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When You Get What You Prayed For

In college, I used to (only semi-jokingly) ask God to send me a tall, blonde, Jesus-loving, soccer-playing, European boyfriend.

A few weeks ago, I married a tall, blonde pastor who played collegiate soccer and grew up in Germany.

Y’all, God definitely has a sense of humor.

Your answered prayer is likely different than mine—a cured illness, a new job, a successful pregnancy. But no matter the magnitude or minuteness of your prayer, God still answered it!

Anxiety and the Pandemic

The level of anxiety facing children, parents, schoolteachers and administrators, congregational shepherds and lay leaders, and our public policy makers is enormous—pandemic anxiety for pandemic times! Although the fear of physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial disorder and disease is very real due to this destructive virus, the accompanying anxiety (rumination and worry of what could or might happen to us and our loved ones) is debilitating in and of itself.

Setting a Family Devotion Routine for Back to School

Back-to-school season was much closer to “back-to-chaos” season for my family. Even as an only child, I was part of so many extracurriculars that my parents were constantly running me around, even on weekends. There was rarely time for family dinners, much less a moment to try and squeeze in family devotions. My family could have used a steady routine, especially when it came to planning family time.

How to Memorize Scripture (and Why It’s Important)

If you grew up going to Sunday School or confirmation classes, I can almost guarantee that you had to memorize Bible verses. It likely went something like this: You remember you have a Bible verse due today. You quickly memorize it by repeating it to yourself a bunch of times, stumble through presenting it to your teacher, and then immediately forget it.

Many of us don’t have any Bible verses memorized besides John 3:16. This is a problem.

Wade in the Water

It was Easter Sunday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, NY. The tiny urban neighborhood church was crowded with saints singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” at the top of their lungs, their song rising to the roof as incense. New LCMS Lutheran converts Janine Bolling and Gerard Bolling, brother and sister by blood, with their entire Brooklyn family watching, were to become brother and sister in Christ, with the entire family of God both gazing down from heaven and gazing forward from the hot wooden pews in the not-yet-air-conditioned sanctuary.

Jesus Gives You the Perfect Prayer

I am far from an expert on prayer.  

I’m not the person to go to for tips on how to be consistent in prayer.

I can remind you of the assurance we have in prayer because of Christ.

The prayer we now call the “Lord’s Prayer” did not originate from a monk or a mother. It was given to us by Jesus, our Lord. He tells us to pray to our Father with simple words. Jesus ensures us that the Father knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:5–8).

Four Bible Verses for Rejoicing Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

During hard times, it can be difficult to find the energy to rejoice. It feels easier to focus on how bad everything is and to dig in your feet and say, “Nope, nothing to be joyful about here.” I am frequently guilty of this. I often take a look at what is going on in the world and, instead of bringing my worries to God, I bury myself in how bad it is. In biblical times, there were many situations where believers could have lost all hope. But God’s promises break through and turn hard times into joy.

Kneeling for Justice

In my office, I have a kneeler that I got off of Craigslist from a Lutheran church that had closed many years ago. It was the first piece of furniture I dropped down into my empty, stuffy, non-air-conditioned office that I was presented with at the beginning of my vicarage at Bethlehem Lutheran Church—a church I now serve as pastor. I lovingly refer to this office as my “penthouse suite.” See, the 171-year-old urban school building that Bethlehem now worships in was built to have five different levels. Thirty steps for each landing. Of course, where was my office?

The very top.

The Penthouse.

Planning Your Ideal Devotional Time

When planning time for daily devotions, ideally, what does that look like to you? If my ideal devotional time was fulfilled, I would find myself at my favorite lakeside coffee shop each morning. The smell of coffee and caramel rolls would mingle in my nose. My four kids would be playing outside and my ears would faintly pick up on their encouraging words to one another and soft giggles. My mind would be free from clutter and ready to learn. I would always have my favorite leggings and soft plaid shirt clean. The coffee would be a perfect drinking temperature. Not too hot to drink and far from cold. 

What is God Calling You to Do?

Life wakes up slowly—one-eye-at-a-time, rollover, and pull the covers back up over your head slowly—on a Sunday morning in a college town. Life wakes up very slowly on a summer Sunday in a town that’s just starting to come out of its two-month pandemic isolation.