Meditations (2 of 4)

This past weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with a group of high school students on our annual retreat. As a community we devoted a good portion of our time to silent meditation on four verses from the Holy Scriptures. Here are some reflections springing from that time of meditation.   Second Meditation: James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be…

Meditations (1 of 4)

This past weekend I had the privilege of spending some time with a group of high school students on our annual retreat. As a community we devoted a good portion of our time to silent meditation on four verses from the Holy Scriptures. Here are some reflections springing from that time of meditation.   First Meditation: Isaiah 48:17 “This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your…

On Writing Blogs

Writing blogs is a dangerous pastime. The trouble with writing something short is that one never gets to say all that there is to say on any subject. Instead the blogger must rest content with hinting at the fullest possible picture, while packing as much rhetorical punch as possible into a few short lines. The possibility of misspeaking or being misunderstood proves all too real.   I am certain I will not succeed uniformly, but…

Waiting on Congregational Tables

In Acts 6:1-7, we read of a strange moment in church history. Some in the church have begun to complain (this is nothing new under the sun) because a certain group, it seems, has been privileged over another. They bring their complaints to the Twelve. And here is where it gets interesting.   Rather than mediate the dispute, offer counseling, throw a pot-luck dinner, the apostles send the complainers away—because they have more important matters…

The Goal of Parenting (Part Two)

The goal of parenting is not to be the perfect parent.   The goal of parenting is that your children know God as the perfect Father.   Parents devote too much energy to the idolatrous pursuit of perfection in parenting: choosing the best method of discipline, sleep training, nutritional habits, devotional activities. While working through the possibilities and choosing the wisest course for your family is important, it is not the most important.   What…

Our God Strong and Loving

In hauntingly beautiful words, the psalmist declares,   “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.” (Psalm 62:11-12a, NIV)   There is much to meditate on in these short verses. What does it mean if God is strong and loving? What rest can we find in the sweet promise of these words?   If God is strong and loving, we have no…

Teaching Itching Ears

Youth ministry can be a frustrating activity. Not the youths themselves, mind you; they bring curiosity, energy, vitality to the disciple-making enterprise. No, the trouble is the warnings shouted at those of us who have the privilege of ministering to youth.   You mustn’t talk of theology, we are told, for they will grow bored quickly. Our children need games, activities, to keep them interested and involved. No wonder many youth leaders seem better equipped…

On Rights and Duties

One of the great problems with modern society is its insistence on our rights. Hardly a single major issue—moral, social, economic, political—does not center on the question of rights. The right to state-sponsored university education. The right to marry whom one pleases. The right to life—or its nemesis, the right to choose. The right to a minimum wage. The right to self-fulfillment.   I have wondered recently if the world wouldn’t be a better place…

The Goal of Parenting

The goal of parenting is not to raise children who are good.   The goal of parenting is to raise children who know God.   We must be wary of any parenting philosophy that assumes, however implicitly, that we hold sovereign sway in our children’s lives—as if we could rear children so perfect they are not in need of God’s grace. This is heresy of the very worst sort.   Too many parenting approaches, even…

From Protest to Praise

It was the stuff of literature, the dramatic juxtaposition of striking contrasts.   I spent the morning at a ministry for children in one of the worst barrios in Bogotá. These children face horrors beyond what most of us would dare to dream exist in the world. All live in unimaginable squalor. They have little or no prospect for education or advancement. Many are the children of drug dealers and addicts. Others are the children…