14 Apr 2021

The New Testament in Order

Begin reading through the New Testament and, in addition to the grand story, you will eventually notice a few things. For one thing, the story of Jesus gets repeated four times, then you hear the story of the early church, and then you begin to read letters that don’t seem to be in any sort of coherent order. Why is the New Testament organized how it is, and not some other way? Why is the

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10 Mar 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 2)

Additional Reflections on the Church as Hospital In Part One, I introduced the concept of the Church as a hospital and argued that the church should be a place of healing and hope. In this article, I want to further explore the metaphor of the Church as hospital by looking at what hospitals and churches are. Places of Care First, hospitals are places of care. Hospitals are places where you get taken care of, where

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12 Feb 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 1)

Reflections on the Church as Hospital In the past year, I’ve spent more time in and around hospitals and healthcare facilities than perhaps at any other point in my life. First came my bout with COVID this past summer, then came numerous visits to my orthopedic doctor to address some long-standing back problems, and, most recently, several emergent visits for an electrical problem with my heart. While hospitals are viewed in different ways by different

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13 Jan 2021

Just Justice

This article is adapted from a message delivered at Arise Community Church in Fenton, MO.   What comes to mind when you hear the word justice? Probably a lot of things, because justice has been a hot button issue in recent months. You can hardly get on social media, watch the news, read something, or make a TikTok without being confronted by conversations about justice in one form or another. But what is justice? What

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30 Oct 2020

Canoeing the Mountains

After fifteen difficult months of travel, they had made it. Lewis and Clark had reached the spring that began the Missouri River, that great river they had been following since they crossed the Mississippi and began their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. For over three hundred years before Lewis and Clark arrived at this spot, explorers from numerous nations had assumed that just beyond the headwaters of the Missouri were the headwaters to the Columbia

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26 Aug 2020

Work and Rest

This article was adapted from a sermon delivered at Rooftop Church (Saint Louis, MO) during a series on Faith and Work. As Americans, we’re obsessed with being busy. Even during a pandemic, we’re preoccupied with how much we’re getting done. Our culture fixates on and rewards efficiency and productivity, even at the expense of our own health and relationships. It’s even how we talk to one another. People always ask, “What are you doing this

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03 Jun 2020

Crisis Calls Us to Continue Community

This article is an adaptation of a sermon delivered on Mother’s Day as part of a “COVID Christianity” series at Rooftop Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Even when life is normal, mom-ing is hard—it calls for spending all day with tiny people who are cute, yes, but who are also demanding and exhausting. Moms need time with fellow adults, moms need time with friends: moms need community. Of course, what’s true in normal life is

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06 May 2020

Mere Christianity for Today

Or Reflections on the Realities of Big Tent Christianity “As Christians, we are seekers after truth, not merely its custodians.” Michael Bauman1 The Situation “Christianity is in trouble,” everyone seems to be saying, for a variety of reasons. The rise of the “nones.”2 Increased dissatisfaction with institutional religion.3 The forthcoming disintegration of American evangelicalism over politics.4 The growth of the “spiritual but not religious” worldview.5 The general failure of the American Church’s members to reach

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05 Dec 2019

Endgame and the End

With the arrival of Disney+, my family and I have been binging Marvel’s Infinity Saga films, beginning with Iron Man and culminating in last year’s mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame. I only saw it once in the theater and while I immediately formed a positive opinion of the capstone movie (up to this point) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I typically try to reserve final judgement of a film until I have watched it at least twice.

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06 Nov 2019

Book Review: Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace

Paul’s letter to the Galatians has long held a place of importance for those seeking to understand the power of the Gospel. One of the first books of the New Testament to be written, Galatians forcefully presents many of the Apostle Paul’s most central ideas and themes of grace and justification, displaying in brief, impassioned terms the theological categories and concepts that would find later expression in his letters to Rome and Corinth. If one

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11 Sep 2019

On Leadership in the Church

This article is a working edition of an explanatory position paper for a church plant. The question of who leads in the Church—when it comes to offices and gender roles—remains an oft debated topic with which all churches must wrestle. This is especially true of new churches, which have less working tradition to fall back on. The purpose of this position paper is to outline some of the considerations and boundaries for leadership in a

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14 Aug 2019

Difficult Dialogue in Distressing Days

Another week, another round of things for people to vehemently and caustically disagree about. Whether it’s politics, economics, social issues, or religious news, we can’t seem to disagree with one another fast enough. We’ll pick up a cause and champion it for a time, only to have something else catch our attention and demand our outspoken criticism or support. Why can’t we seem to see eye to eye? Obviously, worldview divergences stand at the heart

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17 Jun 2019

Acts of Baptism

As anyone even somewhat familiar with Christianity knows, various Christian denominations have different, specific approaches to baptism—that all important rite involving water and the Holy Spirit. Depending on its theological commitments, a church may expect the person being baptized to be an adult (or, at least old enough to make a conscious decision to be baptized), to be fully immersed in water (rather than sprinkled or poured upon), to be triple immersed (rather than once),

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27 Mar 2019

Book Review: Irresistible

Once upon a time, there existed a version of Christianity that was irresistible. Over the years, however, errors and accretions have piled up, reducing to a shadow what was once a robust proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. But now, there’s a way that the Church can return to its roots and make the gospel great again. No, this isn’t another book about the corruptions of Catholicism that the Protestant Reformation overcame; it’s the

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30 Jan 2019

Visiting with Jesus

I first caught a glimpse of him through the doorbell camera at church. He looked cold and a little scraggly, and when I went to open the door, he was shorter than I expected. But there he was: the Son of God in human flesh. We talked for a while, as anyone might when they have the chance to speak with someone so important and famous. We talked about theology, about the church, about the

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21 Nov 2018

A Protestant Thinks about the Blessed Virgin Mary

Talking about Mary can feel dangerous, especially if you are a Protestant who adheres to Protestant orthodoxy. Sure, we sing about Mary at Christmas, feel her pain on Good Friday, and maybe even read a little about her in the gospels. But for most American Protestants, almost any other interaction with Mary is borderline Catholic. So we don’t talk about Mary, we don’t engage with Mary, and we don’t think about Mary. Life seems easier

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24 Oct 2018

What Is Church Planting?

You’ve seen them in your community. They’re popping up in old buildings, fields, and other empty spaces. They show up with catchy names and make lots of loud noise, often attracting quite a crowd in the process. But what are they? Where do they come from? And why are they here? I’m talking, of course, about church plants—when a new local church begins where none had previously existed. Church planting is the process of beginning

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26 Sep 2018

Brief Reflections on Christian Leadership

In many circles, leadership is a common buzzword. Politicians, company executives, social scientists, pastors, teachers, professionals, generals, people who give TED talks, and seemingly everyone else is talking about leadership—what it means and how it works. I must confess that I too am interested in leadership; from my desk, I count no fewer than six different books with “leader” or “leadership” in their title.1 While I’ve found such books to contain much valuable information, I’ve

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29 Aug 2018

On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness. This is especially true at this time of year, when college freshman move onto campus for the first time and neighborhoods suddenly become more quiet as children

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01 Aug 2018

Suggestions for Social Media Sanity

In case you haven’t heard, social media has garnered quite the reputation. Whether you’re talking about the perniciousness of Twitter-fueled outrage, the placidity of hashtag activism, the propensity to waste hours of your life, the easy propagation of fake news, or the paucity of meaningful conversation, social media is often viewed negatively. But social media isn’t all bad. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. In its best moments, social media still accomplishes its

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