Building One Another
Building One Another is a weekly letter of encouragement I write to encourage your heart in Christian discipleship as well as your ministry in the service of Jesus Christ. The letters are short. Read each as you receive them. These letters are each one page long when printed. Create a folder in your e-mail to easily save and use them for future reference. Forward to friends, as appropriate. Reread for personal encouragement, use for brainstorming, or for handouts for small groups and Bible study classes.
THIS WEEK'S MESSAGE: COUNT TO EIGHT Vol 14 No 20 - July 7, 2015
I love the way Dale Bruner describes the disciples when they realize Jesus has asked them to feed a huge crowd and all they have are five loaves of bread and two fish:
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ALONGSIDE Vol 14 No 19 - June 2, 2015
Recently a friend helped me figure out how to navigate a complex situation I was facing. It reminded me of one of my favorite New Testament words, paraclete, which means, “one who is called alongside to help.”
NOURISHMENT Vol 14 No 18 - May 26, 2015
One of the simple joys of spring for me happens as I enjoy watching the growth of the tadpoles in a pool of water in a nearby park.
GOD'S FIREWORKS Vol 14 No 17 - May 5, 2015
The cherry blossom trees in Washington, DC along the Potomac River were in full bloom this spring with their spectacular show of annual beauty.
PARENT MATH Vol 14 No 16 - April 21, 2015
A neighbor of mine lost a brother, one of nine children, and their mother was overcome with grief.
POSSIBILITY THINKING Vol 14 No 15 - April 14, 2015
Perhaps you read the news that Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, died just before Easter.
LET.IT.GO! Vol 14 No 14 - April 7, 2015
I remember hearing Kennon Callahan tell of sailing in the Florida Keys.
RAISED Vol 14 No 13 - March 31, 2015
When my mother was in her last months in a skilled nursing facility, I asked her how she felt knowing most of the residents of that place would die there.
BE CENTERED Vol 14 No 12 - March 24, 2015
Glancing at a “to-do list” of some sixty items I began to think about Stephen Covey’s counsel to separate what is urgent from what is important and thought, “But it is ALL urgent and important!"
BE OPEN Vol 14 No 11 - March 19, 2015
I visited a place this week that many years ago was, as Charlie Brown would put it, “A lot of old stomach aches.”
GRANDS Vol 14 No 10 - March 10, 2015
I’ve had the joy of seeing all four of our grandchildren in two cities within twenty-four hours!
TRAVEL! Vol 14 No 9 - March 4, 2015
Once I was in a bit of a complaining mood after traveling a lot when I received a flash of insight upon realizing my Lord was saying to me, “This is what I have you doing. Get over yourself!”
FOUND! Vol 14 No 8 - February 24, 2015
Getting ready to leave this morning I unconsciously touched my back pocket and realized no wallet was there.
PERSPECTIVE Vol 14 No 7 - February 17, 2015
I was waiting in the hospital for a routine blood test when I became aware of a strained mumbling voice nearby.
NEXT TO YOU! Vol 14 No 6 - February 10, 2015
Sitting on the aisle of an airplane on Sunday with a pleasant woman in the middle seat and with boarding nearly finished and the window seat empty, I was thinking, “We can spread out.”
JOYFULLY Vol 14 No 5 - February 5, 2015
I remember vividly after preaching a sermon based on Philippians 4:6, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice,” of going home and learning of my father’s brain cancer.
Vol 14 No 4 - January 27, 2015
Are you feeling dry? Parched, empty, exhausted, depleted, even degraded?
WAKE UP! Vol 14 No 3 - January 20, 2015
This morning I wrote two emails. In the first I used the word, “ecclesiology” (the theology of the church) and in the second I used the word, “anesthesiology.”
TIME OUT! Vol 14 No 2 - January 15, 2015
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reaffirm the rhythms that care for your soul.
HERE I AM! Vol 14 No 1 - January 6, 2015
There is a simple Hebrew word “hineni,” pronounced hin-nai-ni, that means, “here I am.” It simply means, “I am available to do your bidding.” “How may I serve you today?"
HEART FOR THE CITY Vol 13 No 15 - September 16, 2014
Imagine what it would mean to have a “heart for your city.” Such a heart would include:
MAGNETIC Vol 13 No 15 - September 9, 2014
Ever been a part of a really big pushing, shoving, somewhat out-of-control crowd?
INTEGRITY Vol 13 No 14 - August 26, 2014
If you are the least bit humble you know very well that your “inner you” and your “outer you” do not always line up. That what you think and dwell on may be very different from your behavior.
PRESENT DEMAND Vol 13 No 13 - August 12, 2014
“Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me. ’” Luke 10:40*
GOD SIGHTINGS Vol 13 No 12 - July 29, 2014
I was coping with a number of uncertainties when someone facing his own unknowns remarked he was learning to trust our Lord more deeply. It was a direct word to me to trust more deeply as well. A God sighting happens as you see God’s work in your life and in the world around you.
THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE Vol 13 No 11 - July 23, 2014
Luke Chapter 9 offers a remarkable snapshot of the ministry of Jesus highlighting both the power of God and the training of the twelve apostles.
FOLLOWERS Vol 13 No 10 - July 8, 2014
Sometimes what seems like extra information in the story of Jesus actually tells us a lot about what kind of people Jesus developed and how he went about it.
COMPASSION Vol 13 No 9 - July 1, 2014
A short moving video was in the news last week.
FOCUS ON A FEW Vol 13 No 8 - May 13, 2014
Consider this famous moment in the life of Jesus: “Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles." Luke 6:12-13*
TOUCHING JESUS Vol 13 No 7 - April 29, 2014
I love the story of the woman who had bled for twelve years and approached Jesus through a crowd.
HE LIVES Vol 13 No 6 - April 15, 2014
When Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome arrived at the tomb of Jesus early in the morning they were stunned to discover the rock in front of the tomb had been moved.
DEAD CALM-LIVE GOD Vol 13 No 5 - March 25, 2014
One day Jesus taught until evening and then stepped into the boat with his disciples, saying, "Let’s go to the other side (of the Sea of Galilee)."
WITH-ME Vol 13 No 4 - February 11, 2014
This is one of my very favorite verses in the Bible, “He [Jesus] went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.” Mark 3:13*
STRETCHER BEARERS Vol 13 No 3 - January 28, 2014
I love this portion of the famous encounter between Jesus and a paralytic:
PURPOSE Vol 13 No 2 - January 21, 2014
The flow of events in the first chapter of Mark’s record of the life of Jesus sets up a remarkable statement by Jesus.
NEW ADVENTURE Vol 13 No 1 - January 7, 2014
The news early Monday morning carried a report that the day is known as “Blue Monday,” the most depressing day of the year!
A THRILL OF HOPE Vol 12 No 29 - December 17, 2013
I love the phrase, “a thrill of hope,” in the Christmas carol, O Holy Night.
GETTING READY Vol 12 No 28 - December 10, 2013
A lot of the country has already experienced severe winter weather and the season is barely underway. How did you go about preparing for an event you knew was coming?
THANKSGIVING Vol 12 No 27 - November 26, 2013
“It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1*
SAY SOMETHING Vol 12 No 26 - September 24, 2013
In the “theater mentality” of our day, we attend movies, sporting events, and other forms of entertainment, expecting only to experience something from the event.
THE LINGERING MEAL Vol 12 No 25 - September 17, 2013
Do you eat your meals rapidly or do you take your time?
ANOINTED ONES Vol 12 No 24 - September 10, 2013
A common practice we discover in the Bible is that of anointing.
QUIET TIME Vol 12 No 23 - September 3, 2013
As we launch into a new fall season it's time to ask ourselves, do we practice a Rule of Life that puts first things first?
CHASING DONKEYS Vol 12 No 22 - August 27, 2013
There is a fascinating story in the Old Testament. A man’s donkeys wander off and he sends his son and another young man to find them. The donkeys wander this way and that and the young men nearly give up. The young man says, “There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honor. Whatever he says always comes true. I have some money to pay him.”
THE MESS Vol 12 No 21 - July 30, 2013
On July 26th The Washington Post carried a fascinating article about baseball star Darryl Strawberry. He tells of his descent into drug and alcohol addiction and the change in his life after turning to Jesus. Darryl concludes by saying, “Here I am, a baseball superstar, falling into the pits, having everybody write you off and then having God say, ‘I’m going to use your mess for a message.' How beautiful is that?"
TOTALLY IRREPLACEABLE Vol 12 No 20 - July 23, 2013
Have you heard of the woman in Romania who allegedly burned seven paintings by such artists as Matisse, Picasso, and Monet worth a hundred million dollars or more? They were stolen from the Kunsthal, a museum in Rotterdam, last October. Apparently she was trying to protect her son who was charged with the theft.
ROPE HOLDERS Vol 12 No 19 - July 16, 2013
Something Walt Ungerer, a pastor and a friend, said to me many years ago came to mind while I was reading Acts Chapter 9, the story of the conversion of Saul, who became known as the Apostle Paul.
PRAISE Vol 12 No 18 - July 2, 2013
Perhaps you watched on television or heard of the feat of Nik Wallenda as he walked on a cable stretched across Little Colorado River Gorge in the area of the Grand Canyon some fifteen hundred feet above the bottom of the gorge with no safety wire connecting him to the cable.
PEACE Vol 12 No 17 - June 25, 2013
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18*
AWAKE Vol 12 No 16 - June 18, 2013
When my son and I were in Japan a few years ago we saw a Shinto Shrine for the worship of what its followers believe to be the spirits of nature and of past heroes.
ENCOURAGE Vol 12 No 15 - June 11, 2013
What do you do when, as a friend of mine put it, “You feel so low that your rear end is erasing your own tracks!”? How do you go about stirring up your own spirit when you are down?
