the third conversion

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

It was offering time, and the father sitting in front of me handed his 3-year-old son a dollar bill. The boy happily placed the money in the basket as it passed by, and then resumed working on the important task of covering his entire bulletin with green crayon scribbles.

While it was a nice moment, I distinctly remember thinking, “Sure, it’s easy to give someone else’s money.” But the truth is, I find it quite difficult to part with cash from …


becoming curious – an interview with Casey Tygrett

It happened again last month. I was in a Bible study and the leader was posing some challenging questions about how to apply the concepts presented in that week’s lesson – how to choose joy in our daily lives and how to face real struggles along the way. “Trust God,” one person said. “You have to pray,” said another. The conversation faltered and we went on to another topic.

Jesus didn’t require these pat answers. In fact, he discouraged them, challenging the skeptical and searching people he encountered with profound …


coming near

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

One of the most commonly quoted verses from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” Bible is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” This metaphor for the incarnation is referenced so often because, like all good poetic language, it succinctly describes a profound truth: Jesus not only came to earth to be with us, he came to be one of us.

Following Jesus means following his example and “incarnating” the gospel in our own neighborhoods. Sometimes this means tutoring …


a next chapter

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Several years ago I wrote a series of case studies for Kairos Legacy Partners that described their work with dying and declining churches across the country. Kairos works with these churches to evaluate their impact, their finances, and overall health and determine whether it makes sense for them to stay open as a congregation. If the decision is no, Kairos also works with those churches to help them “recycle” their facilities and financial resources in ways that can fund another ministry.

I’m a fan of …


14 things about Matt

1. Sometimes, in certain small circles, I get more attention because of my writing or some of the other work I do. Matt is very talented himself, but he never resents being “Jen’s husband.” He encourages me in every opportunity that comes and he makes a point of telling me he’s proud of me.

2. With a BA and two master’s degrees, Matt can hold his own talking to just about anyone. He has well-formed opinions on theology, politics, history, and social issues and can discuss them intelligently. Yet he is …


I could totally/never do that!

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

alley-inner-cityTwo mistakes are easy to make when reading B.J. Leonard’s story. The first is to think you could never do what he did—give up your dream house in the suburbs to move into the inner city with your wife and three young kids. The second is to believe you could totally do what he did because you’ve romanticized it as a sequel to “The Blind Side.”

B.J., his wife, Mary, and his daughters aren’t reaching out …


old glory

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:


For years I’ve heard that Grandma Moses began her acclaimed painting career at age 78. I always rolled my eyes when older people (that is, older than me) quoted that fact, assuming it somehow comforted them to think their own chance for “significance” hadn’t passed them by.

Then I turned 40 and began seeing more people posting more lists of leaders and celebrities who had started their most successful ventures later in life: Henry Ford, who created the Model T at 45. Julia Child, who wrote …


why them?

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Red Cleats Safe on BaseIn her memoir Lit, Mary Karr quotes her father speaking about the well-off: “Born on third base . . . and they think they hit a home run.”

I was born on second base, at least, and when I was a kid the game was black and white. People who don’t have jobs should get them, if you’re a responsible and hard-working person you will be able to afford a place to live, and only those with lesser character …


an unwatched interview

I’m doing something I’ve never done – I’m posting a video without watching it first.

As I type, I’m sitting on an air mattress on the floor of a classroom at Oscar Smith Middle School in Chesapeake, VA as part of a one-week youth mission trip that began 36 hours after I returned from California. I have one hour until the blessed lights-out at 11:30 pm, which will precede a fitful night of sleep which will end at 5:30 am and be followed by breakfast in the Oscar Smith Middle School cafeteria and a kickoff prayer circle at the Oscar Smith Middle School football field and a day of power washing and …


city planning

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

12196335_10156192952045464_8681490726464537372_nMy friend Abby and I love to visit museums.

Recently we spent the afternoon at the Philadelphia Art Museum, looking at our favorites—the modern art wing and anything by Van Gogh—and enjoying lunch in the café. Next month we’re planning a girls’ trip to the ballet.

Abby is 7. To say she’s a little brighter than her peers is like saying the current American political scene is a little dysfunctional.

In addition to sampling the best culture of Philadelphia, Abby also loves going to …