Disciples and Disciplines

I never was a fan of the word “discipline.” It sounds too much like “punishment” to me. Not that my parents disciplined me very much. But the term used to leave a bad taste in my mouth, nevertheless. But not any longer. Actually, “discipline” comes from the word for “disciple.” Ah, that makes a huge…

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

I didn’t grow up celebrating a bunch of special Christian days, but I’m finding some of the basics reassuring in these uncertain times. One of those is a hundred-year-old tradition called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It lasts for eight days, usually Jan. 18-25. That’s this week. Even the phrase “Christian unity” may…

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The Map or the Boat?

Author Mark Nepo tells the story of a troubled man who asked for help from a sage.1 The wise man offered him a choice. “Do you want a map or a boat?” The supplicant looked at the many other suffering people around him and answered, “I want the boat.” So the monk told him, “Go,…

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Advent: Time Limits

“The unforced rhythms of grace” – that’s a lovely phrase in The Message version of the Bible for Matthew 11:30. Here are the verses that lead up to it: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to…

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Transforming Time

“You can’t go home again,” says the old adage, and most of us would agree. When we return to the old, familiar places, something has changed. We are different now from who we were back then, and the actual place of “home” is different now, as well: people there have changed from their experiences while…

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Choose Your Story

The story you tell about your experience as a victim can be your prison. But creating a new story, based on the same facts, can be the key to escaping it. None of us likes feeling trapped or imprisoned, so why would we create a story that locks us in? Forgiveness expert Dr. Fred Luskin1…

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Trust: An Opening Heart

Trust makes us vulnerable, but it opens the heart to the riches of each moment. A dear friend, Brenda Sue, gave me The Book of Awakening by poet Mark Nepo. In it, each day of the year has a written reflection, but sometimes I choose to range through the daily pages like a treasure hunter…

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Being, Doing: Finding Balance

Okay so I admit, I’ve been so oriented to doing and achieving all my life that the core of my existence – my being – has felt threatened time and again as I’ve hurried through my daily personal To Do lists. But it’s the being side of living that gives meaning, joy, and a potential…

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One-Liners for Your General Budget

If you’re part of a congregation, no doubt people are starting to talk about program plans for the year ahead. But whatever you initiate, people will need to keep supporting it to keep it going. That requires personal investment in the idea, awareness of the purpose, commitment from volunteers, and enough money for staff time…

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How Can a Narrative Budget Help Us?

Rewritten from a website piece for the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church Budgets aren’t sexy, but they’re necessary. If you’re a church leader, you’re probably thinking about it these days, as you start putting together your programs for the year ahead. A line item budget is a financial form that reports income and…

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Worship’s Deep Water

On a scorching day, it’s amazing how refreshing a simple glass of cold water can be. I have felt this in the summer after a long walk, a hike, or a workout, when the heat seems to suck the life out of my parched mouth. That’s how it tasted this past Saturday when I co-taught…

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Flow

There are times when doing flows into being. Like when a toddler carefully puts the final block on a toy tower he has built. It can happen when an instrumental musician masters an intricate musical passage. Or when a runner completes her most memorable race, her leg muscles burning and lungs nearly exploding, in what…

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Feed the Hungry, Feed Faith

Granted, Heifer Project has been a long-time “go-to” for children’s ministries and Vacation Bible School. But have you looked at it lately? Now called Heifer International, it’s a whole lot more than putting coins in a World Ark1 or buying a dozen baby chicks for a family overseas. Founded back in 1944, the movement to…

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Practicing God’s Presence

In the busi-ness of your responsibilities and the busy-ness of life, how do you stay in touch with God? Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But how do we open up to such stillness within? I recognize this stillness in certain moments, when the illusion of “ordinary” days is drawn…

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Sunday: Why Weekly Worship?

Why do people worship together as a community? Granted, many people have a personal life of devotion, but what is it about communal worship that can help steer our days through life’s uncertainties, traumas, and storms? Whether shared in person or through live streaming, Sunday worship has given me a framework for time lived during…

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