Thursday, April 30, 2020

Investment or Future Regrets?

The longer this pandemic goes, the more we miss doing normal things. We are waiting for the time to travel, shop, get haircuts, have reunions, and have funerals.

We want to eat out, go swimming, play sports, enjoy concerts.

The normal things of life bring comfort, hope, encouragement, balance, and joy. We miss these touchstones. In their absence, we must find other things to keep us sane.

We lean so much now on family, neighbors, phone calls, and faith. We are reading, walking, praying, resting.

Let's try to think of these months as a time of investment, not a season to be endured.

What are you investing in? In 12 months, you may find yourself thinking: "I wish I had spent that quarantine time doing ___________." Let's try to think of those things now, and really invest. This time is hard enough without creating future regrets.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Zooming by Me

I really miss meeting people in person. I have been Zooming up a storm lately, for all kinds of meetings. But I have to say that I get distracted so easily with that computer screen.

Oooh, I wonder if I have a new email.

Was that my phone vibrating?

Why not have a quick look at Facebook?

What's the stock market doing?

I'll have a look at the news headlines.

Wait...what were you saying? I was paying attention...mostly. I just missed one key thought. Or did I? I'm not sure. I think I can chime in with something appropriate. At least I can make you think I was paying attention.

I need to get a lot more disciplined with this virtual connecting stuff.

Let's get together when we can. When will that be?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Saying Goodbye

Goodbye. God be with you.
Now, you are with God.
So many laughs, so many stories.
You were a magnet for children.
People knew you cared.
Your presence brought peace, assurance.
Rooms lit up every time you walked in.

Now heaven lights up.
It's your stories, your smile.
Now you can hug again, even if we can't.
You paint those word pictures, effortlessly.
You delight in the reunions.
You can finally ask Jesus all those questions.

You have left our hearts full.
But you have left a hole in our lives.
No one can fill your cowboy boots.
May we embrace life with your joy, exuberance, abandon, hope, and faith.
Most of all, may we shower the love of God on all we encounter.
You showed us how.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Designing Your Life

Tomorrow we start a Zoom group that could change your life. We will be working through Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. These guys teach in the Stanford School of Design, where students learn about the design process. Students learn about design theory, and apply it to engineering, urban layout, automotive design, manufacturing systems, etc.

Evans and Burnett realized that design theory could also be applied to people's lives. So they introduced a course at Stanford called, "Designing Your Life." After years of teaching this course to full classrooms, the profs decided to write a book, so that everyone could access this life-changing process.

I read this book three years ago, but have not yet worked through it with others. And that is the key ingredient to design: enlisting input from others. You see, the design process is a team effort. No one person invented the iPhone. It took a team. And it still takes a team to tweak it and update it.

With our own lives, others can see our blind spots. They can help us think outside the box. They can put pieces together that we overlooked.

So, I invite you to jump into this study with us at noon on Tuesdays, via Zoom.

Shoot me an email, if you would like to get in on it.

Can't wait!

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life ...

Sunday, April 26, 2020


What brings you hope? Hope comes from belief that something good may happen.
We can hope in circumstances: I hope it won't rain.
We can hope in people: I hope she remembers my birthday.

Hope in people is based on relationship and character.

Hope in circumstances is based on experience, history, and probability.

We need hope today. We can hope in the U.S. economy, our employer, our skills, the stock market, the medical community and all kinds of circumstances. That may be hope well placed.

But our hope in God is much different. We hope that God will show up, that he will redeem the losses we have endured, that he will walk with us through this trial, that he will bring resurrection from the death of COVID-19.

So may your hope be in him.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Love Your Neighbor

It looks like this pandemic is helping us love our neighbors. I met some of mine today, as folks were outside, greeting each other, catching up, and even celebrating a birthday. It's hard to love your neighbors if you don't know them. I have to start somewhere.

If we don't practice better loving-of-our-neighbors, then I think we are really missing one of the main lessons of this plague.

I saw today that the city of Miami has gone seven weeks without a homicide. It's the first time that has happened since 1957. That looks a lot like loving neighbors. Or at least not hating neighbors.

How has your neighbor-loving improved this spring?

Friday, April 24, 2020

Long Hair

Yes, it's been over four weeks since I got my hair cut. Actually I lucked into perfect timing with my last shearing on March 23. When I walked into the barbershop, the governor had just announced the closure of all such establishments in two days. My regular appointment happened to land two days before the order took effect.

