Blog


Politics and the Church (Part Three of Three)

(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...Read More »


The Politics of Jesus (Part Two 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...Read More »


Politics and Jesus (Part One 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,...Read More »


And if you do happen upon a giant...

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...Read More »


The Importance of Perspective

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,...Read More »


Life in this Age; Life in the Coming Age

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 said, “Don’t commit murder....Read More »


The Problem With Being "Only Human"

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: “I’m...Read More »


Abracadabra, Community!

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...Read More »


Shake the Dust Off Your Feet

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...Read More »


Death Sentence

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 was at...Read More »


Sanctification and Kingdom Eschatology

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 days...Read More »


Recommendation: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

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...Read More »


Truth and Lies

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...Read More »


N.T. Wright's upcoming, "The Day The Revolution Began"

N.T. Wright’s upcoming book, The Day the Revolution Began, is an exploration of atonement.   It comes out on October 11 of this year, and I was privileged with the opportunity to obtain a pre-release copy to review.

Wright has a unique talent for making complex theological perspectives easily accessible for...Read More »


Radical Gratitude, Radical Trust

Psalm 139:1-16 (NIV)

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know...Read More »


Love is a Decision

 

There is an amazing and overwhelming sensation of love that overcomes a parent when they hold their child for the first time.  I felt it a few weeks ago, for the third time in my life, when I held my new baby girl, Thea Joan.  The love I...Read More »


Ministry and the Conflict of the Gospel

Jesus’ ministry led to crucifixion.  His gospel message led others to martyrdom.  His instructions to those who wanted to be his followers was “Take up your cross and follow me.”

The Gospel is a divisive, peace-bringing word – not the paradox it seems, but not as straightforward, perhaps,...Read More »


Technology, Idolatry and the Worship of Self

A few brief thoughts from my reading today of Genesis 10-18:

The people of the earth acquired a new technology:  the brick.  The technology of the brick empowered them to do things they previously could not do.  They could build predictable and uniform structures, and they could...Read More »


A Christian Minister, Working through the Qur'an

A few years ago, while working as a bi-vocational church planter, I formed a friendship in my secular employment with a Muslim.  He knew I was a Christian pastor, and I understood that he was a committed Muslim, and we enjoyed many conversations comparing various aspects of our faith.  He...Read More »


If our eyes could see our hearts...

If the lies we told left a taste in our mouth… it would be the horrible taste of the death we are speaking.If...Read More »


What difference can the small church make? 

It is normal (and good) to wonder what good a church can do in the world.  Sometimes, though, when you are a part of a small church, it can be common to doubt that the church can do any good.  “We don’t have the resources,” we say.  “We lack the...Read More »


Review: Brian McLaren’s “The Great Spiritual Migration”

I remember the first time I read a Brian McLaren book.  “A Generous Orthodoxy” was something like an exotic trip in a forbidden land.  It was like McLaren was giving voice to all the dark corners of my mind, expressing the thoughts that I (thought I) was forbidden...Read More »


Resource Review: A Preacher's Guide to Lectionary Sermon Series: Thematic Plans for Years A, B, and C

Lectionary preachers have the sometimes daunting challenge of exploring and discovering thematic consistency if they plan to preach in series.  While there are fantastic resources online, such as my personal favorite, CatchyLecty, there are times when even our favorite resources leave us wanting.  That’s part of the reason...Read More »


Community - Trinity and Identity

Who is Jesus without God and the Holy Spirit?

Who is the Holy Spirit without Jesus or God?

Who is God without Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

Without all three, the picture is incomplete.  We do not understand God without Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Unless we understand God in terms of community...Read More »


Tools for Discipleship

Recent Barna research shows that only 20% Christians are involved in some sort of discipleship activity.  That means that four out of five people who profess faith in Christ are not a part of any regular gathering that is intended to foster spiritual growth in their lives.

Of those 20%,...Read More »