4.17.17 / JOHN RAY

While many of us may be recovering this morning from a chocolate coma, now is not the time to stop celebrating. That’s right, traditionally the Easter celebration is to last a week! And the “Easter season” goes all the way into June.


4.10.17 / JOHN RAY

This week, we’ll experience a different rhythm. In our Lent readings, Britt Chloe offers this quote: “...Lent is about preparation and expectation. What we prepare for, and what we expect, is the risen Lord ‘trampling down death, by death.’ Lent is a beautiful invitation for us to travel with the Lord into Jerusalem...


3.27.17 / JOHN RAY

So often we think we have the big things down. We think we understand. We attribute our fatigue or apathy or lack of patience to something that just needs a “minor” adjustment. If we could just get one good night’s sleep, or if that person would just change the way they act ...


3.20.17 / JOHN RAY

We sat across from each other, both hovering hungrily over plates piled high with tacos de adobado. Our conversation spanned the years and geography that have separated us since the last time we talked face to face. There was much territory to cover.


3.13.17 / JOHN RAY

It was one of those experiences where you feel the floor slip from underneath you and the room spin. Your fingers and toes tingle, and you have to remind yourself to breathe.

I’d been meeting with Robert on a weekly basis for a while. We were about the same age, both married with kids and both had been adopted. Otherwise, we were very different people. He was dealing with intense personal issues and his life was falling apart.


3.6.17 / JOHN RAY

“O Lord my God, to you and your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit. Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me do. Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and let me by my life and speaking set forth your true and living Word. Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my salvation; in praises heighten my love and gratitude; in speaking of You give me readiness of thought and expression;...


2.27.17 / JOHN RAY

It’s an honor to walk through these weeks and months with each of y’all.

I mentioned the encounter I recently had with a young woman in Costa Rica. I could see the utter exhaustion in her eyes. The kind of tired that is so bone-deep, so overwhelming, that it scares you, tempts you to think dark and desperate thoughts.


2.19.17 / JOHN RAY

It’s Friday afternoon here in the suburbs of San Jose. The sound of the birds mixes with the rumble of traffic and voices of kids playing soccer nearby.

Just a few hours ago, the dozen and a half students and staff of the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS) shared their experiences of our week together.


2.12.17 / JOHN RAY

I have an alarm on my phone that sounds like tropical birds. Of all the options of sounds to wake up to, it seems one of the less offensive. This morning, like most, it went off at the set time. I regained enough consciousness to roll over and turn it off before trying to catch an extra 15 minutes’ sleep.


2.6.17 / JOHN RAY

If there is a word or an image guiding my prayer and imagination in recent months, it’s the idea that “to move freely, one must be deeply rooted.” Like many deep truths, this is something of a paradox, something we must attend to at a deeper level if we are to learn from it. To that end, I have adapted it to a simple prayer, one that I pray as part of my devotional practices and at intervals when I find myself distracted or stretched, tempted or lethargic.


1.29.17 / JOHN RAY

Thanks, everyone, for making the drive down to Fayetteville on Sunday. It was an honor for me to be able to share my Sunday morning with y’all. I was humbled by Darrel’s thoughtful and challenging teaching and presence.


1.22.17 / JOHN RAY

My friend Mike Hansen is a unique individual, something of a hero to me as well as a friend. You might not think it when you first meet him, because he’s humble and unassuming, but the dude is a stud. He’s a graduate of West Point and a combat aviation veteran, and he has a master’s degree from an Ivy League school.


1.16.17 / JOHN RAY

For years I have suffered from tinnitus, which is a constant ringing in the ear. It started in my mid-twenties and over the years has been accompanied by an increasing hearing loss that has left me about 90 percent deaf my left ear (as anyone who has ever tried to get my attention from the left can attest to).