It has been interesting to see what my hair does as it grows. I'm finding cowlicks and waves that I never noticed before. I may end up parting my hair again. For years I have not paid much attention to my hair, and virtually never had a bad hair day. But now, I need to make sure it behaves. Of course, there's nowhere to go but the grocery store and Zoom meetings, so hardly anyone gets to see my hair anyway.

I'm sure that most folks have much more issues with their hair. I don't mean to complain. I just want to get a nice trim before I need a ponytail.

Or maybe I'll just shave my head.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Review: Reframation

I just finished reading Reframation: Seeing God, People, and Mission through Reenchanted Frames. This book was published at the end of 2019, but I believe it is eerily prophetic of our current reframing of all of society. The authors, Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson team up to show how the Western version of Christianity is smaller than what God actually communicates through the scriptures and the life of Christ.

We in the West believe that we have fully captured, categorized, and communicated the gospel. But our analytical framework leaves out key ingredients of the good news, including mystery, wonder, and astonishment.

The authors contrast three major perspectives in understanding the Good News. In the Western "frame," we see the gospel in terms of guilt and innocence. Thus our explanations of the gospel center around legal terms and personal accountability. Jesus takes our guilt and proclaims us innocent.

In the Eastern "frame," the good news is seen in terms of honor and shame. We can't share another person's guilt, but we can share their shame. For example, a child could be ashamed of a parent's crimes, and be damaged by that shame. Jesus also frees us from shame and restores our honor.

The authors find that in South America and Africa, there is a third perspective of the gospel. In this "Southern frame," cultures are wrapped up in the tension between the powerful and powerless. Those with this life perspective often need to move from bondage to freedom. Jesus can bring us more freedom than any army or emperor.

If we see the gospel through only one point of view, our gospel is too small. We need to stop reducing the Good News to points that matter most to us. It includes all of the above. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection bring us freedom from guilt, restoration of honor, and freedom from wicked power.

Further, this book calls us to a fresh, growing sense of awe and wonder in the presence of God. Our imaginations can be inspired by the Spirit and lead us to greater depths of love for the Lord.

I heartily endorse this book and thank Hirsch and Nelson for collaborating to bring this provocative work to the evangelical world. Our gospel has been too small.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Seeing Clearly

I keep hearing stories of the clear atmosphere around the world, the result of limited burning of fossil fuels. The Himalayan Mountains can be seen hundreds of miles away. Towns in China see the blue sky above, for the first time in generations. The air in New York City smells sweet like spring. The canals of Venice run so clear that people can see down to the depths.

The stillness of the internal combustion engine yields the clearness of the sky and water. Being still helps people see.

And we can also experience another kind of clarity. We can see our culture more clearly. We can see that we had such a dizzying pace of life that few could keep up. We see that we can survive without sports on TV. We can survive without going to the movie theater. We can survive without gathering for worship. We can even survive without haircuts. (Would it be a crime to cross state lines to get a haircut?) We can survive without classroom instruction.

We have the historic privilege and responsibility to add back to our lives, when this is over, only those things that we deem worthy of our time and resources. Some of us have been so busy all our lives that we never took inventory of our schedules. We sure have now.

Make sure that you take this opportunity to see clearly. See the story of your life. Do you like the story? If you want to change the story, there is no better time than today. See clearly where you are headed. See clearly where you have been.

Now envision where you want to go. This is the moment. Prepare now for the new you that emerges from the 2020 pandemic. This is your chance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Personal Magic

I'm all about flattening the curve and keeping people healthy. But I miss being with people. Zoom meetings are better than nothing, but it's not the same.

I believe there is real, noticeable energy in the presence of people. Sometimes personal energy is positive, sometimes negative. But there is energy emanating from people. I'm sure you have noticed the presence of someone you could not see or hear. Maybe the energy is infrared heat. Maybe it's the electrical impulses of the neurological system.

To me, the science of it is almost irrelevant. People bring energy. We need that energy. Now we long for that energy. It doesn't translate well over computer screens.

It's almost like magic.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The System

So much has changed in just two months. And the system is trying to cope. Name the industry, and they are now scrambling.

The higher education industry realizes that their world will never be the same again. Some colleges have robust online offerings already. Now that's the only game in town. No one knows if colleges can allow students on campus in the fall. Some students are considering alternatives to traditional college.

