The Hardest Interview We’ve Done So Far

I am the father of a three-year old boy. Most of you know that by now. A few weeks ago, Jason and I interviewed Jason Jones for the newest episode of Crackers & Grape Juice.

Jason Jones is not a pastor. He does not run a ministry. He’s a CFO. That’s right, the profession that most people we interview would not what to do, Jason does it. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughters. Why then would a podcast about faith, specifically Christianity, want to talk to a Texas based CFO?

Jason Jones is the author of Limping But Blessed: Wrestling with God after the Death of a Child, part of the Theology for the People series from Fortress.

There in lies why this was the hardest interview we’ve done so far. Jason Jones speaks with raw authenticity, explaining how his faith was not ready for the sudden and tragic death of his son. To be completely honest, I haven’t finished reading Limping But Blessed: Wrestling with God after the Death of a Child. I plan to but much like Cancer is Funny, I’ll need to read it a little bit at a time.

 


Click the images below and subscribe to the Crackers & Grape Juice Podcast. We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store, Stitcher, or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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Rod Dreher & The Benedict Option

Last week we had David Fitch on the podcast to talk about his book, Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission. This week’s episode about the Benedict Option is the yin to David’s yang.

When Jason first told me Rod Dreher (that’s right, THAT Rod Dreher) of The American Conservative had agreed to come onto Crackers & Grape Juice honestly I had no idea who the guy ways (sorry Rod). After a quick Google search and reading an excert of his new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, I was convinced this conversation was going to go one of two ways: milk-toast boring or a shouting match where I was playing referee between Rod, Jason, and maybe Morgan.

While I don’t agree with everything Rod wrote or spoke about in book or on the podcast I can tell you I appreciate the sincerity with which he spoke.

As Jason put it, “Rod Dreher turned out to be a wonderfully kind and thoughtful guy. His book turned out to be one that could have easily been written by my muse Stanley Hauerwas. And the dust jacket it turns out wasn’t written by him at all.”

And here in-lies the problem we are facing today in the church and in the large ings or society. We are completely unwilling to consider that someone else’s point of view, theology, beliefs, or whatever you want to call it might be acceptable. We want to move on with the idea that the other side is wrong and that we are right, and because of this, we must degrade, belittle, and embarrass those with whom we do not agree with in the public arena.

I’ll be the first the say I don’t think it is a good idea for the Church to retreat at a time where Jesus is desperately needed. I don’t think the Benedict Option is a good option, but it is an option, and at the least, we might be able to learn something from it.

If you will be at the Annual Conference of the Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC, please consider joining us for Pub Theology on June 15th at Bull Island Brewing Company. This is the unofficial kickoff party for Annual Conference.  This year’s theme will be ‘Fatih and Political Engagement’ with special guest, the profane and profound Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, author of the new book The Home-Brewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind.  Live music will be provided by the Clay Mottley Band. Food will be available on site.

Let us know you’re joining us by registering for the event. There is a $5 admission fee to offset the cost of the event.


Click the images below and subscribe to the Crackers & Grape Juice Podcast. We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store, Stitcher, or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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A Strangely Warmed Mother’s Day

Are you scheduled to preach this weekend? Forget about it! It’s Mother’s Day on Easter 5A, which means we throw the lections out the window and go with a Mother’s Day sermon.

Easter 5A Lections: Acts 7:55-60, Psalm 31:1-5 & 15-16, 1 Peter 2:2-10, and John 14:1-14

Because we know you’re just now preparing your sermon for this coming weekend, Brian Zahnd is here to save your clerical butt. Join Brian Zahnd, Taylor Mertins, and Jason Micheli on this weeks installment of Strangley Warmed, the lectionary podcast produced by Crackers & Grape Juice.

Steer clear of domesticating the Gospel this Sunday and use this episode to prepare a Mother’s Day sermon a mother would be proud of, because after all, we are all called to be maternal in some way, shape or form.

 


If you will be at the Annual Conference of the Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC, please consider joining us for Pub Theology on June 15th at Bull Island Brewing Company. This is the unofficial kickoff party for Annual Conference.  This year’s theme will be ‘Fatih and Political Engagement’ with special guest, the profane and profound Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, author of the new book The Home-Brewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind.  Live music will be provided by the Clay Mottley Band. Food available on site.

