Latest Posts

Shepherding the Flock: A Conversation About Pastoral Ministry and Cultural Engagement

At the 2016 ERLC National Conference: Onward, I sat down with David Prince, Robby Gallaty, Jimmy Scroggins, and Bryan Loritts to discuss pastoral ministry and cultural engagement.  I asked Bryan Loritts, “Do you feel that many churches, by being afraid of speaking on cultural issues, have seeded authority in many ways to other voices in the culture?” He responded saying, “Absolutely. I think many of our preachers and pastors lack prophetic courage, and I think that if the gospel we preach does not have what my grandma called “shoe leather” and it is not portable, and we can’t take the…

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Teach Us to Pray: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

This is part of an occasional series of posts on the Lord’s Prayer. You can read the previous entries in this series here, here, here, here, here, and here. Today’s post looks at the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” from the Lord’s Prayer. This is the first in a series of three so-called “earthy” requests, in contrast to the first three “heavenly” requests. “Give us this day”, we are to pray, “our daily bread.” What does it mean to pray this prayer? Even in what seems like a rather simple request like “Give us this day our…

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Teach Us To Pray: “Thy Will Be Done, On Earth As It Is In Heaven”

This is part of an occasional series of posts on the Lord’s Prayer. You can read the previous entries in this series here, here, here, here, here, and here. In this post we will discuss the third request found in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” This request is a natural response to the previous request that God’s name be worshipped and proclaimed through the earth and the coming of the kingdom. We often look at prayer as the opportunity for us to get stuff from God, right? And as desperate people,…

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Teach Us To Pray: Your Kingdom Come

This is the sixth article in a series of blogs posts on the Lord’s Prayer. You can read the previous entries in this series here, here, here, here, and here. In this post, we will discuss the second request Jesus encourages us to present in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your Kingdom Come.” So what does it mean to pray “Your Kingdom Come?” 1) This kind of prayer involves   First we acknowledge that we are not God. To pray “Your Kingdom Come” is an acknowledgement that there is another King than the kings of the world. It also acknowledges our dependence on…

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Some tips on getting published

I often have young writers ask me how to get published. I’ve written some of my advice already here and here and here. But I thought I’d offer a few more practical tips on getting editors to appreciate your work and give you a byline: 1) Research publications you intend to write for. It’s important to read widely and read deeply at the publications you’d like to see publish your work. That way when you pitch ideas, you will know what is a good fit for a specific publication. Over time, this will develop into an instinct, so when you get an…

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The Courage to Not Overreact

One of my favorite podcasts is the Washington Posts’ Presidential Podcast. It’s a unique idea: cover one president a week for like 45-50 minutes. They began on January 10th of this year with George Washington. The plan is to continue until Election Day. I love presidential history. This podcast doesn’t give you a deep dive that a biography or mini-series would, of course, but has been helpful, especially for some of the more obscure presidents in our history. As the coverage moves into the modern era, there is so much more to cover because there is so much more we know.…

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Teach Us to Pray: ‘Hallowing’ God’s Name in Our Lives

(This is the fifth post in a ten post series on The Lord’s Prayer) As we continue looking at the second part the verse, “hallowed be your name,” we see this is a prayer for God to work through His Spirit in us to reveal the name of Christ. So when we pray “Hallowed be your name” we are praying that our lives would hallow, sanctify, and magnify God’s name. It’s an important prayer to pray of ourselves, for this is our mission in the world. Our mission is to make famous the name of Christ. Specifically, I think there…

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Teach Us to Pray: Hallowed Be Your Name

(This is the fourth post in a ten post series on The Lord’s Prayer) In this post we’ll take a look at the first of six requests in this prayer. And it’s an unusual one, perhaps one we don’t quite understand. Jesus says we should pray, to the Father, “Hallowed be your name.” What exactly does this mean? Why Begin Our Prayers this Way? To hallow means to “declare holy” to “make holy” to “consider holy.” In a sense, it says something both about the way we pray and the way we should pray. You will notice that the first…

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Teach Us to Pray: Our Father Who Art in Heaven

(This is the third post in a ten post series on The Lord’s Prayer) The Lord’s Prayer—given by Jesus as a model for how the disciples should pray begins with what seems like a typical phrase: “Our Father Who Art In Heaven.” Today we might not be as formal, but we’d use a similar line in our prayers. We might say, “Dear Heavenly Father” or something. It sounds pretty normal as prayers go. However, Jesus’ instruction to the disciples, to use the phrase, “Our Father in Heaven” were radical, life-changing words, and if we properly understand them, they are life-changing…

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Teach Us to Pray: 6 Reasons Why We Should Pray

(This is the second post in a ten post series on The Lord’s Prayer.) As a Pastor, a question that I am often asked goes along the lines of, “well, I know I should pray, but why?” When I give them an answer, they usually follow up with “but how do I pray? The simple answer to why is granted to us because the privilege of prayer was given to us at a great, great sacrifice. It cost Jesus his life. While Jesus used many different situations to teach His disciples how to pray, he chose to use this opportunity…

