have been many times, when I have begun to smile while leading worship, that I was doing it more from a production standpoint than as a natural overflow of joy. Am I smiling simply because the script calls for it? Is that an okay place to start from? Or does Jesus actually make you smile? Does he make you smile like you do when you’re with the ones you love? Does he make you smile like you do when you are overflowing with joy, anticipation, or celebration? If not, why not? It might be something worth mulling over.

When Fields of Pain Become Altars of Peace

Seven long years had passed under the mighty hand of the oppressor. He sat there, desolate. The pangs of hunger had left him some time ago as he seemed destined to simply waste away.

He had worked so hard. Planting. Watering. Growing. And Waiting.

And just as the fruit of his labor was about to be enjoyed, the oppressor swooped in and took it away. So here he sat, in total poverty. Read more

A Scriptural and Scientific Case for Meditation

What comes to mind when you think about meditation? Some of our minds may go to a Buddhist monk, high on a mountain in far away Asia. Others may think of a Catholic nun or a priest in a dark, candle lit room. Or perhaps we think of a Yoga instructor and their millennial students in a candle-scented studio downtown. Read more