Vintage CC: Fandom and Faith

In honor of the regular college football season wrapping up in the next few weeks, I decided to revisit this post from September 2015. My past self who wrote this would be pleased to hear what has developed with his team, especially this season (although I'd hold off on traveling back to tell him until I see how the last Game turns out). 

I get excited about the fall months for many reasons, among them being the return of college football. I've been especially excited for what Jim Harbaugh will bring to my favorite team, the Michigan Wolverines, after a decade of futility.

Leading up to the season, I thought a little about the parallels between sports fandom and a life of faith. You'd be surprised how often I'm able to find such parallels, actually. The way I see it, there are different ways of being a fan, as there are different ways of approaching how one believes and lives as a Christian. I shared some of this in a sermon not too long ago, but thought I'd flesh …

Three Reasons Not to Sit Still While Praying

If you've ever picked up a book about prayer or attended a spiritual retreat or workshop, most of them tend to prescribe the same method.

Find a quiet place. Sit still. Assume a position that will be comfortable for you (that is, that you'll be able to remain in for a while). Center your breathing to calm yourself. Usually at some point while this method is described, a line from Psalm 46 is quoted: "Be still and know that I am God."

I love this general style of prayer. When I myself am able to find the time to observe it, it helps take me away from the busyness of my days and helps me refocus on God's presence. But I confess that I don't always make time to do this, because that busyness can be so distracting and exhausting that by the time I do have a free moment, I'd rather just wind down on my couch with a TV show or book for a little while before going to bed.

If my anecdotal experience as a pastor is any indication, I am far from the only one. I he…

Searching for the Fountain of Youth Group

My senior high youth group was bright, engaged, eager to share opinions, and compassionate. I still carry those days with me as my entrance into Christian discipleship: the informal yet passionate conversation mixed with opportunities to participate in service projects were my first, lasting taste of what it means to be part of the church. I believe that many others who have been a part of youth groups could say similar things. But after graduation, that energy disappears and something else takes its place. After years of talking about the issues of the day from worn, plaid chairs, we’re encouraged to sit around a committee table and help figure out how much fruit salad to order for an upcoming dinner. After years of embarking on service trips, we’re told that there’s only so much time and money to devote to adults doing such things (and the kids have to raise their own funds for that, anyway). After years of guitar-accompanied songs around campfires and concerts attended, we’re told to si…

A Prayer for Honest Asking

based on Mark 10:46-52

Faithful God, we sometimes have trouble saying what we mean. For fear of being a burden to others or of coming off as too needy or dependent, we avoid asking for help or dance around what we want hoping that others will pick up on what we need. We've become conditioned to think that, given enough time and enough chances, we'll be able to fix our problems on our own. Either out of stubbornness or felt expectations, we go along with what we think we must do, attempting to ignore how this approach often only does more harm.

Through Jesus, you ask us point blank: "What do you want me to do for you?" You invite us to speak our concerns plainly; to share the deepest desires of our hearts without reservation or hedging or worry of rejection. You repeatedly remind us that you love us too much to avoid the hardest questions and most desperate circumstances that we are facing. Rather, you enter into our lives to enact healing or forgiveness or renewal o…

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