SOFTEN Vol 12 No 14 - June 4, 2013
On Saturday morning I dug a hole in the backyard for a large tomato plant I’d picked up at a farmer's market, sprinkled in some fertilizer, and put in the plant.
GROW Vol 12 No 13 - May 28, 2013
I was out running this morning in the early stages of preparation for a 5K run. There is something glorious about chugging along in the early morning with the beauty of God’s creation all around you.
AWESOME Vol 12 No 12 - May 14, 2013
In recent weeks I have been in Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, and California. In every location I have found the beauty of the country to be astonishing.
SAY SOMETHING Vol 12 No 11 - April 30, 2013
If you “see something say something” is becoming a catchword in American society. While it refers to vigilance in an insecure world, the phrase has me thinking about the reticence of many Christians to “say something” about the Lord they follow.
CHERRAPUNJI Vol 12 No 10 - April 17, 2013
Have you ever heard of Cherrapunji, India? The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the wettest place on earth. During the monsoon season Cherrapunji can receive nearly a yard of water a day. Imagine that! A Mr. Yule called attention to Cherrapunji in 1841 when he reported that during five successive days, thirty inches of water fell every twenty-four hours. Amazing!
SPRING SNOW Vol 12 No 9 - March 26, 2013
I awoke yesterday morning to a beautiful spring snowfall, the kind that coats every branch, every twig, and every surface. It created the kind of magical moment that gives snow a good name even when it messes with our schedules and our driving.
FRIENDS Vol 12 No 8 - March 12, 2013
Last week I received two email messages from friends who are each ninety-six years old. I enjoy texting with friends who are in their thirties. That got me to thinking! How many people do I know who are at least twenty-five years older than I am? How many people do I know who are at least twenty-five years younger than I am?
THE FRITTER FACTOR Vol 12 No 7 - March 5, 2013
The verb “to fritter” means to reduce, waste or squander little by little. “She frittered away the afternoon.” “He frittered away his inheritance.” Think about the many ways contemporary life intrudes on whatever you are doing and the many ways you do things that fritter your time away.
SEEK Vol 12 No 6 - February 19, 2013
You could think of the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter as something of a gloomy time, a time of “giving up” something, but I have always seen Lent as a time to take on something… to take on a fresh seeking of the Lord, to acknowledge that my spiritual life can feel run down just like everyday life and that I want to refresh my relationship with my Lord.
LENT VOL12 No 5 - February 12, 2013
Lent is the season of the year that begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday and culminates in the celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is a great time to rekindle your faith. Here are two wonderful prayers to use during these days as a way of offering yourself to our loving Lord.
CALL ME MAYBE! Vol 12 No 4 - February 5, 2013
I awoke on a Sunday morning a few weeks ago and out of the blue the words and melody of Carly Rae Jepson singing the pop song, “Call Me Maybe” started bounding around my head. I just smiled and went about our normal Sunday routine.
EVERYWHERE AND HERE Vol 12 No 3 - January 29, 2013
Years ago I heard a story, whose source I do not know, of a fellow who drove a school bus. He said, “When I stopped the bus to pick up a little boy for preschool, I noticed an older woman hugging him as he left the house. 'Is that your grandmother, Bill?'" I asked.
FIRST PRAYERS VOL 12 NO 2 - January 22, 2013
When I hear people speak of various individuals in our government with whom they disagree, hoping they don’t do well, that they don’t succeed, I always think of Paul’s admonition to pray, “for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” I Timothy 2:2*
WALK BY FAITH Vol 12 No 1 - January 8, 2013
This morning I enjoyed a conversation that was delightful. It warmed my spirit and left me feeling good. Directly afterwards I read an email that was completely annoying!
HEARTS WALKING Vol 11 No 28 - December 18, 2012
In his remarks at the prayer vigil held December 16 in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama quoted Elizabeth Stone: "Making a decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
LIVING Vol 11 No 27 - December 13, 2012
Some years ago Bob Oerter, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado, led a retreat in which I heard him say, “Learn to live with the load of the unfinished!”
THE VOICE Vol 11 No 26 - December 4, 2012
Late one afternoon I was jogging around a high school track and let's just say I wasn’t exactly flying around that oval. On the other side of the track the high school track coach was working with one student.
GOD CAN Vol 11 No 25 - November 27, 2012
I was flying a Southwest flight from Orlando to New Orleans. We were belted in and picking up speed as we raced down the runway. Suddenly the pilot’s voice broadcast in the cabin. My ears perked up since I had never heard the pilot speak during take off.
GENEROUS THANKS Vol 11 No 24 - November 20, 2012
Driving with my daughter in the neighborhood in which I grew up, we paused by my childhood home so she could take a picture. A young man came to the door obviously wondering what we were doing. My daughter called to him, “My Dad lived here forty years ago.”