The system of higher education is reeling. All their sources of funding are also struggling, including their endowments. Enrollment will surely be down in the fall. And it may never recover. If high school grads begin learning on line, they may opt out of college. Could there be a YouTube U?

And this is just one example of the system shaking. It may be crumbling. Similar tremors are felt in the worlds of sports, transportation, politics, and justice. Enough of their foundational pillars are damaged or temporarily removed.

We can now see that the system is rigged. Billion dollar corporations are cashing in on the multi-trillion dollar stimulus. Universities with billion dollar endowments are cashing in. Obviously the powerful want their cut. Meanwhile, the exploiters in the system are gaining hearts, and offering to help the exploited.

And some now see that the continued state of shutdown is an existential threat to the system. Our consumerism may not come back. Our way of rewarding greed may no longer be embraced. We may not crave entertainment or sports so much. We may not dash away to vacation spots so readily. We may not travel for business as much.

Those who worship the system realize that their god is threatened. And they are fighting back.

But the system has never been fair. It will never be entirely fair. But maybe with this restart it will be better. More compassionate, more caring, more relationship-oriented, more local, more giving, more peaceful. Less greedy, less materialistic, less shallow, less selfish. Slower. Motivated by meaning.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Something to Lean On

Our society is built on touchstones--events, places, and people that we count on to be there for us.

There are touchstones on the calendar: holidays, birthdays, seasons, sports events, celebrations, days of the week. We count on certain things to happen at certain times. When our personal lives are chaotic, we can count on the familiarity those times and occasions. They are all part of the cadence and rhythm of our lives: Easter, Christmas, Memorial Day, football season, graduations, vacations, Sunday church. These touchstones help us reset and regroup. They help restore us to normal. We lean on them and count on them as never-changing. We never thought we would lose all these predictable points of reference. Most are gone for now, and we wonder when they will return.

There are also touchstone places. We can return to a house, a city, a park, a college and it brings back memories. Right now these touchstones are not removed, but we are removed from them.

People are also touchstones for us. We are also separated from them more than ever. Nearly everyone is hunkered down at home.

So, what touchstones are left for us now?

We have the natural changes of the days and seasons: the sun rises, spring comes, rain falls, gardens grow. The natural world continues as if there were no virus. We can find peace in the predictability and surprises of creation.

Hopefully the people we love the most are at home with us. Or they are making an extra effort to connect. We are turning to the people we can count on. Call on those people who matter to you. Be there for family. Think about Bill Withers' "Lean on Me." We all need somebody to lean on.

There's nothing like a loss to turn our thoughts to the deep stuff. For many of us, this ruthless interruption may be a godsend. Without distractions, we can hear what God is saying. He has to be our foundational touchstone. He truly never changes.

It's time to do a gut-check on our touchstones.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Next Virus

We never thought this could happen. But it did. The scary thing is that it can happen again. We can create a vaccine for COVID-19. But there could be another virus, another new one that we have no immunity for.

At least we now know how to deal with it. We need lots more medical equipment, systems for dealing with economic disruption. And now we now know how to "social distance."

But with the possibility of harmful germs easily transmitted in public, our lives are forever changed. Even when the coronavirus is completely eradicated, we will always know that it could happen. And that knowledge will affect our attitudes in ways we cannot predict.

We will look back at our pre-pandemic lives with nostalgia, longing for the times of innocence when we could freely gather in public spaces, without a second thought.

This is just beginning. It will never be the same.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Brain Vacation

I have begun practicing daily centering prayer. Centering prayer, as I understand it, is coming before God in silence, just to be in his presence. This sounds so easy. But I find it very difficult.

My mind constantly churns on things--plans, people, ideas, regrets, dreams. It's hard for me to stop all those trains of thought. I never realized that mental silence is so difficult, until I began noticing my thoughts. I live with a torrent of mental activity. It's often chaotic. Sometimes it's like a loud buzz in my brain.

So, centering prayer is a brain vacation for me. It is time when I don't have to be solving problems, making plans, justifying my behavior, evaluating my work, worrying over whatever, regretting mistakes. I can just be before God.

I find him welcoming me. He's always glad to "see" me. He looks into my eyes with joy and approval. He reminds me that he likes me as I am. I can rest in him.

