Back in my high school days, I wasn’t known for having the keenest sense of direction. (Fine. I’m still not known for having the keenest sense of direction.) Without a navigational system constantly chirping instructions at me, I’d be more lost than a goose in a snowstorm. But when my GPS is whirring away, I can sit back and enjoy the ride.
Until the signal cuts out or I make a wrong turn at a tricky intersection. Then my pulse starts to race, my thoughts spiral, and I just know the world is about to end. (This might sound the slightest bit melodramatic to you. It does to me, too.) At that point, my best option is to pull over and reorient myself. Punch a few buttons, and bam! That beautiful word—”recalculating.” I can hop back on the road and reach my destination with the thrill of adventure rather than lingering dread.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on July 13, 2019. You can find it here.)
It’s startling how quickly anointing can become annoyance in ministry life.
The king groaned and closed his window to shut out the jubilant roars. Responsibility weighed heavy on his shoulders, and now heaps of ingratitude from those people—God’s people!—nearly drove him to his knees. Nearly. Here he had been faithfully serving (for the most part) a nation of unruly souls with no one to lean on but the God who seemed bent on taking away his crown.
The story of Horatio Spafford reads much like that of Job in the Bible, compounding calamity upon calamity at what seems to the average onlooker a bizarre rate. A crushed career. His city ablaze. Financial ruin. Four daughters drowned at sea. A son—his namesake—taken by scarlet fever. And from the depths of this man on the proverbial ash heap, a string of words too heavy for even the hardiest of Pollyannas is penned: “It is well with my soul.”
When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Repentance: (n) to reorient away from sin and toward God; effective for kingdom entrance and daily maintenance of spiritual vitality
Last January, God began working on me in the area of repentance. He gently pointed out that I had no idea what it was meant to be, how I was dismissing one of the greatest gifts of the gospel. I’m pleased to announce to you all that, after a year of hard work, I have now arrived. I’m awesome at repentance and have no more need of it.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on March 4, 2019. You can find it here.)
“To be, or not to be?” “What’s love got to do, got to do, with it?” “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”
Questions have always held a deep fascination for me, but pretty early on I learned to stick to what’s known and acceptable. I’d be doing just fine, marching along to everybody else’s drum, when that dang inquisitive streak—the one that made Sunday school teachers constantly run for cover—would raise its hand. Little me figured out that periods bring relief, while question marks bring consternation.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on January 28, 2019. You can find it here.)
Go-getter. Independent. Fearless. Capable. In the American economy, these are titles worth striving for, and strive we do. We strive until our peace is shot-through with bullet holes, our families have learned to function without us, and our souls are withered and whimpering. “Arm yourselves!” is the new battle cry of the republic, and much of the church rushes to answer.
We had a bit of a family health scare this fall when my father-in-law was rushed to the hospital. (This is no measly man, either, people—he’s a big-boned firefighter with a fondness for Harleys and construction work.) The culprit? Dehydration. No matter how strong or fit we may be, our bodies need water to survive, and so do our souls.
So you’ve sat with your mess for a while. The jumble of life (inward, outward, or both) has been bravely acknowledged. You’ve managed to draw close to Jesus in the middle of the chaos, and He assures you it has no power to define who you are. What a cool place to start untangling the strands, right? (If you have no clue what this looks like, check out last week’s post.)
A practical tip: this process is a million times more pleasant if you begin by lighting a candle and turning on some good music. You’re establishing a rhythm to work by already, and it’s exerting your God-given authority over decay.
You know that season of life where everything falls into place? Where each responsibility is a personal joy and gets fulfilled with prompt excellence? The season that allows you to balance work and rest, and where both are equally satisfying? Where birds harmonize with your cheerful wake-up tune and laundry folds itself?
Dentist appointments. Eye exams. Annual physicals. Though not particularly fun, they are helpful. We’re not talking anything earth-shattering or life-changing here; just routine evaluations to keep the body as healthy as possible. Many people don’t think twice about prioritizing their physical well-being in scheduling these checkups (while I haven’t been to a dentist in the last decade). These exams establish a baseline and make it easy to spot possible signs of danger early. But when was the last time you evaluated your spiritual health?