DOUBLE GRACE Vol 11 No 23 - November 13, 2012
It is wonderfully reassuring to think of a “double grace” our loving Lord offers to us: the grace to help us endure testing and temptation and the grace to forgive us when we fail.
THE DISCIPLINE OF PURPOSE Vol 11 No 22 - October 24, 2012
If your purpose was to finish a marathon or do well in a difficult class or succeed in your life's work, would you coast along, hoping it happens, or would you focus your mind, your time and your efforts on your goal? We all know the answer!
LOVE BUILDS UP! Vol 11 No 21 - October 17, 2012
In one of the great one-liners in the Bible the Apostle Paul wrote, “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up!” I Corinthians 8:1* It’s well worth repeating a dozen times out loud!
OUR BODIES OUR LORD'S Vol 11 No 20 - September 18, 2012
We live in a day in which we are barraged with matters relating to sexual behavior and in a culture that is rapidly finding ways to affirm all forms of sexual expression.
ELEVEN YEARS Vol 11 No 19 - September 11, 2012
Eleven years ago this morning I boarded an airplane going from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles. We landed in Kansas City since every airplane in the air was required to land when the reality of the tragedies unfolding in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania began to hit home.
THE QUESTIONS Vol 11 No 18 - September 4, 2012
The Apostle Paul made a revealing assertion to the Christians of the ancient city of Corinth, ”For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” I Cor. 4:15*
THE FOUNDATION Vol 11 No 17 - August 28, 2012
The Washington Monument was in the news recently. After suffering some damage in the earthquake of 2011, it now appears the majority of the damage was near the top of the Monument and far above its sound foundation. A sound foundation is key to the quality of anything you build.
THE SMILE Vol 11 No 16 - August 21, 2012
After Oscar Pistorius ran in the 400-meter race in the recent Olympics, he told TODAY’s Savannah Gunthrie, “When I got on those starting blocks, I knew 400 is always a tough event. But I had these cramps in my cheeks, I was smiling so much.”
THE BOAST Vol 11 No 15 - August 14, 2012
I have loved watching the recent Olympics in London. There were so many poignant moments. While there were a few athletes who boasted of their deeds, they were dwarfed in numbers by the countless winners whose humility, gratitude, and grace were utterly infectious.
THE GRASP Vol 11 No 14 - August 7, 2012
During the 2012 Summer Olympics we have watched Gabby Douglas grasping the parallel bars, Serena Williams grasping her tennis racket, and rowers grasping their oars, all seeking to grasp an Olympic victory.
WORD OF GRACE Vol 11 No 13 - July 31, 2012
“A certain monastery enforced a vow of silence. Each monk could utter only two words every five years, and those two words had to be spoken in the presence of the abbot, the chief monk."1
LIFE-SHARING HOPE Vol 11 No 12 - July 24, 2012
If I asked you, “What is the one hope you have over all over hopes?” What would you say?
JOY TO YOU! Vol 11 No 11 - July 17, 2012
How is your joy doing at the moment? “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice,” wrote the Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:4*) You may be feeling joy. You may be feeling no joy!
LIMITLESS Vol 11 No 10 - July 10, 2012
Do you have health issues that limit your mobility? Or employment or financial matters that constrain your actions? Or family situations that require all of your attention? It is very easy to assume that the constraints in our lives limit what our Lord may do in us and through us.
I AM FOR YOU Vol 11 No 9 - May 1, 2012
Imagine saying to a friend, “Whatever good or difficult thing that is happening in my life is for you – for your trust in Jesus and for your well-being.” In our “it’s all about me” age, such a comment might feel counter intuitive.
LOVE'S EMBRACE Vol 11 No 8 - April 10, 2012
The Apostle John describes a deeply emotional and endearing conversation just after the disciples Peter and John have discovered the empty tomb of Jesus while Mary Magdalene stood outside weeping.
SPEAK UP Vol 11 No 7 - February 28, 2012
If you want to draw someone among your family members or among your friends into the Christian faith, what is the most appealing thing you could say?
BUILDING ONE ANOTHER Vol 11 No 6 - February 21, 2012
We live in an age of criticism and complaint, yet encouraging people is so incredibly easy to do.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER Vol 11 No 5 - February 14, 2012
Is not the essence of Valentine’s Day to affirm your love to the people in your life?
JOY'S DELIGHT Vol 11 No 4 - February 7, 2012
What gives you joy and refreshes your heart? The Apostle Paul gave us a window into what brought joy’s delight to his heart and it certainly will bring it to yours and mine as well.
OUR LIVES Vol 11 No 3 - January 31, 2012
One of the loveliest comments in the writings of the Apostle Paul is his word to the Christians in the town of Thessalonica:
“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” I Thessalonians 2:8
TURN, SERVE, WAIT Vol 11 No 2 - January 24, 2012
Occasionally while reading Scripture for the shear pleasure of opening ourselves to a word from the Lord who loves us we come across a wonderful pithy summary of the life of faith.
