Thursday, November 21, 2013


I love going to worship on Sunday morning…except when I don’t feel like it.

I anticipate being in worship, singing songs of praise and adoration to the Lord and hearing a message from the Word of the Lord. But there are times I just want to be quiet and other times I just want to sit and cry. I have yet to go to a worship service that makes room for stillness or sorrow.

A number of years ago, I sat in a seminar with musical artist and theologian Michael Card as he explained how there seemed to be so little space given in our worship to sorrow and pain. It was as if worship was only meant to be uplifting and refreshing. For those experiencing loss, depression or distance from God, this continual diet of worship left no room for them. What language was there for them to seek God?

Michael suggested that we need to recapture the lost language of lament. Lamentation is the language of crying out to the Lord in our pain or sorrow and asking for His intervention or at least His perspective. When I consider that half of the book of Psalms from which we derive much praise language is written in the language of lament, this makes a lot of sense.

There have been some Sunday mornings when I have sat in worship, wishing someone would give me space to grieve. I have been asked if we could make space for quiet so that people could personally engage with God in whatever they are feeling. I think we need more mourning worship services.

I propose we set aside a few Sundays in the church year for lamenting. There are things we all can lament. We could lament our sin and penchant for wandering from the Lord and His call. We could lament the losses of the past season, be it a few months or a year. Maybe we could take a service and lament the passing of people in the congregation rather than just making it small part of our announcement or prayer.

To put this all in perspective, biblical lament does not focus solely on the circumstances of loss or pain. As Card points out, each lament rests on a fulcrum, a balancing point that starts heavy with the pain, but moves to expressions of faith and trust in the Lord. True lament cries and wails in sorrow, and then pivots to whispers and sighs of faith and confidence.

This finds its way into worship through prayers and songs of praise that rise from hurting souls that have found release into worship. As people find they can release their pain into the hands of the Father, they also can pivot to express their trust and confess their confidence that the Father has heard and accepted their cries – or should I say OUR cries.

This is my modest proposal. Can we make some generous room in our worship for lament?

For further reading:

A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament (Michael Card, 2005)

The Hidden Face of God: Finding the Missing Door to the Father through Lament (Michael Card, 2007)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


You have heard of faithfulness, holiness, mercy, and love.  The Lord exhibits these traits towards us and we seek to show them as followers of Christ.  There is one trait that does not get as much press.  Thanks to an Israelite king, I began pondering it.

Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his place and strengthened himself against Israel. He placed forces in all the fortified cities of Judah and set garrisons in the land of Judah, and in the cities of Ephraim that Asa his father had captured. The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the earlier ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father and walked in his commandments, and not according to the practices of Israel. Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand. And all Judah brought tribute to Jehoshaphat, and he had great riches and honor. His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord. And furthermore, he took the high places and the Asherim out of Judah. (2 Chronicles 17:1-6)

I usually do not consider courage as a Christ-follower trait because the land I live in allows me the freedom to worship as my conscience allows.  In some countries, courage is a necessity.

So why was it necessary for Jehoshaphat?  He was the king and one of the Chosen People.  Why did he need courage?  He needed it because his actions bucked the status quo.  He took on the popular practices and traditions that took root among the people after the days of Moses and Joshua.  During David's time, they were more muted.  After David, they came back with a vengeance.

The king's father and grandfather and great-grandfather were considered good kings.  But they let the practices of idolatry continue in their midst.  Jehoshaphat decided enough was enough.  He did not order the practices to cease.  He went out himself and destroyed the idols.  He sent teachers to the people to direct them to the Lord.  He took on the status quo and he was successful in the Lord.

I enjoy the freedom of this country.  That same freedom and its comforts easily lull me into going with the flow.  Why rock a boat that is drifting well with no waves around? 

Yet truly waves will come.  Will I be able to stay with the boat?  Do I need to get out of the boat as Jesus comes close and bids me go a new direction?  If change is absolutely necessary, am I willing to strike out alone if no one else wants to go with me?

Jehoshaphat was courageous in heart.  He did not let the status quo become his measuring rod.  As a Christ-follower, I feel the need today for the same courage.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.  It's as if they are showing you the way.   - Donald Miller

I snatched this quote from Reader's Digest before I tossed out the old magazine.  I pondered the quote after my first reading.  What do I love and what would I want others to be excited about? 

I first thought of foosball and how my girls enjoy a rousing game - especially if it means beating dad.  They love the game and play it when they can and it started with us.  It started with my enjoyment of the game passed on to them.

I enjoy the Hebrew language.  When I first studied Hebrew, it was to fill a requirement in my M.Div. program.  But taking Hebrew from Allen Guenther and Elmer Martens was not about requirements.  It was about learning to love a language they both loved.  I still remember Allen saying with fire, "Read the Hebrew Scriptures in the original even if you cannot translate it all.  It will transform you!"  I know he meant the transformation would come through the reading of the Word, but I could tell he was full of passion for its original language.

