Tolkien Tuesday

Ministry

I grew up in Kansas City but spent 15 formative years in and around the great city of Chicago. In Chicago, I served two churches as a pastor to youth and young adults. In 2013, our family moved to California so I could pursue a doctorate. While in California, I served on a church staff teaching and directing discipleship.

In 2017, we left California and moved to Sioux Center, Iowa, where I serve as Assistant Professor of Theology at Dordt University. This year I celebrate my 17th year of marriage to Melissa and we are blessed with two children.

My ministry passion is to re-enchant the world through the imagination-shaping depth of the gospel. In addition to regular pulpit supply, I travel to speak at churches, retreats, and conferences throughout the year. In this space I hope to make available recent and important sermons.

Favorites

1 SamuelFavorite SermonsOld TestamentOT NarrativeSermons
December 9, 2018

Hannah’s Hope – 1 Samuel 2

Advent – which contemplates the great miracle of God becoming a human being – is a challenge to our intellect: “how can these things be?” But it is also a challenge to our imagination, the lens through which we see the world, what the Bible…
Favorite SermonsOld TestamentOT NarrativeRuthSermons
May 6, 2017

Bitterness and Blessing – Ruth 1

The story of Ruth is a story of return, reversal, and renewal, of blessing that comes through bitterness, of unexpected kindness and unreserved loyalty. It teaches us that even in the times of emptiness, when prayers seem to fall lifeless to the ground, when it…
ActsFavorite SermonsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
June 16, 2016

Spirit Poured Out – Acts 2

The gift of the Holy Spirit profoundly shapes the way we see ourselves, the way we see our church, and the way we see the story of the world. Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the church, evoking our wonder and empowering our witness.…
Favorite SermonsJonahOld TestamentOT Narrative
January 3, 2016

Passivity and Participation – Jonah 1

Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt; familiarity can breed passivity. And we can become so familiar with cherished biblical narratives that we are inoculated against their power. When this happens, we lose our spiritual fitness and begin to suffer from a condition we might call spiritual…

Psalms

Old TestamentOT PoetryPsalmsSermons
June 3, 2018

Disorientation – Psalm 3

When our vision is unclear, we have this incredible propensity to walk in circles, to perpetuate cycles of selfishness, to pass the time without making significant progress in holiness and wholeness. And it is not a matter of sudden turns. It is the result of…
Old TestamentOT PoetryPsalmsSermons
June 24, 2018

Dissonance – Psalm 19

Psalm 19 does something similar for us: it is shock therapy for bored Christians sitting in church wondering whether we will hear anything new. Psalm 19 stops us in our tracks and invites us to listen to the music that is already playing, it drops…
Old TestamentOT PoetryPsalmsSermons
July 15, 2018

Dependence – Psalm 23

Psalm 23 tells us that God’s peace, and the promise of God’s presence is possible. In fact, it shows us that it is possible to walk through the darkest, loneliest and most confusing times if we know who God is: the God who goes before…
Old TestamentOT PoetryPsalms
July 22, 2018

Dust – Psalm 90

If you are in transition, or if you woke up this morning and your soul feels restless, or if you are wrestling with the question of where home is to be found, then Moses the man of God has something to say to you today.…
Costly HopeOld TestamentOT PoetryPsalmsSermons
August 12, 2018

Drought – Psalm 126

If the story of Scripture is any indication, hope often begins in sorrow and rage, often withers in the wilderness of disappointed expectations. But it also pushes up through the cracks of despair when it has no earthly reason to do so. If hope springs…
Old TestamentOT PoetryPsalmsSermons
August 19, 2018

Doxology – Psalm 150

The power and prominence of music is worthy of our attention. Music moves us, evokes our emotion, and brings out our humanity like almost nothing else. Don’t just tell me if you believe in an idea. Does it make you sing? If something makes you…

OT Narrative

Favorite SermonsJonahOld TestamentOT Narrative
January 3, 2016

Passivity and Participation – Jonah 1

Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt; familiarity can breed passivity. And we can become so familiar with cherished biblical narratives that we are inoculated against their power. When this happens, we lose our spiritual fitness and begin to suffer from a condition we might call spiritual…
1 SamuelOT NarrativeSermons
April 13, 2016