Let us know you’re joining us by registering for the event. There is a $5 admission fee to offset the cost of the event.


Click the images below and subscribe to the Crackers & Grape Juice Podcast. We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store, Stitcher, or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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Faithful Presence & The Fitch Option

Author and professor David Fitch joined Jason & Morgan to talk about “The Fitch Option” or the “Saint Patrick Option”, which is outlined in his new book, Faithful Presence: Seven Discipline That Shape the Church For Mission, on the latest episode of Crackers & Grape Juice. The opposite of the Benedict Option, David offers us disciplines that will shape the church for its mission.

“If the Kingdom of God is a social reality, it is something worked out among the people.”

Fitch argues that the Kingdom of God is about transformation of the whole community. Transformation is not limited to a particular family, both the literal family and Christian family. Reconciliation is displayed in the community so the world can see what we mean when we use the church-y terms describing what God is doing.

Check out David’s option and then check back to the podcast next week to hear Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option.

If you will be at the Annual Conference of the Virginia Annual Conference of the UMC, please consider joining us for Pub Theology on June 15th at Bull Island Brewing Company. This is the unofficial kickoff party for Annual Conference.  This year’s theme will be ‘Fatih and Political Engagement’ with special guest, the profane and profound Dr. Jeffrey Pugh, author of the new book The Home-Brewed Christianity Guide to the End Times: Theology After You’ve Been Left Behind.  Live music will be provided by the Clay Mottley Band. Food available on site.

Let us know you’re joining us by registering for the event. There is a $5 admission fee to offset the cost of the event.


Click the images below and subscribe to the Crackers & Grape Juice Podcast. We promise to provide you with theological conversations without stained glass language. For the love of all that is holy: Give us a review there in the iTunes store, Stitcher, or on Spreaker. It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast.

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Marketing the Unicorn – Colloquy, Interrupted

I wrote a post last week about what the church can learn from the way Starbucks recently marketed it’s Unicorn Frappuccino. Even though the drink reported tasted more like unicorn piss than a frappuccino, these magical drinks sold out quicker than the skinny-jean donning baristas could make them.

As a result of this “viral” post, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for two upcoming episodes of the Colloquy, Interrupted Podcast. Here’s the gist of the podcast:”Three new United Methodist Pastors, One Podcast; follow our learning experiences, and get a glimpse at what goes into being a pastor.”

While I’m not quite a “real” UMC pastor yet, the CI team graciously welcomed me on to the show. You can check out their podcast on Podbean or by using the player below. Show this podcast some love by listening and subscribing. You’ll definitely want to leave them a five-star review on iTunes after hearing this episode with your’s truly.

Called And Sent – A New Appointment And Journey

Below is the letter I shared with my congregation about my departure from Great Bridge UMC as I prepare for my appointment to Mount Olivet UMC in Arlington.

There isn’t much to complain about when your first day at a new church requires you to go to the beach. On July 1, 2015,  It was my first day and I was heading to the beach and as I walked up the sidewalk and into the church lobby, butterflies were swirling. As someone who spent a lot of my summers in college visiting the eastern shore of Delaware I didn’t mind this requirement of my new position at Great Bridge UMC but the thought of leading such a great group of students gave me butterflies.
Since being called to GBUMC to serve as the Director of Youth Ministries in 2015, this community has challenged me daily to fully live into the calling God has placed on my life. From day 1 (yes, we can be called at the beach) I have been feeling God calling, pulling, and pushing me deeper into pastoral ministry. This has been a call that for a long-time I had ignored and pretended did not exist. But this community, the congregation of GBUMC and larger Great Bridge community, has challenged me daily to live into this call.
Late last year, Pastor Tim and I began to have conversations about what it would like for me to take the next steps in my calling to pastoral ministry. What did that look like for me and my family, and how would I navigate these next steps. Over the course of a few months, supported by a lot of prayer and a supportive family, I had multiple conversations with other pastors as well as our District Superintendent.  These conversations culminated in me being approved as a certified candidate for ordination as well as being appointed to Mount Olivet United Methodist Church, beginning in July 2017, as an associate pastor.
This appointment comes with great joy as well as heartache as Allison, Camden, and I prepare to move once again.  Our home is in Great Bridge. Our friends are in Great Bridge. Camden loves being at church, and yes, would be here seven days a week if his parents allowed him.  With this heartache comes excitement as well. I have the opportunity to take the thing this community has taught me along with me into this new season of ministry. GBUMC will always be part of our family, my ministry, and my calling. This community, the students particularly, helped me to understand how God had been calling me. This community helped me to grow as I began to find a voice for preaching and teaching. This community is one of the reasons I am able to live into my calling.
Rest assured, I am working with the youth council, Pastor Tim, and SPRC to ensure a smooth transition at the end of June.  There will be a lot of questions over the coming months both for me as I prepare for this next season in ministry as well as for GBUMC. If you have questions about my call, appointment, or what’s next for our family I’d love to talk. Just stop by the office, shoot me an email, or let’s grab a cup of coffee.