How we love something will tell others how important it is.  Take the disciples of Jesus.  I don't mean the ones in the Bible,  I mean the ones who worship each week in churches and join for Bible study and prayer groups.  I mean the disciples who live today and confess their love for the Lord.  Would you follow Jesus based on what you see?

Jesus said that the world would know who his followers were by their love for each other.  Is this evident among the followers of Jesus today?

The intent of these questions is both reflective and evaluative.  I mean to make the followers of Jesus (of which I am one) consider how their lives demonstrate a passionate love for the Savior.  It is also evaluative.  Do we have a love for Jesus that would cause someone else to take notice and want to love Him  as well?

I really hope I demonstrate that kind of love.  If others do not see it, then I pray that the Lord will continue to draw that kind of love out of me and that my love for Jesus will cause followers and seekers of Jesus to want to love Him more.

It is not like we are without an example.  See what kind of love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God.  And that is what we are.  1 John 3

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This particular blog opened up a few months ago, but I am slowly migrating my writing from a former blog to this one.  As I do, those past writings will show up with the date and time they originally appeared.  Just thought I'd let you know.


Satan is more than willing to let us think whatever we want about ourselves as long as it doesn't line up with what God really thinks of us.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Tonight was Clovis East's baccalaureate.  It was a time of celebrating faith and the future of our graduates.  The class asked Anthony Flores of Adventure Community Church to speak.  His message was simple.  As a person who was running from God in high school, he came to a place where he now follows God passionately and wants others to do the same.

So to the class of 2013, he gave this challenge - die empty.  He told the story of a young man seeking riches and he was directed to a cemetery wherein lied the paintings left undone, the stories left untold, the songs left unwritten, and the dreams left unlived.  Anthony said that when he stood before Jesus, he wanted to be able to say, "Lord, I left it all down there for your glory.  I lived to fullest to serve and honor you and I died empty."

What a challenge!  I know we are encouraged to live boldly and amass whatever makes us happy, be it memories, money, adventure, collectibles, etc.  What if we lived boldly and saw how much we could give away for the sake of the kingdom?  What if the parable of the rich young ruler came to life because we learned to give more away than we tried to keep, particularly in light of promoting and advancing the kingdom of God and His grace and justice?

Anthony spoke with passion and I am glad I was present to hear what he had to say.  It might have been directed at the graduates, but it was meant for me.

Monday, May 27, 2013


My aim is to follow Jesus - to learn, live, love and serve as Jesus did...and invite others to do the same.

You probably read this at the top of my blog.  If you did, one of those items porbably stood out among the rest.  Most people I think would get the live, love and serve like Jesus, but what about learn?

I am indebted to Bill Hull ( for this idea.

When Jesus was hear, he learned to operate within his finite world after laying down his right to his infinite state of being as Lord of the Universe.  Hebrews 5:8 tells us, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered."  Jesus learned a whole new way of relying on His father.  

So it is my aim to imitate Christ.  I am not just trying to imitate Him in what He did, but also to imitate Him in character and style.  I want to be like Him in how He learned so that I might also learn well. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Max Lucado tells a story about a man who had a beautiful horse, the most beautiful in the kingdom.  Through a series of events, the man looses the horse, gains it back with 10 more, has to care for his injured son who then cannot go off to war for the king.  With each turn of events, the people around him find reason to judge his circumstances either blessed or curse depending on how they view event.  With each turn, the man urges people to not judge the circumstance a blessing or a curse.  Each circumstance was what it was.  It was beyond anyone's understanding to decide if the event was a reward or punishment, a blessing or a curse.

This story came to my memory today as I sat and evaluated a number of events where things did not seem to be of much benefit to me or my family.  It did not feel good to go through any of them.  But was the outcome of any of them a blessing or curse?  Was it for our best or was something at work keeping me from enjoying a good thing?

The wisdom of Max's story became apparent to me.  I cannot tell if something is blessing or curse.  I cannot tell if a good thing was kept from me or if I was kept from a disaster.  I am left thinking that it is too wonderful for me to see beyond my circumstances or the circumstances of others to know what is really the best.

As I ponder this reality, another thought comes to mind.  The Lord I serve does know what is the outcomes mean.  He understands what He purposes and what He can make of each event, be it trial or victory.  He told a group huddled in exile, wondering if they would ever see home again, "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

He used a man named Paul to remind me that, "God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

These are well known Scripture passages to many who follow Jesus.  They are comforting because we trust that He DOES have our best in mine.  They are challenging because it means I let go of wondering and worrying what my circumstances mean.  I continue to follow faithfully and patiently.  The one who works it all for good and knows what the plan is will cause it all to make sense at the right time.