Month: August 2018


One of the cool things I get to do is officiate weddings. Like every man, I have always loved weddings – really, though, I suppose the thing I love is the marriage. The ceremony is just the vehicle, a beautiful doorway to the home of commitment. When 2 people decide that they have found the kind of person they have been looking for, the kind of person they don’t want to live their lives without, the kind of person they want to eat dinner with every day for the rest of forever with, the kind of person they want to regularly fight and make up with, what’s not to love about that?

It can be a very fancy vehicle or a rickety old doorway, it’s the home that matters.

And to be invited into building that door is such a tremendous honor, it gives me butterflies the size of pterodactyls. I have been to many, many weddings (I think double digits the year we were married!!) and I remember very little of them. I love the couples, and I remember so much of them, their vows, reactions to the other, but as far as what color the chairs were or what food was served or what the pastor said, not much. UNLESS, of course, something disastrous happened – like a best man/maid of honor speech that was inappropriate or embarrassing, a fistfight over the bouquet, food poisoning, something like that. Those things are much harder to forget. And from that day forward, when you look at photos, you say, “remember this? Man, that ___ was just the worst…”

In my preparation, (usually a day or two before the BIG DAY) there’s always that moment when I have to talk me off the ledge of a possible “remember this? Man, that pastor sure was terrible! He ruined that day!”  

And this reminds me of Samuel and Elisha. You see, when they do things (baseball, band, basketball and plenty of other things that don’t begin with the letter B), I sit and watch – proud and terrified in equal parts. What if they fall, give up a home run, miss the shot, hit a bad note? What if they forget the words? To see them hurt, especially their hearts and souls, is absolutely the worst. And what I often think is, “If I could prevent it, I would,” before remembering that I wouldn’t. Now, that sounds awful, like I want their heart broken, them to fail, to lose, but just because it sounds awful doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I do want those things.

As far as I can figure, the only way for me to prevent their pain is to assure they never throw the pitch or take the shot. The only way I can be certain they don’t hit the wrong note is to keep them from hitting any note. Turns out, ‘to see them hurt’ isn’t the worst, to see them so consumed with fear that they never try is.

I wonder how many awesome experiences we miss because of the fear, the desire to avoid the pain, the butterflies – all mistaken for signs we should not proceed. What if they are the opposite? What if they are spiritual defibrillators, shocking our souls to jolt us back into the moment, the here and now, saying, “Wake up! You’re missing this! This is a sacred space, slow down, breathe and engage.” These opportunities to fail should be charged with meaning, should be overwhelming. If they aren’t, we’re either asleep or buried in our apathy. They are gifts for the living.  

So, I married a lovely couple on Saturday, all of us fully aware and present, dancing with each other, the butterflies, and with God.   


We went miniature golfing last week, at a glorious course called The Shack in Manheim.

The day was sunny and beautiful, even the humidity didn’t make us all want to lay down and cry. As we stood on the tee of the 2nd hole, we heard, from the family in front of us, “If you do that again, I’ll hit you with this club until you die!” The voice came from the adult male of the bunch, to the young (maybe 5 or 6 year-old) male, in front of the adult woman and 2 twin girls, in front of us, in front of all of the other golfers. 


The boy ignored him, as I prayed he would. 

There is a research scientist named Dr Masaru Emoto, who did some experiments with water crystals. He spoke to water, saying things like “Thank you,” “I love you,” and “you fool,” “I hate you.” Then he’d freeze the water and study the crystals under a microscope. Right now, you should look at the pictures – Google ‘Emoto’ and look at the images. The kind, lovely words were bright and crisp, like paintings, and the ugly, painful words looked like sludge or vomit. (Now that I think of it, they look exactly like what they are.) Anyway, the point is that we are composed of a shockingly high percentage of water, so it stands to reason that we would be affected in a similar way to Emoto’s water. When this boy, probably so excited to go mini-golfing with his family, heard those words, his insides, his heart, soul, transformed into the sludge. 

Sure, he ignored him. I wished he’d never heard the words, but I know he did. And his heart broke, as did mine.

We have some rules in this house about language. There are ‘bad words,’ you know? Like ones that start with d’s, s’s, and f’s – and I couldn’t care less about any of them. Of course, I don’t really use them, obviously not in certain company, don’t want my boys to use them, especially without consideration (like comma’s or capital letters). Somebody said those words ‘give people a reason not to listen to you,’ and I find that’s pretty true, so I want my boys to understand the unintended consequences of careless speech. Having said that, they’re just words, and they don’t turn water to sewage.

In our house, there are 2 other words we don’t EVER say – fat and stupid. Those words ALWAYS inflict damage, turn the water to sludge. They are wrecking balls that never miss the mark, mean and hurtful. I’d probably add “I’ll hit you with this club until you die,” too.

Our parents always said “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” and they were absolutely wrong. Broken bones mend, heal. The horrible things said in anger, ridicule, disgust, condescension are still there, just as painful as they were the moment they were inflicted.

