Grace Strikes Us

Feb 24, 2021

When our lives feel like painful blow after painful blow, we need a sense of the reality of God. I recently revisited a book I read in seminary thirty years ago or more by my preaching professor, Ian Pitt-Watson. In it, he shares some lines from Paul Tillich about experiencing the grace of God.

 

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our...

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Fitness for Your Soul

Feb 17, 2021

Over the years, as I engaged in exercise, I’ve collected some random tips from various fitness instructors. I’ve been able to narrow some of these ideas into an acronym that may help you as you continue to lean into this new year.

 

Just remember ARC: Ability, Rhythm and Core.

 

A is for Ability – The instructor would often say things like, “Listen to your body. Only do what you can do. Stretch yourself, but not to the point of pain.”

 

This is...

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Restoration, Grace and Salvation

Feb 10, 2021

Restoration, grace and salvation are all words of good news. Don’t we need a bit of good news these days? There has been so much hard news over the last year.

 

I caught a vision for these words thanks to a prolific songwriter in the days of King David. He was a sort of musician-in-residence in those days because of his grace and skill. Listen to this chorus from one of his psalms:

 

Restore us, God Almighty;

...

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Learning to See the Day

Feb 03, 2021

As was typical of a season long ago, I had a pile of little boys in the back of my red minivan. We were driving down the street toward our home when I noticed some unusual dark grey storm clouds in the sky. Behind the clouds was a glowing blue sky, with splashes of pink and gold.

 

It was the beginning of sunset, and, evidently, my then 4-year-old son had never seen the sky exactly like that before.

 

“I never saw today!” he exclaimed as he peered out the van window,...

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Morning Coffee, Morning Communion

Jan 27, 2021

I start most mornings by making my favorite cup of coffee. It starts with some hand-roasted beans. I roast them by the half-pound on our BBQ propane burner using a Whirly-Pop popcorn maker. I grind the beans by hand with a manual grinder. I measure precise grams of ground coffee to precise grams of water. I preheat my mug because I enjoy my coffee as hot as I can get it. I use a one-serving French press because I’m the only regular coffee drinker in our family. I lightly heat the heavy...

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Being Guided Along Unfamiliar Paths

Jan 13, 2021

 

A new year hasn’t brought as much change as I’d hoped it might as we came to the end of a hard 2020. What has been your experience? I can’t think of anyone who predicted a year ago what we would be facing and experiencing today. Sometimes I feel like a blind man being led somewhere I’ve never been. Does that sound familiar?

 

That’s why I was so helped when I recently read one of the prophecies of Isaiah that said something along the same lines:

...

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Happy Thanksgiving from Alan & Gem

Nov 25, 2020

You are likely already unplugged this week because Thanksgiving is tomorrow (in the U.S.) So we’re going to keep it very simple today.

 

We are so thankful for you, our email and blog friends! We know that we don’t know most of you personally. And yet you continue to let us into your email box and into your heart as we try to bring encouragement to you week by week.

 

Thank you for the honor of being a voice in your ear. Our deep desire is that you experience the love of...

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Thoughts on the Love of God

Nov 18, 2020

God is love. There is hardly a more meaningful sentence that short in the English language.

 

A while back I was reading C. S. Lewis about the love of God. He reminds us that for God to be love since before the beginning of time and creation, God has to be more than one person. Love is relational and requires at least two persons.

 

In fact, the Christian idea of God as three persons says that the love that the Father and the Son share is so substantial that it too is a...

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How Can Love Relieve Decision Fatigue?

Nov 11, 2020

Do you ever suffer from decision fatigue? I have been feeling it more often lately.

 

Think about how many decisions we have to make:

 

One set of decisions: What house do I live in? What city do I move to? What job do I take? Where are my kids go to school? Where should I retire?

 

Another set of decisions: Who do I vote for? What is my involvement with social justice? How do I manage the ongoing dynamics of the pandemic?

 

And what about the mundane overwhelm of trying...

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Under Construction: Every Stage Matters

Oct 28, 2020

A few years ago, Alan and I visited the Chicago area. We had the privilege of being with our publisher, InterVarsity Press. They had just come off a very busy and challenging 18-month project to overhaul their IT systems. We were able to be with them on a day set aside for refreshment, training and celebration.

 

To say they were tired is an understatement. Taking something old and replacing it with something new can be a herculean task. The end product will serve the organization much...

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