Marketing the Unicorn

Starbucks did something pretty amazing this week. With 1 Facebook post, 1 Instagram post, and an a-frame sign at each store the international coffee giant was able to take it’s normal daily sales and split it 50/50 between the rest of the menu and the Unicorn Frappuccino (source: our baristas at the Starbucks on Cedar Road).

The beauty of what Starbucks has been able to do is brilliant!

This drink, cleverly named after my fraternity’s mascot, is a mix of zero nutritional value, sugar, fat, and fairy dust. This is a drink that is the equivalent to eating three Snickers candy bars in one sitting, and yet our local Starbucks has been a frenzy over the past 24-hours with patrons lining up to get their hands on the pink and blue unicorn goodness (or poison depending on how you look at it).

With little to no marketing, this drink was able to become a hashtag, commonly used phrase, and power player in the morning routine of the green mermaid’s coffee arsenal (although the drink contains no coffee or caffeine).

A product that has no nutritional value, has received over 700k likes and shares on social media with little to no marketing presence. Be sure of this though, Starbucks has been very intentional about marketing this product.

What I find most interesting about this product is the timing. On the heals of Easter, in the first days of Eastertide, Starbucks has shown us how the “less is more marketing style works.” Churches should spend 5% of it’s bottom line to see 10% in growth according to UMC Communications. Yet often this is not a thought out or longterm plan.

Easter is a time during the year when churches put on the dog, planning marketing campaigns (or outsourcing them), staging multiple events throughout Holy Week, and fill more eggs than the Easter bunny. All of this is done to draw more people into the church, more new disciples, and to reconnect those who have left the church for one reason or another.

With Easter Sunday being the biggest Sunday of the year for most churches it makes sense that they would spare no expense when it comes to marketing for their events.

What if though, we learned something from Starbucks when it comes to our marketing. Be sure that Starbucks was very intentional when it comes to a marketing campaign, but their latest “secret-menu” item did not stay a secret for very long and that was intentional!

Churches have the responsibility for sharing, proclaiming, and spreading the greatest message and news of all time. More important than a blended beverage thats for sure, and yet it seems like often churches keep the Good News of Jesus Christ on the secret menu because of a failure to take marketing seriously.

With 1 Facebook post, 1 Instagram post, and an a-frame sign at each store the international coffee giant was able let the secret out of the bag. Are we overthinking marketing in our local churches? In our overthinking are we actually under-thinking?

 

One Way

 

A few years ago, Allison and I headed out to dinner with another couple.  We picked Becky and Carl up, then headed to downtown Frederick… to one of those restaurants that is typical for locals returning home to visit their parents and friends. Downtown Frederick is made up of grid-like streets, one-way streets going north and south, as well as east and west.

We parked in Allison’s ‘06 Toyota Corolla in a parking garage, then went to dinner. After dinner, we headed down one of the side alleyways Frederick is known for. They are usually barely wide enough to find a single car down but Allison’s Corolla was small enough to have plenty of room. As Allison exited garage, heading down the alley towards East Patrick Street…

 if it was a movie or one of those don’t text and drive advisory scare commercials, next I’d shift to a freeze frame of our stunned scared faces, you’d hear rubber screech on pavement, glass crunch, metal crumple, windows shatter, an airbag muffle a scream and then the frame would unfreeze to police lights…that kind of thing… you hear, “if there’d been other way to go we would’ve gladly taken it, any other direction…”

Like I said, you could say we saw the light.


