12 Jun 2017

Choosing the Best

The peanut butter aisle of a major grocery store presents the average shopper with a great moral dilemma. From the wide variety of options available, how does one select which jar of peanut butter to purchase? The discerning shopper has to be able to select between multiple brands and different price points. Furthermore, the all-important crunchy or creamy decision needs to be made. As the shopper makes his or her final choice, other factors must

Avatar photo 0
07 Jun 2017

Because of joy I am exposed

Because of joy I am exposed 2 Samuel 6:16-23 When God has brought me home to Him by coming home to me, I will be unable to listen to you, even if you weep. I have to go and thank Him. God has come into the city of my soul; each breath is like an exile freed. The truth no longer grieves me. My laughter is like tambourines. I will continue to dance with swinging

Avatar photo 1
06 Jun 2017

Random Thoughts from a Western Adventure

My family recently returned from an excursion in the wild western part of our great nation, where we were summoned for my brother’s wedding. Going for drives—especially long ones—is something that I rather enjoy, even with a 9-month old in tow (though I should note that she is quite generous with her patience at being locked in her car seat for extended periods of time). Thus, we decided to extend our wedding trip and spend

Avatar photo 1
24 May 2017

the end of the cigarette

the end of the cigarette i smoked a cigarette today and drank a glass of milk set on a log both i and the milk were beading sweat now and then i leaned the column of the cigarette against a flake of bark that used to generate the very life of this tree now a log i sat on indifferent to me in the yellow sunlight the cigarette was from a yellow pack with a

Avatar photo 0
12 May 2017

The Freedom of Restraint

Why is it that often, the more we desire freedom, the less of it we have? Do we hold so tightly to freedom that we crush it, like a child crushes a flower in their hand while trying to protect it? Indeed, love can be bruised, and even extinguished, if held too tightly—so can freedom. Love cannot flourish without freedom nor can real freedom thrive without true love.   Freedom, in truth, cannot be free

Avatar photo 0
03 May 2017

Artificial Intelligence

Let’s face it, most of us live some sort of life online. I’ve been part of the Facebook social community for a long time, and, despite my recent lack of involvement comparatively, it’s still a major feature in my interpersonal connections. But even though people aren’t always there when they are here, sometimes they’re still here well after thay’re gone. But when Facebook reminds you to wish a happy birthday to somebody not there to

Avatar photo 0
26 Apr 2017

The stars all started going out

The stars all started going out You slowly exhaled. The wind crept, twisting through the sloping grass spanning away beneath miles of power lines. From your mouth, the smoke curled over its own shadows, dull blue on thick white under the moon. “What if the stars all started going out one by one–” I saw filaments crackling their last fits inside glass bulbs–“until they all were dark.” Another slow glow as you took another draw–the

Avatar photo 0
25 Apr 2017

Some Early Morning Reflections on the Complexity of Life

As I sit by my daughter’s bed at 2am – teething, I’ve been told, will eventually pass – a number of thoughts traverse my tired mind. Most are muddled. What day is it? Did the Cubs win yesterday? What is the meaning of life? But I keep returning to one thought in particular: life is so complex. Doing some self-psychologizing, I came to realize a couple of things about this thought. Firstly, it’s not truly

Avatar photo 7
17 Apr 2017

The Beauty of Bi-Vocational Ministry

A few years back I had lunch with a pastor of one of the larger churches in my town. During the course of our conversation, I described to him my weekly schedule. As the pastor of a small house church, I preach every other Sunday, teach an evening Bible study on a regular rotation, and meet individually with people during the week for discipleship. This leaves me with a lot of “free time” to be

Avatar photo 1
12 Apr 2017

Holy Week

Holy Week This week there is another, one more child lost within the darkness of my womb. How I have tried to care for them, and carry them, my life’s portion, delicate burdens, slowly forming crosses to bear–or prove unable to bear. As Mary watched her womb’s fruit, ripe in its own blood, fall on the road to Golgotha– once, twice, a third time, cords lashing around His crippled form, until it was impossible to

