On February 24, 2022, after weeks of signaling to the world that war was imminent, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Three days later, I stood before the congregation wondering how to speak about it. I wasn’t so concerned about what was necessary.  Prayer was certainly needed.  Ukrainian lives were being lost,Continue Reading

The last “old post” reminded me of this post, which I shared with fellow pastors on Sept. 15, 2020.  The response from the pastors was notable.  The pain was shared.  The contents were a mystery to no one.   The Reverend passed away quietly in her church on the eveningContinue Reading

I wrote this quite a long time ago and filed it for another day.   I’m posting now, long after the incidents surrounding these feelings, because I think that the thoughts I had then are still relevant, even if I do not feel them in quite the same way now.  Continue Reading

Within the discipline of community are the disciplines of forgiveness and celebration. Forgiveness and celebration are what make community, whether a marriage, a friendship, or any other form of community.What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is to allow the other person not to be God. Forgiveness says, “I know you love me,Continue Reading

I have had this gnawing thought in my mind that there is an absolute absurdity to the way we are informed and allow our minds to be shaped and the tragic ways we contribute to violence when our starting points are opinionated minds rather than compassionate hearts.   There isContinue Reading

Into the cave, I call to my best friend: Hello! Says I.Hello! Says he.Good morning! I say to him.Good morning! He says to me. He never intrudes, never imposes,Never assumes, never supposes.Asks nothing of me that I would not ask of him,And if I shout for joy, he shouts forContinue Reading

When I was a kid, I noticed a bird dangling from the telephone wires that stretched across my back yard.  Somehow, that bird had flown directly into the intertwined wires and had gotten its head caught between strands.  It was flapping its wings in desperation to free itself, but itContinue Reading

Here’s a video I put together for our church back in April.  I hope you find it encouraging!  Continue Reading

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 ofContinue Reading

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 veryContinue Reading

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 areContinue Reading

I know we’ve all dealt with various hardships brought about by the pandemic, but I think that the hardest thing isn’t what the pandemic has caused, but what it has revealed.   It has revealed the severe limits of the faith of many of our people, who are turning toContinue Reading

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 aContinue Reading

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 outsideContinue Reading

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 certainContinue Reading

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 differentContinue Reading

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 hisContinue Reading

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 representsContinue Reading

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 IContinue Reading

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 callingContinue Reading

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 tornadoContinue Reading

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 approachedContinue Reading

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 anotherContinue Reading

(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 churchContinue Reading

(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 notContinue Reading

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,Continue Reading

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 howContinue Reading

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 sheContinue Reading