As we ready ourselves for the possibility of a second pandemic lockdown, I thought I would share a video I put together for our church back in April.  I hope you find it encouraging!  

April Throwback


The whole world has divulged into primordial chaos.  At least, that’s what I’m being told.  Between pandemic worries, political worries, church worries, family worries, health worries, mental health worries, economic worries, and worries about worry, the world around us feels chaotic and frightening. A friend recently wrote, “ Instead of […]

Good, Good Father


When your day is longAnd the nightThe night is yours aloneWhen you’re sure you’ve had enoughOf this lifeWell hang onDon’t let yourself go‘Cause everybody criesAnd everybody hurts sometimes -R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts  I was at a socially distanced, outdoor gathering recently and came to a strange realization.  I had very […]

Everybody Hurts Sometimes



Some churches are uniquely situated to thrive during COVID-19, and they all share a few common traits.  It has little to do with how good their technology is, their video-editing skills, or the strength of their worship team, and everything to do with how they are organized.  Internally-focused churches are […]

The Churches Thriving During this Pandemic


Pastoring through a pandemic, as it turns out, is really, really hard.  Every pastor I know has been caught in the whirlwind of moving services online, managing health concerns, and trying to remain connected to the congregation but constantly feeling disconnected despite our efforts.  I have not yet known a […]

We can do better than this.


There is little denying that the church is changing in response to this pandemic.  More churches than ever before have begun broadcasting their worship services online.  The church’s reach has increased, and many people worship with more than one congregation, often choosing to engage with at least one church outside […]

Coronavirus, Change and the Church



If you could see the world through your enemy’s eyes, you would see God. You would see God in greater detail than you have ever known him, if you could see the world through your enemy’s eyes. As I was writing my last post, I was searching for a certain […]

Part III: Divine Revelation


Every good story requires a shared understanding of context. If a person tries reading John Steinbeck’s masterful “The Grapes of Wrath” with a 21st century context instead of properly understanding its early 20th century context, details of the story will seem absurd. Farming in the 20th century was vastly different […]

Part II:  Context and Conversion


I recently received a phone call from a friend who I had not spoken with in several years. I was thrilled to receive the call – but there was one small problem: I was in a movie theater. As I removed my vibrating phone from my pocket and saw his […]

Part I: When We’ve Lost the Plot




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January 6 is a lesser-known Christian holiday known as Epiphany.  Althought it may be lesser-known, it is nevertheless an important part of the Christian calendar, and regular remembrance of Ephiphany shapes us in powerful ways. Epiphany is a feast which celebrates the visit of the Magi to Jesus and represents […]

Epiphany


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I found out long ago that my voice has a credit limit.  Like a credit card, once I hit my “spending” limit, my voice is no longer accepted. It’s why I stopped speaking about politics. Here’s what I mean: If I have spent my time speaking about politics, and I […]

Thoughts on Being Hearable



As I write this, we’ve just started a small break from packing up moving boxes.  My family is preparing to move from our church of five years in Indiana to a new church in Michigan.  We’re excited for a new beginning, new opportunities, and a fresh sense of pastoral calling […]

Leaving the church



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Every fall, I look forward to the first hard freeze.  The first freeze means I can go outside without covering myself in deet because most of the mosquitos were killed by the cold.  Frost is a world-changing force. When I lived in Oklahoma I knew that springtime meant hail and tornado […]

You are a World-Changing Force



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Lately, I have found myself engaging with leaders outside of my theological “home.”  I have listened to sermons from more liberal and more conservative preachers, and engaged with theologians who are more academically-minded, as well as church leaders who are more charismatic in nature. If I’m being honest, I approached […]

The Value of a Different Perspective


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Dialogue is dead.  Welcome to the age of a million monologues.  Welcome to the day when people shout angrily at empty space rather than conversing with one another.  Today is a day of hearing but not listening, when accusations are made without understanding, and when we fight against one another […]

Dialogue is Dead


(See Part One and Part Two) My first post, “Politics and Jesus,” opened with a brief observation about how we use labels to embrace or dismiss others.  I want to offer a few concluding thoughts in this post that build on that observation. First, I would note that the church […]

Politics and the Church (Part Three of Three)



(This is a follow up from the last blog post, entitled “Jesus and Politics.”  The third and final part can be found here). Jesus’ ministry began with a bold declaration that the world was entering into a new era.  It was not merely a spiritual declaration, and it was not […]

The Politics of Jesus (Part Two of Three)


During a recent sermon, I spent time talking about how we are prone to using labels to dehumanize people and disregard their opinions, perspectives, and feelings.  Though I didn’t fully venture into a political discussion, politics is where this is perhaps most apparent.  If someone labels themselves as a Republican, […]

Politics and Jesus (Part One of Three)


In my last post, we looked at the Hebrews as they stood outside of the Promised Land and saw (real or imaginary) giants who threatened their entry.  In this post, I want to take a look at two times when Israel faced giants, and make a few observations about how […]

And if you do happen upon a giant…



This isn't photoshopped - it's a photography trick called "forced perspective," using foreground and background objects to trick the eye.
I recently photographed my youngest daughter taking some of her first steps.  My first pictures were from my perspective – her dad, standing four feet taller than her and looking down at her.  I also took a few pictures from her eye-level, capturing the pride on her face as she […]

The Importance of Perspective


16 A man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?” 17 Jesus said, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There’s only one who is good. If you want to enter eternal life, keep the commandments.” 18 The man said, “Which ones?” Then Jesus […]

Life in this Age; Life in the Coming Age


I cringe when I hear those words: “We’re only human, after all.” I understand the sentiment that motivates these words most of the time.  It is a way to extend forgiveness to others by sharing in their fallenness.  Of course, the phrase takes a different turn when applied to ourselves: […]

The Problem With Being “Only Human”



Life is better in community. Life is wonderful and messy and joyous and painful and dangerous and delicate, and all of it is beautiful.  And it is intended to be shared. It was created to be shared.  We were created to live in community. Community is more than simply a collection of people.  […]

Abracadabra, Community!


We read in Matthew 10 that as Jesus was preparing his disciples, there came a time when he commissioned them to proclaim and enact the good news of his kingdom.  So he sent them into Jewish villages with this instruction:  “make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal […]

Shake the Dust Off Your Feet


This is a short story that I wrote a few years ago.  It’s a bit rough in a few places, but I think it still accomplishes what I was trying to accomplish. Death Sentence It might seem strange if I told you that I vividly remember the night I died.  I […]

Death Sentence



It occurred to me recently that I cannot think of a time when I have heard the concept of sanctification linked to a kingdom eschatology.  The concepts fit together so neatly that it is baffling that we don’t talk about the two ideas together. I have spent the last few […]

Sanctification and Kingdom Eschatology


Every year I purchase Bibles for high school and college graduates, and each year I am excited to explore the new study Bibles that are available.  In the past, I have purchased and recommended CEB and NRSV Wesley Study Bible (CEB is a great, accessible translation, and NRSV is my […]

Recommendation: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible


Psalm 62:1-8 (NIV) 1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. 3 How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning […]

Truth and Lies