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The Sleep Deprived Pastor

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About this blog

Highly caffeinated sermons, meditations, reflections and essays on Christian faith and living, contemplative spirituality, theology, comparative religion, and interreligious dialogue from a full-time United Methodist pastor, and  the proud, but sleep deprived father of a baby girl. I'm a long-time member of the UM Forums and Blogging Community and it's good to be back!!

Entries in this blog

 

Does God Have a Purpose for My Life?

John 1:29-42 “Does God have a purpose for my life?” "I have climbed the highest mountains I have run through the fields Only to be with you Only to be with you. I have run, I have crawled I have scaled these city walls These city walls  Only to be with you. But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for. But I still haven’t found What I’m looking for."      Do any of you know those words….what that’s from? It’s the lyrics from U2’s song “I Still Haven’t Found What

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to "Heaven?"

This is a blog entry that I suppose is long overdue; one, because I have been very busy and haven't had time to write anything lately and two, because it is a subject that I am frequently asked about and called out on, both on internet forums like this one and in real life. As many of you know, I am about to become a seminarian and I'm studying to become an ordained minister. The call of Jesus Christ on my life is the central part of my life; to me there is nothing more important than this. But

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Is it Wrong to Have Doubts & to Question God?

John 20:19-31 “Is it wrong to have doubts and to question God?” When you think of news stories that top the headlines, you don’t normally think of religious stories. If there’s any at all…in the newspapers they tend to be towards the back. If you’re looking online, they’re generally towards the bottom. But every now and then a particular religious story will really make waves and get a lot of attention. Well, there was one such story just a few years ago that made international headlin

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

On the Road to Discipleship

A Reflection on Mark 8: 27-38: “On the Road to Discipleship” I had a friend once who really wanted me to die. In fact, you might say he was trying to “kill” me. Now you might think that doesn’t sound like a very good friend, but it turns out that was exactly what I needed. In fact, he was a literal answer to a prayer. And no, it wasn’t because I had a death-wish! Now many of you have read about parts of my story on here before. It was the early 2,000’s and I had this powerful experienc

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Resurrection of Hope Part II: Hope and Christianity

I have always been a big fan of the science fiction genre; whether its literature, film or even video games. I can trace this interest all the way back to childhood when I first saw the 1960 classic the Time Machine. Every time the main character would wind up that chair to travel through time, my eyes would just go wide with amazement. The idea of time travel is just fascinating. I think that’s always been part of the draw of science fiction; it makes us think of limitless possibilities and fil

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Resurrection of Hope Part I: Hope and Humanism

I was doing some spring cleaning the other day, and while rummaging through a bunch of dust covered boxes I found an old Obama “Hope” sticker from his 2008 election campaign. I’m sure you remember those. It has a picture of his face in red and blue colors with the words “hope” in all capital letters. For just a moment, I was reminded of the fervor of that election year, a fervor that I myself bought into. I went to see him speak during a Democratic rally held at a local area high school football

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Seeking God

If God exists, then why is He so shy? Why doesn’t He reveal Himself in more ‘obvious’ ways? Those questions form the basis of an argument against the existence of God that has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years, the argument from “divine hiddenness”. As a former atheist, I can relate to the argument; it’s a tough question. I remember many years ago riding in a car with a friend and we came across a billboard that depicted a blue sky and some pretty white clouds and it read: “Looking

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Meditations III: Saint Catherine of Sienna and the Bridge

"I told you that I have made a bridge of the Word, my only-begotten Son, and such is the truth. I want you to realize, my children, that by Adam's sinful disobedience the road was so broken up that no one could reach everlasting life. Since they had no share in the good for which I had created them, they did not give me the return of glory they owed me, and so my truth was not fulfilled. What is this truth? That I had created them in my image and likeness so that they might have eternal life, sh

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Can God Change a Person's Mind?

Matthew 3:13-17, Acts 11: 1-18 “Can God Change People’s Minds about how they act?”      Grace and peace to all my readers here on Unexplained Mysteries. I make no apologies for being a creature of habit. I like my house, my study, and my books all to be arranged in a certain way. And there’s more. I’m especially a creature of habit when it comes to eating. When we go to a restaurant I tend to order the same thing every single time. When we were living in Dublin we had our favorite Chinese t

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Meditations II: Thomas Merton And the New Seeds of Contemplation

"Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love-outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

He is Risen: How an Atheist Came to Believe in the Resurrection

When I was very young, my mother used to read to me from the Bible and tell me stories about Jesus; and as a kid I loved hearing those stories. My eyes used to go wide with amazement when she would tell me how He calmed storms, walked on water, gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk and how He rose from the dead. I believed those stories without question; I loved this Jesus very much and I prayed to Him every night before going to bed. I felt that He was really there, really listening, and

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

How To Walk On Water

How To Walk On Water All one has to do is look first at the book of Job to see why we suffer. It is to teach us faith. What is faith, unless it is something that can be challenged, unless it has obstacles? Remove these challenges, remove these obstacles, we are left with acceptance, not faith. Job though he was a pious and righteous man, blessed with material prosperity did not yet know true faith, he had acceptance, belief. It wasnt until Satan took, one by one, the things that he loved and c

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Resurrection of Hope: My Story

Have you ever felt like your own walk with God has been a long and winding one? Have you ever been plagued with difficulties and doubts, highs and lows? Mine is such a story. Recently in my blogs I've been talking about the philosophical and theological implications surrounding the word "hope". Today I am going to do something different; I'm simply going to tell you my story and how I came to live a life resurrected by hope. I had a good childhood, with two amazing parents. My mother used to re

