I spent last week in Chicago, part of which was spent working on a book proposal.  This experience was much more labor and emotion intensive than I’d anticipated.  Several questions floated on the periphery of my consciousness all week, questions like: If I write about my life, what is the consistent thread running through the story? And, so many crazy/amazing/ridiculous things have happened to me–which of those things have resonance for that… Read More

Cliché John 3:14-21 Welcome to the fourth Sunday of Lent and to this season where we’ve been invited again and again into holy conversations, with the text, with each other, and with God. I hope as you’ve been navigating this season of reflection, confession, repentance…that you’ve found opportunities for a holy conversation or two, and that you’ve taken the risk of sharing the truth about your life. It’s funny that our theme… Read More

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Yale Divinity School and share some thoughts on vocation with new friends there.  Here’s a reflection on Matthew 4:1-11 that I offered in chapel while I was there. I grew up on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. Every summer when we’d pack our suitcases and get on an airplane for the long trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Chicago…. Read More

A Hard Word Mark 8:31-38 I am pleased to announce that beginning March 22, you and I will be able to purchase Girl Scout Cookies in the neighborhood of The Riverside Church. I am pretty sure that this opinionated congregation could have extensive conversations about which type of Girl Scout Cookie is the best one, but let’s focus here: did you hear me? March 22. All I can say is I pity… Read More

Reposting this beautiful reflection for Lent.  It was written by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton in her book, Living Lent and I blatantly stole the idea of using the reflection in worship from my friends at Lake Shore Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. We didn’t even know what moderation was. What it felt like. We didn’t just work: we inhaled our jobs, sucked them in, became them. Stayed late, brought work home—it was never… Read More

When God is Silent Mark 1:12-13 Imagine a man left for more than a month in a remote desert, parched landscape all that surrounds him. He has suddenly been taken away from his friends, his family, the comforts of his home. Unlike any time in this man’s life previous to this experience, he is now engaged in trying to survive—scrounging for food where it does not exist, living off whatever he can… Read More

You know, it’s funny.  I do this for a living, and it still surprises me.  It happened this afternoon in Midtown.  People brushing past on the sidewalks, standing in line beside you at the counter, waiting for coffee. I feel startled when I see their smudgy foreheads.  Have you had the same compulsion I have?  To lean over and whisper . . . “you know, you’ve got a smudge or something right… Read More

It seems a little strange that a small pile of dirt gives me such comfort, but it happens to me every single year. Baptists don’t generally do the Ash Wednesday thing, and I didn’t grow up in a tradition where Ash Wednesday was familiar, so the first time I experienced Ash Wednesday I felt transported into a particularly holy and sacred space. Even now, after years of practicing the tradition and even… Read More

Dazzled Mark 9:2-9 It’s good to be back with you today! As you can see, I’m preaching one-armed this morning, as I’m recovering for a few more weeks from shoulder surgery. My colleagues have been giving me a hard time, sure that I can’t, in fact, preach with one hand, (probably because of my well-known pulpit-pounding, fire and brimstone preaching style). Thank you for all your prayers and expressions of care and… Read More

Last week I spent a few days teaching a class called The Vulnerable Leader, with doctor of ministry students at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. This was the second year I have had the privilege of spending this kind of intense time with other practical theologians considering the challenges of effective leadership for the future of the church, and I found the experience this year similarly enriching. In developing the class,… Read More


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