Holy week and Easter are busy times in the church. There are extra services, special events and It’s exhausting. This got me thinking and pondering about how we worship when we are exhausted.Read More
My electric guitar is important to me. That statement is a paradox. I don't even own a guitar right now. This hurts me deep down inside.
I started playing guitar in my church's worship band about 7 years ago. Previously, I had taken lessons with the worship leader, so he asked me to play. At that time, depression and loneliness were normal in my life. Playing my guitar became a cathartic release. It allowed me to explore parts of worship and parts of my relationship with God I had never considered.Read More
I was talking to somebody recently about the Kingdom of God. He is a bit skeptical about an eternity of living for a number of reasons, but his main one was this: What could we do with ourselves for all eternity?Read More
It’s easy to be in ministry, show a public face when people are observing you and be someone entirely different when you are alone or at home with your family. Many of us have lived this reality: publicly outgoing, happy, and caring while personally withdrawn, indifferent and depressed. What’s at the root of this dichotomy?Read More
My friend Harry and I took a trip to the big city on Saturday. We drove down to Columbus, to the state fair grounds, and went to the annual Deer and Turkey Expo there. There were hundreds of vendors selling anything you can think of related to whitetail deer or turkey hunting. There were even vendors selling stuff that Daniel Boone never even dreamed of. I was looking at all this stuff, listening to all the different turkey and deer “calls” being demonstrated and just trying to deal with the whole “huge crowd of people” thing when I saw them…Read More
Can black ink on a page knock the breath out of you?
Maybe it’s just MY books that have this power.
Regardless, my latest “can’t breathe, must find water, I’m a wretched human being” episode came after reading this sentence from a book called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield.
“Were these gifts or idols, I wondered? With a chill, I knew that if they were idols, then God would, in his love and mercy, destroy them and remove them from me.”
It doesn’t seem terrible, does it? But, the moment I read it, my mind immediately ordered all the things I view as gifts in my life, (kids, family, home, etc.) and in spreadsheet fashion neatly labeled them all, “IDOL.” I repeat: labeled them ALL, “IDOL.”Read More
As I have mentioned recently I have just begun a new call. I am serving a wonderful congregation right outside of Harrisburg. One of the many things I love about this church is how intentional they were when they moved from their historic church building into a new building. One of the things they felt passionate about was having a church and grounds that fulfilled many needs. One of those needs is spiritual direction. On the grounds of the church is a beautiful labyrinth. If you are unfamiliar with the term a very brief explanation is a focused walking path of prayer...Read More
We worship corporately, often in a church building, gathering together with other people from all walks of life. Your walk of life just happens to have a few little shadows, children, following you around and begging for their needs to be met at every turn. Corporate worship can be encouraging, enlightening and exciting with a family full of children. Maybe your kids sit quietly, listening to the sermon, they love the music and sing along happily, and perhaps dancing in the aisles if that’s OK in your congregation. And if you are lucky they remember to get their offering all by themselves before leaving home. But this corporate gathering may also be a challenge to even get out the door, let alone get a moments peace in the worship service. If you are like my family worship at church can be at best distracting and on the worst weeks down-right miserable with armfuls of children...Read More
I am just getting over the flu. I usually don’t get the flu. I had a really bad strain of “Asian” flu back around 1959 or 60, and normally I’m spared the regular winter round of illness. I wasn’t this year. I got sick on a Monday while I was at work, went home and stayed there for 10 days. I am just now starting to feel better.
