Refined by Fire

Refined by Fire I had to build a fire today. I repaired some fire bricks with mortar in an outdoor fire area. The mortar package stated that the mortar had to be cured with the gradual heating of a fire. I had to start with kindling and newspaper, and the fire started quickly, the edges of the newspaper curling up and then becoming fiery red. The kindling ignited next, and soon enough, I had a Read more…

Nourishment

I just returned home from a 5-day, 40-mile backpack trip in the wilderness.  Ever since, I have been pondering the concept of nourishment.  While backpacking, all nourishment had to be packed and carried.  And, we could only go so far until we had to have access to a water source.  Nourishment is that which sustains life yielding growth and health.  It seems obvious that nourishment is required for our physical bodies, but nourishment is also necessary in other vectors of Read more…

Spiritual Health Plan

As you know, we at Preparing for Amazement focus on the health of people and congregations. To aid you in thinking through such health, I want to take a moment and consider what it means for congregations to ask the following question focused on spiritual health: How do we practice Sabbath together?  Do you remember when your teacher gave you “busy work” in school just to extend the work of the day? Or do you have a Read more…

Digging up the Weeds

Sometimes I learn some of the strongest spiritual lessons when I’m outside. There’s something about being in God‘s beautiful creation that helps me to stop thinking about my own issues and open my eyes to the bigger picture. I was pulling in weeds in my garden a short time ago. During the previous week, I started pulling weeds that had been left for two years. Unfortunately for the gardener, the weeds were three foot high Read more…

Should I Stay or Go?

We received a knock on our front door a couple weeks ago.  Ms. Rebecca’s daughter had come to deliver a giant box of peanuts.  Ms. Rebecca had passed away, and our kids had been asked to carry on Ms. Rebecca’s legacy of feeding the squirrels every morning.  Although Ms. Rebecca was known in our neighborhood for faithfully feeding the squirrels every morning, more importantly, she was known for her devotion to Jesus and radiant kindness.  What do you want Read more…

Three Kinds of Human Support Ministry Staff Need

Church and ministry staff, especially pastors, need a lot of support from other people. The work is hard, emotional, and isolating. One source of support is just not enough, and there are joys and challenges for each kind of support. Congregational Support Every pastor and church staff member needs some support in their congregation. They need individuals they can trust, talk too, ask for prayer, and be authentic with. This kind of support is often Read more…

Three Reasons for Hope for the Church Right Now

The world is really messy right now. The church in the US is in its most challenging season in history. Working with pastors, ministry leaders and churches I see a lot of conflict and crisis, especially lately. It is really easy to get discouraged, defeated and even hopeless. That said, things are not hopeless. In fact, hope abounds. Here are three reasons I am hopeful for the church right now. God’s faithfulness is not shaped Read more…