Love: Tough or Tender?

One of the things I was taught growing up in church, over and over again, is that sometimes love doesn’t feel like love. For instance, if someone is doing something wrong that could potentially hurt them, it may not feel like love to confront them, but that is actually the loving thing to do. Or […]

Permanent Love: Grace in the Wilderness

Recently, my reading of the Old Testament has been greatly enhanced by John Goldingay’s excellent new translation, The First Testament. Goldingay, a well-respected Old Testament scholar, uses his Hebrew fluency to defamiliarize the ancient text for modern readers. For many readers of the Bible, terms like “salvation” and “righteousness” have become so familiar as to be devoid […]

Bold Love

At the end of the Civil War, there was a hope that finally the words of the Declaration of Independence would ring true across a nation that was struggling to repair the deep fracture that had occurred when brother turned against brother. The founding fathers had declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that […]

Do You Believe That You Are Loved By God?

If you had asked me this question some years ago, I would have immediately replied: Absolutely! Yet, the truth was that I typically found my value elsewhere.  At times, I put my value in my abilities, the number of speaking opportunities I might have, or in whether or not I felt valued by certain people. […]

Love: You never really know until…

I really thought we belonged to a loving church, the kind that accepts broken and wounded people.  Lately I’ve learned it’s easy to pay lip service to being a loving and welcoming church, the type that doesn’t judge people. It’s easy to claim this when it’s in the abstract. It’s another story when you have […]

February 2019 E-news from the Siburt Institute

Reflections on 50 Years of Ministry   [Actually, it is closer to 56 years of ministry, but 50 sounds much better – and who’s counting?] I was one of those guys who, from his mid-teens, knew what he wanted to do and be – at least in general terms. I wanted to be a preacher. […]

You are so Loved

On February 14, 1999, Valentine’s day as it turned out, I was employed by a church as their youth minister, and that was the day I made the decision to be baptized. I’ll come back to that. But first, Philadelphia. If you’ve ever been there, chances are you went to liberty hall, saw the bell, […]

A Weary Pastor

One of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something!) was the time I decided to surprise my then-fiance-now-wife with a day trip to King’s Island for her birthday. We lived in Nashville at the time and King’s Island is almost exactly 300 miles away from Music City – a five and a […]

The God Who Hovers Over

A Reflection on Exodus 12 I remember that night in Egypt, our last night. It was dark and dreary, but it was mixed with a buzz of anticipation in the air. The buzz coursed through our camp like an electric current, finding outlets at every corner and bouncing onward gaining speed. Bing. Bing. Bing. Our […]

When God Doesn’t

We were talking about God and the way he works on our behalf in a kid’s Bible class recently and one sweet kid sat on the edge of the seat. This child wants to go home but instead they go to someone else’s house everyday. It’s a good place but not what they want. The […]

The Lord’s Church

Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”  The Lord’s church was “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).  It is described as the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 1:22-23), and the “family of God in heaven and on earth”(Ephesians 3:15). Early in my Christian walk I thought, was even convinced, that the Lord’s […]

Do You Love Yourself?

Most of the Christians I talk to don’t have too much trouble believing God loves them. They believe Jesus loves them. They may not be quite so certain about the Spirit! God’s love for people is no secret. It isn’t a hidden or complicated doctrine. It is one of the most simple and beautiful things […]

What a Ugandan boy with a hernia can teach us about God’s love

Tony didn’t have any friends. At eight years old, he didn’t know what it was like to play soccer or climb trees. In fact, he didn’t know how to relate to other kids at all. Except with his fists. Tony was born with a hernia on his genitals that caused severe deformation. His parents couldn’t […]

Jesus Recycled Life

Be moved. Jesus took hate and hostility, the kind like our vengeance, by absorbing it into his own body. He then recycled it into love, mercy, and forgiveness. By his wounds—not his advice and not his theory—Jesus heals all of us. Go ahead. Lead with your fuming and spewing claims of unfairness. Blast away at […]

God’s Love – Tentative or Tenacious?

Many of us grew up with the doctrine of God’s unconditional love for humanity AND the implied belief (never directly stated but could be inferred from other things that were said) that God is waiting for you to mess up so he can wack you. Is it “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”? […]

February 2019 Theme – You Are Loved

No matter what you are going through or what you have done in your life – you are loved. No matter who you have disappointed or who approves you – you are loved. If you’ve goofed up big time…more than 100 times…1000 times – you are loved. In spite of what anyone else in your […]