Of Transplant Pastors & New England Sports Fandom

Of Transplant Pastors & New England Sports Fandom

I’m 36 years old, and I’m from Dallas, Texas.

So what does that have to do with anything? Well, it means that I hit my most formative “fan years” at a very specific time period and in a very specific place. In the early nineties, like every other 10-year-old boy I knew, I began to become acutely aware of professional sports, and I was certain that I was going to be a multi-sport athlete when I grew up.

A White Man's Religion?

A White Man's Religion?

Ministry in the urban context comes with its own set of challenges. Among them are the objections to Christianity that run deep within inner-city communities of color. As I pastor in a neighborhood made up largely of ethnic minorities, it is not uncommon for me to hear someone dismiss the Christian faith purely because it is perceived to be “the white man’s religion, meant to oppress ethnic minorities.” It is important to note that this characterization of Christianity is not completely unfounded.

The Glory of Coming Undone

The Glory of Coming Undone

Go-getter. Independent. Fearless. Capable. In the American economy, these are titles worth striving for, and strive we do. We strive until our peace is shot-through with bullet holes, our families have learned to function without us, and our souls are withered and whimpering. "Arm yourselves!" is the new battle cry of the republic, and much of the church rushes to answer.

Four Churches That Need Partners the Most

Four Churches That Need Partners the Most

Over the years as I’ve helped churches make connections with mission teams and partners, I’ve worked with many churches that had difficulty finding partners. They’re not impossible to partner with, as nothing is impossible for God (Luke 18:27), but they do have extra challenges. I would encourage pastors and churches seeking to go on mission, to work through these challenges with sensitivity and the power of Christ. Sometimes these churches are the ones who are most in need of partners!

Seek the Welfare of the City: Engaging the Community

Seek the Welfare of the City: Engaging the Community

I have only been the lead pastor of two churches: a church plant in a rural-to-suburban community in Washington state and a replant/revitalization pastor of a church in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. On the surface there seems to be very little common ground, but something that I have learned in both roles is the importance of community engagement.

Stepping Out to Make a Difference

Stepping Out to Make a Difference

2018 was a year of firsts for me. I graduated college, traveled to places I had never been, started a new job and began working on my next degree. It was all so exciting and new. But one thing I did that wasn’t in my plans was say “yes” to leading children’s ministry at my church. Out of all my new experiences, this was, and continues to be, the scariest one.

Seeking God in Pain

Seeking God in Pain

I got a text message from a friend in Vermont over the New Year's holiday. She shared that a mutual friend, only a little older than me, had suddenly passed away. Though I had not talked to him in a few years, when I lived in Vermont he was a great colleague in ministry. Less than 24 hours later, one of our BCNE pastors sent me a text to say one of their youth workers, a really fine young man with a promising future, had also unexpectedly passed away that morning. So much loss. So much pain. Such a short time to process it. Many of my circle of friends were struggling with why God lets these things happen. One mused that perhaps there was no point in following Christ if we still have to endure such pain.

Deadly Fruit

Deadly Fruit

Of all the places I have been, the Amazon jungle is definitely the most interesting and exotic destination. There is a tremendous variety of animals and plants, many of which I had never even known existed. As we were walking by a small tree with some beautiful fruit that looked like apples, I asked the tour guide if I could pluck one and eat it. To which he replied, “Don’t be fooled by the beauty of that fruit, because it disguises death. One bite of that fruit could kill you.”

Put Your YES On the Table

Put Your YES On the Table

Everywhere we look, social media, adds, commercials, etc. We see promotions challenging us to make a change to kick off the new year, often with a specific S.M.A.R.T goal.  These goals might sound something like “I plan to lose 20 lbs before the summer begins” or “this new year I am limiting my time on Netflix to two hours a day.” Setting goals is a proven way to achieve growth in our lives.  However, what if you chose to do something different this year?

Rebuilding Lives, One House at a Time

Rebuilding Lives, One House at a Time

The last 10-mile drive into Ivanhoe, NC, on Dec. 11, was not what we expected for our mission. It was flat, largely rural farmland, but evidence of poverty abounded. Broken-down buildings and trailer homes frequently interrupted the landscape. More subtly, there were signs of flooding. The ground was saturated and puddles flourished after the slightest of rain. Some boarded-up homes and buildings were clearly abandoned, while others had RVs parked outside with building materials stacked in the yard.

What Happens When Our Plan Is Wrong?

What Happens When Our Plan Is Wrong?

The middle-aged minister expressed deep frustration as he poured out his heart to me. He had started his ministry full of energy and excitement. Though the numbers were small when he started, he was sure that his faithful preaching of the Word and his clear strategic plan would turn the situation around. That was a decade ago. Now the numbers were even smaller, his excitement was long gone and the financial situation, which had never been good, was now perilous. He was not sure how long he could continue in his present ministry, but he was not a quitter, so he didn’t want to leave. He was in a quandary. 

True New Year Renewal

True New Year Renewal

Somehow, as a family of five (with a steady stream of houseguests), we’ve managed to live in a house with only one bathroom for over sixteen years. In 2018 we decided to change that. It wasn’t really a resolution for the new year, but it was a goal of ours to transform a dingy basement closet into a full bathroom. A plumber (Ben), an electrician (Caleb), and a carpenter (Mike) worked diligently for about a month to turn a tiny storage closet with gigantic, seventy year old cast iron pipes and rotting wood into a beautiful new space. We were in awe of their skill.

The Best Resolution for 2019

The Best Resolution for 2019

At the beginning of 2019 I can think of no better resolution than to live for the fame of Jesus Christ more than ever this year. The Christian missionary Henry Martyn was surrounded by religious leaders once who were trying to convert him to Islam. One of the clerics blasphemed Jesus' name. Henry began to weep. They were surprised and asked him why he was crying. Martyn explained, "You have just blasphemed the name of my wonderful friend and Savior, Jesus Christ."

The Reality of God's Favor

The Reality of God's Favor

What do we mean when we talk about the "favor of God"?

The house you've always wanted goes into foreclosure and you buy it for a steal. Your kids bring their report cards home and it's straight A's. You find out that a long lost relative left you a tidy sum of money.

Many people may think that God's favor is something like that. When life seems to break your way, it's easy to think, "God is really smiling down on me now. He must really love me."

What Are You Giving Jesus This Christmas?

What Are You Giving Jesus This Christmas?

Christmas is upon us, and right now, my wife and I find ourselves collecting gifts for those we love. Often the hardest part of gift-giving for us is figuring out the most appropriate gift for family members and friends. The goal—at least for us—is to give something meaningful to the recipient, but a gift that also reflects a bit of who we are. That combination makes the gift special and enjoyable for everyone involved, and sometimes unique enough to be memorable in some way.