“The Weight of Glory” – 1 Samuel 4

New beginnings often mean facing up to some painful realities about the way that things have been. Weeds and thorns must be exposed and cleared away before new life that has been planted can begin to grow. The new and shocking thing that God promised…
1 SamuelOT NarrativeSermons
April 24, 2016

Bigger, Faster, Stronger – 1 Samuel 14

In a world obsessed with becoming bigger, faster, and stronger, could it be that God is actually looking for people who are willing to remain smaller, slower, and weaker, so that his greatness could be more clearly seen? Preached at Grace Pasadena in Pasadena, CA…
1 SamuelOT NarrativeSermons
May 15, 2016

“All that is Gold does not Glitter” – 1 Samuel 16

The hope of the Church is not in our own ingenuity or power, but in the Spirit’s empowering presence. This means that God often forges diamonds from rough situations, and that those the world least expects to excel are often the ones most powerfully commissioned…
Favorite SermonsOld TestamentOT NarrativeRuthSermons
May 6, 2017

Bitterness and Blessing – Ruth 1

The story of Ruth is a story of return, reversal, and renewal, of blessing that comes through bitterness, of unexpected kindness and unreserved loyalty. It teaches us that even in the times of emptiness, when prayers seem to fall lifeless to the ground, when it…
Old TestamentOT NarrativeRuthSermons
May 20, 2017

Redemption – Ruth 3

Although the Bible is a grand story of how God brings healing to all of creation, it is also grounded in the gritty particularities of real times and places, and in the lives of real people. God does not bring antiseptic salvation separated from the…

Ruth

Favorite SermonsOld TestamentOT NarrativeRuthSermons
May 6, 2017

Bitterness and Blessing – Ruth 1

The story of Ruth is a story of return, reversal, and renewal, of blessing that comes through bitterness, of unexpected kindness and unreserved loyalty. It teaches us that even in the times of emptiness, when prayers seem to fall lifeless to the ground, when it…
Old TestamentOT NarrativeRuthSermons
May 20, 2017

Redemption – Ruth 3

Although the Bible is a grand story of how God brings healing to all of creation, it is also grounded in the gritty particularities of real times and places, and in the lives of real people. God does not bring antiseptic salvation separated from the…

Jonah

Favorite SermonsJonahOld TestamentOT Narrative
January 3, 2016

Passivity and Participation – Jonah 1

Familiarity doesn’t just breed contempt; familiarity can breed passivity. And we can become so familiar with cherished biblical narratives that we are inoculated against their power. When this happens, we lose our spiritual fitness and begin to suffer from a condition we might call spiritual…
JonahOld TestamentSermons
November 14, 2016

When Prayer Prevents Piety – Jonah 2

Everyone agrees that Jonah rebels in chapter one. But the question is when Jonah repents. Some think that Jonah begins to repent in chapter one, when he has the sailors throw him into the sea. Others think that Jonah repents in chapter two, when he…
JonahOld TestamentOT NarrativeSermons
July 14, 2020

Questioning our Convictions: Jonah 4

If there is a master theme for in our country right now, it might be anger. Anger at racial injustice, anger at the disruption caused by the coronavirus, anger at the spin and sensationalism of various media outlets, anger at our elected officials, anger at…

Gospel of Matthew

Gospel of MatthewNew TestamentSermons
February 15, 2016

Failing Forward – Matthew 14

In a society where we are so often obsessed with success, with the question, “how can I succeed?” we often don’t know what to do with our failures. This sermon clocks in at 22 minutes, but keep listening for Jim Belcher's excellent Communion meditation at…
Gospel of MatthewNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
March 1, 2020

Water and the Wilderness – Matthew 4

We are called to walk through the wilderness of this world, kissed by the baptismal blessing. But there are times when we wish we could wash away the baptismal claim on our life. Times when we want life on our own terms. Times when we…
Gospel of MatthewNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
March 8, 2020

“A Glimpse of How Things Really Are” – Matthew 17

Who gets to say how things really are? This is an important question, particularly in a world of spin rooms, fake news, and alternative facts. There is no shortage of people who claim that they can truly see, who want to wake us up to…

Gospel of Luke

Gospel of LukeNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
January 22, 2017

