The Smack of Loyalty

With a delicious Irish meat pie sitting on the table, my 4-year-old son looked across the same table and saw a chubby red rubber ball, 13 months his junior. Carefully, with a small elastic string, he tethered his brother to a hard, mischievous paddle.

“Jaaa-ames,” he pulled, “Me going to drink your miii-ilk.”

Smack.

“Jaaa-ames, me going to eat your craaa-kers.”

Smack.

As the “playful” paddling continued, each smack was met with a shrill, vile cry of defiance. Meanwhile, my half-full plate of food steamed in front of me, while a half-empty temper steamed inside of me. The noises were a bloody distraction from my meat and potatoes — like watching a battle unfold on the evening news during supper. Only this was worse — because I had to get involved.

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The Joyful Force

In the fresh, buttery light of morning, a door cracks open from a two-storied brick home. A small boy shuffles away from his cereal-eating and teeth-brushing to descend the steps of the front porch.

He waits for mom on the sidewalk. As the sparrows shoot from the shrubs, his head and body whirl around like R2D2 wearing an oversized backpack.

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The Blues Cry of a Fruit Fly

Consider this: “The ordinary fruit fly can change the direction of its flight by 90 degrees in about 50-thousandths of a second.” In an article published on abcnews.com, Lee Dye points out that this maneuvering “has long puzzled scientists and engineers.”

And when this “feat” takes place during a Sunday morning worship service, count me among the puzzled, too. Continue reading

The Clippings of a Conversation

While Mommy brushed James’ little white teeth with the glittery red strawberry toothpaste, Henry and I knelt beside his bed to wait for bedtime prayers. Just like two adults, we skated over the time with smalltalk. But then I asked him to share his favorite moment from the day.
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“God is on the move!”

I heard something very exciting this morning. My eyes brightened and opened very wide. “God is on the move!” our pastor proclaimed.

Dr. Jay Shetler then took us on a quick trip to a cold and snowy Narnia, when Father Christmas similarly proclaimed that Aslan was on the move, and the Witch’s magic was weakening. Finally, the ice and snow were melting.

As we go about our daily business, if we’re honest, who do we really see as on the move in our lives? Is it ourselves? Someone else? Something else? How often do we find ourselves being pulled by the deceptive charm of an idol? How often do we find ourselves bitter and buried under the weight of some difficulty or pain in our lives? Sometimes we tuck away a quiet awareness of whatever we inwardly proclaim to be moving in our lives — so as not to risk challenging it. But sometimes what is moving stands front, center, and painfully loud. Sometimes it just hurts.

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The Piercing Light of Christ

A few posts ago I mentioned one of my students. One day during class I looked out to see her reading and writing from her Bible. Something wasn’t right with her.

A few days later, I learned that her father was in coma after suffering a massive heart attack. Yesterday, on Easter, I learned that her father passed away. He had eight children, several of whom I’ve had in class over the years.

There is something uncommonly Continue reading

Shining Through Our Mess

A cross embedded in a stained glass window is a beautiful idea. A cross reflecting and refracting God’s light captures a very important dynamic, I think. At night, the cross stands with a heaviness and weight. But in the morning the light pours through the pane, creating a breathtaking moment as it changes our perception and vision of something that represented death and sacrifice just a few hours before.

And though my church doesn’t have any stained glass windows, I can imagine a church that has a cross prominently displayed on a window just above the altar. I can imagine how the cross captured the attention of a congregation first introduced to its beauty and power. But over time, I wonder how many risk growing accustomed to seeing it every week.

Images of crosses are everywhere these days. While we ought to be thankful to live in a culture that allows us to express and share those ideas and symbols which are important to our faith, it’s easy to come to the place where we post them and wear them as casually as an image of a Christmas tree. Continue reading