Showing posts from June, 2013

Get quiet to hear God, slow down to enjoy what God has made

"You work too hard." That's what I heard God saying in my heart as I hiked above Highland Lakes in the high Sierras. I was able to hear God talking more clearly than usual because I was on a two-day silent retreat. No distractions. No one else to talk to. No books from my extensive library.  Just long, unhurried conversations with God. In the silence, I was able to perceive his still, small voice.

By the way, that is the longest I have ever been silent, and it's the most concentrated retreat I have taken to date. I highly recommend a retreat like this. It was a game-changer for me.

The first afternoon, I was headed from the top of a ridge to a spot on a neighboring ridge so I could get a panoramic view of the valley where I was camping. I am an achievement-oriented person, so I got focused on getting from point A to point B. I marched forward and started climbing up the ridge. God said, "You work too hard. You need to enjoy the journey."

I'm not all th…

A prayer exercise that helped me hear God this morning.

I want to recommend to you an exercise I took up this morning -- rewriting a Psalm in my own words. I had been feeling like I was a little hard of hearing in my relationship with God, but this exercise opened up my ears. I was surprised at the ways God spoke to me.

Here's the really brief backstory. Recently I felt I needed to do something concentrated in my devotional life, so I picked up a book written by my friend and former spiritual director, Larry Warner. Larry is an expert in traditional Christian spirituality, especially that of Saint Ignatius. I opened the book and dove in.

Warner has all sorts of exercises to do along the way, but none has been more powerful than this morning's. I was to rewrite Psalm 136, replacing the first line from each verse with an event in my own life experience. Here's a sample of what Psalm 136 looks like:
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
     His faithful love endures forever.   Give thanks to him who placed the ear…

The bittersweet reality of graduations

In just under three hours, Susan and I will no longer have any kids in elementary school. I'm not sure either of us has caught up with that reality. We are excited Nathaniel is graduating from elementary school today, but elementary school represents an innocent and often magical period of life, and it's sad to think we as parents will no longer be part of that world.

Graduations are good at stirring up these bittersweet emotions. This morning as I was walking with Nathaniel and his class to their final field day, I ran into a friend whose oldest child is finishing kindergarten. He was feeling the bittersweet too. He's proud of his daughter, but he wasn't ready to let go of kindergarten yet. I understand!

Today I'm thanking God for Nathaniel's big personality and his wild ride through elementary school. I'm thankful for his teachers who poured their energy into seeing him excel. I'm remembering the open houses, field trips, and parent-teacher conference…

Five simple ways to show Jesus to the local community

As Christians, we talk about showing Jesus to the local community. It is a crucially important part of what we do to live generously in the world. And if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. Here are five tips on showing Jesus to the local community.

1. Show up spiritually prepared Dallas Willard taught that whatever we do in a particular moment is shaped by how we have been living prior to that moment. If you have been cultivating a responsive life with Jesus in your day-to-day life, you will be best prepared for him to shine through you when important moments come. And interfacing with the local community is always an important moment. Willard lamented that many Christians seem to conduct their spiritual lives "sloppily," so when they need to demonstrate Jesus, they aren't ready. To help Christians show up prepared, Willard taught extensively about spiritual habits like praying, worshiping, giving, serving, reading Scripture, fasting, and so on. Willard is a…

Take the time to participate in your kids' lives

I can't believe I almost let work take me away from experiencing one of the most special weeks of my
son's life. Parents, this goes out to you. Be present with your kid, even if you feel like you don't have time.

I pastor a small local church, and there's always more work to do than time to do it. So when I got the chance to go on a four-day field trip with my son's 5th-grade to a camp in the redwood forest in Northern California, I had mixed feelings. I have gone on a field trip every year except one since 1998. It's one of those things I wanted to do so I could participate in special events in my kids' lives. I have loved doing this. I get to see how my kids interact with their schoolmates and teachers. You learn a lot on field trips.

This particular trip was the last elementary school trip for our kids. I didn't want to miss it. On the other hand, I was thinking about four whole days away from work. That also means three nights of insufficient sleep…