a God who laughs

This is one of the first articles I ever wrote for publication; it was printed as a “Reflections” column for Christian Standard in 2004, long before I was blogging. But I think the topic is still important and relevant, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Attending Sunday School as children, we all knew the shortest verse in the Bible— “Jesus wept”—and depended on it to score a few easy points in Bible memory competitions. As I’ve grown older, however, I’ve realized how profound those two words are. John tells us the world was created through Jesus; yet …


single minded

Last week during a meeting, one of the leaders of a national church planting network remarked, “We don’t allow single men to plant churches.”

A few years ago, the committee introduced me to a minister in another state. During one of our phone calls he shared how hard it had been to find a church willing to hire a never-married, not-currently-engaged man to serve as their senior leader.

As Paul Williams has written, the pressure to “find a good mate at college” still exists, and if a man knows he won’t be able to land a …


growing like Jesus

Christian Standard recently asked me and seven other contributing editors to consider the various ways Jesus grew—“in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men”—and to share how we’re growing in one of those areas.

Here’s my answer–don’t miss the other excellent responses on the CS website.

This spring I tagged a few days onto a California business trip so I could spend time with friends.

First I had coffee with John, who shared his recent decision to leave a safe ministry position and start a new church. “I waited years to discover this calling, and just tried to stay faithful until I saw …


sign language

Church signs can be tricky.

While driving around Nashville this weekend I noticed our local Unitarian church had posted a new message:


Wayne Dyer is a self-help and motivational speaker who authored Your Erroneous Zones, among others. He leads seminars with titles like “Mastering the Art of Manifestation.”

This is all well and good for the Unitarians, but it got me wondering: whose name would fit in that sentence on your church sign?

Some churches could say “If you like Dr. Phil you’ll like our church.”

Some could say “If you like Beth Moore you’ll …


thoughts on missing the point

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. —Micah 5

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. —Isaiah 7

The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. —Psalm 72

Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, …


This weekend I saw the next movie you’ll show clips of in your services. (Assuming you’re done with DaVinci.)

No spoilers about Superman here, other than to make that prediction. A feature article on the movie in the June 23 issue of Entertainment Weekly quotes an actor from the film who said, “If somebody gave you $200 million to make a movie that could reach the most people you could—who would it be about? The answer is either going to be Superman or Jesus.”

You don’t need to look very hard to see elements of both. Between the title character’s flashbacks about his connection to his father Jor-El, the reminder that Jor-El …


But Jesus!

This past Sunday, the 3s and 4s Sunday school teachers rejoiced to discover it was quarterly review—the weekend without a craft for us to organize or story for us to tell (especially gratifying since last time it was my turn, the lesson was on the Holy Spirit. Centuries of theologians can’t fully comprehend the trinity and I’m supposed to explain it to a preschooler?). Instead, most of the hour consists of a large group review of the songs, stories, and memory verses of the last three months. The teachers just shush and corral the little people, and make sure they remain seated “criss-cross applesauce” (Indian-style) on the floor.

But I enjoyed …