Faith, fear, and love

Faith feels like the bottom dropping out of life.  In a good way. I know, I know–faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  But there’s so much mystery, so much that we can’t wrap our heads around, so much that confounds any attempt on our part to put together a faithful story.  My faith gives me assurance, but not foreknowledge.  Faith is a skittery thing–at least for me.  I experience faith… Read more

Standing to hear the gospel

I worshiped with a different congregation yesterday.  They’re a church on the deep end of the liturgical tradition, which means they had an elaborate, sturdy ritual scaffolding to hold God’s people before God in prayer.  The church was high-ceilinged, marbled, and gilt.  There were columns and candles and a great throne for the bishop above which hung a shield with the word humilitas–humility–which I found strangely endearing. I love this sort of thing; I’m a high-church soul in a low-church ecclesiastical body…. Read more

Which way?

A long time ago in a college far, far away, I took a philosophy course.  I quickly came to admire my professor’s discipline, the strictness of his thought categories, the way he seemed to run his life along nice, straight lines.  He had taught himself to draw a perfect circle freehand on the chalkboard.  He used a ruler to underline events in his desk calendar.  He had this orderly way of logicking in the world, and I liked his approach:… Read more

On completing my to-do list

I arrived at an amazing place today: I completed my to-do list.  (Okay, I still need to iron a few shirts, but close enough).  In preparation for a summer sabbatical time that my congregation has kindly given me, I’ve been wrapping up loose ends and laying aside responsibilities.   We’ve got some travel planned, but I’ve also set aside generous dollops of wide open time. A week ago someone asked me what I would do all summer.  “Are you just going… Read more

What is a call to ministry?

A long time ago in the big city, I was a graduate student studying the New Testament.  My wife and I had another student and his wife over for supper, and we were talking shop: Bible and theology, church and history.  Our friends were these passionate Presbyterians, and I was saying something judicious about finding the idea of ministry attractive, when he said to me, “So why don’t you go into ministry?” “Because I’m not called,” I demurred. “So get… Read more

Book in hand! – God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and the Future of the Rural Church

I’m excited to have in hand the Advance Reader Copy of my book, God’s Country: Faith, Hope, and The Future of the Rural Church, coming out September 19 from Herald Press!  It’s beautiful.  After nine months of writing and many more months of editing and rewriting, we’re almost there, and I wanted to share the joy. God’s Country sets forth a vision for vibrant rural congregations–congregations that often bear a profound sense of both loss and possibility.  The book is rooted in stories… Read more

Eat our way to joy

Joy strikes out of the blue nothingness.   You can’t expect it or manufacture it or capture it. For Christians, the completeness of our joy comes from Jesus.  After he taught on his abiding in us and our abiding in him, he told the disciples, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11, NRSV).  Jesus didn’t give the disciples instruction on how to get their… Read more

Pray the Ascension

With the Ascension, the Incarnation is completed as Jesus bears his humanity into the fullness of God’s presence and power. Read more

The snake’s greatest trick

We often think about the Snake tempting Adam and Eve to do the wrong thing, but perhaps the Snake’s greatest trick was actually getting Adam and Eve to not do the right thing Read more

Do you know a dead end when you see it?

In life, they mostly don’t come with signs. Read more

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