My brain vacations put life into perspective and keep me from being so overwhelmed. I still find centering prayer challenging, because my mind always wanders. But when I can rein in my mind, Jesus is always there, waiting to greet me.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Hopes for 2021

What will our society look like in April 2021? Here are some of my hopes:
  • A vaccination for coronavirus has been developed, and there is no significant risk of interaction in public.
  • Families are spending more time in meaningful interaction.
  • People are working more from home.
  • Traffic is much less congested in cities.
  • Churches are gathering for worship, but emphasizing serving in the community.
  • People have more margin in their schedules.
  • Children enjoy some organized sports, but have more time for unstructured play time.
  • Corporations pay more to their currently underpaid employees.
  • Corporations care about the well-being of their consumers.
  • College and pro sports continue as diversions, not big business.
  • People know their neighbors better than ever.
  • Many grow their own food in their own yards, and share with neighbors.
  • Food shoppers prefer food that is locally grown.
  • People value the privilege of ordinary life not hindered by germs.
  • The pace of life is slower.
  • People take more time to think.
  • People prioritize what really matters to them.
What do you hope for?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Global Experiment

Countries around the world are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic as best they can. Some are severely curtailing any human interactions in public or private spaces. Some countries are less severe in their restrictions, allowing people to continue their lives more normally.

Authorities have to work through some grave cost-benefit analysis. If everyone avoided all human interaction, the spread of the disease would virtually cease. Lives would be saved.

But limited interaction obviously harms economies. We all know people who cannot work because of social distancing restrictions. At what point does economic deprivation also cause death? Some cannot afford food. Some cannot afford medicine. Some sink into depression because of money problems and loneliness. Economic hardship can also cost lives.

What is the right balance of social distancing and allowing economic transactions? This is such a difficult calculation with a new, highly contagious, deadly disease.

Which country will choose the best course of action, the course that saves the most lives? May we all seek wisdom and bravely try to do the right thing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Capitalism’s Finest Hour

Our economic system has its flaws. Capitalism is based on property rights, enlightened self-interest, and freedom. But it can go wrong. Greed, abuse, and selfishness taint the system. The rich have the freedom to exploit the poor.

But something is changing. The big corporations seem to be showing genuine compassion for the little people. Companies are offering services for free. Utilities are forgoing shutoffs for power and water. Manufacturers are repurposing their plants (sometimes under duress) to make personal protective equipment and ventilators.

TV commercials are offering comfort and help from the big, rich companies.

So this could be capitalism's finest hour. This could be the time that big business demonstrates a motive other than greed. They can show compassion, mercy, and genuine caring.

God envisioned a society where there would be no poor among the people. While that's idealistic, I pray that our society might now be headed in the right direction. May this be a real paradigm shift for our economy and culture.

Love is more powerful than greed.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Anticipating Resurrection

Today we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. He could never have risen from the dead if he had not died. Death leads to new life. When Jesus arose, his body was new. His resurrection body was curiously like and unlike his old. He had strange abilities to appear in locked rooms. He often was not recognized by the people who knew him best--until he revealed himself. His life was at a whole new level, after his resurrection.

We also anticipate the resurrection of normal life, here and around the world. When humanity rises from this economic and social hibernation, we have the opportunity to rise to a whole new level of humanity. We can care about what matters. We can express compassion to the hurting. We can move beyond greed and selfishness.

What an opportunity!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Last of Lent

Today is the last day of Lent, the 46-day portion of the Christian calendar leading up to Easter. Many Christians celebrate this time with some sort of  fasting, giving up something to help them focus on Jesus' suffering on the cross. The last of Lent is Easter Saturday.

This Lenten season has required all people, Christian and non-Christian to give up more than we could have imagined. And this year's season of self-denial doesn't end with Easter.

The good news is that our efforts to stop the spread appear to be working. As infection curves flatten, we begin to consider when we may go back out in public.

Will it be a sudden release to all normal activities? Or will we be allowed gradually to resume our regular lives? We still don't know.

But we do know this: God uses death to bring new life. The death of Jesus allowed him to defeat death. Without his death, there could not have been a resurrection. The death of our normal way of life may give rise to a resurrection to new, better way of living.

That's my prayer.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Pandemic Good Friday

On the day that Jesus died, many felt the loss. The disciples lost their friend, their leader, their hopes of Jewish triumph. They lost their sense of direction and purpose. They lost their nerve, too. They holed up, hiding from those who pushed for Jesus' crucifixion. Everything was out of balance.

Maybe we have a better sense of Good Friday than ever before. We are holed up. Everything is out of balance. We wonder what's happening and when things will return to normal. We wonder what the new normal will be. We know it will be different.

