Having recently finished preaching 25 sermons through Peter’s first epistle in a series entitled “Exiles on Mission,” I have chronicled some of the most important lessons learned. I chose this book because I found it to be particularly relevant to our church’s situation: a new church plant in one of the most secular, unchurched, post-Christian parts of our country. Peter’s letter is like a roadmap for our journey or an instruction manual for our life that contains our marching orders. I tailored the application and implications of his letter specifically to my congregation as we are breaking into new, hard soil and establishing our culture from the ground up. The advice of Diane Chambers (from the show Cheers) to a belligerent Yankees fan in Boston is particularly relevant to our situation: “Please bear in mind, you are in an alien camp. Tact is perhaps your wisest recourse.” My simple hope is that these ordinary, timeless principles are an encouragement from one fellow, weary exile on mission to another as we find ourselves in an increasing hostile, alien camp.Continue reading
Haunted Dreams and Hallowed Nightmares
“I’m going home, back to New Hampshire. I’m so determined; I’m so determined.” As a sojourner in CA for eight years, I maintained a certain soundtrack to my life. I listened to songs that reminded me of and made me reflect on home. One of my most-often-played and most-often-listened-to songs was “New Hampshire” by Matt Pond PA—an eerily beautiful song about regret and nostalgia.1 When some people on the West Coast had the audacity to tell me I would never go back, this one line became my prayer, my manifesto, my stubborn anthem that I sang along to. The line resonated with my heart and reinforced my deepest desire. Returning home was my burning passion and most cherished dream.Continue reading
A Better Question for Bitter Times
If you’ve lived long enough in the big hard world under the big hard sun, you’ve experienced the crushing pain and unbearable weight of tragedy and loss. You’ve encountered shocking sorrow—jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching, life-changing news. The phone call that leaves you breathless on your knees feeling heartbroken, forsaken, and hopeless. And when this kind of trial comes your way, you invariably ask the same line of questions—
The Basis of The Greatest Commandment
The greatest commandment is a high calling. Loving God with your whole heart, soul, and strength is no easy task. What is the groundwork for such a command? Is this command rooted in our ability to please God and earn his favor? Or is the basis for the command who God is and what he has already done?
Understanding the Greatest Commandment: An Introduction
What’s so great about the greatest commandment? Was Jesus’ answer really that profound? Of all the commandments in the Old Testament, why did Jesus point to that one? What role does this command have in helping us understand the whole story of the Bible?
A Seminary Student’s Journey In and Out of Depression
The following is the story of my completely unexpected struggle with depression during my first semester of seminary and the important lessons that I learned along the way. It is much better to be overwhelmed with God than with your circumstances.Continue reading