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

What are we drinking?

Lord, give me this water. (John 4:15) Two weeks ago, we had a little water problem in our rural Kansas community. Chalk it up to a water main break under the nursing home and a system-wide pressure drop.  The end result was standing water in the nursing home, elderly whisked to dryer quarters in the dead of night, and our whole community coming under a boil order.  It all seems very dramatic when it’s flashed across the TV screen, but… Read more

4 ways Christians can love the soil on Earth Day

Earth Day is a great time for Christians to show our love for God’s green earth. Of course, the challenge of loving the earth is knowing which part of the earth to love.  There’s so much of it, after all–from continents to calla lilies to cyanobacteria.  And while all of  it is God’s earth and thus worthy of our care and affection, the asthenosphere doesn’t give me the same kind of warm fuzzies as, say, panda cubs. So rather than try… Read more

Jesus is alive and speaking

Easter is a celebration of new life in Jesus.  He’s not dead.  Jesus is alive, risen indeed and going before us into Galilee and Antioch and Rome and Moundridge.  But Easter isn’t just about new life in a general sense.  It’s not about life-force, some zap of life to pizzazz up our dreary existence.  It’s the life of Christ continuing among his church and his people, guiding them, empowering them, speaking to them. In the gospels, we see Jesus’ resurrection… Read more

Fragility and the cross

We interrupt our usual theological musings to bring you pictures of a cute chick. After twenty-one days of incubation, this little guy was waiting for us when we opened the nest box on Sunday morning.  We named him “Little Red.”  You can guess why from the pictures. There were three eggs.  One gave us Little Red and another didn’t hatch at all.  A third went bad, and mama hen broke it and ate the contents.  I’m not sure how a… Read more

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