Posts by Jonathan

Husband. Father. Friend.

To Be Comforters

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 (ESV)

To a people in exile, suffering under the weight and repercussions of their sin, far from home and seemingly without hope; prophets are called on by God to comfort them. To serve them, raise their eyes to see him and find hope.

This is a wonderful launch into a new section of Isaiah, an unfurling of chapters written and spoken to a nation in exile. But it is also a call for those that preach, that lead, that pastor God’s people today.

I think of the people in the pews, that might feel their own exile. The loss of expected gain. The struggle of anxiety or depression. The tensions of human relationships. The recovery from abuse or oppression. The drama of everyday life. It all piles on and when we gather to open God’s word, the true word that lasts, it it good news, the gospel we are meant to proclaim and reflect to one another.

I have spent enough days in ministry needing what only Jesus provides and sitting with people that are starving spiritually for the comfort only he can give. It is not a permissive gesture or false freedom to live for self, but it is grace that sustains, serves, and heals those that he loves. His people.

What can you give today? To your friends, to your neighbor, to those hurting and in need, to those celebrating and unaware? Jesus. Comfort that the striving can cease, that righteousness is won by him for us. That he is enough.

Hear of this comfort, this Savior, Jesus who longs for you, and gave himself up for you. That you can have peace, now and in eternity. Rest in him.

Much Desire Yet So Little Time for Words

There are a small number of websites/blogs that I follow through an aggregate reader. Giving me the opportunity to read and learn from a varied collection of voices each day. And I so desire this. I want to be on top of the latest news inside and outside the church. I want to understand theological wrangling that helps me see Jesus in right and good ways. I want to gain the ability to use all of life as an illustration in the stories I tell and write for myself.

The thing is, I don’t have the patience, or more culturally appropriate, the time for all the words these people are writing.

If I wanted 12,000 words on an issue I would buy a book not subscribe to your blog! There are headlines that draw me in, with excitement I begin to wade through text but then a kid asks a question, or has the volume of their morning cartoons too loud. Slack pings another notification that demands attention. Whatever else happens and I fall to distraction. I get off-track and give up. Because there are too many words.

So what you are left with is a partially-read wanna-be that has a stockpile of desire to take in more content, to be refined, but has so little time for words.

And lest I become my problem (wait, I am the problem) I will end it here.

Worthwhile: June 7, 2019

Did you know that today is national donut day? Go get one!

Travel last week and summer in swing this week. There are still a few worthwhile bits of the internet for you to check out.

Post-Christian cities, praying for your food and graduating with gratitude.


Barna has released its look at the most “post-Christian” cities in the U.S. As Barna says:

To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals must meet nine or more of our 16 criteria (listed below), which identify a lack of Christian identity, belief and practice. These factors include whether individuals identify as atheist, have never made a commitment to Jesus, have not attended church in the last year or have not read the Bible in the last week. 

What is surprising is not that there are post-Christian cities ranking with 45% or higher, but where they are. San Diego is ranked 38th most post-Christian but my hometown of Omaha jumps off the list at 34. The town I did grad school, Toledo, OH is 35…

Check the list and see where your city ranks. Then get to work and tell someone about Jesus!


Also funny to me last week the remark from someone that because a comedian told them they didn’t need to say grace before a meal, they discontinued the practice. Ha.

First, if a comedian is your life coach or source of Christian teaching, go to church (and I realize most pastors try to be comedians). Next, praying before meals, or other adventures for that matter, are about expressing gratitude to God for his gifts, his provision in our lives. If anything we should be praying more, not less.

Jeremy Writebol gives us a good model, “Prayer at the regular intervals of normal, ordinary life fuel our dependence on God.”

“Praying at a meal is a part of pursuing Jesus in all of life. When eating a meal, give thanks for it. The pattern to implement is this: First, pause before the meal. Second, pray aloud, expressing gratitude for God’s provision of the food. Third, if so desired or needed at the moment, express others’ petitions. Then, eat.”

Read the rest here and get to praying… and eating.


And finally, it is graduation season. Don’t let it get you down. While seasons of transition can at times leave us grieving we can look forward with hope and thankfulness. In fact it is good to grieve, the right way.

Melissa Kruger shares more and it might just be what you need to get through the graduations! Read it, live it.


That’s it faithful friends. Have a great weekend. I will be preaching a wedding and partying with the best of them. Onward with grace and peace.

Worthwhile: May 24, 2019

Long weekend ahead. Which means either you will have more time for delighting in great reading or you will be busy with burgers and hotdogs on the grill. Either way, breathe deep, find some people you like, and enjoy the gifts we have been given.

Four nuggets of good if you missed them earlier in the week. Grace, devices, discipleship and a place for all of us. Cheers!


First up, Sam Storms in a surprisingly short post for him, helps us think through ways we don’t fully embrace or understand the grace of God. It is a helpful list to think through and not meant as a guilt trip but an invitation into the true grace of Jesus.

I even found myself on the list, needing more embrace and understanding of grace. Help Lord!

Check the list for yourself, find grace and be free!


Are you reading this on your phone? Well, don’t put it down just yet… John Thomas has a review of Competing Spectacles on Christianity Today. Tony Reinke wrote the book encouraging discipline in our media age and seeing Christ as our treasure.

If you are hesitant to tackle the whole thing perhaps the review is a good place to start and be stirred to something less screen driven.

When we seek out glory in the passing spectacles of this world rather than in Christ, the culprit isn’t an ever-expanding buffet of shallow entertainments; our own sinful hearts are to blame. Adam and Eve didn’t have an endless selection of forbidden fruits tempting them to reject their Maker; they only needed one. And our spectacle-craving eyes have been looking elsewhere ever since.

Read the review, think it through, look to Jesus.


Next up, how should we approach the church, as consumers or as disciples? Matt Chandler punches our expectations in the face and calls for an end of consumeristic Christianity. Don’t go to church to be entertained or coddled, go to be equipped for ministry!

This is an important perspective from a large church pastor and it is helpful for all believers as we envision the future of the church in increasingly more hostile environments. The gimmicks won’t work, mission will.

Faithwire essentially unpacks Chandler’s sermon, which you can also watch. It is worth hearing and strategizing through. Check it for yourself.


Coming in last this week, among the least… is an encounter with neighbors we don’t always expect. Earlier this week I tweeted that I wanted to be a pastor for those that eat at McDonald’s and drink cheap coffee wherever they find it. Mostly because I want to pastor myself!

We live in a far too stylized world and the mess of artisan hipness has a stranglehold on the church. But it is the church that is the remedy to the mess.

David Zahl shares stories from Chris Arnade’s upcoming book chronicling his journey to highlight the back bench and back roads of America.

But he went further than mere surprise. “Soon I saw my atheism for what it is: an intellectual belief most accessible to those who have done well.” Woah! I couldn’t believe his guts then, and I can’t believe them now. In a world in which ‘de-conversion’ narratives seem to grow sexier with each passing day (just peruse latest issue of the New Yorker if you don’t, er, believe me), no one wants to surface the privilege component—to say nothing of social class. But it’s getting harder and harder to ignore.

How can we be more accepting and welcoming of the least? How can we recognize the effort to keep up the facade isn’t worth it? Take up and read. Be encouraged.


That’s it folks. Have a splendid weekend.