Category Archives: Voices

Voices: “Thick Skin, Tender Heart”

Words of wisdom from Rachel Held Evan’s final book, Wholehearted Faith:

” ‘Thick skin, tender heart.’

You never want to toughen up so much that you lose your tender heart, the part of you that experiences and processes pain and compassion and love. . . . Sometimes you have to remind yourself that it is okay, and not just okay but normal and right and good, to feel hurt when someone calls you names or questions your faith. 

I’m just as uncomfortable with uncertainty and emotional exposure as the next person, but I also know that just about every sociological study on the subject shows that meaningful connection requires risk and vulnerability, and you can’t argue with that data.”

“Thick skin, tender heart.” I’m taking that advice to heart in hopes of becoming more Christlike and fully human.


[1] Rachel Held Evans and Jeff Chu, Wholehearted Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2021), chap. 5, Kindle.

Voices: Rachel Held Evans

Here’s Rachel Held Evans on the impact of the gospel in our lives:

The gospel means that every small story is part of a sweeping story, every ordinary life part of an extraordinary movement. God is busy making all things new, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has opened that work to everyone who wants in on it. The church is not a group of people who believe all the same things; the church is a group of people caught up in the same story, with Jesus at the center. [1]

The last part reminds me a lot of College Avenue. You’re not a group of people who all believe the same things; you’re a group of people caught up in the same story. I’m thinking about the book this quote is from, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, for a book study. Any thoughts?


[3] Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennesee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), 157.

Voices: Kierkegaard

In my “witness” this morning I mentioned the importance of Soren Kierkegaard in my faith journey. He wrote one of my favorite prayers. I find often find myself praying this prayer when I’ve worked myself into a frenzy over my inability to successfully think through a theological issue or challenge.

Here it is:

“Teach me, O God, not to torture myself, not to make a martyr out of myself through stifling reflection, but rather teach me to breathe deeply in faith.” 1

Amen and Amen.


1 Soren Kierkegaard, The Prayers of Kierkegaard, ed. Perry D. LeFevre (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1956), Kindle, 36.

Voices: William Faulkner

Yesterday, I preached on Christian freedom using Galatians 5:1-6, 13-25. Today I came across the following quote from William Faulkner: “We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” [1] Faulkner was talking about freedom in general, but his words apply to freedom in Christ as well. Let us practice holiness and love; that we might be truly free.


[1] William Faulkner, “On Fear: The South in Labor,” Harper’s Magazine, May 31, 1956, pp. 29-34, 34.

Voices: The Last Scene in the Bible

I think we all know this, we simply need reminding of it from time to time.

“The last scene in the Bible isn’t about “saved souls” going up to heaven. It is about the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth as the centerpiece of the “new heaven and new earth” promised by the prophets and reaffirmed by Jesus himself and his first followers.” — N. T. Wright [1]

I’m sharing this reminder now because it fits with my sermon for this Sunday.


[1] N. T. Wright, On Earth as in Heaven: Daily Wisdom for Twenty-First-Century Christians, ed. Oliver Wright (San Francisco, CA: HarperOne, 2022), ix.

Voices: “Thick Skin, Tender Heart”

Words of wisdom from Rachel Held Evan’s final book, Wholehearted Faith:

” ‘Thick skin, tender heart.’

You never want to toughen up so much that you lose your tender heart, the part of you that experiences and processes pain and compassion and love. . . . Sometimes you have to remind yourself that it is okay, and not just okay but normal and right and good, to feel hurt when someone calls you names or questions your faith. 

I’m just as uncomfortable with uncertainty and emotional exposure as the next person, but I also know that just about every sociological study on the subject shows that meaningful connection requires risk and vulnerability, and you can’t argue with that data.”

“Thick skin, tender heart.” I’m taking that advice to heart in hopes of becoming more Christlike and fully human.


[1] Rachel Held Evans and Jeff Chu, Wholehearted Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 2021), chap. 5, Kindle.

Voices: Believe God

Today’s voice is an excellent summary of why the ends never justify the means.

We should always remember that the ends never justify the means; rather, the means are the ends in the process of becoming. — Brian Zahnd [1]


[1] Brian Hand, Postcards from Babylon: the Church in American Exile (Spello Press, 2019).

Voices: Believe God

In today’s devotion from Frederick Buchner, he makes an important distinction:

“Believing in God is an intellectual position. It need have no more effect on your life than believing in Freud’s method of interpreting dreams or the theory that Sir Francis Bacon wrote Romeo and Juliet

Believing God is something else again. It is less a position than a journey, less a realization than a relationship. It doesn’t leave you cold like believing the world is round. It stirs your blood like believing the world is a miracle. It affects who you are and what you do with your life like believing your house is on fire or somebody loves you.” [1]

The whole essay thing is well worth the read. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll forward the entire email to you. Or, if you have his book, Beyond Words, you can read it there. Either way, believe God.


[1] Frederick Buechner, “Believing,” in Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2004).

Voices: I Have Decided to Stick With Love

I plan to preach on 1 Corinthians 13 this Sunday. Love is not easy, love is hard. But love is worthwhile. Indeed love is really the only viable option because, as King knew, “hate is too great a burden to bear.” The more complete quote can be found below. (The emphasis is mine.)

I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens’ Councilors in the South to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.” — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. [1]

I urge us all to “stick with love,” it’s hard, difficult work, but “hate is too great a burden to bear.”


[1] Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?,” in The Radical King (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2016), 175-176.

Voices: Understanding Science

“Understanding science doesn’t make God smaller. It allows us to see his creative activity in more detail.” — attributed to Russell Cowburn

I saw this quote on facebook, I haven’t been able to track it down officially, but I did find that Russell Cowburn is Professor of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory, the University of Cambridge. [1]

Whether or not he said it—it is profoundly true.


[1] Sources: http://www.phy.cam.ac.uk/directory/cowburnr and
royalsociety.org/people/russell-cowburn-11273/

Voices: Why We Do What We Do

In honor of Desmond Tutu, who died today, here’s one of his many gems.

“You do not do the things you do because others will necessarily join you in doing them, nor because they will ultimately prove successful. You do the things you do because the things you are doing are right.” — Desmond Tutu [1]


[1] Desmond Tutu, in a letter to Tim Wise cited in Tim Wise, Dispatches from the Race War (San Francisco, City Lights Bookstore, 2020), Kindle, 335.

Voices: First Coming

A bit of poetry for the first day of Christmas:

“He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, First Coming [1]


[1] Madeleine L’Engle, “First Coming,” in The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle (Colorado Springs, CO: Shaw Books, 2005), 242.