Year: 2016

2016: The Year in Pictures

photography, pictures

As some of you know, I enjoy taking pictures – and then finding something to say.

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

“In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” Joshua 4:21-22 I’ve been thinking about a time when I wanted to know about the meaning of the stones in my father’s life. Like so many others outside our family I had grown up on his almost countless aphorisms and phrases like “Wa ...[Read More]

I Don't Feel Your Pain

I Don't Feel Your Pain

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them…” Matthew 6:9 During a meeting last month, one of my friends quoted President Obama, “The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit.” None of us disagreed or questioned him. After all, with every horrifying situation in the world how could anyone doubt what we need is more empathy? I would have sa ...[Read More]

Keeping a Soft Heart in Hard Times

Keeping a Soft Heart in Hard Times

I love the martial arts choreography in movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I asked a black belt friend how he hardened his hands for real (not staged) competition. It seemed easy enough. Set up a five-gallon bucket of white rice and punch your hands in it 10-12 times in a row five times a day. When that no longer hurts use a five-gallon bucket of dry beans for several weeks and then gradua ...[Read More]

It's Hard to Say It

It's Hard to Say It

It’s Hard to Say It   Last week I was in Charleston, South Carolina, for the annual conference of The Philanthropy Roundtable. I was one of three speakers on a panel about “sunsetting,” the closing down of a private foundation. The audience was mostly family foundations working through whether or not to shutter their foundations and distribute the remaining assets after a period of time ...[Read More]

Forgetting the Little that Divides

Forgetting the Little that Divides

Two devoted friends and brilliant minds — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — fell out with each other over politics, personal slights and both feeling betrayed by the other. The feud not only embittered both, causing them to abandon all correspondence and relationship of any kind for many years, but it troubled their closest companions who could not imagine these giants of the Revolution becoming e ...[Read More]

The Quiet Revival

The Quiet Revival

As a Baptist in Texas, I have often heard missions organizations promoting the urgency for church planting in areas of our country considered completely secular – cities with low church attendance and little visible Christian influence. Considered “hard soil” or “godless” or “lost territory”, cities like Boston, Portland, New York and Seattle have attracted waves of young planters sent by their ho ...[Read More]

A Love Letter

A Love Letter

It was 42 years ago when Carol and I last stood as a young and newly married couple with the people of Park Street Church in Boston and sang, “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” at the close of the service. Two Sundays ago, as visitors, we sang that hymn from the same hymnal. The congregation was thinned out and older than I remembered, but their voices were as strong and still filled the sanctuary as ...[Read More]

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah

A Cold and Broken Hallelujah

We all like backstories. I especially enjoy the stories behind songs. Did you know Paul McCartney’s original working title for “Yesterday” was “Scrambled Eggs”? Iron Butterfly’s  “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was originally titled  “In The Garden of Eden,” but the lead singer was so inebriated he could not pronounce the words – so they left the title the only way he could say it. Recently, I re ...[Read More]

Snakes on a Plain

Snakes on a Plain

There are very few passages in Scripture as graphic and frightening as God’s sending “fiery serpents” in response to the grumbling of the people. Everywhere they turn – like Indiana Jones in the pit of vipers – they are surrounded by them. In a desperate panic they plead with Moses to pray that the Lord would take away the snakes: “So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when an ...[Read More]