From Shepherding to Spreading

For Carly and me, our call to ministry came long ago. Before marrying, we both sensed that the best hours of our days and weeks would be devoted to introducing people to Jesus and equipping them in their faith. We’ve been doing that in various ways for all of our seven years of marriage. For the most part, ours has been a shepherding kind of ministry. We’ve led small groups, taught classes, led in youth ministry, and for the past three and a half years, I’ve been a pastor. Yet we sensed Jesus moving us to shift focus. Last spring, when Carly … Continue reading From Shepherding to Spreading

Day 24: You Are the Fertilizer of the Earth

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.” (Luke 14:34-35) “You are the salt of the earth.” I’ve always struggled with this word from Jesus. Not because I don’t want it to be true, but because it never seemed to make sense to me. Do we make people taste better? That’s why I use salt on my food. I didn’t appreciate Jesus’ words until recently when I learned what salt was used for in … Continue reading Day 24: You Are the Fertilizer of the Earth

Day 23: Christmas: A Mission to the Nations

[Through Jesus we have received] grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:5-6) The first Christmas was a mission trip. The mission trip of all mission trips. Jesus left the comforts of his home in heaven to come here, a foreign land. Why did he come? It was for nothing less than to inherit the nations as his own possession, drawing all men to himself. In the opening words of his great letter to the Romans, … Continue reading Day 23: Christmas: A Mission to the Nations

We Are Going to Be Foster Parents

Six years ago this spring I interviewed to be a child protective services investigator for the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. I knew next-to-nothing about the job or the field. It had only been three months since I entered the child welfare world, working for a private human services agency tracking youth on house arrest and supervising visits with parents and children who had been removed from the home. In God’s wisdom, however, I got the job. With Nebraska DHHS, I investigated child abuse and neglect allegations. When I tell people this, most of them cringe, close their eyes, stay silent, or say, … Continue reading We Are Going to Be Foster Parents

My Plea for Pastors and Musicians to Decrease

On his journey to the cross, Jesus said something to the disciples that, if they listened, would change everything about their lives. He said something that, if they took it to heart, would destroy their self-centered and self-aggrandizing identities and reputations, only to give them something infinitely greater. Here’s what Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Earlier in the gospel story, John the Baptizer said the … Continue reading My Plea for Pastors and Musicians to Decrease

Scattered Thoughts on Seminary and Staying Put

Back in August, Christianity Today ran an article about students choosing and attending seminaries based on geography, not theological affinity. Students want to “stay put” because of the cost of moving and living in a larger city. The article alludes to the fact that the nature of seminary is changing. If seminaries want to survive, they have to adapt. This brings to mind some scattered thoughts on seminary and “staying put” in your hometown. This post is not for people who want a debate about the virtues or vices of seminary. It’s for young (or old!) men and women who … Continue reading Scattered Thoughts on Seminary and Staying Put