“It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.[1]” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost![2]

Anyone else think this sounds like overkill? Like Jesus is overreacting a bit?

Just before this text Peter had stumbled upon the right answer[3]. He appeared to have seen the light, calling Jesus the Messiah. But here he apparently didn’t understand what he was saying.

Because no sinner has laid out how the Son of Man must proceed, using words like rejection and suffering, is why Peter rebukes Jesus. He rebukes Jesus. Rebukes- a word normally reserved for when Jesus exorcises demons from possessed people. Peter tries to rebuke Jesus and instead Jesus rebukes Peter: “Get behind me Satan!”[4]

It sounds like overkill until you stop to consider how what Jesus was telling them about Messiah and Son of Man contradicted everything they assumed about those words, about who he was supposed to be. According to Daniel 7 the Son of Man isn’t supposed to suffer rejection, shame, and crucifixion. The Son of Man is supposed to come in glory, come on the clouds not on a cross. The Son of Man is supposed to wrestle dominion from the Powers of the world, and all the peoples and nations should serve him. Peter and his people, their scripture promised, believed, the Messiah would come and like David of old with the sword, deliver God’s People from their enemies. Not die to them.

Jesus has got it all wrong, Peter tries to explain, tries to set Jesus straight, get him back on the right way of this one-way Messiah-ship. If you’re the Son of Man, Peter all but says, this is how it’s supposed to play out. It’s not about taking up crosses; it’s about taking out those who build them. ‘All the kingdoms of the world and their splendor can be yours’ Jesus[5].

In other words, Peter rebukes Jesus with the very words we heard Satan tempt Jesus with in the wilderness last week when Tim preached.

Jesus responds the way he does to Peter not because Peter doesn’t appreciate the value of self-sacrifice. It warrants a reaction stronger than “You’re not getting this!” “You haven’t been listening. Wake up and pay attention Peter!” It isn’t that the disciples, the most trusted of Jesus’ followers, his closest of friends, have just missed the point.

Jesus responds the way he does because Peter is tempting Jesus as Satan had (maybe Satan has possessed Peter?), tempting Jesus to establish his Kingdom by any other means than the cross.

Get behind me Satan, Jesus says to his friend. I know it is written…about Son of Man…about Messiah…but I say to you…the Son of Man must “proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.[6]


Tim wanted me to tell you about the time I saw the light.

Lucky for the Corolla, and our insurance premium, the side mirrors folded in, taking the brunt of the 5 MPH accident. The driver, obviously intoxicated, knew enough the error of his travels to at the least slow down as he hit us.

 

The car was being driven by a drunk driver. It was a one-way alley.

He decided, if that’s the right word to describe a drunk driver, it would be best to head down the one-way alley we were on, coming at us head on.

Tim wanted me to tell you about the time I saw the light but it’s not quite that simple, is it?

I could tell this story one way in relation to Mark 8. I could point out how just like we were on a one-way street, Jesus says there’s only one way to the Father, his way of self-sacrifice etc. I could then end the sermon by reminding you and exhorting you to go out and….

But the other way to tell the story is that there’s never really just one way, right? To say there’s one way is to say there’s another way too, a wrong one, a way that if you go down it you’re certain to get yourself killed and quite possibly, in the process, get others killed.

And sometimes, there’s not any clear signs about which way you’re supposed to go. Sometimes it depends on where you’re standing. Sure, the driver was under the influence but until he hit us he would’ve sworn he was driving the right way down the street.


We like to imagine the disciples just refuse to see the light. They do not understand what Jesus is saying because self-sacrifice is something they, we, struggle with but don’t forget, these guys sacrificed more than any of us to follow Jesus in the first place. They dropped their fishing nets, that is, their families and livelihoods, and followed. They’ve already by chapter 8 violated all kinds of laws by being Jesus’ followers.

Their reluctance to sacrifice and suffer isn’t what’s going on here.

Sure, I go out of my way to avoid suffering. I don’t “embrace” it like Jesus tells us. Sure, most of us go out of our way to ensure that we have the most comfortable day possible, from the way we order our routines in the morning, to what we listen to on the radio, to the people we interact with. We do not even put obstacles in place that might cause us to be uncomfortable.

