The power of re-calibration

Why we should seek out what speaks to us



Sitting at an outdoor cafe in my neighborhood in Istanbul, I drank sparkling water and finished my online Turkish lesson, as a large, white street dog lay near my feet.

I perused Facebook and saw a live feed of a church service from a Church of God congregation I knew in the U.S.

In one song, the congregation sang the refrain, “Something more than my yesterdays, more than I had before…He gave me something worth living for!”

It had been so many years since I’d heard or thought of the song that I remembered the refrain incorrectly. I misunderstood it as asking God for something worth living for, not a song of praise for having already given it.

Hearing it as a request, the song spoke to me even more.

A few minutes later, they sang a song that dates back nearly 100 years, and one that I’d sung many times as a child and young adult. “No matter what happens he will care for me,” goes the refrain. I sang along quietly. My internet connection was poor, and the live feed paused more than it played. Once, it stopped just as the song leader stretched out his hand to get the congregation to hold the last word in the phrase, “And his mighty hand will enable me stand.”

What I heard was enough to remember. It was enough to be re-calibrated back to a better alignment with God, and myself, even if for a moment.

You see, in life, it’s easy to get off track. It’s easy to focus more on the here and now. It’s easy to forget what really matters most. In these circumstances, we need to be intentional about seeking out what speaks to us. We need, what I call, ‘re-calibrating experiences’ – moments when we are reminded of God (or, if you are not a person of faith, whatever is most meaningful to you).

Continue Reading »

How To Remember Your Baptism



A couple of years ago, my wife and I attended Holy Week services in our old neighborhood in England, at a church where chimes ring out each day from a tall bell tower. Inside, columns and arches frame each side of the nave, and a large, gold icon of the sitting, crowned Christ is painted on the wall high above the altar.

On Good Friday, a cross with the figure of Christ was placed in the center aisle. People lined up and knelt down, one-by-one, kissing it before returning to their seats. The next evening, we all stood outside around a lit campfire—the fire representing Christ’s victory over death and darkness. From this flame, a large Easter candle was lit, symbolizing the risen Christ, and we followed this candle, procession style, into the church for the Easter vigil.

Inside, we were invited to

Continue Reading »

The Problem with Re-Gifting

Think before you re-wrap that old gift



When we lived in Cambodia, sometimes my wife and I ventured out for evening desserts.

Occasionally, we bought them from a woman who set up a table each night in the open-air market a block from our apartment.

One evening, I selected sticky rice from her selection of large bowls of colorful desserts. It was 50-cents.

I watched her spoon out a blob of sticky rice and push it into a small plastic bag with her fingers.

I thought about how her hands were quite possibly dirty, though she was simply doing what was normal in that culture.

On our short walk home, I decided to give the dessert to the security guard who sat out in front of our apartment building each night. The sticky rice just didn’t appeal to me anymore.

The security guard was happy to receive the treat. And I was pleased to give it to him.

Later, though, I thought about the whole matter.

What if the security guard thought that I had bought the dessert specifically for him?

What if he thought more highly of me because of that?

Continue Reading »

How to have a Life Make-over



This morning, I’ve thought: If I were to have a Life Make-over, what would it be like?

To get from Here to There, what would it require?

First, it would mean identifying what I don’t want in my life and then planning–and committing–to changing so that I can do what I want to do.

Doing what I want to do (do I even know what I want to do?) requires first being who I want to be.

A Life Make-over for many of us, I’d imagine, requires a lot of changes.

Sometimes I think about my past–in good and less-good ways.

I think about who I was in order to think about who I want to be.

Continue Reading »

“Elusive God, companion on the way, you walk behind, beside, beyond; you catch us unawares. Break through the disillusionment and despair clouding our vision, that with wide-eyed wonder, we may find our way and journey on as messengers of your good news.”

–Anglican Prayer, Third Sunday of Easter

“As people of faith in something greater than ourselves, or as people who want to live meaningful lives with purpose, how do we propose to live? And what difference are we going to make?”

–David Hempton

The inconvenience of privilege


We Westerners enjoy many privileges. We drink clean water from the tap and can defecate in a toilet without paying a fee. Unless we travel abroad, we aren’t at risk of contracting malaria or any number of other diseases. We enjoy a great deal of freedom.  Our human rights are protected. We know English as our native language. We have easy access to the Internet.

If you’re like me,

Continue Reading »

The problem with ‘doing good’

We just don't know how to do it well

At the top of an email I received today, was this quote:

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Minor Myers)



I read it a couple of times, over and over, just to make sure I understood it.

Do well. Do good.

What does that mean? 

Continue Reading »

God’s ultimate justice

I was talking with someone recently about botched justice: when someone deserving punishment doesn’t really get it.



That’s the unfortunate reality for many places in the world–some people aren’t punished accurately.

This person said that, when justice was not accurately (or adequately) received on earth, there was somehow comfort in believing that it would, ultimately, be received from God.

Now, I’m not one to say that someone is going to hell; that’s not for me to decide.

Continue Reading »

Chasing wishes on a cobblestone path

Photos by Ayşegül Bektaş Frame

Photos by Ayşegül Bektaş Frame

Every year on April 23, thousands of Turks board ferries and make their way to the largest island off the coast of Istanbul.

Many of them purchase a spool of colorful thread from vendors lining the cobblestone path to the top of a high peak, and they unravel the spool as they walk.

1 - IMG_1333 1 - IMG_1364

Interestingly, in a country that is 98% Muslim, those making the pilgrimage each year are walking towards a Christian monastery, named after St. George, that sits at the top of the mountain. When they get there, they hang charms in the trees of the churchyard.

They also light candles. They wish. They hope. They pray.

Inside the church,

Continue Reading »

Video: the Islamic Call to Prayer

Photo: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul.

Photo: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul.

Five times every day in the Middle East, the call to prayer rings out loudly from mosques all over the land. Loud speakers, attached to the mosques’ towers (called minarets), allow entire neighborhoods to hear the müezzin calling out the prayer from inside.

Often, you’ll hear a chorus of prayers from different mosques.

The prayer is in Arabic; this short video, shot while my wife and I were walking in a nearby park one evening last week, captures a short segment of it.

When the call to prayer is heard, many people

Continue Reading »

“Christianity is a complex confection…Its own members can be uncertain of its purpose, forgetful of its past, and confused about its present.”

–Phillip Kennedy (“Christianity: An Introduction,” p.X)