Blog

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

This past Sunday (March 15) I used the simplified version of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11 to explain my own experience of learning to pray all over again. I’m writing to reinforce the importance of that message. If you missed the sermon, I suggest you go to the Resources section of our website and listen to it. The heart of what I tried to say was not simply the value of the Lord’s Prayer—and for many of us it

Avoid that half-dead body!

While preparing my recent sermon on the Good Samaritan it hit me how much context matters. Multiple contexts, I should say! There’s the conversational context in which the parable occurs, namely, the interaction between the lawyer and Jesus. Then there’s the religious-political-racial context that is necessary to understand why a good Samaritan (gasp!) was such a provocative suggestion in the mouth of a 1st century Jew. But what I didn’t have time to describe was the covenantal context, which helps

Sharing the Gospel

On most Friday and Sunday nights, you’ll find me hanging out with our students here at New Life. The pattern is the same on both nights; we hang out as a big group for a while and then break out into smaller D-Groups. If you’re not familiar with D-Groups, it’s short for Discipleship Groups. Here, in these groups, we’re free to talk about what’s on our mind and in our hearts. To be honest, we don’t always go deep. Sometimes

Walking Through the Door

I am always “walking into” things, not being sure what I’m going to encounter. You are too. (Imagine an automatic sliding door that opens before you as you walk toward it…but there are no windows through which you may have an advance warning of what to expect.) As a pastor, I make hospital visits, and as I go I often don’t know how bad the health report is, what the person’s state of mind will be, who else will be

A Lifelong Journey with a Tough Sermon

I grew up Mennonite, as did my wife Lise. (Our two churches were separated by a half a mile.) This meant we often heard from the Sermon on the Mount, which many have said is the central text of the Mennonite faith. You might immediately think of the “turn the other cheek” teaching found there (Matt. 5:39), and the importance of pacifism in Mennonite circles. But actually it’s more than that. From the beginning of the Anabaptist movement in the

Getting Practical about Jesus’ Hard Commands

Gee, what to do with a pastor’s blog? Many things, I suppose. One idea is the “cutting room floor”, that is, writing about an additional item or two that didn’t make it into the sermon. Another idea is addressing some relevant issue, or talking about a current church endeavor. And sure enough, this blog has been used for those types of things in the past, and more. Well, this is my first entry, and I’ve decided to (partially) address some

The Cost of Discipleship

This week in my sermon on discipleship (specifically Jesus’ call to Levi to follow him) I made reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his remarkable book, The Cost of Discipleship. In this post I want to say more about Bonhoeffer and this book. As I said Sunday, it is no small thing that this book appeared in 1937, when Hitler’s power was at its height in Germany. His dominance of Europe was still to come, but by 1937 the German people

Gospel Discipling

I continue with what I have written about discipleship in my book, Beginnings, soon to be released by P&R Publishing: In my opinion, the core problem with discipleship, as it is now understood in the Evangelical church, is not with methodology but with content. In one form or another discipleship is typically the teaching of what a Christian is to believe and how they are to live. The emphasis is usually on what are called the “Christian disciplines” such as

What is Discipleship?

I have had the opportunity to write about discipleship and I thought some excerpts from what I have written could help to reinforce our study for 2015 on discipleship. The following is taken from my book on spiritual birth, soon to be republished under the title Beginnings—Understanding How We Experience the New Birth. Here is what I wrote: The word discipleship has come to be used of various programs and methods of training people to grow to a more mature

Update on the Plan for Future Leadership of New Life

In October our congregation voted in favor of a plan to bring Mark Moser into leadership of our church in three phases, taking us to a date in 2016 (yet to be determined) when they would vote on whether to call him as lead Pastor (Phase Three). Phase One is the present year. Mark has been meeting with the Session, pastoral staff and full staff as often as his current work schedule permits. This has included the Session retreat and