Like the disciples, we have to trust God, in spite of a situation we could never imagine. We feel the loss of normal life, the loss of contact with friends and family, the loss of so much that we took for granted.

It was through loss that Jesus identified with humanity. He lost his friends' support. He lost the cheers of the crowd. He lost his trial. He lost his life.

And so in our loss, maybe we can feel Good Friday.

But we know that God brings resurrection!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Evaluate Everything

When has everything in your life been different? Only now. Everything we do has been changed, all at the same time. This is the perfect time for reevaluating everything. And, as a bonus, most of us have time to do it.

How to evaluate:
  • Make time. To get started, set aside at least an hour, without distraction, alone.
  • Ask God to guide you. Pray for wisdom.
  • Be creative. Think big. Disregard limitations.
  • Take notes. Write down your thoughts. Make lists.
  • Take a break. Do it again.
  • Share your insights with someone you love.
  • Plan next steps.

What to Evaluate
  • Ask yourself: What kind of person am I? What am I like?
  • Consider your life in big categories, like Health, Relationships, Work, Play.
  • Make lists under each category. (For health, think physical, emotional, spiritual, social, etc.)
  • Think about where you have been, what you have done.
  • Consider what your experiences have prepared you for.
  • Think about those things you have always wanted to do or accomplish.
  • List things to stop doing. Were you too busy before? Drop some things.
  • List things to start doing. (Praying, writing, exercising, reading, playing music, etc.)

These are just some suggestions of ways to make the most of our season of stillness.
Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Holy Week to Remember

This year's Holy Week will be one we will always remember. Nothing is ordinary. Every action is intentional, from trips to the grocery store to online meetings to church virtual worship.

Since everything is intentional, we get to think about it.

So, let's think about Easter.

Think about Jesus' entering the heart of the religious community, at great peril.
Think about his teaching about love, sacrifice, and resurrection.
Think about his confrontations.
Think about his friends, and their reaction to his teaching and actions.
Think about the false accusations made against him.
Think about the way the authorities stirred up opposition to him.
Think about Judas' betrayal.
Think about his beatings.
Think about Peter's denial.
Think about Jesus' bleeding and suffering on the cross.
Think about his love and forgiveness for you.
Think about his rising from the dead.
Think about his resurrection life flowing through your life.

You want to remember this week!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Standoffish Distancing

I believe that social distancing is helping to flatten the curve. I try to keep my distance from folks, whenever I have to be in a store.

This week, at the suggestion of the White House, more people are wearing masks. With the masks and the 6-foot rule, we are distancing in more ways than we bargained for.

I have noted that as people keep their distance, they also avoid eye contact. In the South, folks are friendly and speak to people they don't know. I'm seeing less and less of that. We can't see each other's faces, except for their eyes. We are suspicious of everyone, because they may be infected.

Yesterday at Harris Teeter, a woman offered apologies as she asked me to reach a cereal box on the top shelf. When I agreed to help her, she offered me a sanitary wipe--I guess because, you know, coronavirus. I declined the wipe and fetched her cereal. She was very grateful and told me how her son (?) was a doctor in NYC. Wow.

So, maybe we just need to be ready to help, and love each other, from 6 feet and with masks. Maybe personal contact will seem more significant when the air is cleared.

In the meantime, I don't want to be standoffish.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Feel the Tension

These are strange days. Everything is cancelled. 

We have more time with our families. We have more time in our yards. People are thinking more locally. Seed companies report record sales as folks plan to grow their own food. 

Live is slower. Neighbors are meeting. 

At the same time, tech is coming front and center. Could tech actually make our lives simpler? Maybe.

I have to confess that the technology learning curve has been a challenge for me. I had never heard of Zoom three weeks ago. Now I have multiple Zooms every week. 

So these are strange days. Back to simplicity with the help of technology.

We are learning to be still and learning technology. Meeting our neighbors, and having meetings on computers. 

Feel the tension. Grow in it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

How Priorities Change

One month ago politics stood front-and-center in the news cycle. After all, it is an election year. But now America is dealing with an actual crisis. This is not some argument about the size of government or foreign interference in American politics.

No, this is a real issue. A life-and-death issue. People are dying, and healthcare workers are meeting the challenge head-on, at great personal risk. Businesses are dying, while many proprietors are working to make payroll for employees who must stay home. State and local governments are suffering because tax revenues are way down.

