Devotions (Page 3)

Beyond the Wilderness: Where is God When Dreams are Broken?

It was a normal early summer evening, cicadas chirping as dusk settled over my neighborhood. I would graduate from high school in one week, and after that I would start packing for college and whatever lay beyond. For the past ten years I had spent every summer in the wilderness of northern Wisconsin, first at a summer camp and then on increasingly rustic expeditions into Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada. Just the previous summer I had canoed and hiked 250 miles…

I Am the Vine

When I was in confirmation many moons ago, our Pastor would choose confirmation verses for the students. I don’t remember much about the process other than receiving the verse shortly before confirmation Sunday. I’m not certain I really understood the significance of a confirmation verse at the time. I ended up with John 15:5, our “I Am” statement for this week: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is…

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

  Rumors are destructive. I wonder if you’ve had this happen to you: Someone asks you about a topic because they “heard” something about you from others and want to find out if it’s true or not. I’m thankful for that person because I can correct the rumors, but I worry about the 99 others who never bother to check the truth behind the rumors. People say all kinds of things about Jesus and His followers. People think they know…

In with the New

Can I tell you something shocking about me and Christmas? One of the small joys for me on Christmas day is opening presents from my mom to see what new clothes she got me. I know, right? You’re probably thinking, “Who is this guy!? He’s clearly no David Fabian or Carl Fretthold to dig receiving the coolest threads!” Well, the truth is I can’t compete with them on style, that’s for sure. And yet, I like seeing what new shirt,…

The Shepherd’s Shepherd

I have always been taken with the phrase “a man’s man.” There’s something about the word repetition that makes it catchy, though its meaning confused me for awhile. “A man’s man” seems to be a man who fulfills some people’s basic stereotypes of masculinity: likes hunting and fast cars, loves deep sea fishing and most nautical endeavors. In short, a man’s man is a strong and preferably bearded type who’s got impressive survival skills. A kind of MacGyver-Robinson Crusoe hybrid.…

Open the Door

Growing up, the door to my bedroom was just a little too big. It was the kind of door that was considered “shut” when about 1/8” of the door overlapped the frame. If you shoved hard enough, you could close it all the way, but that just meant it was going to be a pain to open again. Have you ever had a door like that? Occasionally, we find these same stuck doors in the relationships of life. Maybe a…

Two Families

My very first position as a church worker was in Katy, Texas. After four years of college, I was placed at Memorial Lutheran Church. It was such a wonderful place to start my professional ministry. There were tons of people who adopted their new intern and made me feel like family. Over time, however, things slowly changed. The dreaded “church politics” monster reared its ugly head as people fought about what types of worship were acceptable, what color carpets and…

Paralyzed by Anger

Did you know that Jesus got angry? We typically think about anger as a sinful emotion, but that’s clearly not the case if Jesus—who never sinned—felt anger. How you deal with it, however, could be sinful. Today seems like an incredibly poignant time to be talking about anger. Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that America elected a new president this past week. As I’ve scrolled through social media and discussion boards on the internet, I’ve noticed…

Paralyzed by Anxiety

“Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.” — Francis Chan Have you ever noticed that worry often leads to paralysis in your life? It’s like a virus that slowly takes over our heart and mind. It starts small, but the longer you sit with it, the more it infects you until all you hear is a litany of “what ifs”. What…

Telling Others

Here we are: the last week of the All-Church Book Study about creating God Space in the lives of those around us. It feels appropriate that it also falls on the weekend we celebrate the 499th anniversary of the Reformation, a landmark moment in the history of the Christian church. I believe Luther was “all in” with creating God Space. He noticed that people were in need of the Good News of Jesus, but weren’t able to hear it because…