Take Your Shoes Off

Take Your Shoes Off

It was a little more than 30 years ago when I was driving from Nashville to Raleigh in my old car. We had just accepted the call to pastor the struggling campus church, and because our house wouldn’t sell in North Carolina, Denise and the kids stayed behind. After a few weeks at my new church, I decided to head back to check on the family.

We were broke, had taken a pay cut, the car needed repairs on the way, and it was hot. I was miserable and tense, worried and anxious. On that drive, I strangled the steering wheel and gritted my teeth.

Soon I came to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smoky Mountains are a special place for me because it was our family vacation spot when I was a child. Denise and I honeymooned there, and then spent many breaks there with our young daughters.

And as I began to drive into this special place, I noticed something.

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Our Daily Bread

Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

With this simple phrase a massive transition happens in the Lord’s Prayer. In these words we move from an omnipotent God to frail humans, which bothers some of us. We’d rather think more highly of ourselves. Words like “frail” and “needy” and “hungry” and “please” don’t sit too well when we are trying to prop up our little self-sovereign kingdoms.

But to be human is to be needy. To pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is to be deeply in touch with our essence, to declare that we are needy humans before our creator.

Bread is a powerful Biblical image for human neediness. The scriptures are full of bread stories, but one of the most revealing is in Exodus 16.

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When Work Is a Pain

When Work Is a Pain

If you want to make promises that hard work yields great reward, Proverbs is the goldmine of texts. But it is not the only voice that speaks into the workplace. The Old Testament story of Job is a dissenting voice to wisdom.

Job did everything he was supposed to do and lost it all. Some have suggested that Job was written as protest to the simplified proverbs promising that if we do “a” we will get “b.” Sometimes we do what is right and suffer for it.

Job’s friends all had Ph.D.’s in wisdom but were declared by God to be dead wrong.  Suffice it to say there is no divine guarantee that if we do the right things we will get the results we want. There is rogue suffering in our world. And sometimes our vocation finds us right in the middle of it.

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