School is a week away from starting, and I shudder, thinking of my experience in junior high. I understand the kids are all insecure, struggling with inadequacy, hoping the communal eye of judgment doesn’t find them, and it is to this end that they preemptively attack anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. The classic magician’s trick of misdirection. We all know the bullies and screaming mad mini-golfers are the ones with the slimiest water and the biggest bruises on their souls, but honestly, that doesn’t help too much as the damage is being doled out.

So, again, we are left with the only question that matters, “what do we do with this?”

And this is the most exciting part for me. You see, in the Bible it says we are “wonderfully made” in the “image of God” – and God is a wild, imaginative, unbelievably creative Being. That means we are, too. All made uniquely, with passions and interests are distinct as we are. Your answer for ‘what do we do’ is very different from mine – it’s like a gift waiting to be unwrapped. 

At mini-golf last week, (I wanted to call him the words we don’t say in polite company, but) my answer was to engage the guy with the filthy water, asking questions, trying to open his eyes to his family, the course, and the simple fact that we are here, now. We stayed very close to their group, laughed with each other about our disastrous scores for the rest of the round. I didn’t fix him or the boy, obviously, but each journey of a million miles begins with a single step, right? With enough single steps, maybe our water – and our hearts – can start to clear up.         



Good morning everyone!
This is a good news/bad news situation.
Bad News: The Riverboat is CANCELED! With all of the rain we’ve gotten this season, they have had no choice but to cancel several weekends, including this one.
The riverboat folks were willing to allow us to reschedule for September 30th, but we had already rented the pavilion for our meal – with the Parks & Recreation dept of Harrisburg, and there is no game then.
Then, Good News: Dennis was able to charm the daylights out of the Parks&Rec dept and they were willing to allow us to reschedule our rental to Sept 30th, as well.
SO, that left us with a decision to make. What was more important to us, the riverboat or the baseball game? And, we’ve decided that the riverboat was, so we’ll be enjoying our service on the City Island riverboat (followed by a meal on City Island) on September 30!
This week, we will be meeting at the Bridge at 10:30am – regular time/regular place – and there will not be a meal (I’m very sorry to all of us who were bringing food – I hope you haven’t already made/bought anything for Sunday)
This week: Service at the Bridge at 10:30 – no riverboat/no meal/no game
***(unless you want to go to the game, I suppose – it just won’t be as a group)
Sept 30, 2018: service on the riverboat, 9:30am, followed by a community meal
Thanks, everybody, for being so flexible.
***Please let the friends you invited know about the change, they are still welcome this weekend at the Bridge;)
Love. Peace.

New Endings

I love sports. All sports. I guess I get that from my dad.

Last night, the baseball team I help to coach won a tournament championship. The tournament was a double elimination format, and we went into last night as the team with no losses. I’ll spare the many, many details, but we lost the first game, late in soul-crushing fashion. As we waited for the second game to begin, our boys were understandably deflated, quiet and theirs were boisterous and self-assured. I eaves-dropped on their coach’s pre-game talk, and he spoke of momentum – they had it and we didn’t – as if it were a wave that they would ride and would drown us.

In exactly the same way I relate all spiritual matters (which is to say, all matters) to sports, I relate all sports to spirituality, and Jesus.

So, this momentum rah-rah had me thinking about last Sunday.

The message was called Begin Again, titled for a terrific Taylor Swift song. The point was, no matter where we are, who we have been, what our yesterday looked like, we could begin again. That’s the point of grace, and the invitation of the Jesus. Too often, I think because something was some sort of way, that it will be that same sort of way forever. Relationships, health, weight, the tapes in my head, and on and on and on – “it is what it is,” right?

Wrong! I hate that saying, mostly because it comes from a posture of despair and we are certainly not people of that particular defeatist posture. 

This rut we dig ourselves into implies that we live lives of momentum, that our pasts are waves, that some can ride and some can be buried underneath. That what happened in the first game will impact the second. And it might. But it doesn’t have to.

After all this chatter about momentum, the opposing team was raucous and encouraged, ready to get the game started so they could claim the trophy that was now a mere formality. 

Until our pitcher took the mound, and completely dominated them, 1st inning to last.

Now I understand what I didn’t when I was trapped by my lack of imagination, the voices in my head, past regrets and negativity. Momentum isn’t real, it never was. It is only as real as the next pitch, at-bat, choice, moment.

We can change our story. Faith means that we aren’t slaves to our stories, to our first games. I hadn’t been able to lose weight – until I did. Their marriage was in free fall, couldn’t be saved, everyone knew how this movie went, had seen it so many times – until they made different decisions (and those different decision started with just 1) that turned everything around. His job was depressing and unfulfilling, but he was chained to a narrative more than that job – so when he left to pursue a new spark, he found the purpose he had been lacking. An all star team of 12-13 year-olds were ‘destined’ to lose 2 straight games – until they wrote a different ending. 

I like these new chapters, new endings.

And now, I’m going to the beach to write a new page of my own.