Being fully present takes courage … And our hero does not disappoint!

Today I found myself returning to a story in Luke 7:36-50 that I love, often return to and enjoy preaching on …

It’s the account of Jesus being invited to a dinner party that almost goes totally awry. Once at this party, Jesus immediately encounters a woman — and a sinful woman at that. She is desperate, and she then makes a big scene — cornering Jesus, falling to her knees, wailing and weeping tears all over his feet.

This story speaks to me as much as any story in the Gospels because it showcases Jesus’ terrific emotional health. Jesus is completely engaged emotionally at this evening dinner engagement and shows what a true hero he is. Over and over I have read and pondered this story, and I have yet to tire of trying to plumb its depths. — A Christian journalist in Chicago digging for the truth

On Saturday November 2nd, I spent the day in Chicago at a one-day conference at Judson University called “Restore Chicago.” Sponsored by the journalism ministry of Julie Roys (, the day centered on helping people make sense of the abuse and corruption so prevalent in the Church.

With the demise of two very prominent Chicago pastors in the last 2 years — Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church and James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel — the speakers and discussions throughout the day largely centered on those two mega-churches and the rather far-reaching fall out from the lack of accountability and subsequent abuse of both of these well-known pastors.

Are we lonely or are we experiencing normal human longing?

Late last summer I drove about 900 miles west to where I was born and raised in northwestern Kansas. One a hot August day I headed west on Interstate 70. At Grainfield, Kansas, I turned north on State Highway 23 and drove 15 miles north into Hoxie.

I was born in Hoxie and spent my first 10-and-a-half years in the little rural town of 1200. My Grandpa and Grandma Follis lived a block from our house, and 10 miles north out in the country lived my mom’s parents, my Grandpa and Grandma Jennings.

Late May of 2009 was the last time I had been in Hoxie. In 2009 I joined my mom, my brothers and my sisters as we laid my dad to rest in the cemetery on the north side of town.

When I pulled into Hoxie this time, I recognized it, but in some ways it felt like I had never been there before.

My dad passed at 81, and he is buried alongside my Grandpa and Grandma Follis. My mom will laid to rest beside my dad.

Working hard at being true to our true self

Many can instantly recite the two greatest commandments of all. In simplest terms they are: “Love God and love others.” The challenge comes in implementing them in my life. I realize, often unwittingly, that I often leave out the last part of the second greatest commandent: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Can we love others well, if we don’t love ourselves well? Well, probably not. And yet, I’ll tell you a little secret. After spending the last 10 years counseling and mentoring pastors, many pastors and church leaders struggle with self-hatred. More pastors than you know don’t feel good enough to be the kind of pastor they hope to be. Now put that up against the commandment to truly love yourself, and you’ll start understanding the struggle. And boy is it a struggle!

So how is it that any of us is supposed to love ourselves well, to truly be self-aware and to give ourselves the kind of self-care we need?

Stepping through the door of humility leads to fullness in God’s Kingdom

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) pretty much summarizes the teaching of Jesus.

It begins with 3 striking thoughts:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Here is one of the constant warnings the Apostle Paul always seemed to hammer home to the early churches: “Do not think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourself. Let God change you inwardly, by showing you who you really are.” Romans 12:2