I woke up the first day of 2019 to a blanket of freshly fallen snow. What a perfect way to start the new year, with a layer of white covering over the dirty brown landscape. It brought to mind Isaiah 1:18, where the Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
I am one of those people who love snow. I love it with an obnoxious love reserved for Midwesterners who know how... Read More
Did you see that Gillette ad yet?
If not, you missed the commercial that’s getting more attention than the Beatles walking through a shopping mall.
If you have seen it, you might have either (1) gotten choked up by a needed cultural message or (2) purged your bathroom of every product with Gillette’s name on it.
Or maybe you just rolled your eyes at the latest outrage in our quick-to-rage digital age.
Just so we’re all on the same page,... Read More
In the past when people told me they couldn’t get through a genealogy or certain book of the Bible, my response used to be: “Skip it. Don’t let it become the reason you quit reading the Bible.” These days I’m more apt to urge people to learn to wrestle with God.
In the book of Genesis, Jacob spent a night physically wrestling with God: “The man said, ‘Let me go; for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not... Read More
I remember the first time I was accused of being a false teacher.
I had just finished a Bible lesson with a group of grade-schoolers when a leader from our church marched into my office, deeply disturbed. “Pastor, what you taught those children wasn’t right! You taught them that they had to work their way to heaven!”
“No, I didn’t,” I responded.
“Yes, you did!” he fired back.
In his defense, I was a pretty inexperienced pastor who had yet... Read More
Jayme Closs is home.
On October 15, in the middle of the night, police received a 911 call. They went to the Closs’ home and found the parents shot to death and 13-year-old Jayme missing.
Her disappearance made local and national news. The FBI offered a reward for information. Vigils were held, and her photo was placed on billboards. A contestant on The Voice, who was from the same town, dedicated a song to her and brought attention to her... Read More
My life changed on May 26, 2008.
It was the day I was assigned to be an intern (vicar) of a congregation in rural Wisconsin. I knew serving a church full time would be a great experience, but I didn’t know that it would transform me so deeply, affecting me to this day.
When I first met my mentor/pastor/boss, Nate Strutz, he greeted me with three abrupt questions:
Do you love Jesus?
Do you love Jesus’ Word?
Do you... Read More
For the past few years, I’ve seen people picking a word for the year. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love that idea, which might be a little surprising for someone who gets paid to use words.
Then, a few days before New Year’s, a friend was talking about her nutrition and said, “I’m disciplined in my eating.”
Usually when I hear people talk about their eating habits, they use the words willpower or self-control or giving in to cravings. So... Read More
“Looks like you put on some weight, Mike.”
That’s how the conversation started with my wife’s uncle during last summer’s tailgate. It was the first time anyone had suggested that I looked less than scrawny and, unfortunately, the brat in my hand didn’t defend me against his accusation.
As I get closer to 40 and my jackrabbit metabolism grinds down to a few gears, I’m realizing that my relationship with food needs to change. Fading away are the consequence-free 10... Read More
I attempt, often unsuccessfully, to run a pretty tight domestic ship. I’m not opposed to electronics, but laziness makes me crabby. I’m thrilled family members feel so included socially that they “need” to spend time keeping in touch with their friends. I’m not thrilled when their social interaction keeps them from chores or just being thoughtful. I would prefer my family notice what needs attention and do it instead of me harassing them to get off Snapchat, Instagram, Xbox, or... Read More
I’ve made a horrible decision.
In preparation for Christmas, I completely cleared off the section of the kitchen island that’s usually reserved for my pile of papers. Since we moved here five and a half years ago, this messy spot has contained everything from to-do lists to forms that need signing, from my calendar to receipts, from work-related papers to my keys. (Well, maybe not my keys. Those things could be anywhere!)
We were talking about how nice it looked,... Read More