Loving People, Losing Life – The Gospel made Real

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone.  But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Jesus the ChristJeremiah Small was a student who attended the Torchbearer Bible Schools, the family of schools where I am privileged to teach on a regular basis.  Jeremiah was teaching in Iraq until last week, when he was killed by one of his students, before turning the gun on himself.  An e-mail I received from one of his friends remembers Jeremiah this way:  He did much more tha … [Read more...]

Cultivation – Freeing ourselves from “the latest and greatest”

I normally teach in Germany at the end of November, when the harvest has just come in and the farmers are taking a break.  This year, though, I'm privileged to be in this agrarian region of southern Germany (wine, apples, honey, plus much more) at the end of winter and the farms are anything but sleepy.  The vines are being trimmed.  The soil is being tilled, as I encounter numerous tractors on my morning run.  Folks are in their yard gardens, prepping, planting, trimming, cleaning, turning the s … [Read more...]

All Poverty is Relational: What does that mean?

I'm riding my bike to work on a frosty morning this winter when I encounter a couple, dressed in poverty, arguing intensely on a street corner.  Their words do violence to each other until he finally storms away, hurt and raging, while she's left crying, waiting for the light to the change.  Both of them are dressed poorly; tattered sweatshirts (hood up on this cold morning), inadequate shoes, denim.  They have bags, small backpacks.As we go our different ways, I ponder the reality that my ch … [Read more...]

Young Young Adult Exodus from the Faith – and what to do about it (II)

Last week I posted some thoughts about a recent survey by George Barna, which offers insight into the reasons people between 18 and 30 are leaving the faith.  I addressed the first three reasons in that post, which could be summarized as: 1) churches are overprotective  2) the experience of God and spirituality offered in churches seems shallow and 3) churches come across as antagonistic towards science.This post looks at the final three complaints, along with some closing thoughts at the e … [Read more...]

When life takes a turn: There’s something about Mary

Cancer.  Unemployment.  Relationship implosion.  Addictions.  Family tension.  Uncertainty over the future, and all the anxiety that attends that.  Financial crises.  These are the kinds of things that fill a sheet of paper every Monday morning for our pastoral staff as we gather to pray over requests offered by our congregation here in Seattle.  We pray over them and then destroy the page to assure confidentiality, but what remains, is the sense in our collective hearts as pastors, that we who g … [Read more...]

On Bringing Children into the World: Two Views

“I would not want to bring a child into this world” she said gently, yet emphatically enough to leave no uncertainty about her conviction.  She was a student, travelling from her hometown of Ulm to Ravensberg, where she is studying to be an elementary school teacher.  Her eagerness to practice English, coupled with our mutual curiosity of each other’s cultures created the recipe for a good long conversation.  The train wound it’s way through southern Germany, from east to west, as we spoke of edu … [Read more...]

Spiritual Fashionistas: It’s not about the clothes – it’s about the body in the clothes

I just returned from a worship service here in Austria on this 2nd Sunday in Advent.  Though I understood only a few dozen words, I wanted to be there both to worship, and because of my friendship with the pastor (we had a discussion about Austrian church history, and you can view it here).  It was beautiful and by beautiful I mean many things, not the least of which is that it was utterly appropriate for the Austrian culture.  The church choir sang two numbers, and Austrian singing is di … [Read more...]

The whales and Isaiah: finding God’s vision for living (Part I)

Back in the '80s, I moved from Los Angeles to a small island, a jewel of green set amidst the glorious beauty of Puget Sound.  I moved there to lead a small congregation of evangelical Christians as we, together, tried to learn what it meant to be the presence of Jesus in that place.  At the time, Christian's ire was directed against a vague emerging spirituality that was labelled "the new age movement." Those railing against the movement taught that you could recognize this dark spiritual by c … [Read more...]