COME ALONGSIDE Vol 11 No 1 - January 5, 2012
It is so easy at the beginning of a new year to find ourselves so immersed in the pressing demands of the moment that “large life-building thoughts for the coming year,” much less any “resolutions” we may have considered, are quickly washed away.
WONDER-FULL Vol 10 No 29 - December 20, 2011
When is the last time something so moved you that you simply felt “wonder?”
OPEN HEART OPEN DOOR Vol 10 No 28 - December 13, 2011
December is often a time of more social gatherings in the life of the church and in our worlds of work, local neighborhoods, friends, and families.
OCCUPY THE NEIGHBORHOOD Vol 10 No 27 - October 25, 2011
The Occupy movement has captured the attention of many cities around the world with its focus on economic injustice and its method of literally occupying a place in order to make a point.
WHO IS JESUS? Vol 10 No 26 - October 11, 2011
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.’” Matthew 16:15-17*
GRATEFUL Vol 10 No 25 - September 20, 2011
As a graduate student at Purdue and a person of new Christian faith, the church was yet to become an essential facet of my Christian life. Looking for a K-Mart one Sunday morning I managed to get lost and drove up in front of Covenant Presbyterian Church at 11:00 a.m.
FOLLOWING Vol 10 No 24 - September 13, 2011
Yesterday I realized I was following a car whose license plate said, "His W1ll."
THE TRUST TEST Vol 10 No 23 - August 30, 2011
When you face a challenging situation for which no resolution is apparent, what goes through your mind and emotion?
DWELL IN THE LAND Vol 10 No 22 - August 16, 2011
Riding to an airport with a friend and co-worker I asked what she would be doing the coming weekend. She replied, “I am going to dwell in the land,” just as the Psalm says, “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Psalm 37:3*
THE VOICE Vol 10 No 21 - August 9, 2011
Every voice is unique. You are the only person in all of time and eternity who sounds just like you.
MOOD Vol 10 No 20 - August 2, 2011
Do you ever find yourself sitting around feeling tired and someone walks up to you or phones you and you are just not in the mood to attend to them? Jesus seemed to have had that experience.
LOOK-A-HIM Vol 10 No 19 - July 26, 2011
My grandfather used to refer to some people as a “look-a-me.” A “look-a-me” is a person whose bearing, speech, and attitudes all say, “Look at the wonderfulness of me.”
ACKNOWLEDGE Vol 10 No 18 - July 19, 2011
I once walked into our kitchen and saw our fourteen-month old child very rapidly sit on something. It turned out to be a Magic Marker that had been happily used to draw on the floor!
POINT OUT Vol 10 No 17 - July 12, 2011
Perhaps the clearest and easiest way to bear witness to the reality of God and the person of Jesus was modeled by John the Baptist.
MENTOR Vol 10 No 16 - June 14, 2011
Yesterday I had the joy of meeting Anne Ortlund. Her books and those of her husband, Ray, have had a mentoring role in my life, helping me grow in an understanding of the Christian life.
NEVERTHELESS Vol 10 No 15 - June 7, 2011
If you have ever been in a low place you know the person who said the following words to God was at one time the lowest of the low, upset in spirit, and unresponsive to the Lord who loved him.
A VERY GOOD WORD Vol 10 No 14 - May 24, 2011
At times life can be remarkably demanding and confusing. When Jesus saw a crowd he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless – just as so many of us feel this day about whatever situation we may find ourselves in.
FIRE! Vol 10 No 13 - May 3, 2011
During the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Bishop of London quoted Catherine of Siena as saying, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER Vol 10 No 12 - April 26, 2011
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by something going on in your life, in the life of someone you care about or in the wider world?
WALKING WITH JESUS Vol 10 No 11 - April 19, 2011
I imagine you find yourself traveling regularly since we live in a traveling culture. I am on the road enough that at times I sing the old road songs like Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound,” Roger Miller’s “King of the Road,” and John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”
FOLLOW Vol 10 No 10 - April 12, 2011
As we approach the celebration of Palm Sunday I love to reflect on what happened as Jesus left Jericho, his final stop on the way to the trial awaiting him in Jerusalem.
A TRUMPET Vol 10 No 9 - March 29, 2011
The Apostle Paul said these amazing words about those in the town of Thessalonica: “The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it.” I Thessalonians 1:8*
WAIT Vol 10 No 8 - March 15, 2011
There are many immense things to ponder that are dominating today’s world stage from the tremendous unrest in the Middle East to the ongoing devastation and trauma of Japan.
WONDER Vol 10 No 7 - March 8, 2011
Every now and then when reading the Gospels, the good news story of Jesus, I come across a sentence I have read many times that just leaps off the page as if I had never seen it before.
EYES OF FAITH Vol 10 No 6 - March 1, 2011
We may think of bearing witness to the reality of God and the person of Jesus as something we do to awaken those who have not entered Christian faith but it is also a wonderful way to encourage your own life and others who share faith in Jesus with you.
