Five Practical Gift Ideas for Your Engaged or Newlywed Friends

It’s the holiday shopping season and if you have engaged friends – or newlywed friends, or someone is about to pop the question – in your life on your shopping list, chances are you have their marriage in mind. Good, because so do they! At the time of this writing, I’ve officiated at fourteen weddings … Read more Five Practical Gift Ideas for Your Engaged or Newlywed Friends

Five Practical Gift Ideas for Your Pastor or Seminary Student

It’s the holiday shopping season and if you have a clergy person – or pastor or seminary student or church ministry professional – in your life who is on your shopping list, chances are you have their vocation in mind as a potential angle on the perfect gift. There’s a lot of “Christian Stuff” out … Read more Five Practical Gift Ideas for Your Pastor or Seminary Student

Mission 2018 Day 05: On the Farm

It was a unique day for our team, Dear Reader, as all 20 people on the mission team from Hennepin Avenue UMC, Richfield UMC, and Northfield UMC got together on the same work sites. Read on to learn about what it was like down on the farm. And the other farm!
Farming Hope in the Heart of the City
D-Town Farms is an urban farm focusing on food justice for its community. Growing a variety of crops, from scallions and cabbages to garlic and beyond, this mighty effort isn’t just growing food but awareness and empowerment. The farm itself is city-owned land they lease and there’s plenty of space as it was a former tree nursery back in the day. Now, they cultivate crops to sell at local markets and their own Saturday sales on-site. The most popular crops include okra, kale, and collards but beyond the crops getting grown on purpose there are plenty of edible “weeds” throughout the farm and we got to try

Read moreMission 2018 Day 05: On the Farm

How I almost made our church be one of the churches slamming the door on Jen Hatmaker (and why slamming doors reminded me to keep ours open).

Friends, we’re minutes away from Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman’s sold-out evening show, Moxie Matters, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where I serve as Associate Pastor. The matinee was a blast and I’m excited for tonight. What a pleasure it was to meet Jen, Nichole, and their team. The 600-person matinee audience shared laughter, tears, stories, and songs. The evening audience will do the same, and with just as much moxie! I’m always amazed at the vulnerability, hope, and community that is shared in that magnificent sanctuary.
I also want to share this article I wrote for our church’s newsletter this month. It shares a little about how I almost said “No” what’s clearly an amazing event. I’m going to offer you my vulnerability and tell you this story. May my teachable moment be a teachable moment for how we all stop divisiveness, practice inclusion, and build God’s kingdom of love. Thanks for stopping by, Dear Reader. If you’re new, thanks for subscribing and sharing.
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Originally published the in Inspire magazine for Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church:
Moxie Matters Tour
I’m proud of this church for walking with people on their faith journeys. Each of us has our own unique spiritual path to find and to follow. No one’s journey is without obstacles, nor is anyone’s better than another’s, and dare I say I don’t think we’ll ever be “done” seeking God. Here’s a vulnerable moment I recently had on my
journey as one of your pastors.
On February 20, Hennepin will host the “Moxie Matters” tour featuring bestselling Christian author Jen Hatmaker and singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman. It’s going
to be a big one, friends—the evening show in the Sanctuary sold out in less than two days, and the matinee is on its way to a sell-out, too. I’m proud we’re hosting this tour. However, that’s not where I started. When Jen’s tour team reached out to Hennepin to ask if we would serve as a tour stop venue, I admit I was hesitant. True, I knew Jen’s message more by reputation than by my own reading, but

Read moreHow I almost made our church be one of the churches slamming the door on Jen Hatmaker (and why slamming doors reminded me to keep ours open).

A Song for My Ordination.


Someone wrote me a song as a gift for my ordination.
Two songs.
Best. Gift. Ever.
You can hear the songs and the sermon / call story that inspired them via the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church podcast ministry.
On Sunday morning at Hennepin Avenue, in anticipation of being ordained a full elder in the United Methodist Church this Wednesday evening (livestream link), I preached about my call story. I offered highlights of my life from childhood to adulthood when I was open to God and when I was closed to God. If you didn’t know, I have had times in my life when I was a strong atheist, wanting nothing to do with God and definitely not the church. I am not ashamed of that, nor do I condemn atheists because while there are many reasons people are atheist I have certainly been there. It was a sermon of vulnerability and I knew I could trust my congregation with my story.

Ken Medema

Ken Medema is a superb musical artist. He’s written many inspiring pieces and even a children’s musical based on the Book of Jonah (my first sermon at Hennepin Avenue – filled with a metaphor of vomit! – was in response to the children performing Medema’s The Big Fish in worship, so we have come full circle). His live concerts often consist of him asking someone from the audience to tell him a brief story from their life and he responds with an original song, writing the music and lyrics on the spot. One of the first things Ken will tell you about himself is he is blind, so he’s taking notes in his mind as he listens to you. It is truly amazing.
Before worship, he and I spoke and I knew that everything he’d offer today would be in response to what came before, including my sermon. In that sense, I knew the song he crafted would be about servanthood and walking the journey. What I didn’t understand is he would truly put my life to music.
Ken made my life a song. There’s no other way to put it.
First, I was moved to tears as I listened to my life as a song. It was unexpected and such a gift. I sat in the preacher’s chair, up on the chancel and behind Ken while he was at the grand piano on the floor. After worship, the only comment I received more about the song’s beautiful content was

Read moreA Song for My Ordination.

My El Salvador trip blog has migrated to The Life Mosaic.

Like last year’s migration of my 2011 side project, Hypothetical Fatherhood, and today’s fellow migration of my 2006-2012 blog, The Scrawl, I’ve also decided to migrate over the blog I wrote when I went to El Salvador in March, 2010. I traveled to El Salvador with a group of seminary students, faculty, and friends of … Read more My El Salvador trip blog has migrated to The Life Mosaic.

The Scrawl has migrated to The Life Mosaic.

Scrawl
I’ve migrated my blog posts and twitter feed for my 2006-2011 side project, The Scrawl / Scrawlers, to here at The Life Mosaic.
When I started grad school for my MFA, I partnered up with Barry Hess to create Scrawlers, a website where people could post 100-word short stories and workshop them with fellow writers. We had something like 50 contributors and it was a lot of fun, but it never really took off and so after contacting the writers to archive their work, we shut the site down in 2012. Barry and I had a blog, The Scrawl, that served as a companion piece to Scrawlers, where we blogged about writing, reading, creativity, and offered original writing prompts. It’s that blog that I’ve now migrated to The Life Mosaic.
There are 304 posts migrated. Because of their scope, there won’t be an archive list in this post like the post when I announced I’d migrated Hypothetical Fatherhood. Also, there are many aspects to these posts that are

Read moreThe Scrawl has migrated to The Life Mosaic.