Recently I heard a pastor describing his efforts to reach marginalized people in his community with the good news. He cited this story and made a startling statement: “Sometimes in order to get people to Jesus you have to mess with the structure.” These entrepreneurial men didn’t let propriety stand in their way! They messed, quite literally, with the structure.
As a seminary student, I knew that the majority of Covenant churches were in rural communities, but when the time came for me to accept my first call, I was looking everywhere but a rural setting. I wanted adventure. I wanted to create change. I wanted opportunity. And where in the world is Ceresco, Nebraska?
There’s a legal doctrine that I’ve learned from the equivalent of several years of law school from watching legal dramas. It’s known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” … Over the last few years I’ve come to see this as another handy metaphor to describe the failings of American evangelicalism.
My friend Kim and I were sitting with our toes in the sand, watching our boys climb up the ladder and slide-splash into the lake. The weather was a glorious seventy-eight degrees in western Minnesota, following a cold snap that had killed all the mosquitos. It was a unicorn day at Lake Beauty Bible Camp. A kind of day where, like light through a prism, I caught a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven.
A man in my hometown recently filed a lawsuit against the instructor of his sword-fighting class because, while demonstrating a particular move, the instructor accidentally stabbed him in the eye. When I read that story in the news, my first thought was, Oh, man, that would preach.
Last summer I worked my way through a massive biography of Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, his ill-fated son Edward VI, and, briefly, Henry’s oldest daughter, Mary.
It’s no longer dawn in the digital age. We are well into the full heat of the day and the shadows of miscommunication grow long as the hours pass. I think back to the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail.
Sometimes preaching can have unintended consequences. I recently had the privilege of preaching through the David and Goliath story, and it illustrates an important distinction in biblical interpretation. Bible stories like that one can be either descriptive (describing the world and the Lord who created it) or prescriptive (instructive toward the way God’s people should behave). There are strong elements of both in 1 Samuel 17.
This summer a controversy raged over the White House administration’s decision to separate children from parents at border crossings from Mexico into the United States. People were outraged that young children were incarcerated, away from their parents, in circumstances characterized by some as “prisons” and others as “concentration camps.”
The standing name for this column has been “Compass Bearings.” The metaphor may be lost on a GPS generation, but the imagery hearkens to the old seafaring maxim “Whoever has the discipline of the compass has the freedom of the seas.” When we have tools for navigation, we progress on course, even in the face of heavy seas or tricky currents that could otherwise cause perilous drift.
On Sunday, August 19, Andrew Stoecklein preached a sermon called “Mess to Masterpiece.” It was his second Sunday back at Inland Hills, a church in Chino, California, after taking a four-month sabbatical to address his struggles with anxiety and depression. […]
I love poetry. Nearly every morning I read one or more poems to begin my day. I love the evocative images and startling metaphors. Poets have a way of bringing us up short, of making us look at an overly familiar world anew.