Archives for January 2017

Identity-Changing Worship

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


Worship is powerful.
Not the singing-in-church kind of worship, but the kind of worship that you live. The kind of worship in which you adore something so much you give your life over to it. The kind of worship that focuses your whole being toward the single aim of praise.
That kind of worship is powerful. It shapes who you are. It gives you your very identity.
God created this world, this universe, to be a temple. The building of Moses’ tabernacle and the building of Solomon’s temple mirror the 7 day progression of the creation story, and the Jews reading the Genesis account would have recognized it as such.
This temple, our universe, contained within it the Garden of Eden as the Holy of Holies. Within that holy space were creatures who were made in God’s image, made to be homo liturgicus or man made for worship.
James Tissot
Man was made to reflect God to the world and to reflect worship back to God. We were created to worship God and, in that worship, become like Him.
What we worship molds our identity. Or to put it another way, we are what we worship.
When we spend our lives focused on and chasing after power, money, sex, adoration from others, we become like those things. We become shallow, insatiable, discontent.
Yet when we, here in this glorious temple of creation, spill our very lives in worship to God, we become like Him. We become joyful, content, full of peace.
Which identity would you prefer?
Power of Worship
God knew how powerful worship was, He knew that what we loved would shape our identity, our very being. This is why He is so fierce in stamping out idolatry. This is why He is so firm on the subject of having no other gods before Him.
We are His children and He wants what is best for us. He wants us to reflect His image, not the image of something shallow and low. He created us for more than that.
You who want to become like Christ, turn your focus toward Him. Adore Him and love Him with all of your life, with everything that you do and say and think.
Worship is a powerful force. So be careful what you worship. Your very identity will reflect your choice.

Art credits: cathedral and nature photos by Kirk Sewell; artist’s rendition of Solomon’s temple; Solomon Dedicates the Temple by James Tissot



Using the T Word

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


There is always a reason behind our actions.
Whether or not we realize it, the way we view God affects what we do and how we do it.
Even if we never explore the beliefs behind our actions, we all believe something about God and the world and it is this belief that comes out in our behavior.
It is precisely because our beliefs dictate what we do that makes it so vital to explore those convictions.
Part of loving God with all of our mind, after all, means being deliberate about what we believe, knowing why we believe it. We all want our actions to be based on truth.
Enter theology.
It is a dirty word in some Christian circles. Some believe that it takes away the joy or emotion of loving God. Others think that theology does nothing but stir up trouble and break up churches. Still others suppose that theology moves away from Scripture, that it creates something that wasn’t there before.
Yet you already have a theology. You have already read Scripture and interpreted it and let what you believe it teaches you about God influence the way you live.
Wouldn’t you rather your theology be one you have prayerfully and thoughtfully considered rather than one that just evolved without conscious decision in your mind over time?
Paul, I believe, was the first theologian. He used his knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures along with his knowledge of Jesus to write some of the first doctrines of the Church. Certainly no one would have accused him of not knowing what he believed or why he believed it.
Theology is what brought us the teaching of the Trinity. The word Trinity is not found anywhere in the Bible, yet by taking such Scriptures as the Shema, Christ’s own claims, and the teachings on the Spirit in the epistles, Church theologians have come up with the doctrine of the Trinity that we all know.
We all want to love God the best we can. We all want our actions to be based on truth. To do this, we all need to evaluate our own beliefs about God with the help of Scripture and what historically the Church has confessed.
Make sure that what comes out in your life, your words and thoughts and actions, is based on well-thought-out theology, not just-what-I-grew-up-thinking theology.
Let’s do our best to know why we do the things we do. Let’s do our best to be sure our actions are based on truth.
Let us love God with all of our mind.

credit: Thanks to Todd Daly for many of the ideas contained in this post.


Who Am I?

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.


