May 23, 2018

Somehow, this is the third(!) time I’ve been with Vox on Pentecost. But it’s been a while since I was with them at all for a sermon, so it was good to be there.

May 23, 2018

I wasn’t familiar with John Mark until a few years ago, when multiple requests to interview him started rolling in. Since then, his church podcast is one I keep in my own listening rotation, because I’m not learning about preaching when I listen to him, but growing as a human too. It was a pleasure to have him on, and I expect the conversation could have gone another hour without losing steam.

by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

May 23, 2018

This book was recommended by one of the many hospice chaplains we have in our church community. He’s read about and seen his share of grief, so the suggestion wasn’t taken lightly.

It’s about Sandberg’s own grief at the unexpected loss of her husband, and how she found a way forward after.

I’d say it is more nuanced about coping with grief and loss, than the adversity and resilience that the subtitle names. But, they aren’t so different I suppose, and her experience is helpful for seeing one’s own loss and imagining what should come next.

by Dacher Keltner

May 23, 2018

A helpful book for anyone in formal leadership, or just wants to have influence with others. Keltner is a research psychologist who makes the case that power and influence aren’t taken or exerted, but earned through a selfless and humble posture.

Not necessarily new ideas here, but ideas that aren’t widely practiced either. And this is one of the most helpful books I’ve read for outlining them. It left me both encouraged and challenged.

May 15, 2018

Continuing here the trend of finally doing some updates on my own sites instead of other people’s. Sermonsmith was built on old and now abandoned third-party theme. And it was broken. I was able to rebuild the site on the Foundation framework with a few layout and styling additions. It was only an afternoon or so of effort — and it could still use some polish — but I’m happy with the result.

May 15, 2018

Our final sermon in the Easter readings from 1 John. I focused on John’s final stand alone instruction to “Flee from idols.” It seems to have no connection to any of the rest of the letter, so why is it even there?

May 15, 2018

Continuing in the Easter readings through 1 John. And also continuing in what I noted below about how so much of 1 John feels fundamentalist and a little combative today. It can be read as a book about setting a community apart as being the ones who get it and have it all together, Ultimately, it becomes more encouraging and meaningful when read as how a church should respond to people who think they have surpassed what the church is about — how to live as a community that is being pushed to the edges rather than occupying the center.

May 15, 2018

For the Easter season, we decided to somewhat return to the lectionary by working through 1 John. Each week, we’ve started off with reading a chapter, and then offering a teaching on some part of that chapter. It was challenging with much of the language of 1 John evoking experiences of fundamental Christianity in North America. But since I like reconstructing how words might have been heard in ancient contexts rather than ours, it’s been fun for me too. I set a lot of that up in this sermon.

by Francis Spufford

May 12, 2018

A double-meaning with the title here. Francis Spufford is not apologetic for maintaining his Christian faith though the stereotypes of English professors might cause you to expect otherwise. The book is also unapologetic in that it is not your typical apologetic full of facts and arguments for beliefs.

We end up with a well-reasoned for why being a Christian continues to make sense for him. And why it might for his reader too. Thoughtful and off-color. And a book I’ll suggest to others trying to make sense of Christian faith. In fact, I already have…

by Katherine Applegate

May 12, 2018

This is the third book Katherine Applegate I’ve read through with my two youngest kids in our nightly bedtime reading ritual. All three have been engaging, moving, and beautifully written. This one, though, was a thoughtful and timely social commentary on difference and hospitality. Fiction at it’s best.

May 2, 2018

Resurrection is a pretty big deal. Each year, I use the Easter sermon to remind myself, and the rest of aMS, that we don’t need to do anything bigger or better than remember that. I focus on retelling the Easter story each year. This year, following the lectionary, I told the earliest recorded version of the story from 1 Corinthians 15. Along with some help from Francis Spufford and his book Unapologetic.

by Greg Boyd

May 2, 2018

I actually finished reading this book about 6 weeks ago. (I’m behind in posting in here, among a number of other books.) But now that I’m circling back to it, I recognize that I’m also slow to implement it.