FAITH SHIFT Vol 10 No 5 - February 15, 2011
Question: One what basis do you expect a promise to be kept? Answer: On the basis of the integrity, ability and trustworthiness of the promise maker.
EVERY MOMENT Vol 10 No 4 - February 8, 2011
Do you find yourself compartmentalizing your life?
THE LINGERING MEAL Vol 10 No 3 - February 1, 2011
In America, the restaurant check is brought as soon as you finish eating. The goal is to “turn the table” and pack in more customers. In other countries such as France and Mexico, the waiter won’t bring you the check until you ask for it. The goal is to linger and to enjoy the company of others.
DWELL IN THE WORD Vol 10 No 2 - January 18, 2011
The verse below written by the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonian Church is quite remarkable.
SERVE Vol 10 No 1 - January 4, 2011
What is your prayer to our Lord as you enter into the New Year? I find the words of John Baille from his Diary of Private Devotion (Day 3), immensely helpful. I encourage you to pray this prayer making his words your words.
A TIME TO PONDER Vol 9 No 41 - December 21, 2010
There are moments in life when our Lord breaks into our everyday lives with such force that we cannot help but take notice and ponder the reality of the presence of the Lord who loves us.
COMFORT AND JOY Vol 9 No 40 - December 7, 2010
I was stuck following a school bus early this morning. You know how I was feeling because I have used the word, “stuck!”
THE GRACE CYCLE Vol 9 No 39 - November 23, 2010
A cycle is a pattern of reoccurring events. Consider the two-stage “Grace Cycle” of the first words of the Doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
COUNTING DAYS Vol 9 No 38 - November 16, 2010
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Ott Family Cemetery.
A BRUISED REED Vol 9 No 37 - November 9, 2010
When you are feeling a bit beat up in life where do you turn for help and hope?
VOTE! Vol 9 No 36 - November 2, 2010
Today is Election Day in the United States of America.
ONE-ONE-ONE PRAYER Vol 9 No 35 - October 26, 2010
Some time ago a leader at Willow Creek, whose name I wish I remembered, taught a wonderful kind of prayer called the One-One-One prayer covenant.
STRONG KNEES! Vol 9 No 34 - October 19, 2010
How do you handle a difficult challenge? Do you face and embrace it? Do you race away from it?
Water Vol 9 No 33 - October 5, 2010
I noticed a growing pile of dried leaves under a large bush next to our porch out back. I thought it was a bit strange and gave it no more thought as I swept the leaves away.
EXPECT! Vol 9 No 32 - September 28, 2010
What do you expect your own life will be like a year from now?
POEM Vol 9 No 31 - September 21, 2010
One of the beautiful verses in the Bible says, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10*
FELLOWSHIP Vol 9 No 30 - September 14, 2010
As the fall busyness gets underway it is the perfect time to consider the priorities in our daily and weekly calendars.
GENERATIONS Vol 9 No 29 - September 7, 2010
Ann Marie and I are visiting our new twin grandsons for the very first time!
EVANGELISM Vol 9 No 28 - August 24, 2010
At its heart evangelism is proclamation, the announcing of the good news of Jesus.
GREATNESS Vol 9 No 27 - August 10, 2010
Some years ago I heard the wonderful Quaker theologian, Elton Trueblood, preach to a congregation with the opening words, “God will make you great!”
TWO BY TWO Vol 9 No 26 - August 3, 2010
There are times we are alone because we choose to be alone. On the other hand think of the things you have done alone in the last few days in which you could have had someone with you.
ONLY Vol 9 No 25 - July 27, 2010
One day I was talking with a woman about God who told me that she believed that all religions worship the same God.
MENTORING Vol 9 No 24 - July 20, 2010
Think of the people who have invested themselves in you helping you become the person you are today.
BUNGEE JUMPING Vol 9 No 23 - July 13, 2010
The national gathering of leaders from my Christian denomination met last week. I found myself in a series of remarkably varied experiences and emotions that were often the opposite of each other.
INCENDIARY Vol 9 No 22 - June 29, 2010
I love it that missionary Jim Elliott wrote in his diary, “Am I ignitable?” upon reading Hebrews 1:7,* “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.”
FACE-TO-FACE Vol 9 No 21 - June 15, 2010
I have been thinking about the ways in which some of our interpersonal relationships are being affected by the use of online social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and a host of other such means of connecting with people.
ONE-OFF Vol 9 No 20 - June 8, 2010
I hear the interesting term “one-off” used in a variety of contexts today. It means that which is one of a kind, singular or unique.
OUR STILL POINT Vol 9 No 19 - June 1, 2010
Sometimes life feels like a form of emotional bungee jumping as we bounce up and down experiencing the joys that pull us up and the anxieties that pull us down.
PRAY, WORK AND WAIT Vol 9 No 18 - May 26, 2010
What do you do when life is suddenly turbulent and things are moving at a rapid pace in directions over which you have little control?
