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

“What About Angels?”

During Advent this year we are doing a study of four passages in which angels appear to announce the great events of the coming of Christ. In two of them—the appearance to Zechariah to announce the birth of John, and the announcement to Mary of the conception of Jesus—the angel is named. He is Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God.” In the other two instances—the appearance to Joseph and then to the shepherds—the angel is not named, and

How should a parent respond to their teenager sexting?

“We are pleased to pass along some very important thoughts from Nicholas Black. Nicholas is currently on Session as a Ruling Elder at New Life and served for years as our Director of Children’s Ministry. He is on staff of Harvest USA, a vitally important ministry to those affected by sexual sin.” – Steve Smallman Atlantic Monthly has a distressing but highly informative article on teen sexting: “Why Kids Sext:” It’s a great read. But like I said, be

New Life Church’s 40th Anniversary Celebration – Closing Remarks from Rose Marie Miller

In 1986 on a Sunday morning, Charles and Janet Morris walked into the gym.  They had just moved to the area and were looking for a church.  Charles felt he belonged to a church that had soft organ music and stained glass windows, but New Life was closer.  He tells his story. “There was a band that burst into praise and a front row of men confined to wheelchairs who were swaying to the music.  The first Sunday we visited,