What does this have to do with worship you may ask? Just this, we are called to worship in all that we do. Not just when we feel good. Not just when we need something from God. Not because we are the worship leader at the 2nd United Methodist church down the street and that’s what folks expect us to do on Sunday morning. We are called to worship God because of our love for Him...Read More
HSI is fortunate to have consultants who are so well versed in their fields. Paul Neeley is one such person who keeps us informed and outfitted in the realm of ethnomusicology. He recently returned from a month in West Africa encouraging emerging composers in culturally relevant worship. Here are some highlights from his reports: "We ended our first week by recording 50 Scripture songs in 7 languages. Most of the songs fit with Bible stories that are being used to plant 30+ village churches in this Muslim-majority country of Sierra Leone. What a privilege to serve this part of the Body of Christ by facilitating the composition and recording of all these Scripture songs, equipping them to reach their ethnic groups in the area...Read More
If you have never read F.W. Boreham you are missing out! Frank William Boreham lived from 1871-1959, serving as a Baptist preacher in New Zealand, Australia, and England. You can learn a bit more on his wiki page, here.
The following is a brief excerpt entitled “The Powder Magazine” from The Other Side of the Hill. If F.W. Boreham resonates with you, check out the blog by Dr. Geoff Pound for more excerpts of his writing or check out Twitter for daily quotes @DrFWBoreham.
This is a bit of a read, but I promise it will be worth it!
- JFRead More
For the past few years, I've been trying to be very intentional on giving something up for lent. When I was younger, I never gave anything up because I felt that the practice was somehow legalistic, and that God really doesn't care whether or not we give something up. After thinking about it, year after year after year, it became clear to me why such a practice is important to our faith. I think the truth is, all those years that I was making excuses, I was actually just really lazy...Read More
Matthew 10:2-4 Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him...
Who are these? These are the 12 disciples. These are the 12 who took the power of Christ to next level. These are the 12 who went beyond following to doing, beyond listening to proclaiming, beyond watching to performing, from being healed to being the healers, from being afraid to casting out demons. These are the 12 whose power was no longer their own…but God’s!Read More
Every year many Christian churches begin a season called Lent. It is a 40 day (minus Sundays) journey to Easter. It all begins on Ash Wednesday, for those unfamiliar with the idea of Lent; it begins the day after Mardi Gras. For the whole purpose of Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday is to indulge in foods and activities that many then refrain from during Lent. ...But what's it all about?Read More
Face it, we all love to complain. As a psychotherapist I can tell you that complaining is more American than the Super Bowl, rock and roll or the donut hole. And what do we like to complain about the most? Other people – how much they’ve hurt us, how they don’t understand us, how they thwart our best intentions to be good people, and so on. Is there room in our worship experience for this most basic human activity?Read More
Five to one baby, one in five....no one here gets out alive. (Jim Morrison and The Doors)
Behold I show you a mystery, we shall not all "sleep" but we shall all be changed...(Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, 1 Cor.15:51 and following)
Jim Morrison and the Apostle Paul seem to agree here on one thing...All of us are on a journey. It starts with our conception (thanks mom and dad) and it ends, as far as this plane of existence is concerned, with our passing from this place to the next...It would seem that we all are in the same boat here. So what does this have to do with worship?
don’t know about anyone else, but I for one have never been very good at taking a day out each week for Sabbath. Many people do, many people take a day away from work, technology, communications and all work related responsibilities. I have just never been that person. I get work emails sent to my phone, I always have my phone within reach, and I spend more time on social media than I even want to confess to.Read More
Worship happens when we align ourselves with how God is moving in the world. I knew that because I loved meat, I could never really understand what it was like to live in a third world country and struggle. I couldn’t understand, because I could simply drive to McDonalds and get a Double-Cheeseburger for a dollar. I didn’t know struggle. I had difficulty aligning myself to God’s will for my life because I couldn't empathize with experiences so far outside my personal world.Read More
I came away from the holidays very uncomfortable this year. They were normal, full of traditions, family, decorations and food. But, one thing was different. I would now be spending eternity apart from God.
Well, not immediately. But, I was given this as my eternal destination, if my faith did not make a serious detour. You see, I hold to a different interpretation of the Bible than the folks who expressed their concern for my faith practice. The details of the disagreement don’t matter here, but the conclusion that I would fail to enter the presence of God upon my death left me speechless.Read More