Avatar photo 3
09 Mar 2017

Scandalous Sacredness: Until the End of Time

This article is Part II of the Scandalous Sacredness: A Note from the Chaplain Chronicles series.  To view Part I, click here.   “Doubt is Christian participation in the weakness of God, the weakness of the cross” — E. Frank Tupper My mentor told me, time and time again, that one day I would have a patient that got to me. My supervisor and several senior nurses told me it’s inevitable for anyone in a

Avatar photo 0
17 Feb 2017

The Telltale Heart

Do You Listen to Your Heart or Does it Listen to You? In our increasingly self-centered, self-satisfying culture we are propagandized by Hollywood happy endings and pop songs to listen to our hearts. When considering a new or an old relationship we are told to listen to our heart. When faced with personal loss we are expected to move on from it. The Roxette duo sings, “Listen to your heart / when he’s calling for

Avatar photo 1
25 Jan 2017

St Xenia’s Day

For the past few years, I’ve marked St Xenia’s Day by writing about a topic that has become dear to my heart: miscarriage. Although my family has been through the pain of miscarriage several times, the first stillbirth I was close to in physical proximity was named Xenia, the daughter of close friends. Of our named lost infants, the first, Kaylee Dawn, was born before we knew anything about saints and their celebrations; and the

Avatar photo 0
09 Jan 2017

The Key to Christian Growth

The Key to Christian Growth “If man were happy, the less he were distracted the happier he would be, like the saints and God. Is therefore the man who finds delight in diversion not happy?” Blaisé Pascal, Pensees As most battle-hardened christians know, seasons that contain suffering and hardship can produce vast amounts of growth in one’s life. In a sense, suffering and hardship are simply the lock on the door which leads to Christian

Avatar photo 14
06 Jan 2017

The Beauty of House Church: Communalism-Lite

My second year of theology school I took a course on Christian communalism. My instructor, Luther E. Smith, utilized a book he had written on the topic as one of the course texts. Throughout the semester we studied a variety of spiritual communities– some good, some bad, and some ugly. In the context of the course, I remember being profoundly impacted by three different expressions of Christian community– L’Arche, Koinonia Farm, and the Amish. We

Avatar photo 0
12 Dec 2016

The Backdoor to House Church

I am the assistant pastor of a network of house churches.1 On Sunday mornings, we meet in two locations—one in a northern suburb and the other in a southern suburb. Throughout the week, we host Bible studies and small groups in private homes located in several different cities scattered throughout the greater region. My duties primarily involve preaching, leading worship, teaching Bible study, discipleship, and pastoral care. In addition to my pastoral work, I am

Avatar photo 6
25 Nov 2016

Five Ways to Respond to Questions About Your Love Life This Holiday Season

The hashtag #OverheardAtThanksgivingDinner trended on Twitter recently. Of the first twelve tweets I saw, twenty-five percent mentioned vexatious comments from family members concerning one’s relationship status. It’s a universal phenomenon—you go home for the holidays, you see someone that you haven’t talked to for a few months or more, and they ostensibly voice their surprise that an attractive, young catch like yourself hasn’t made it to the altar yet. My late Grandma Louise was a

Avatar photo 3
28 Oct 2016

Squirrel Life

A pair of squirrels is playing tag in the autumn sun: around the fir, across my porch, over my roof. They flirt their tails and chirrup, they thunder boldly through the day, through life. Perhaps I envy them their simple lives—unworried about elections or the future. Yet, the squirrel can’t think about the fact that it is a squirrel. It can’t wonder what the purpose of its life is or if it matters in the

Avatar photo 0
13 Oct 2016

The Intricacies of Porn Addiction: Necessary Knowledge to Overcome

The Intricacies of Porn Addiction  The slogan “fight the new drug” has become increasingly popular, for which I am incredibly thankful. Yet, I also know that awareness and a list full of porn’s consequences is simply not enough to save people from this addiction. I also personally know how this “drug” can seemingly feel like an unconquerable enemy. So, I write this piece because after years of fighting, I believe that I have found the

Avatar photo 8
04 Oct 2016

Blessed: Prosperity or Presence?

One of the most quoted scriptures is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” It is plastered all over pretty sunset pictures and inspirational posters. It is hung in our houses and on bumper stickers on our cars. It is tattooed on our bodies. It is recited by athletes as they step onto the court or field.  But how often do we hear the verses right before it? It’s

Avatar photo 2