SECURITY Vol 9 No 17 - May 18, 2010
When we announced the birth of our first born to my parents many years ago, my Dad said he was having “patriarchal feelings!” I never quite knew what he meant – until now!
REMEMBRANCE Vol 9 No 16 - May 11, 2010
Yesterday I walked among the headstones of the Ott Family Cemetery in Louisiana where some five generations of my family have been buried.
INSTRUMENTALITY Vol 9 No 15 - May 4, 2010
Consider the opening words of the great poem of St. Francis of Assisi. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace...
LOOK UP! Vol 9 No 14 - April 27, 2010
Last weekend my son, Lee, and I walked the magnificent terrain of Yosemite National Park.
YIELD Vol 9 No 13 - April 20, 2010
Struggling to resolve a number of issues in my mind and asking our Lord for wisdom in the midst of my uncertainty, I took a long walk along a quiet road that led me to a roadside pond of water.
THE ULTIMATE EYE OPENER Vol 9 No 12 - April 6, 2010
We know the promise of Jesus that those who seek find but what happens if you aren’t seeking?
GOD'S VISITATION Vol 9 No 11 - March 30, 2010
Have you ever thought about the range of Jesus’ feelings on Palm Sunday?
YES! Vol 9 No 10 - March 16, 2010
How do you feel when someone keeps a promise or breaks one?
OUR PERSONAL GOD Vol 9 No 9 - March 2, 2010
When I was in seminary I made an appointment with one of my professors and asked the question, "Do you believe that God is both personal and infinite?"
DISTRACTION Vol 9 No 8 - February 23, 2010
I was walking down the street on a pretty day with fluffy white clouds floating in a stunning blue sky and birds chirping in the trees – while staring down at my smartphone – when it hit me, “What are you doing?”
UNITY Vol 9 No 7 - February 16, 2010
I find the pair figure skating competition of the Olympics utterly captivating.
FAITHFUL Vol 9 No 6 - February 9, 2010
Job speaks of a lifestyle that faithfully reflects the character of God that applies well to us all.
COME! Vol 9 No 5 - February 2, 2010
How do you feel about asking someone to be with you in some endeavor?
PRAYER PARTNER Vol 9 No 4 - January 26, 2010
One of the most encouraging spiritual disciplines available to us all is the idea of a prayer partner.
HAITI Vol 9 No 3 - January 19, 2010
Twice this week I was forcefully reminded that while we may fret over a variety of matters, the vast majority of us have our basic needs met and often much more than our basic needs met.
TRUST Vol 9 No 2 - January 12, 2010
Do you ever feel restless, anxious, fretful about things going on in your life?
WARMTH Vol 9 No 1 - January 5, 2010
On Sunday we went to church on a very windy, very cold eleven degree day!
REFLECT Vol 8 No 49 - December 29, 2009
There are few better times to reflect on your life – where you have been – where you are going – than the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day!
INVITE Vol 8 No 48 - December 22, 2009
I love the music of Christmas! It is so deeply invitational.
AWARE Vol 8 No 47 - December 15, 2009
This past Saturday my daughter and I were shopping at a major department store. It felt like everyone on the planet was in the store and shopping was a hassle.
GOD'S OPENINGS Vol 8 No 46 - December 8, 2009
I dropped into my favorite bread and coffee shop.
SEE! Vol 8 No 45 - December 1, 2009
How aware are you of the work of God in and around your life?
STOP Vol 8 No 44 - November 24, 2009
I love Thanksgiving!
HESED Vol 8 No 43 - November 17, 2009
How do you react when a fellow Christian grieves you, deceives you, hurts you?
NEXT TO Vol 8 No 42 - November 10, 2009
As I write this I am flying to a city where coworker will join me. A great question for any endeavor you find yourself engaged in is, “Who is with me?”
TRANSFORMATION Vol 8 No 41 - November 3, 2009
It is easy for Christians, especially those who have been clear about their faith in Jesus and who have attended church for years, to develop a casual approach to the Bible, the Scriptures.
SLEEP Vol 8 No 40 - October 27, 2009
How is your sleep? At times in my life I have slept all night “like a baby” and at other times have found myself wide awake at four a.m. and not a happy camper!
GOD GIVES! Vol 8 No 39 - October 20, 2009
Life is going smoothly along. You are faithfully involved in worship and in the spiritual practices of the faith. And you run into a brick wall. What gives?
PEOPLE Vol 8 No 38 - October 13, 2009
I remember vividly the time years ago when I proudly told my father of a number of successful programs I was leading.
BALANCE Vol. 8 No. 37 - September 29, 2009
On an airplane this week the person next to me ...
LOOK UP Vol 8 No 36 - September 23, 2009
When a situation you must contend with arises, what are your first thoughts?
SACRED RHYTHMS Vol 8 No 35 - September 15, 2009
Years ago Edward Bosworth said, "What gets your attention gets you!"
