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 children …


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 Kairos …


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 at …


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 to …


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 her …


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 would …


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 New …


for the girls

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Our church recently spent a Sunday afternoon distributing fliers to thousands of homes in our area, inviting community members to a cookout, and announcing the launch of our second worship service. I was pleased to see half a dozen teen girls from our youth group show up to join the teams tromping through the suburbs of Levittown. I was less pleased when, just an hour into the experience, several of them wilted onto the curb of the neighborhood with complaints about tiredness and “oh my gosh it’s so hot” and “I have a blister” and “when are we going to be …


fire balloons and fairness

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Japanese_fire_balloon_MoffettDuring World War II, the Japanese were so incensed by America’s brazenness in dropping bombs directly over Tokyo they decided to seek revenge in a creative way. The government transformed many of the country’s schools into factories and employed thousands of children in creating ingenious bomb-carrying balloons with sophisticated temperature sensors that could travel, not via airplane, but on the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean.

Their goal with these “fu-go,” or “fire balloons,” was to orchestrate a terror operation and create panic among the …