General Blog Posts

Welcome to the “general” blog! Here you will find posts on spiritual formation and other thoughts on Christian living and growth. You can also browse two books in progress: In Pops’ Workshop and The Fog.

New Colors or True Colors?

This morning, I watched a news program that took us to Aspen, Colorado, to see the stunning reds and golds of the namesake aspen trees as Summer gives way to Fall and Fall to Winter. I was reminded that trees don’t really change their colors in the fall. The brilliant hues we flock to see are there all along; they are hidden by the chlorophyll green required for photosynthesis. As summer ends, the chlorophyll is drawn back, revealing the reds, oranges, and golds that were there all along. That can be a way to look at our spiritual growth. We…

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Our Times Have Always Been Uncertain

If we seek stability and certainty, we must end in one place: God. God does not change. In Him we have certainty and predictability. If we keep our eyes on Him we can anchor ourselves to an immovable rock in a sea of change, uncertainly, and turmoil.

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Three Questions to Ask Yourself in the Face of Covid-19

It is challenging to know what to say in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and our national reaction to it, both rational and panicked. I don’t have any answers or advice you haven’t heard elsewhere, but perhaps the Lord has something to say to you. Here are three questions to ask yourself that may help you see where God is moving in your life in this time.

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Screwtape on Prayer

C S Lewis’s Screwtape Letters is one of my favorite books. From time to time I find myself in possession of a letter that appears to be from Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, but was not written by Lewis. Below is one of those letters, dealing chiefly with how to neuter a Christian’s resolve to pray

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What did you get for Christmas?

Christmas morning has come and gone.  Did you have a good Christmas?  Did you get everything you wanted?  When I think about those questions, I remember the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” one the most highly rated and best-loved Christmas movies. In my family, our long tradition was to watch it on Thanksgiving after our meal.  In case you haven’t seen it or don’t remember it, let me set the stage for you.  The story is set in Indiana around 1940.  Ralphie Parker, a nine-year-old boy, is maniacally focused on one thing:  getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. …

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From Pharisee to Tax-Collector

Outside of community I can go along believing all sorts of nonsense about myself. In community my delusions are quickly stripped away. Let me give you a concrete example of this, not in the context of church, but from my work life. The principle remains the same. It is when we move from the abstract to the concrete that we have any chance to understand ourselves.

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What Kind of Tree Are You?

The following is derived from a sermon I delivered at Wonderful Mercy Church. You can listen to the full message online. Before reading on, take a moment to read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. The link will take you the New Living Translation, but feel free to use whatever translation you like. When You’ve read the Galatians passage come on back and we’ll chat about it. What do we make of this passage? In my experience, our natural approach (my approach, anyway) is this. We really only pay attention to the two lists at the end. We treat them as a rule…

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What Does Your Heart Desire?

The process of spiritual formation, the internal transformation of souls, is a life-long pursuit for Christians and can be a difficult and confusing journey.  As with any journey, we need to know two key things:  where we are and where we are going.  If we do not know where we are now, it may be impossible to find our way to our destination.  If we do not really know where we are going, then any progress we make will likely be haphazard and could just as easily move us farther away as move us closer to our end point. For…

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Climbing the Mountain of God

In the beginning the way is broad and easy.  The road is smooth and the ascent is barely noticeable. I walk happily and easily along the gentle slopes.  I have my pack well-stocked an and on my back. I also have my wooden two-wheeled cart, loaded with my most cherished possessions. Even loaded as heavily as my cart is, it is smooth and easy to push it along in front of me. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the path narrows a becomes a bit less smooth.  The incline seems to increase with each step I take.  As I round a bend I…

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When the Fruit Fails

Have you found that God seems to begin some good work in you only to have it seem to evaporate, to disappear, as if it had never been there at all? He may have begun some emotional healing, restoring some relationship, or bringing some fresh awareness or understanding in your life. Then, some time later you discover that what you thought was being born in you seems to have been illusory. To use the metaphor of grapes growing on a vine, we see the small, round new grapes appear on the vine, but then, as time goes on, instead of…

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Belief is the Easy Part (Relatively)

For many of us, coming to believe in Jesus as Messiah and the son of God was a hard, hard, thing to do.  I know it was for me.  Indeed, Scripture tells us that we can’t come to belief on our own, it is only through God’s grace. “For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him.” Ephesians 2:8(a) (The Passion translation) And yet, it turns out that believe is relatively easy when compared to the day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second work of discipleship, that is, turning away from what…

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Why God Doesn’t Have My Artwork on His Refrigerator

At sometime or another, nearly every parent’s refrigerator starts to resemble an art gallery.  We take the wonderful, if not fully recognizable, artistic renderings our children produce and put them on display on the ‘fridge door.  But I think my Father in heaven doesn’t have much of my artwork on his ‘fridge.  Why not?  Because long ago I stopped producing any artwork for him to display. I am blessed to have a delightful two-year-old granddaughter, Anna.  She recently got her hands on a harmonica and delights in “playing” her harmonica and dancing — in her mind dancing is integral to playing…

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