LABOR Vol 8 No 34 - September 8, 2009
In his "Diary of Private Prayer" John Baillie offers a prayer on behalf of: "the overworked who have no joy of leisure; the unemployed who have no joy of labor."* In our day...
KNOWLEDGE Vol 8 No 33 - September 1, 2009
How do you know what you know?
COUNSEL Vol 8 No 32 - August 25, 2009
If your Mom or Dad were very wise but no longer around and you faced a major decision, would you heed the counsel of the people who counseled your parents or the counsel of your best buddies?
OPEN DOORS, Vol 8 No 31 - August 18, 2009
Acts 12 tells the story of two people who faced very difficult situations. “About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had...
CRY TO THE LORD, Vol 8 No 30 - August 10, 2009
If you are down and out there is genuine hope for you! Psalm 107 begins with...
LIVE IN CHAPTERS, Vol 8 No 29 - August 4, 2009
When the wonderful Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood was around eighty years old and I was about thirty, I remember him saying, “Young man, live your life in chapters.” He went on to...
HERE I AM, Vol 8 No 28 (Part 2) - July 28, 2009
I imagine you have had the experience of being called to serve and had mixed feelings about saying, “yes – here I am – willing to do your bidding!” When God calls...
HERE I AM, Vol 8 No 27 (Part 1) - July 20, 2009
Consider these life-changing moments as recorded in Scripture: God called to Abraham saying, ...
PRECIS, Vol 8 No 26 - June 29, 2009
A précis is a condensation, a short summary of the main points of something.
Psalm 73 offers....
THE LORD IS NEAR, Vol 8 No 25 - June 22, 2009
Do you know of Christians who disagree with one another? I know you do! Writing the Philippians...
SEND AND BE SENT, Vol 8 No 24 - June 15, 2009
Summertime is frequently a time of moving. Graduates from high school and college may move to a new life in new location. People take jobs in other communities and so on.
PROMISES, Vol 8 No 23 - June 9, 2009
When our children were little we learned how literally they took our words.
BE GLAD, Vol 8 No 22 - June 1, 2009
Do you ever feel jealous when another gathering of God’s people is growing?
MERCY, Vol 8 No 21 - May 26, 2009
The Psalms teach us that David at one time was proud of his life and other times immensely sad concerning his own behavior. How about you?
POSITIONING, Vol 8 No 20 - May 18, 2009
Think of the times you have found yourself with someone who went on to have a great impact on your life or you a great impact on his or her life.
GOD'S TASTE AND SEE, Vol 8 No 19 - May 12, 2009
Where do you find hope when your life is in a world of hurt?
GOD'S FIREWORKS, Vol 8 No 18 - May 5, 2009
Driving through the suburbs of northern Virginia on a rainy day, my mind and mood centered on a number of pressing matters when I was suddenly aware of the brilliantly, beautiful, spring blossoms on every side of the road.
HELPER, Vol 8 No 17 - April 27, 2009
Imagine you are Wile E. Coyote tearing down a road after the Road Runner when all of a sudden the Road Runner with a “Beep Beep” zips straight up just as a glass wall pops up on the roadway and you smash right into it – and you slowly slide down the glass and on to the roadway.
WHEN YOU TURN, Vol 8 No 16 - April 21, 2009
What are you to do after our Lord carries you through a rough time?
PRAYED FOR!, Vol 8 No 15 - April 13, 2009
Have you ever felt sifted like wheat?
THE MAGNIFICENT GAP, Vol 8 No 14 - April 7, 2009
The apostle John marvelously captures the drama of Easter morning when he (assuming he is the “other disciple”) and Peter race to the tomb.
JESUS' TEARS, Vol 8 No 13 - March 30, 2009
We know of two times Jesus wept. Do you know what they are?
INTO JESUS, Vol 8 No 12 - March 23, 2009
Last week we looked at the interesting way the Gospel of John in the Greek language speaks of believing “into” Jesus and not simply believing “in” Jesus as it appears in English translations.
BELIEVE INTO, Vol 8 No 11 - March 17, 2009
Dozens of times in the Gospel according to John we read the words “believe in.”
GUIDANCE, Vol 8 No 10 - March 10, 2009
Last week I wrote of mulling over whether to try to make a scheduled flight or re-book for the next day knowing a major snow storm was coming.
GOD'S WILL, Vol 8 No 9 - March 3, 2009
On Sunday, knowing a major snow storm was heading into the area, I drove to church mulling over whether to stick with an airplane flight scheduled to depart right after the storm was to end or push it back one day.
OUR STILL POINT, Vol 7 No 14 - April 1, 2008
Years ago, poet T.S. Eliot made famous the phrase, “the still point of the turning world.”
Imagining a Church in the Spirit A Task for Mainline Congregations
by Ben Campbell Johnson, Glenn McDonald
The greatest problem facing mainline churches today is not declining numbers, shifting social allegiances or confused leadership. It is loss of vision.