1.9.17 / JOHN RAY

Last summer, my friend Teresa was shopping for decorations for a wedding rehearsal dinner. The groom was a history buff who liked books, so she headed down to Dickson Street Bookshop, a favorite haunt for Jane and I when we were young and broke. It was there where she loaded up discard-bin hardbacks to create tablescapes as decoration for the dinner. She picked up a big box-load of tomes with historic-sounding titles and the right color bindings for a few bucks apiece.


1.2.17 / JOHN RAY

Ever had one of those moments of clarity, of sudden understanding, an “epiphany”, that hits you so hard it feels like a punch to the gut? I’m not talking about those joyful ecstatic moments of revelation or reassurance, but the sudden sobering, the cutting clarity of coming to see something you clearly misunderstood. Something you were assured was one way, but turned out to be something different altogether?


12.26.16 / JOHN RAY

It’s quiet this early in our house. The dog’s been let out and fed and now lays quietly snoring at my feet. The break of the slow rising sun is dim enough to allow the lights on the Christmas tree to still glow, a fitting metaphor for this place in time. If you are like me, you’ve grown used to the routine of such a huge build up to Christmas Day that the day itself is almost a let down. Maybe that’s part of the reason our culture is so quick to move on after it’s over.


12.19.16 / JOHN RAY

The next couple of weeks are going to look a little different as we move from the anticipation of Advent to the celebration of Christmas. Hated missing everyone last week but glad everyone stayed safe and warm.


12.12.16 / JOHN RAY

I’m sitting beside my dad typing this as Monday Night Football plays in front of us. From the time I arrived (around 1:30 this afternoon) until now, I have answered the following questions — no exaggeration — at least fifty times:


“When is Diane (my stepmom) leaving?”      “Where is she going?”                        

“Are you staying with me the whole time she is gone?”


12.5.16 / JOHN RAY

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons


As we continue our participation in Advent, let’s take time this week to really focus on the aspects of confession and repentance.


11.28.16 / JOHN RAY

Think about the difference between a store-bought strawberry in January and one that’s fresh off the vine in May. There’s simply no comparison. Even in our drive thru-loving world, there are some things we can’t have on demand, 24/7/365. Neither can we live our lives expecting to grow and change, to learn and serve, in a monotonous rhythm of sameness. We need seasonality and variety, regular cyclical emphases as reminders and ways to dwell deeply and practice faithfully.


11.21.16 / JOHN RAY

Thanksgiving is my wife Jane’s favorite holiday. I always appreciated it growing up; most of my Thanksgivings were framed by three of my very favorite things — food, football and hunting. But it wasn’t until I watched Jane, really paid attention to her, that I began to understand Thanksgiving at a deeper level.


11.14.16 / JOHN RAY

Eugene Peterson defines sin as “a denial of dependence on God and interdependence among neighbors, a refusal to be a people of God and a counter insistence that the individual ego be treated as something godlike.”


11.7.16 / JOHN RAY

I’m heading out this week to teach in the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Ozarks Discipleship Training School (DTS). I look forward to this annual fall retreat down near Fern, Arkansas, in the Ozark National Forest. We’ll set up tents and make a big fire. The teaching and discussion times will be shared with equal hours of rock climbing and hiking this little piece of vibrant leaf-covered and rock-strewn heaven.


I think Jesus would dig it.


10.31.16 / JOHN RAY

“Our self-righteousness does not turn God from us, but us from God. It is not my sin that moves me away from God, it is my refusal of grace, both for myself and for others.” James Bryan Smith

My first real heartbreak — I mean a first real full-on nothing-is-ever-going-to-be-the-same-so-why-go-on-living heartbreak — happened when I was in my early twenties. The girl had moved to Europe, and just flat moved on. I was left with a Grand Canyon-sized ho...


11.25.16 / JOHN RAY

“The early message was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad- something with no essential connection with real life- would happened to them. The people initially impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it.That was the basis of their conversion.” Dallas Willard Friends, thank you for inviting me to facilitate this process for your community...

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