• Faith Reflections,  My Life

    Basketball and God

    I doubt many folks think of God when they think of basketball. I’m sure a multitude of prayers have been lifted up from courts and stands across the nation with the desperate hope of a buzzer-beating shot. But on the daily, not so much. I certainly didn’t relate the two until a couple of months ago. I was in the middle of a personal retreat, wrestling with my soul-crushing inability to allow God’s love to define my worth rather than work and ministry. It was an agonizing couple of days struggling to traverse the deep canyon from head knowledge to heart knowledge. My head knows God’s unconditional love constitutes my worth. My heart, however, tends to think God is far too nice to hurt my feelings by telling me how much I’ve disappointed him. Maybe God doesn’t even realize he is disappointed. Maybe he isn’t being honest with himself. But I know. Which makes me feel worse so I work even harder to be worthy of His love and…

  • Faith Reflections

    A Prayer for Peace Within

    Oh God, gather me now to be with you as you are with me. Soothe my tiredness; quiet my fretfulness; curb my aimlessness; relieve my complusiveness; let me be easy for a moment. O Lord, release me from the fears and guilts which grip me so tightly; from the expectations and opinions which I so tightly grip, that I may be open to receiving what you give, to risking something genuinely new, to learning something refreshingly different. Forgive me for claiming so much for myself that I leave no room for gratitude; for confusing exercises in self-importance with acceptance of self-worth; for complaining so much of my burdens that I become a burden; for competing against others so insidiously that I stifle celebrating them and receiving your blessing through their gifts. O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me. Amen. Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace

  • Faith Reflections

    Proper Posture Matters

    The following is the text from my sermon on June 12, 2016 at FBC JC. The lectionary text was Psalm 5.  You can also listen to the audio file here. Sit up straight. Shoulders back. Stop slouching. Both feet on the floor. Some of you just heard your mother’s voice and, without thinking, adjusted your posture. Those are but a few of the marching orders of proper posture. Last week on our senior trip to Virginia we had a discussion one night over dinner about the “elbows off the table” rule. There is an old saying, “Mable, Mable, strong and able, keep your elbows off the table, this is not a horse’s stable, but a fancy dining table.” Any of you ever heard that before?   None of us around the table knew the official reason “no elbows on the table” is proper but we took some guesses. In the end most of us decided it was a stupid rule and…

  • Faith Reflections

    Whatever This Day May Bring

    Early in the morning I cry to you. Help me to pray and to concentrate my thoughts on you: I cannot do this alone. In me there is darkness, but with you there is light; I am lonely, but you do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help; I am restless, but with you there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with you patience; I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me … Restore me to liberty, and enable me so to live now That I may answer before you and before humanity. Lord, whatever this day may bring, Your name be praised. – a prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Faith Reflections

    A Love that Never Quits

    We’ve got some messed up ideas about God. That God is a mean dictator or a strict parent who wants us to sit up straight and not make a mess or have any fun. That God is moody and impossible to please. The God Jesus taught us about is completely opposite. God is the determined shepherd scouring the countryside for the one lost sheep. God is the frantic woman flipping over all the furniture in the house looking for her lost coin. God is the crazy father who runs out to meet his rebellious son, overwhelming him with love and gifts. Does this sound like a God who only loves us if we behave a certain way? Or does it sound like a God who will stop at nothing to make sure we know just how much we are loved – knowing that the experience of being loved like that destroys all of our defenses. I use to think God…

  • Faith Reflections

    Wake Up, Sleeper

    I read a story about a disciple who asked his master whether there was anything he could do to make himself grow spiritually. The master answered: “As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.” Disconcerted, the disciple asked what then was the use of the spiritual exercises the master had taught him. And the master replied: “To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.” This past weekend was our annual youth DiscipleNow Weekend and the theme was Awaken based on Ephesians 5:14 – Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light. For a lot of reasons, it is very easy for us to be asleep. We are a rich nation and most of us don’t know what it means to want; to be desperate for Jesus. Many of us have grown up with Jesus and His power and glory long ago faded.  We really like him, like…

  • Faith Reflections

    From Fear to Freedom

    Because I am paying attention to the idea of freedom and the bondage of fear, I have been more aware this year just how much our culture is in bondage to fear and anxiety. Our conversations, our social media postings, our news cycles, and our economic and political rhetoric repeatedly come from a posture of fear.

  • Faith Reflections

    A Prayer for a New School Year

    Blessed are You, O God, our Creator. We thank you for the energy and the spirit that you renewed in us through the summer months. We thank you for the time to enjoy our family and friends and to savor what is important in our lives. Today is a new day and we come before You, the Author of new beginnings, asking your blessing on this new year. Bless this community of administrators, educators, and staff as they prepare for the year ahead. Help them to inspire their students so that learning will not cease at the classroom door. Grant them an abundance of patience, compassion and wisdom. Give them a strong sense of mission that will sustain them through the demands and the challenges that lie ahead. Bless the students throughout our community as they prepare for new beginnings. Calm their fears, nurture their hearts, and strengthen their courage. Help our students and our educators focus on what can…