Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
A couple of weeks ago I led a workshop at the Festival of Homiletics called The Word in a 140-Character World: Faithful Preaching in the Digital Age. It was a variation on the Spirituality in the Smartphone Age material I’ve been presenting for a while now. I speak and write a lot about technology, and at the heart of much of my work is discernment.
Worship doesn’t always work. It doesn’t work when your student pianist can’t get through a whole hymn verse without stopping and starting three times. Or when the toddler who accidentally bumps his head drowns out your sermon’s climactic crescendo with his screams. Or when your congregation, who faithfully shows up Sunday morning after a long weekend of mission projects, only has enough energy left to go through the motions. Worship experiences are certainly not all under our control. I work hard at worship, though, because I believe it deserves my hard work.
Years ago I was turned onto a quote from my friend Amy’s Facebook page. I remember reading it over and over again back then— thinking about how true the paradox was. Life is full of both beautiful and terrible things. But, lately I think of these words all the time: This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) That, folks, is the worst verse in all of holy scripture. Many Christians, though, love it. I hate it.
It was the strangest thing. I was heaving my way through a book by Creflo A. Dollar, one of the most potent purveyors of prosperity preaching in the United States.
First, a confession: I’m not a big fan of my birthday. Actually that’s not quite accurate. I like my birthday just fine, but as an inherently private person I’m not a big fan of others’ expectations of how I should spend my birthday, so I’m deliberate about keeping the actual date under wraps.
I would never make it as an accountant. I tend to lose focus on details, and I’ve never been too motivated about dollars and cents. Plus I can get philosophical on something as simple as mathematical functions like subtract or multiply. What to some might look like subtraction, a reduction in the bottom line, in God’s economy can be multiplication, compounding and expanding in every direction.
A few years ago, during a vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a place where my family and I go every couple of years), my children were playing with their cousins on the beach. I was taking photos as they frolicked in the gentle surf along the wide expanse of seemingly endless ocean. There were sea and beach creatures, along with colorful shells, that also caught my photo snapping attention. Somewhere in the midst of my attempts at capturing as many “Kodak moments” as I could, I lost my footing and fell.