This is a real issue, and it has brought America to its knees. We are praying like never before. This crazy situation brings out our creativity and our humility.

It turns out that we don't have all the answers. We have not completely tamed nature. There are limits to human strength. There's no app or pill or legislation that can fix this situation. At least not yet.

So our priorities are changing. As they change, let's remember what really matters. What's that, you ask?

We need to be asking God what really matters.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Falling House of Cards?

So much depends on everything else. Consider the surprises of the COVID crisis:

Newspapers have little ad revenue, because no one has anything to advertise. Shops are closed and events are cancelled. At the same time, people want the news more than ever.

State governments have little money to spend because sales tax revenue has tanked. No one can make purchases on which to pay taxes.

Hospitals are stretched to the limit, but their revenue is down. Elective surgeries have been cancelled for weeks, and payments for those surgeries bring in millions in revenue.

Police forces get sick, navy ships become infected, soldiers need face masks to protect them from germs.

Parks and playgrounds are closed.

Then there is the falling stock market, the $2 trillion stimulus paid for entirely by government borrowing, sports leagues on hold, festivals and concerts cancelled, small businesses struggling, schools closed, graduations postponed.

Everything depends on everything. The economy is a complex ecosystem, all intertwined. Let's hope it is an ecosystem, not a house of cards. Something invisible has invaded and threatened the whole thing.

And we are learning to depend on people again. If the whole house of cards falls, we will really need each other.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The COVID Generation

I have known a lot of people who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. These events shaped folks for the rest of their lives.

Both the Depression and the War created scarcity. And this scarcity changed the way a whole generation operated in this world.

I wonder if the youth of today will be shaped similarly by this pandemic. They may always avoid large crowds, and carefully wash their hands. They may remember wistfully the days before the virus when people would hug and shake hands without a second thought.

If the social distancing lasts for months and months, we may see a lasting imprint on culture and habits. We are witnessing history. We just don't know yet what that history will be.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Materialism and Worship

Nothing strikes at the heart of the American soul like a challenge to consumerism. Every politician says that he or she will grow the economy. It's not enough to sustain our level of production and consumption. We must grow. There's no such thing as "big enough" when it comes to our economy. There are no limits. The faster our economy grows, the better. Our civic duty, then, is to keep the economy growing, to consume, to spend, to purchase.

Suddenly the ability to produce and consume has been virtually cut off.

We Americans are raised to be consumers. Even before our children can walk or talk, we tell them about Santa Claus, the one who can give them whatever they ask for.

Ours is a consumer culture. Everything is related to consumption. Consumerism shapes our worship. Shopping is a sacrament.

But now suddenly we can't consume. No one ever thought this could happen. But here we are. No longer can we serve materialism. The god-of-the-growing-economy has be knocked off the throne.

We have no choice but to stay home. Even if we want to flout the rules, the stores are mostly closed. We have space to think. What have we been worshipping? Consumerism? Materialism?

The treadmill of economic growth has stopped. We've been forced to get off. Now we can step back and have a look at it.

Some can't wait for it to crank back up, so they can climb aboard and resume the race. But some of now see that treadmill for what it is: a tiring, relentless, unwinnable race to nowhere. Even the winners don't win. Maybe now we can see it for what it is.

Priorities are changing. Let's rethink this.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Longing to Return

Some of us never knew how much we liked gathering with friends for worship. Or gathering with friends for anything, really. I believe there can be supernatural power when God's people come together to worship and honor him. Somehow God speaks to me profoundly when I am in his presence with others.

Sometimes I experience God's presence when I'm alone, and sometimes when I'm with my family. Now those are about the only times I have. Those moments of clarity before the Lord take me deeper in my love for him.

But I still miss gathering with friends as we turn our hearts together toward Jesus.

In the Old Testament, we learn about the Jewish people who were removed from their homeland and relocated to Babylon. While in exile, the people longed to return home. They ached, even while they knew they must make the best of their situation. God instructed them to settle in, while in the foreign land. They pined for what they had lost. They knew more than ever how great home was.

And so we today, Christians confined to home, long to be together to worship. We don't know how long it will be. We don't know how bad it will be. The germ storm is creeping into our hometowns. And we pray, and wait, and watch.

Maybe now we can realize how deeply we need each other, how deeply we need to raise our voices together in praise to God, how profoundly God speaks to us in worship.

Our longing is really for him. May we seek him, right where we are. He's ready to meet us.