17 SHARES
5 comments
1759 views
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
Lost and found
11 SHARES
4 comments
1566 views
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
7 tips on Bible reading
13 SHARES
2 comments
2275 views
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: Ben,  Do you love Jesus? Do you love Jesus’ Word? Do you... Read More
What’s your word?
15 SHARES
15 comments
1416 views
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
Should a Christian diet?
21 SHARES
0 comments
2172 views
“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
Five minutes for Jesus
25 SHARES
7 comments
1778 views
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
Don’t give up!
7 SHARES
4 comments
1499 views
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
Is God condescending?
12 SHARES
4 comments
1316 views
Do condescending people bother you? It’s irritating, isn’t it? I don’t know anyone who enjoys being patronized or being treated like an inferior just so other people can feel good about themselves. Here’s what makes a condescending attitude in people so irritating: People dismiss others and act like they’re so far above them because they think that they actually are above others. And while certain people fill positions of honor and authority and they deserve respect because of that, we... Read More
8 SHARES
1 comment
1415 views
Do you know where New Year’s resolutions come from? From Janus, the ancient Roman god believed to govern time, transitions, and new beginnings. When the Roman Senate and Julius Caesar reworked the calendar to start the year on Janu-ary 1st (the month named after their god), they decided to mark the transition with new resolutions and noble beginnings. Two thousand years later, I’m promising my wife I’ll cut back my Taco Bell stops to twice a week . . . ... Read More
Living with aftershocks
34 SHARES
8 comments
2283 views
On November 30, a 7.0 earthquake rocked Alaska that left roads crumbled, houses damaged, tsunami warnings issued, and treasured items shattered. By December 3, more than 2,600 aftershocks had taken place. As of December 10, they passed the 4,000 mark.  While the rest of the country has moved on from the news, Alaska residents are worn out from the continuous shaking. They’re on edge, waiting for the next one to strike. It doesn’t help that with an earthquake of such... Read More