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Teach Us to Pray: Introduction

The Lord’s Prayer is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. I love reading it, reciting it, and preaching through it. So today I am starting a ten-post blog series, Teach Us To Pray, where we will look in depth at the Lord’s Prayer. The first two posts will be an introduction to prayer and what we can learn from how Jesus prayed. In the remaining posts, we will go line by line and examine what we can gather from His words. The Lord’s Prayer, one of the most recognized passages of Scripture, is one of three foundational documents – along…

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Hannah’s Prayer for 2016

She was an otherwise unknown Middle-Eastern woman. Because of her inability to bear children, her husband took a second wife, who bore him several children. She was publicly shamed for her infertility. Hannah had few resources, no agency, diminished status. She lived in a time of great distress for God’s people. The end of the book of Judges describes a period of great moral decline, of anarchy, of a lawless and violent culture. The spiritual state of Israel was so corrupt that Hannah’s fervent prayer in the temple invited shock and surprise from Levi, the priest. The priesthood itself was corrupt, as…

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Some Father’s Day Articles

This Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day. Here are some of my reflections on fatherhood from past years: What Dad Taught Me: 5 Invaluable Principles I Use Every Day: Dad was a blue-collar guy, a licensed plumber, who has always been known for the quality of his work. It wasn’t the specific job he did but the way Dad carried himself that taught me the most about life, about manhood, and about living out the gospel. These five lessons are ones I’ve adopted as I seek to honor the Lord with my life. It’s Never Too Late To Become a Great…

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Passing the Faith Along

Here is a post I wrote for Green Hill Church on parenting as discipleship. A few tips for passing the faith along: Remember we do this in community. We don’t parent in isolation, we parent in community with the body of Christ in our local church. The church is there to equip, strengthen, and resource parents. And parents should learn, grow, confess, repent, and laugh together as they raise their children to love Jesus. Rely on the Spirit of God. This job of parenting is bigger than we can handle. This is why we need Holy Spirit power and wisdom. Doing it…

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Shaping a Whole Life, Pro Life Ethic

Earlier this year I had the chance to host a panel at the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, D.C hosted by ERLC and Focus on the Family. My guests were Trillia Newbell, Ron Sider, Karen Swallow Prior, Emily Colsen, and John Stonestreet.

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20 Things I’ve Learned in the 20 Years Since Graduation

In June of 1996, I walked down the aisle, with thirteen others, at Quentin Road Christian School in Lake Zurich, Illinois and received my high school diploma. I distinctly remember the mixture of anticipation and hope I felt that day. Twenty years later, I look back with amazement. First, it’s hard to believe it has been twenty years. I don’t feel that old. Second, I’m stunned by the grace of God displayed in knitting the strands of my life together. Third, there are so many things I’ve learned in twenty years that I wish I could tell 18-year-old me. Here…

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Friday Flashback: My Prayer Before the Illinois State House

Three years ago, I was graciously invited to deliver the opening prayer before the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield, IL. This was my prayer: Prayer of Convocation Illinois General Assembly Monday, May 20th, 2013 2:00 PM  Dear Heavenly Father. We offer our humble gratitude for the gift of freedom as Americans, forged over 200 years of messy democracy and protected by the blood of our fighting men and women. Let us be ever mindful of the many peoples around the world who are not as free, as prosperous, as blessed as we are.  We are grateful to live in the…

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Everyone Is a Culture Warrior. Some Admit it.

My friend and colleague, Samuel James, has a brilliant piece (you should read the whole thing) on why the culture wars are inescapable: The idea that conservative Americans can escape the “wrong side of history” if only they will shut up and be kind is an idea based on a myth: The myth that progressivism has a fixed destination and, once arrived, will seek to go no further. Was it for bombastic rhetoric or theocratic zealotry that the Little Sisters of the Poor now await for the Supreme Court to decide whether they can be consistently Catholic? Was it for political activism…

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Pentecost, Pastoring and Intentional Friendships

Here are three of my latest articles: “So You Want to Make Disciples?” for In Touch Conversions usually result from deliberate, genuine friendship building. This involves intentionally inserting ourselves in environments where unbelievers are present. It includes leveraging our natural human talents to find common ground and build friendships. It requires patience, not trying to “close the deal” but coming alongside, seeking a person’s good, and learning to grow in relationship. “6 Ways to Pastors Can Equip Churches To Engage Cultural Issues” for ERLC When pastors fail to equip their people to think biblically about issues, they cede authority to the…

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The Simple, but Powerful Lesson I Learned from My Mom

I remember the moment as if it was yesterday. I was six years old and it was Christmas with our extended family. We were in the basement living room in our first house on Marberry Lane in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Like most adults, my memories of my childhood are scattered and rosy, probably more hazy recollections than concrete facts. But this memory is as vivid and detailed as any. We sat there on the floor, Christmas presents scattered around the room. I was, at the time, the only child (my brother and sister came along later) and the only grandchild on…

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