The Disciple Challenge

During the reign of the communist government, there was severe Christian persecution in Ethiopia. We had our personal devotions in our own rooms and so were able to survive the communist anti-Christian pressure. Since its fall, there is comparative freedom to exercise faith on an individual or group basis, but … ∞

Be Frank With Me

A few years ago a man named Frank wandered into our church for a hot cup of coffee. He had been drunk and sleeping on an old mattress behind the warehouse near our church. It was below-zero outside and Frank came in from the bitter cold. I know he had … ∞

Big on Newbigin

In a workshop I attended a couple of years ago, the speaker asked his audience some questions about Christian leadership. After participants answered with a variety of interesting responses, the speaker offered his definition of a leader. Without entering into details, I found myself struggling with this speaker’s definition of … ∞

Leading When Times Get Tough

I am initially writing this article from Wittenberg, Germany, on a Reformation Tour with supporters of Calvin College and Seminary. I just walked (and almost tripped) over some of the same cobblestones where Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon walked. Would 1517 qualify as a difficult time for leading? I think … ∞

A Prayer for Fiji

When our flight landed back in the States, Breanna and I were bombarded with the reality that the world had not stopped turning while we were in Fiji. In just two weeks being back stateside, the divisive events in Charlottesville rocked the news, and hurricane Harvey and Irma landed and … ∞

The Holy Spirit and Community

Every spring, my wife, Sarah, and I take part in a strange process called Selection Sunday. We, the mentors of six Project Neighborhood houses, gather to choose which students will live with us for the next school year. Project Neighborhood is an intentional Christian community program for Calvin College students. … ∞

When It Hit Me

Growing up, I’ve always thought that prayer was for the weak and poor. It was a form of encouragement for the hopeless. Therefore, I was devastated when it seemed that the only desperate means to recover from my illness was through prayer. I felt weak and hopeless. However, at the … ∞

Deeper Still

I confess that I was somewhat of an oddity as a child. There are some who might argue that I’ve retained this quality into my adulthood. When I was about eight years old, my family was part of Brethren church plant in Grand Rapids. Actually, my father is the one … ∞

In Review: Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

  Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.  By Kelly Brown Douglas.  Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2015.  $24, Paper, xv+240 pps.   At this spring’s Festival of Faith & Writing, Kelly Brown Douglas said she did not want to write this book but felt compelled to … ∞

The Next Big Step

Someone mentioned to me recently that the greatest evangelical tool we have is the testimony of our changed lives. I decidedly disagree. Sure, my life has changed since I became a Christian, but that is not my testimony. I am still a sinner. If my testimony depended on my changed … ∞


I have talked with quite a few pastors who from a very early age knew, with quite a lot of certainty, that they wanted to be pastors when they grew up. There are even more pastors who found that certainty by the time they were in high school or college. … ∞

Upon this Hill

We stood overlooking a craggy, yet serene countryside that embraced the Sea of Galilee at its border. The slope is known as הר האושר (har ha-osher) or the Mount of Beatitudes, traditionally considered to be the location Jesus delivered his life-altering Sermon on the Mount. Though the scene was not … ∞