 

But the point of this passage isn’t that we should give up Diet Coke or chocolate, or meat. It isn’t even that…. serving and sacrificing…

We haven’t really seen the light until we’ve realized that, so far as he’s been taught by his scriptures, Peter’s right.

The Son of Man is supposed to arrive “in a whirl of clouds.[7]” The Messiah is supposed to be a King of Kings, a King like other Kings but to the nth degree.

The Son of Man isn’t supposed to “proceed to an ordeal of suffering.[8]” The Messiah isn’t supposed to wear a crown of thorns, naked and jeered and forsaken.

This isn’t how the story is supposed to play out. Jesus talking about rejection and shame and suffering and a cross- the cross in God’s own Word is identified as THE absolute sign of alienation and God forsakenness[9].

We haven’t really seen the light until we realize how Jesus sounds to Peter, and the disciples, as irresponsible and out of sorts and needing an intervention as a drunk driver careening the wrong way down a one-way street.


During Lent, we make a big deal about denying yourself and taking up the cross. The saving power of sacrifice seems as obvious to us as a one-way street sign.

But we haven’t seen the light, the counterintuitive light of the gospel, the shocking good news of Easter, until we realize how from Peter’s angle, and with good reason, it looks like Jesus driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

This isn’t how the Son of Man, the Messiah, brings the Kingdom.

Get behind me, Satan.

 

After all, Paul who writes:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”[10]

Deny yourself. Take up your cross[11].

Paul can only write that because Paul knows what Peter here in Mark 8 does not know, that this life of self-sacrifice Jesus announces, God will vindicate it on Easter by raising it from the dead. Until Easter, the cross and a life that leads to it is exactly what Paul says it is: “foolishness and shame[12].”

As much as we talk about taking up a cross at Lent, the only sign we have that Peter isn’t right to rebuke Jesus and keep from a cross- the only sign we have is an empty grave.

But because of that empty grave, we can take up our crosses, all evidence to the contrary and….

We can deny ourselves, at times making costly choices, proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of all and not the noises and idols we make for ourselves. We begin to live into the life Jesus has called us into. The life, through the waters of Baptism, which we are called to. Our called lives remove the obligation and replace it with a feeling of willingness, to take up our crosses, and go to where we are called.


But I wonder- is that all the light there is for us to see here today?

Likely if I go on you’ll think I’ve managed to take a passage as safe and unremarkable as an ‘06 Toyota Corolla and crash it at 5MPH.

But I wonder- maybe there’s another glaring sign in this passage that we seldom notice? And maybe in not noticing it we end going the wrong way down a one-way street?

Maybe, especially in Lent, we’re supposed to see how easy it is for us, Jesus’ baptized and called friends and followers, to start speaking Satan’s lines. If it was tempting for Jesus to have a Kingdom by any other means than the cross, surely, it’s tempting for us to want to have Jesus without the means by which he establishes his Kingdom. Surely, it’s as easy for us as it was for Peter to be under the influence and want Jesus but to want him on different terms.

We want Jesus to be our Loving Savior but we don’t really want to love our enemies.

We want Jesus to be…but we don’t really much want to…

Maybe we haven’t seen all the light there is to see here until we’ve looked at Peter and like we’re looking in a rear-view mirror see our own reflection.

[1] Mark 8.31

[2] Mark 8.31-33

[3] Mark 7.29

[4] Mark 8.33

[5] Matthew 4

[6] Mark 8.31

[7] Daniel 7.13

[8] Mark 8.31

[9] Deuteronomy 21.22-23

[10] Philippians 2.5-11

[11] Philippians 2.8

[12] 1 Corinthians 1.18

Don’t Forget to Wash Your Ash

It’s Ash Wednesday, which means your social media feed is full of blog posts and photos of about ash. There will be advertisements for “Ashes to Go” and friends proudly letting the world know they are giving up social media for the next 6 weeks.

Giving up something or adding something to your daily routine is one of the ways Ash Wednesday and Lent help us to develop spiritual disciplines. Maybe you plan to pray daily, at a set time, with a set prayer for the next  6 weeks. Or perhaps you are taking swearing and cussing out of your vocabulary. These are great was to draw ourselves closer to the holiness displayed throughout Christ’s life.

