To listen to today’s reflection as a podcast, click here
Today’s post is a bit different. Once a year I pause to address some of the questions I hear most often from readers.
How did the Morning Reflections begin?
For nine years (2011-2020) I had the privilege of being the Director of Mission Integration (think “workplace pastor”) for about a thousand Indianapolis-based associates of Ascension, America’s largest not-for-profit healthcare corporation. At the beginning of December 2012, I realized that many of those employees knew next to nothing about the historical and spiritual roots of the Christmas season. After experimenting with a month of “morning reflections” leading up to December 25, my boss, Lee Coulter, graciously asked if I wanted to keep writing in January. Things took off from there.
Is that why reflections only come out on weekdays?
Exactly. The Monday-through-Friday format was intended to serve the Ascension workplace. Whenever someone powered up their computer to begin work, a reflection would be waiting.
Any plans to include Saturday and Sunday in the future?
Actually, it’s been wonderful to hang onto that two-day break every week. I also hope our weekend “gaps” encourage readers to attend their own places of worship, and to explore other devotional resources.
How many people are on the receiving end of the reflections every morning?
That’s hard to answer with precision. What we know for sure is that the number has been steadily growing for 11 years. Our best estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-50,000. That takes into account the many subscribers who acknowledge they regularly forward the reflections to family members, friends, and co-workers. Our subscription list includes readers in South America, Europe, and Australia.
Does that mean I have permission to send them on to others?
Absolutely. In fact, I hope you feel led to do so. All the reflections are meant to be shared, reposted, or used as illustrations in any context where they might be useful.
Where do you get the ideas for the subjects you address?
Everywhere. I enjoy books, so many of the ideas spring from whatever I happen to be reading. I’m especially drawn to science and history. Pop culture also has a way of sneaking in. It helps to have a file of sermons and presentations from my 40-plus years as a pastor. Some of my favorite reflections have been inspired by chance conversations or email banter with readers.
Do you write a host of reflections in advance, or take it one day at a time?
I’ve never been able to write very far ahead. It takes about 2-3 hours to compose a reflection, which is something I usually do during the afternoon or the evening of the day before I send it.
Do you have a researcher, an editor, a proofreader, and tech support?
I wear the first three hats. All the mistakes, misquotes, and misunderstandings are mine. I’m delighted to say that I get top drawer tech support and website design from my son Mark, without whom I would still be wandering in the techno-wilderness of the 20th century.
Do you ever use “old” reflections over again?
Busted. I sure do. With more than 2,500 posts to date, sometimes it’s really hard to come up with a new slant or a new idea. When I do go back to the well, however, I always try to improve my original efforts. C.S. Lewis once suggested that Satan loves to lull pastors into returning to the same few dozen topics over and over again, without even noticing it. The Bible is such an extraordinary treasure chest that we should never run out of inspiration.
Will you be giving us guidance on how to vote?
I sure hope not. Today’s political scene is depressingly fractured, and any counsel concerning the specific policies and personalities who routinely show up in the daily news may imply that readers, if they really loved God, should take a sharp turn to the Left or the Right. No one needs to know how I voted in the last election, or what I might do in the next one. But I can say that my heart is resolutely fixed on the vast acres of common ground (and common grace) that have always nourished the American experience, out of which people of good faith have been able to find consensus and a way to go forward together.
As you look at the world today, what gives you concern?
Commentators describe this moment in history as “post-truth.” Lying has become the new normal in public discourse. Conspiracy theories intrude into conversations. The people we most need to trust – members of the press, scientists, elected officials, and church leaders – are routinely dismissed as captive to private interests or purveyors of “fake news.” It’s difficult to thrive in such a world.
How does this impact what it means to follow Jesus?
There’s a big difference between following a Savior who is “true for me, but maybe not for you” and a Savior who is the Truth, period. Contemporary Christians seem to have reduced God, in the words of journalist Ken Myers, to “a smiling heavenly therapist who is here for me.” Our call is to approach God on his terms, not our own. That will be a crucial challenge for each of us in the years ahead.
What gives you hope?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He still rules the cosmos with grace, truth, and justice. And he’s not up for re-election. All shall be well.
Is it OK to reach out to you from time to time?
Of course! It’s easy. Just hit Reply on any Morning Reflection. I connect with a number of readers every day, and I enjoy interacting on a host of subjects.
How are things on the business side of Morning Reflections Inc?
Readers have been incredibly generous. Thanks to all of you for your support. As a 501(c)3 organization, every gift we receive is tax deductible.
Any last thoughts?
Only these: I’ll never be able to find the words to express what a joy it is to be connected to you morning by morning, and to find new ways to affirm what a great God we serve. Without you, there would be no ministry. Thanks for your prayers. And thanks for your partnership in this ongoing work.
To listen to today’s reflection as a podcast, click here