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Help Me in My Unbelief: The Struggle with Doubt

Over the years, I’ve had a number of Christians tell me that they’ve struggled with doubt, often for long periods of time. This doubt could have come for any number of reasons; a prayer of theirs seemingly went unanswered; they felt God had abandoned them during a time of trial; or perhaps someone leveled an intellectual objection at them that they could not answer and it caused them to question their faith. But while the circumstances for the doubt may vary, the end result is usually the same:

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Mary: Ever-Virgin

Growing up in a Protestant home and having spent many years in an Evangelical Church, I was always baffled by the veneration of Mary. I would see the Icons, statues and medallions of Mary, and like many Protestants, I mistakenly thought Catholic and Orthodox Christians somehow worshiped Mary. This was all the more perplexing because in all the years I spent in my Evangelical Church, the only time I could recall Mary ever even being mentioned was during the Christmas season. So what was the deal

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Music for the Soul

Those who know me know that I am a lover of Sacred Music: Gregorian, Byzantine and Orthodox Chants and High Masses and Liturgies. There are certain songs that stir my soul and this is one of those songs. It transports me to another place. I thought I would share it with my readers; the link is below. May you be blessed and edified by it: These haunting words are translated in English below... Latin Spem in alium nunquam habui Praeter in te, Deus Israel Qui irasceris et propitius eris e

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

A Farewell of Sorts

A few years ago, I was sitting in the living room of my apartment watching television when I got to thinking about my future. It had been a whirlwind; I’d walked away from my career in sales to pursue a long ignored call into the ministry and I started Bible College with the intention of getting into seminary. Anxiety washed over me. Could I really do this? Could I really achieve my goals and make it to seminary? Four years ago, it seemed like a distant, almost impossible dream. I often questio

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

A Sermon For Pentecost Sunday

Sermon 5/20/18 Acts 2: 1-21 Pentecost Year B “Proclaim Jubilee!”      If you’re from Ohio, I think it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to complain about the weather. Now a good part of the time, I think that’s pretty warranted, isn’t it? Most recently….it was the winter that….refused….to…..just end.You know, it’s funny…back in February my In-Laws were talking about how they couldn’t wait for Spring….and I told them….half-jokingly….half-seriously….I don’t call it spring until May. The

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Comfort amidst the Uncertain & the Unexpected

A Meditation on Isaiah 40:21-31 “Comfort amidst the Unexpected and the Uncertain”     Can I start today's blog by asking my readers a tough question? How many of you have ever gotten fired from a job before? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below. Was it sudden? Or did you see it coming? Was it a shock to the system or were you glad to go? Well, full disclosure…I have to raise my hand. If I’m perfectly honest, so much of my working life has been a lot like th

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Praying Without Ceasing

I call myself a Christian and yet, more often than not, I find that I have little time for God. It’s always something! Most mornings, I wake up with the best of intentions; it’s 7am, cold and quiet, and the sun isn’t even up yet. I get out of bed; pull my Bible off the bookshelf, thinking it’s time for some early morning devotions and prayer. This is meant to be my alone time with God. But almost every morning; something will distract me from that. My phone starts ringing or I pass by the kitch

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Why Was Jesus Born to a Poor Family?

Matthew 25:31-45 “Why is it that God Chose for Jesus to be Born into a Poor Family?”     Grace and peace to all of my readers here on Unexplained Mysteries. This week I’ll be starting a new blog series which I previewed last week (with a blog on doubt), called “Hello God? We’ve Got Questions” that will be running for my next few posts. This past year, our United Methodist Communications started a very successful ad campaign that featured conversations with children. They were asked to share

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Belief in the Unseen

I was asked yesterday in a friendly discussion how I "could believe in a God that is unseen", and indeed; why would I need such a belief at all to be a "good human being?" These were very good questions; questions that I once wrestled with myself as an atheist. The basic idea is this: something needs to be seen to be believed in; a thing cannot be true unless we are able to verify it empirically. Religion, then, was something that 'primitive' man used to cope with the forces around them. A fla

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

The Meditations I: The Bhaddekaratta Sutta

I don't always have time to write a new blog post. My goal is to get one up on a weekly basis, but sometimes life gets in the way. So in an effort to bless my dear readers, I am going to be launching a new (occasional) series of blogs when I don't have time for an original composition. I shall call this series the Meditations and it will be a collection of writings from various religious traditions; the scriptures, the great mystics and saints that have impacted my life and my own spiritual jour

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Vertigo & The Mystical Experience

A Reflection On Mark 9:2-9: “Vertigo & The Mystical Experience”   Every now and then, over the course of our lives, we get to experience what can best be described as a mystical experience. A mystical experience is a moment in time where it seems as if the veil between heaven and earth is blurred, and we’re drawn into a profound experience of the divine and the sacred. It’s an entirely subjective experience…we can’t prove them…we can’t authenticate them….but if you’ve ever had one

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

 

Can God Help a Struggling Loved One?

Mark 1:21-28 “Can God A Struggling Loved One?”      Just because you’re a Pastor doesn’t mean you always have a direct pipeline to God. Pastoral ministry also doesn’t come with an instruction manual, a troubleshooting guide or FAQ’s. So naturally there’s going to be times when you have questions or you need some advice…especially if you’re a rookie like me. Now one such outlet for this is God’s gift of social media and clergy forums. With just a couple clicks of your phone you can literally

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

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