Baseball and Advent

I was an awful baseball player as a child.  It wasn’t just that my hitting was terrible (it was) or that I couldn’t technically “throw the ball” (I couldn’t…I literally rolled it on the ground instead), or even that I was so bad at catching fly balls in the outfield....

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Even Stranger Things

The Netflix original show Stranger Things has been everywhere the past two months.  Especially this week, in response to the announcement that it would indeed return for a second season, this show which functions as an homage to all the great movies in the 1980’s has...

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Grout and Grace

I came to a liberating conclusion last week that I'd like to share with you.     I've finally realized after 12 years of botched home improvement projects, disastrous "fix-upper" ideas and way too many Home Depot trips that I am not gifted in doing house projects....

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The Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan.   It’s easily one of Jesus most famous stories, and a story that most people in our Western culture have likely heard regardless of whether or not they have ever attended church regularly.   It’s a story about caring for those in...

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Dividing Lines

They are here:  http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/05/17/478389720/after-50-year-legal-struggle-mississippi-school-district-ordered-to-desegregate  And here:  http://www.sheboyganpress.com/story/news/local/2016/04/22/autistic-boy-cut-school-concert/83407046/...

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The “Queen Mary” and the Church

It wasn't the worst Thanksgiving ever, but it certainly wasn't the best. About 5 years ago, we decided that instead of cooking the Thanksgiving meal that year we would instead meet the extended family for a Thanksgiving brunch at the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  The...

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Least Direct Path

We took a lot of road trips as a family when I was growing up. Whether we flew some place and rented a car or just drove to the destination over the course of several days, it was a consistent marker of every summer that we spent at least two weeks driving around...

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Our sight

The reactions to our reading of the resurrection story were immediate: "Wait.  Why didn't they see this was what was going to happen?"   "Yeah...What's up them acting so unprepared for this moment?" "Isn't this exactly what he told them would happen?" "Right?  I mean,...

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The Body is a Book

It remains one of the most beautiful and truthful photographs I've ever seen-a picture taken by my sister years ago.* On the surface, it's a simple picture of an old woman's hands in mid-flight as she plays her piano.  Taken in black & white, the contrast in the...

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Cubs Games, Museums and Missed Opportunities

In retrospect, it wasn't the best vacation. Last summer the family and I were ready for some time together.  It had been a wildly busy year for all of us, and due to our busy schedules we had lived like roommates or co-workers rather than a family.  Piano lessons,...

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The weight of the world

I could tell just by the look on her face that she carried the weight of her world. Only a few minutes earlier I had been sitting in my office when I heard a knock at the door.  I opened it and looked out to see a family standing in the church hallway.  A father,...

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Captive of the Future

"I've got bad news for you," the dentist mumbled underneath his plastic face-guard that always looks strangely like the riot helmet of a police officer in Oakland.   "You've got deep pockets." (Honest to God... he said I have "deep pockets.")  And this is where the...

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#Tothetable – a response to terror

Last week as our church gathered, I wondered what to say about Paris, Beirut, Kenya and Baghdad- all these places in the past week that were wounded by violence and terror.  The questions swirled in my head as I drove those ten city blocks to church: "What do I say...

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Willing to Share

Next time you go into a store or restaurant, I want you to try something. I want you to be honest.   Now, what I mean by "honest" here is not that you don't steal from them (well, since this is in writing- go ahead and lets be honest in that way too.)  But, what I...

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A game of tag and the Kingdom of God

It was only a little more than two years ago that we got the news that our small worshipping community was going to find a new home here at Normal Heights UMC.  The Bishop had decided to appoint me as pastor here and to also orchestrate a "church transplant" that...

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To See Unclearly

Every week, Nasa releases a new image online taken by the Hubble Telescope.  They are incredibly clear images of objects, galaxies, stars, and the light of suns from thousands of light-years away.  It boggles the mind really...that we can see so clearly that which...

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COMMUN(i)TY

The other night I walked into a friend's house and immediately was struck by a work of art they had recently purchased while on a vacation.  While at first glance it seemed to be just a tangle of metal supported by a frame, as I walked closer...a vague shape began to...

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Found Treasure

Earlier this week, a diver while searching a Spanish shipwreck from 1715 made a remarkable discovery…over a million dollars in gold coins.  But   what makes this an even better story is that the discovery was captured on video that you can find...

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Watching the Wind

It was really like I had lost control of my body. There I was, riding my bike as quickly as I could, but headed right toward my father’s classic car parked in the driveway. He loved that car. Mint green paint job on a steel body-a classic Ford from the 50’s that...

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Go Set a Watchman: Thoughts on ownership of an ideal

Earlier this week the new novel by Harper Lee was released entitled To Set a Watchman. Unless you were on your way with the New Horizons probe to Pluto, it seems virtually impossible to have missed the discussion and fanfare.  Ever since that moment early last year...

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A Dangerous Dance

The image itself is breath-taking. Not in the sense of remarkable or amazing, but truly in the sense of "taking ones breath."  A high-wire pulled taut between the Twin Towers in Manhattan with a man walking across it.   The year is 1974 and the man is Philippe Petit,...

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like a bad 80’s comedy

And again Jesus began to teach them beside the Orange Julius at the Galleria Mall.  He began to teach them many things using popular sitcoms, DEVO lyrics and bad comedy films, and in his teaching he said to them:  "Listen!  The kingdom of heaven is like the film...

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Gratitude for Derision

Last year the family and I went to Kauai for a week of much-needed vacation.  It had just been an incredibly intense year with church, work, school, our children talking to us and everything else that happens in the morning before you are ready for it.   So for months...

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Functional Atheism

I heard a phrase recently that stuck with me this week…functional atheism.  It’s been used by a number of writers or bloggers over the past couple of years, but it seems as though I’ve heard it a lot more often in these past few weeks.  Functional atheism is generally...

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One person’s junk is another’s…

I never mean to watch it.   I'll just be at home with some spare time before the kids get there and I have to start on dinner, and I'll sit down on the couch, prop up my feet, take a deep breath and start flipping through the stations on tv.   From sports highlights...

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A Thomas Moment

A few years ago, I attended a party where I knew absolutely no one.  It was awful.  As the “new pastor” of the church, I had received a request to attend a local community mixer with other leaders and business owners in the area, and so I had told myself that it was...

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The March of Palms

It was many things...including (and not the least of which) a moment of brilliant political theater.  The Civil Rights movement was gaining increased attention in the South, sympathy was growing for the cause, and yet laws were not being changed.  The same injustices...

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The weight of hope

Malala Yousafzai was a child when she changed the world.  Growing up in northwest Pakistan under brutal Taliban rule, when she was only 12 years old she began to speak out for girls to be educated in Pakistan…a view that quickly put her life in jeopardy because of the...

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Cheap rental cars and John the Baptist

The first thing we noticed was the smell.  Thinking back, I remember that initially it was just quite faint with an odor not unlike plastic that has just gotten too warm.   Being that we were in a new rental car by a Yugoslavian government-operated company in the...

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Time…interrupted

It’s inevitable.  Something goes wrong with the internet connection at home or the cable service and I have to call to get a repair person to come out and fix it.  So I dial the number and I explain my plight and then it happens…every single time.  They tell me...

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Between Cathedrals and Concentration Camps

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than...

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