A Cycle of Grace

Written for Voices and Silences, 2003 Grace, Giftedness, Giving and Growth – these four words, from Clif Christopher and Herb Mather’s book, Holy Smoke!, prompted me to reflect on these themes in my life. For me, they flow in a cycle, a deepening spiral, which begins and ends with God’s grace. From God’s side, it’s…

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Foundation Statement on Stewardship

Written for the General Board of Discipleship, The United Methodist Church, 2010 Stewardship is whatever we do with what God has entrusted to us by the way that we live. In response to God’s outpouring love and covenant faithfulness, we live out of God’s abundance instead of the illusion of scarcity thinking. We seek to…

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Genesis and the Image of God

“Our soul is our true self, the essence of who we are, seeking to grow more and more into the image of God,” says Growing Generous Souls,1 pondering Genesis 1:26-27. But what is the image of God? Beyond that book’s couple of paragraphs, here are a few further reflections. Some renowned Bible scholars confirm the…

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Our Identity in Christ

What Jesus said and did in the Gospels are signs of who he is. But how do we apply that to who we are in Christ? Where else can we turn to find additional guidance about who we are because of Christ’s work in our lives? Colossians 3:8-17 can help us see the shape of…

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Autumn: Why and Now

This is the first week of fall, and I’m beginning to see the signs. When I lived in Europe, the seasons changed dramatically from one day to the next, and they certainly do in other parts of this nation and the world. But in Northern California it’s usually a more subtle change. The night temperature…

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Freedom from Fear

Freedom from fear is not an esoteric neverland. Some of us – maybe most of us – have seen it in a person’s action or life at some time. A rescuer saves a child from a fire or flood. A wartime buddy aids a soldier, or a stranger helps someone stranded by the road. A…

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Rooted, Grounded, Grateful

A sense of belonging is essential. Even for our “I Did It My Way” culture, almost all of us need to have a feeling of connection with others, that we’re not out in life all alone. More than that, most of us need to know that we come from somewhere, that our personal history has…

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Saints and the Search for Moral Presence

Today is All Saints Day, so it’s appropriate to think about the saints in our lives and world. These days, every day seems to be the opposite of saintly: national brink-of-war tactics, political partisan diatribes, hate crimes, and horrendous violence. So maybe All Saints Day is really important right now, whether we ascribe to official…

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Breathing in the Image of God

In my latest book, Growing Generous Souls (soon to be published), I wrote about ways we can grow increasingly into “the image of God.” God sees us, not just how we have been or are now, but how we can become more radiant with God’s love, both within who we are and in our relationships…

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John Wesley’s Creation Theology

The four sources of authority for John Wesley – Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience – have long been an important decision-making guideline for me. As a lifelong camper, I’ve tended to see this “quadrilateral” as the four corners of a tent with the crossbar of Jesus Christ holding them together in the center. Some people’s…

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Stewardship in Living Context

I was thrilled to learn about the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s plans for resourcing churches starting next year! When our Resource Editorial Team met today, we heard about future possibilities for congregational resourcing, networking opportunities, and the growth of a digital stewardship library. For many years, the Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine has…

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Stephen Hawking: A Vast Legacy

I learned a long time ago that if math is the language of the cosmos, I’m in big trouble! But A Brief History of Time, by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, gave me a whole new way of seeing the universe and imagining it beyond any ability to view or comprehend. Don’t get me wrong: I…

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Assets and Liabilities

“Generosity is a spiritual disposition, not a quantifiable percentage of income,” said author James Hudnut-Beumler in Generous Saints. Generous people are grateful to God, affirming that “they know their worth comes from God, and not from money – not from money earned, hoarded, spent to purchase things, or used to exercise power.” 1 As I…

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Pursuing Possessions

Jesus says that what we pursue is what we treasure (Luke 12:33-34). The trouble with pursuing wealth as a source of security, adds author Sondra Ely Wheeler, 1 is that “it usurps God’s role as source and measure and guarantor of life.” By contrast, Wheeler notes, the Book of Luke lays out “a confidence of…

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The Morning-After Net

It’s doubly hard when a dream turns to dust, when people who have gone through a dramatic life event (a significant relationship, a turn-around experience) see all the goodness vanish. The dream dies, our new life doesn’t pan out, loved ones drifts away. Unsure of what to do, we ask ourselves, Can I go back…

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