When Your Partner’s Faith Doesn’t Match Yours

When Your Partner’s Faith Doesn’t Match Yours

Several years ago I was at a women’s Bible study when the topic turned to family life. One by one, many of the women shared a sadness about their partner’s faith life. One women was in a mixed-belief marriage with formerly religious man. Although her husband still went to church with her, he did it reluctantly. The grief over the death of this part of their relationship was deep. One woman was less religious than her husband and found his…

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When Words Fail

When Words Fail

It’s been one of those weeks when words just can’t keep up with my prayers. I, like you, find myself tripping over my concerns, my heart barely getting traction to lift up one thing when the next thing comes barreling down. Now, we know God hears all prayers–from the carefully worded prayers we pray in public to the unintelligible gasps of joy or sorrow in life’s deepest moments. So I’m not particularly worried about making sure God’s listening. But prayer…

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Progressive Christians: It’s Time to Get Louder

Progressive Christians: It’s Time to Get Louder

I’ve been a “progressive Christian” for as long as I can remember. (Ok, I did a brief stint of evangelicalism in late high school/early college, which led to a crisis of faith and is the subject of a much longer post.) The point is, that for as long as I’ve been Christian, I’ve been a Christian who isn’t “like that.” After I was ordained, I felt like the only way to introduce myself was “I’m a pastor, but not that…

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Stop Searching for Security and Start Building Confidence

Stop Searching for Security and Start Building Confidence

If you happen to be up late at night surfing the internet or watching television–or maybe even both at the same time (as one does to relax after a long day), you’ll find yourself inundated with ads like this: “Protect your future, buy gold!” “Protect your home, buy insurance!” “Protect your children, see a financial planner!” All of these, of course, are accompanied by bleak visions of what happens when we fail to do any of these things. By the…

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Making Peace with Prayer

Making Peace with Prayer

Martha McMarthason (not her real name) was the queen of prayer in my small hometown. “I’ll pray for you,” was her answer for everything. I don’t know whether she did–although I always suspected she didn’t. Instead, she wielded these words like a weapon, shutting down everyone who said or did something she didn’t approve of. “I haven’t seen you in church in a while. I’ll pray for you.” “I saw you eat an extra cupcake at the school party. I’ll…

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The Fine Art of Presence

The Fine Art of Presence

“You have nice teeth.” Ellen peers into my mouth with the studiousness of a scientist. “Who’s your dentist?” She asks. I explain, again, that my dentist’s office is in a nearby town. She responds, again, that she doesn’t know him but her husband was a dentist right down the street. Ellen is a hospice client I’ve been visiting. I know her only through the veil of her dementia, which caused her to be sullen and angry much of the time….

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Transformation Begins in Slowing Down

Transformation Begins in Slowing Down

Well, it’s over. By the time you read this, you might have eaten 6 weeks worth of chocolate or binge watched Netflix or put away whatever spiritual practice you took on. Me? I plan to put Easter decorations away and finish projects that got set aside the hubbub of Holy Week.   Life will be back to normal, hallelujah and praise be to God. This is, of course, exactly not the point of Easter. Every year I do this, though–invest…

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What We Mean When We Talk About Sin and Salvation

What We Mean When We Talk About Sin and Salvation

Holy Week has arrived with all of its theological baggage. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love Holy Week. It’s one of those times in the year when we immerse ourselves in the stories, discovering that no matter how many times we tell and retell them, there’s always more to discover. But for many people, Holy Week also brings with it memories of guilt-laden, gore-filled teachings meant to impose the sense of seriousness and moral responsibility necessary to fully appreciate the…

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Prayer Stations for a Families

Prayer Stations for a Families

Last Sunday we used prayer stations in worship, something we do every couple months. If you’re not familiar with prayer stations, they’re simply tables set up with different prayer ideas. People wander to each station as they like, spending time wherever they feel most drawn. I like them because they lend themselves to intergenerational worship, giving both kids and adults the space to connect to God at their own pace. Like the labyrinth, walking prayer or prayer beads, they also…

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3 Questions for Your Lent Journey (Even if you don’t do Lent)

3 Questions for Your Lent Journey (Even if you don’t do Lent)

So, how’s Lent going for you? Like this?   Or more like this? Did you give something up? Take something on? Scrap the whole idea? I sort of slipped into the season. I got a head start by taking on my spiritual practice a little before Lent officially started. But then things went downhill. By Sunday, I realized I’d already lapsed. Five days in, for those counting. Naturally, I was tempted to throw in the towel then and there. If I…

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