Behind the Storm Clouds
Posted on August 30, 2017

I write this brief note from Texas, where I have been for three days. Though I am not in the area seriously impacted by Hurricane Harvey, I am around numerous people who had to be evacuated. I have spent time with folks whose homes may or may not be standing when they return, and with other folks whose family members are still in Houston and who are terrified about their well-being. I am hearing continual stories and testimonials from people who are on the ground. The devastation is inexpressible. There are areas that have received as much as 50 inches of rain in a period of four days. Some of those areas ordinarily receive 36 inches of rainfall in an entire year. As well prepared as any city may have been, nothing prepares a place for a storm of this magnitude.

In the midst of it all, however, I have been inspired by the accounts of so many Good Samaritans who have pooled their efforts to assist people in need. It is encouraging to see people lay aside all the differences that we spend so much time reflecting upon - differences of age, economics, orientation, color, politics, nation of origin, etc. - to unite in the effort to simply help other people in need. I heard a man from Houston say this morning: "The worst of times brings out the best in people." Once again, that appears to be true.

At Marble, we have always been a safe place for people amid the storms of life, a place of healing when confronted with human hurts. You will be given an opportunity to maintain that legacy by contributing monies to our church that assist the people in desperate need in Southeast Texas. As with our Easter Offering, every penny you contribute will go directly to those who need it most. I encourage you to keep the people of Texas in your prayers and to do whatever you can to minister to them in this time of devastation. Behind the storm clouds, the sun of God's love still shines. May it shine on those folks through us.

To donate via our website please go here, (then log in, create an account or simply choose Quick Give) and select Hurricane Harvey Relief from the drop down menu. (Please note: in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we have now added further selections to our drop down menu for victims of both disasters, as well as our partner church, St. Thomas Reformed Church in the Caribbean). You may also mail a check to Marble Collegiate Church, Attn: Hurricane Harvey Relief, 1 West 29th St, New York, NY 10001.

Summer Devotional: This Week We Look to Finding Joy and Liberation from Guilt
Posted on August 28, 2017

A few years ago, Colin Tipping wrote a book entitled Radical Self-Forgiveness. Many people, maybe most, would be wise to reflect on that title. Too many exist every day bearing weighty burdens of guilt which preclude the possibility of finding joy in life.

The New Testament teaches: “By Grace are you saved through faith, and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God....” God chooses to release us from guilt. The only purpose guilt serves is educational. It teaches us what not to do or leave undone in the future. Aside from that, it is a denial of God’s gift of Grace.

Learn the lessons you need to learn from yesterday. Then turn it loose and step forward into the beautiful tomorrows God desires for you, a future liberated from guilt.

Summer Devotional: Why It Is Important to Say Please and Thank You in Our Prayer Practice
Posted on August 21, 2017

The psalmist wrote: “O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; for God’s steadfast love endures forever.” When I was growing up, my parents taught me the importance of using the words “Please” and “Thank you.” Occasionally, when I am feeling particularly self-reflective, I think about my prayer life and come to an embarrassing realization: When I pray to God, I say “Please” a lot more than I say “Thank You.” It’s natural to ask God, our Parent, for what we need and even for what we desire. But it is selfish to do only that, failing to thank God for all the blessings we receive (and often take for granted) every single day.

In your summer prayer life, why not remember what your parents told you growing up? Make a special effort to offer God as much thanks as you do requests. And be specific about the blessings you’ve been given. “Count your many blessings, name them one-by-one.” Please and Thank You!

Thoughts in the Aftermath of Charlottesville
Posted on August 15, 2017

An acquaintance who is a confessed “religious skeptic” asked me in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy, “So, what are you positive thinkers going to say about this?” It was a fair question. I had two responses for him, which I will share with you.

Summer Devotional: Explore the Old Adage, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.”
Posted on August 14, 2017

Dick Halverson sometimes uses the phrase; “Wherever you are, God has put you there.” He doesn’t mean God has put you in bad situations. He means, rather, in locales. Put another way, God has a job for you to do wherever you are. In your city. In your neighborhood. In your office. In your school. In your apartment building. In your church. Your presence is not a random act. There is a purpose to your existence and to your being in the place where you exist.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth.” Anywhere and everywhere we have opportunities to be about His business: to witness, to encourage, to give, to serve, to love. So, as the old adage puts it, “Bloom where you’re planted.” Wherever you are, God has a purpose for your life in that place.

Summer Devotional: The Spiritual Practice of Personal Ethics
Posted on August 7, 2017

"Then what?" I have a friend who says the entirety of personal ethics can be summed up in those two words. "If I do this thing... If I make this decision... If I speak this word... If I enter into this relationship... If I follow this course, then what?" What effect will it have on others? What ethical trajectory will be set into motion?

St. Paul wrote an interesting word to first-century believers: "Imitate me," he said. Not "Do what I say," but "Do what I do." He felt comfortable enough with his own personal behavior that he could recommend it to others. That, it seems, is at least one reasonable goal of establishing a moral structure for one's life. So, before making decisions that have long-term consequences, ask yourself the question: "Then what?"