Today as we gather for worship and the imposition of ashes upon our foreheads or in the palm of our hands keep the holiness of Christ, and our need to repent for our lack there of, remain front and center

Confession

God is our judge.

Anyone of my confirmation students will be able to tell you that. There comes a time in our spiritual formation where we transition from this understanding of judgement due to us for our sins, to now the understanding of the judgement due to them for their sins. This is not what Ash Wednesday is all about. When we confess our sins today we are confessing on our own behalf and also for those who are not present.

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room an shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees you in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6.5-6 (NRSV)

But when you fast, put oil on you head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by our Father who sees in secret will reward you. – Matthew 6.17-18 (NRSV)

Fleming Rutledge argues that Ash Wednesday, of all the days in the church calendar should remain a private day. This is a day of withdrawal both the church corporately she argues, and I would add the Christians individually.

For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4.17 (NRSV)

This is the day when the church stands first to confess our (individually and corporately) sins, submitting ourselves before the divine to await our judgement.

There are things we have done and left undone as communities for which we must offer repentance. Ash Wednesday offers the church gathered (however small a gathering it is) the opportunity to see how the church can really stand as a witness for the community. However small a gathering, the congregation is taking the sins of the community upon themselves. This is no easy task nor should it be undertaken flippantly.

Side Note: The gathered church is being fractured by the practice of “drive-thru ashes” and “ashes-to-go”. I recognize the usefulness of these practices as a witness to the un-churched. These practices are also helpful to provide more opportunities to our congregations who, let’s be frank, find it hard to schedule more than one hour a week for church. The practice of “drive-thru ashes” and “ashes-to-go” runs dangerously close to the same pious activity Jesus is advising us to avoid in Matthew 6.

Wash Your Ash

As we leave worship today, let us wash our faces. 

It is imperative that we wash our faces today. Walking around town with ash on your forehead is a direct contraction to today’s lection, which for many will be the scripture read and preached on today.

Wash your ash today. Let us not allow the world see our fasting as an attempt for pious righteousness but rather let our fasting be a witness to the judgement that was due to us but because of Christ’s sacrificial life we receive the justification we do not deserve.

The church is the representative in the world of God’s forgiven and justified sinners. We want to model what it means to be God’s sinful, forgiven, and justified people. – Fleming Rutledge

Self-Care Is a Requirement for Ministry

My friend Steve Austin, not of the Stone Cold variety, has one of the most compelling stories. We’ve shared his comeback from addiction and depression on Crackers and Grape Juice. Steve has convinced me that as a husband, father, and pastor putting myself first isn’t necessary a bad thing. Steve has convinced me that self-care matters.

I met Steve in a Facebook group for Christian bloggers and authors.  Steve posted a link to his latest book, From Pastor to Psych Ward: Recovery from a Suicide Attempt is Possible, and I knew from the title I needed to read it. Steve doesn’t hold much back as he looks back on what led him from the pulpit to the psych ward.  Steve burned the candle at both ends: working full-time, being a father & husband, and also serving a church.  On top of that he had been abused as a child (to which he openly deals with what that meant for him as a teenager and also as an adult).

Steve is launching a new opportunity for all of us concerned with our own self-care as well as those around us.

The Self Care Challenge

How Does the Self Care Challenge Work?

  • Each day, you’ll receive an email with a self-care challenge, including follow-up questions and a “Messy Grace Mantra”.
  • You’ll also have access to a closed Facebook group where you can connect with and encourage others who are doing the self-care challenge, too. This is a great way to build community!
  • In short, you’ll have all the tools you need to make this challenge a success!

What’s in it for me?

  • Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed?
  • Are you drowning in a sea of shame?
  • Does it seem impossible to tell others “no”?
  • Are you struggling with addiction?
  • Does anyone actually know the “real” you?
  • Does anxiety whisper white noise in your ear?
  • Is the black dog of depression nipping at your heels?

 

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, the 7-day Self-Care Challenge will give you tips and trick to take better care and control of your life. If you don’t take good care of yourself, nobody else will!

Ready to start the challenge? Just click here!