Most of the books by Greg Boyd that I have read, even those written at the popular level, focus on broader theological ideas. This one is unlike any of those in that it is intended to teach a specific means and practice of prayer. (Of course, it does lay some thoughtful theological groundwork for it, as one would expect. )

The style of prayer described in the book was new and challenging for me. But, I’m also challenged by how difficult it is for me to implement practical ideas that come out of reading. I value rhythms, and think I work best in rhythms. And yet, when a book like this offers new practices, my patterns become a barrier to figure out how to incorporate them.

May 2, 2018

Jim was recommended as a friend of a friend. Jim pointed out to me as we setup the interview that he’s just ‘doing his own little thing in his own little church.’ But that’s exactly the kind of conversations I hope to have. People who are dedicated to doing the work week in and week out, shaping words to shape a community. Jim does the work.

by Bessel van der Kolk

May 2, 2018

This book came to my attention three times last fall in conversations (or overhearing conversations!) so I queued myself on the long wait list for the library.

A tough book to read as it alludes to the experiences and effects of trauma that van der Kolk has seen through decades of practice. Yet hopeful as well as he describes tools and experiences to help us all find a way forward.

Very helpful for me to read both as a person and a pastor. From the pastor perspective, I see so much of spiritual growth and formation being tied to this kind of work. From a personal perspective, we’ve had trauma and challenge in our own family in recent years. These chapters both help name that and imagine a way forward.

April 24, 2018


I’ve made many other websites while our own church website waited, waited, and waited for a needed overhaul. We got some help from my friend and church member Ross, and finally launched a redesign. There’s still some parts in the works, but we’re happy to have a website that better reflects who we are and should scale with us for years to come.

April 14, 2018 11:52 am

Sheesh. That banana bacon cream cheese sandwich I just made is one of my best decisions in many many months.

by Celeste Ng

April 8, 2018

The tour of “Best of 2017” lists continued with Little Fires Everywhere. The title is justified in the first chapter as we find literal little files all over a house. Yet, the continued reading of the book builds layer after layer onto the plot of metaphorical fires building in the lives of two very different families.

I’m drawn to fiction with well developed characters. While a few were left out, this book was full of them.

by David McCullough

April 8, 2018

I had 1776 waiting on my Kindle for a long time after finding it on sale, but it never seemed the right time to read it. I enjoy reading history, but I consider it mostly to be for leisure reading, and that’s the one gap I seem to have in my reading rhythms of late. So, I mostly read this in my “productive” morning reading time.

I suppose that’s all a way of saying that I think this book got shortchanged. I’ve always had at least a minor interest in the Revolutionary War, so I enjoyed this book. But I also had a drive to finish that kept me from plodding my way through the details and events described.

The result is, of course, that a summary of my experience reading the book becomes more about my process than the book itself.

March 30, 2018

Eld v4
I’ve surely lost track of how long I’ve been working on the Every Last Detail. I can say, though, that this is third version of it we’ve launched after I took it over in the middle of it’s first design.

Every time Lauren’s designer sent me a new concept, I was excited…and challenged. This one stretched my dev skills in new directions, and stretched the timeframe too. Thankfully the editor and owner, Lauren, was patient on both counts.

She’s thrilled with the results. I am too.

by Patrick Rothfuss

March 30, 2018

I don’t fancy myself a fantasy reader (though I do count Tolkien among my favorites). So, it took me a while, not a few recommendations, and a sale price on the ebook before I finally tackled The Name of the Wind.

I can see why it’s so well liked. It’s a very readable book. The world-building took me to another place each time I read it. I always connect with characters more than plot or setting, and I didn’t feel like I missed having them around after I finished.

The second book is calling for nme. But at 1120 pages, I haven’t decided yet if I will answer.