Warm Hearted Waiting in a Cold Season

Advent dates back to the mid-sixth century. By the 13th century, the whole church recognized the four Sundays leading up to Christmas as a period of preparation for Christ’s coming. If Christmas is a birthday party for Jesus, then Advent is a time to ponder what that birth means—and the fact that Christ changes everything. […]

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Thanksgiving 2014: A Mid-November Meditation

It is truly sad that Thanksgiving has become little more than the opening act for a season of spendthrift Christmas shopping. Gratitude for what we have has too often given way to a quest for more of what we don’t need.. Increasingly, the verb that describes what we do on Thanksgiving is no longer “thanking” […]

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Part of God’s Family or Just an Employee?

While working my way through Romans 8 recently, I was struck by how Paul described the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of adoption” (Romans 8:13-17).  I got to thinking about this because I realized that I spent a fair amount of time in Christian ministry thinking of myself as God’s employee rather than as God’s […]

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A November Meditation: Thanksgiving, 2013

New Hampshire’s leaves are pretty much down now, and though the color has dimmed, they still exude a copper or even golden glow in the late afternoon sun as the wind swirls them over the ground. The snow has not yet made its appearance, but it teases us with flurries. In the old days, when […]

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Following the Horses in the American Parade

Protestant churches follow American culture much like the man with the broom and shovel follows the horses in a parade. Liberal Protestants can be counted on to fit their ever shrinking theology into latest intellectual fashions. Evangelicals, while largely oblivious to the intellectual fashions of the past 150 years, can be reliably counted on to […]

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A Break in Our Routine: New York as a Sabbath Rest

So, if you host a retreat center in the hills and forests of New Hampshire, where do you go when you want a break?  Answer: New York! And I’m not referring to the Catskills or Adirondacks, either. Jill and I spent the past weekend visiting our younger son who lives in Queens and works at […]

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The Sabbath: Life, Limits & The Pursuit of Happiness

If you would like a genuine spiritual experience, here’s a suggestion. Next time you’re out and about on a Sunday afternoon—let’s say you’re coming home from church—and you stop by the local supermarket or big box store to “pick up a few things,” do this: When you enter the store, pause for a moment and […]

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Woodstoves and the Spiritual Life

Learning how to use a woodstove isn’t all that complicated until you actually buy one. You would think that, once it’s installed, all you would have to do is put wood in it, light a match, and then close its door. However, for those of us who grew up in Southern California, where people’s heaviest […]

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Pastor, Going to a Conference Is Not the Same Thing as Going on a Retreat!

Pastors go to conferences and workshops to get information they can use. They go on personal retreats so that God can use them. Conferences give information about the way things should be or can be in a church. Personal retreats are where God opens your eyes to the way things really are in a church—good […]

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Christmas: The Remodeling Job Begins

Many years ago, an acquaintance told me that the hardest thing to do, the first time you remodel a house, is to pick up a hammer and start tearing out your first wall. This is hard, he said, because once you start ripping out the wall, you know that you’ve just committed yourself to a […]

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