Experience Health & Joy

Baptismal Wellbeing Is the Power of WE!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes. I once was asked on a theology test: "Explain the Trinity.  Use the words essence and substance."  Fortunately the professor only left room for about 50 words on the test paper.  I'm sure my answer was pathetic. I wish I'd known about "perichoresis."  Not to impress the instructor, of course.  Well, maybe just a little.  Perichoresis is a term the ancient Greek Fathers used to describe the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It literally can mean "dance around" (get it... "Peri" like perimeter + "Choresis" as in choreography).   Some say the Greek dance involving at least three dancers, weaving in and out of one another inspired the Fathers to say, "That's what the Trinity is like!" What a wonder that in the grace of baptism, you and I have been invited to join in the dance! Read More

JOY Is Physical Vitality!

Reading time less than 3 minutes. “Joy in the midst of suffering” is one of those Christian paradoxes that often confound me.  The suffering part is all too obvious.  The joy is more sneaky, harder to spot.  My daily battle with this aging body of mine is a case in point. I recently turned sixty.  Don’t you just love the birthdays with a zero?  I think it was one of my children (I can’t remember!) who said to me, “Hey!  You’re thirty… AGAIN!”  Very funny. My body is aging and wearing out, but by the grace of God, it’s still serving me as an instrument for my callings in life, and that’s reason for joy. Read More

JOY Is Vocational Ministry!

Reading time less than 3 minutes. My first literal tears of joy were spilled while sitting on the curb of the sidewalk on Holman Street on the campus of Concordia Portland.  I was part of a week long youth retreat as a semi-professional "youth staffer" the year before seminary.  I was still considering whether or not the Lord had plans to use me as a pastor. When the tears started flowing, I took that as a sign that yes, there was a calling for me here. Read More

JOY Is… Emotional Harmony!

Reading time... less than 3 minutes It's storm season here in the Midwest.  It's amazing how quickly the weather can change. Relationships have an "atmosphere" also, don't they?  Bad weather can hang around for a long, long time.  Jesus changes things in an instant. When I met Bob for the first time, his family was a mess.  He had been divorced for years, only a couple of his five grown children were speaking to him, and few of them were speaking to each other. I would never have imagined how powerfully God would transform Bob's family. Read More

JOY Is… Emotional Harmony!

Reading time... less than 3 minutes It's storm season here in the Midwest.  It's amazing how quickly the weather can change. Relationships have an "atmosphere" also, don't they?  Bad weather can hang around for a long, long time.  Jesus changes things in an instant. When I met Bob for the first time, his family was a mess.  He had been divorced for years, only a couple of his five grown children were speaking to him, and few of them were speaking to each other. I would never have imagined how powerfully God would transform Bob's family. Read More

JOY Is Intellectual Curiosity!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes People surprise me, when I've been curious enough to listen that is. Carmine and I had almost nothing in common, besides Jesus and her daughter who was in my youth group .  We could hardly have been more different.  We were separated in age by about 25 years and in hometowns by about 2500 miles. She was an African-American woman from a large, urban area of the Midwest who grew up in the shadow of tall buildings; I'm of northern European heritage and grew up in the shadow of Douglas Fir trees in Oregon.  We were from "different sides of the tracks." God gave me a gift when I accepted a call and became her pastor.  Fortunately, I was curious enough about Carmine to really listen to her and open up the gift. Read More

JOY Is Easter Worship… Alone!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes. Pastors, I'm praying that the Risen Jesus shows up for you in a significant way as you prepare to lead God's people in worship this Easter.  I pray He shows up every Sunday.  Early. Over the last twenty years of my parish ministry, my response to the question, "How's attendance at early service?" was always the same.  "The usual.  Just two."  Rarely spoken aloud, that was the truth, chuckled to myself (and of course, to Jesus).  Few people in the church understood how important the worship that happened before the worship really was for our life together. Over my early years in ministry I came to realize that you can't preach what you haven't experienced.   Read More

JOY Is Relational Unity!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes If you had to do without either your brain, your heart or your muscles, which would you be willing to surrender?  You wouldn't last long without any one of the three.  Let me tell you about three pastors who worked together in the most joyful experience of relational unity that I've ever been a part of. It was the body of Christ in action the way the Lord intended, and it was a source of joy for us all! Read More

JOY Is Spiritual Receptivity!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes I'm going to be more possessive of my joy from now on.  I'm going to be jealous for my joy. We were created for joy.   Joy is God's gift to me.  I'm designed for joy.  It is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), it's mine as an heir of the kingdom, and I want it.  To everything that comes to suck out my joy from now on I'm going to say, "Hey!  That's mine!  I want my joy back!" Joy is slippery to define.  You know when you have it.  You know when you've lost it, but how it vanishes is often a mystery. Read More

JOY Is Baptismal Renewal!

Reading time: 3 minutes What does JOY look like?  I've got a pretty good idea of what joy looks like.  I've seen it a few times. Have you ever been at a ball game where the announcer says over the loudspeaker, "Today we honor the families of our military personnel serving overseas..." and out marches some children of soldiers?  Then suddenly, sneaking up on the children from behind, comes daddy or mommy, returned home from service unannounced and sooner than expected. Read More

JOY Is Baptismal Renewal!

Reading time: 3 minutes What does JOY look like?  I've got a pretty good idea of what joy looks like.  I've seen it a few times. Have you ever been at a ball game where the announcer says over the loudspeaker, "Today we honor the families of our military personnel serving overseas..." and out marches some children of soldiers?  Then suddenly, sneaking up on the children from behind, comes daddy or mommy, returned home from service unannounced and sooner than expected. Read More