I recently stopped nursing our last little one, and it was harder on my emotions than I expected.
I expected that I would be grateful to have a little extra freedom. I expected that I would be glad to hand over some of the nighttime routine to my husband. I expected that I would be happy to have my body belong only to me again.
I did feel all of those, but only a little.
Overwhelmingly, rather, was a sense of loss. A loss of part of myself, of who I am.
It took me by surprise until I realized that for over nine years I have been either pregnant or nursing. No breaks at all.
Of course that would become a major part of my identity! Nine years is a long time. Almost a decade of being identified as a pregnant or nursing mommy is certainly enough to cement that into who I am as a person.
All of those big emotions (and I am normally not an overly emotional sort of person) made me pause and think hard about who I think I am compared to who I want to be.
As a mom of four children, eight years and younger, it is so easy for that one piece of me to become my entire identity. I’m a mom. It’s what I do twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Even when I am away from my babies, my thoughts are still full of them.
Yet I recognize that I must be careful. Of course being a mom is and always will be a large part of who I am, but I need to guard carefully against it becoming all that I am.
Someday, after all, these babies will not be babies anymore, and being a mom will not fill up quite so much of my time. Or my house.
I must be careful to keep my heart close to God, to make sure that my primary identity is as His child. He is, ultimately, the most important piece of me, the One who is with me always.
I must take care to remain close to my husband. He will, Lord willing, be my dearest companion still when the children have homes of their own.
I must be mindful of my own self. I need to continue reading, continue learning, continue making my art, continue cultivating deep friendships.
I believe wholeheartedly that if I lose myself in my children, I and they will be the poorer for it.
Yet that piece of who I am is so consuming that I cannot just drift along and expect to hold on to the rest of my self.
I must be deliberate about caring for the other pieces of me. The more I cultivate all of the fragments of me, the richer and deeper the whole of them will become.
Those of you with children, what do you do, or for those whose children are older, what have you done to keep yourself from getting lost in your identity as a parent? I am still a mother of little ones, and I need your ideas.
I don’t often write about parenting issues, but I supposed that this particular struggle was one that was common to many. I pray that my written thoughts will spark your own heart-searching.

It All Began with a Lamb

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.



They ate their lamb standing up, their robes tucked into their belts.
They stood as they ate, trusting that God would keep his promise, ready to leave at a moment’s notice to head toward freedom.
They trusted and obeyed, and so they remained standing up, their staffs in their hands, as they ate their lamb.
That lamb who had saved their oldest child, that lamb whose blood was painted around their doors, that lamb whose life was substituted for a human life,
that same lamb would now give them what they needed for their journey.
That lamb, as they ate, gave them sustenance for their journey. That lamb was their food at the start of their decades-long journey across a wilderness. They partook of that lamb before they took a first step, a first step of obedience toward a Promised Land.
That lamb which gave them life also gave them strength, and courage, perhaps, too, as they stood ready to take the first steps toward a Land they could not yet see.
Life, sustenance, strength, courage.
And it all began with a lamb.
We eat our Lamb every week, gathered together with family.
We gather with family, trusting that God will keep his promises, ready to serve and care for each other at a moment’s notice, ready to love.
We trust and we obey, and so we gather together and eat of the Lamb each week.
That Lamb who saved us, that Lamb whose blood was shed for us, that Lamb whose life was substituted for ours,
that same Lamb now gives us what we need for our journey.
This Lamb, as we eat, gives us sustenance for our journey. This Lamb is our food and drink at the beginning of each week in our decades-long journey across the wilderness of our life here on earth. We partake of this Lamb before we take a first step into our week, a first step of obedience through our life toward a Promised Land.
This Lamb who gives us life also gives us supernatural power, and courage, perhaps, too, as we take Him into ourselves and abide in Him, as He through His Spirit abides in us, as we stand ready to take the first steps toward a Land we cannot yet see.
Life, sustenance, power, courage.
And it all began with a lamb.

Art credits: stained glass in Saint Peter and Paul parish church; Eucharist photo by John Snyder