The Outrageous Invitation – Luke 14

Many times we are comfortable with and complicit in injustice because our minds are simply occupied with making sure that we are on the inside, that we are included, that our place at the table is safe. And so we need to hear Jesus blow…
Gospel of LukeNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
February 5, 2017

The Life You Save May Be Your Own – Luke 10

Sometimes it seems like there are too many things to care about, too much injustice, too much inhumanity, all thrown into the political spin cycle and then flung towards us from every imaginable media outlet. The problems seem so intractable, too big for our brains,…
Gospel of LukeNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
February 19, 2017

The Lame Shall Enter First – Luke 18

Grace turns the tables on all our little comparison games and ranking systems. And this parable resounds with the reminder that only those who know they need grace are able to receive it, and only those who receive it are able to show it. Preached…
Gospel of LukeNew TestamentOld TestamentOT PoetrySermons
April 16, 2017

If Someone Dies, Will They Live Again? – Job 14, Luke 24

The anguish in the question is real. In modern times we are prone to look at earlier eras and think, you know those pre-modern people could believe anything. But the reality and finality of death has always haunted human consciousness. Preached in Memorial Park in…

Gospel of John

Gospel of JohnNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
January 13, 2016

Expectation and Encounter – John 2:1-11

I have a very wise mentor who once said to me that there are two truths that he clings to, two things he knows about God: God loves me, and I can’t control him. He loves you. You can’t control him. Since he loves you, you…
Costly HopeGospel of JohnNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
April 1, 2018

“If You Had Been Here” – John 11

We rightly grieve over many things: over fractured relationships, frustrated hopes, and broken dreams. If we are honest, we often wonder why Jesus didn’t seem to show up at the time or in the way that we expected him to show up. Why does it…

Acts

ActsFavorite SermonsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
June 16, 2016

Spirit Poured Out – Acts 2

The gift of the Holy Spirit profoundly shapes the way we see ourselves, the way we see our church, and the way we see the story of the world. Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit on the church, evoking our wonder and empowering our witness.…
ActsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
July 11, 2016

No Other Name – Acts 4

We cannot keep silent, the apostles say. Why? Because there is something we’ve been given to do that no one else can do, and there is something we’ve been given to say that no one else can say. So, what does the church have to…
ActsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
July 31, 2016

The Clean and the Common – Acts 10

We naturally gravitate towards people who are like us, who eat the same food that we do, who follow similar rhythms, who share similar values. There’s something human and healthy about this. But cultural difference also has a way of separating us from others who…
ActsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
August 7, 2016

Called Christians – Acts 11

This passage gives us one of the most beautiful portraits in Scripture of what it means to be a part of the church, the one, holy, catholic, apostolic church. We see what the church is called to be: an international movement that moves by grace…
ActsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
August 21, 2016

Whatever Gods May Be – Acts 17

Vagueness in our beliefs about God is not merely an affliction of the young and the restless. It reflects a much larger uncertainty in our culture towards ideas of God. And there are many reasons for this. For one thing, when we encounter the diversity…
ActsNew TestamentNT NarrativeSermons
September 3, 2016

Title or Testimony? – Acts 26

God’s work in our lives gives us a testimony to new purpose, news to proclaim, and the ability to live with poise. The first is a new direction, the second is a new declaration, the third is a new disposition. Preached at Grace Pasadena in…

Topical: Deadly Sins

Deadly SinsNew TestamentNT LettersSermonsTopical
March 5, 2017

Deadly Sins: Pride – James 3

James alerts us to two kinds of wisdom, two ways to become adept at navigating the world. There is a kind of wisdom marked by pride, it comes “from below,” it is “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” But there is a second kind of wisdom, a…
Deadly SinsNew TestamentNT LettersSermonsTopical
March 19, 2017

Deadly Sins: Anger – Ephesians 4

All anger invites self-examination. What is making you angry? And is your anger sourced in life and love, or does it seek to humiliate and destroy? How does it feel? Does it fuel constructive action, or does it eat you alive? Alienation from God twists…
Deadly SinsOT PoetryProverbsSermonsTopical
March 26, 2017

Deadly Sins: Sloth – Proverbs 24, 2 Peter 1

Sloth is not fundamentally about being lazy with our work, but about being lazy with our love. Scripture speaks a powerful word to our struggle with sloth. It shows us that although we so often withdraw from the demands of love, God’s promises evoke our…