Every season of fantasy football brings about it’s own exciting backstory. Last year, my wife was forced to draft for me (you can read about that unforgettable day at This year I missed the draft altogether because I instead elected to take my beloved bride out for a birthday date.

Let’s just say, due to the computer’s work, I have little to no chance at a repeat…

How is your team looking? I will update you weekly via the comments page.



I am currently reading Heather Zempel’s “Community is Messy” (releases on Tuesday, September 4, 2012). I will blog a few of my personal observations on the book in a few days. But until then, an interview with the author…

Why did you write Community is Messy?
Anyone who has led a small group for more than two weeks has discovered that mess happens. For those who serve as small group directors, discipleship pastors, and volunteers who champion group life in their churches, navigating mess is often the unlisted but most demanding part of their portfolio. I wrote Community is Messy to encourage those group leaders and group ministry leaders that mess may not be a hindrance to community but a catalyst to the cultivation of deeper community. My prayer is that leaders can embrace the mess and the promise that God can write his story of redemption through the mess.

You had an unorthodox path going from engineering to ministry. How does your background inform your understanding of community?
I have two degrees in environmental engineering—not a very traditional path into ministry. But small group leaders and environmental engineers have a lot in common. Both strive to engineer environments where growth happens. When I think about community, I picture treatment lagoons and pig farms. When I think about spiritual growth, I consider the differences between static friction and kinetic friction and remember the diversity of strengths in physical properties reflected in the modulus of elasticity. That’s all in the book.

You talk in the book about valuing people over programs. Why is this important?
In the church, we tend to invest lots of time, energy, and resources into developing and maintain programs. I think we do that because programs are easy to measure. The problem is that people aren’t discipled by programs. They are discipled by relationship. I would much rather pastor people than manage programs, but that takes focus and regular examination of priorities

What’s a story of mess from your own life that reveals God’s redemptive work?
There’s always mess in my life, and I think it gets especially messy when we wear multiple hats with people—pastor, mentor, leader, boss, friend, etc. Here’s one that happened just a couple months ago. I was talking to a young leader about her calling, and I sincerely thought I was building her up with encouragement. When I came to the end of everything I knew to affirm her, I said, “I don’t know what else to say.” She responded with a look that seemed to be a mix of anger and hurt and said, “You’ve said enough.” At that moment, I didn’t know whether to jump across the table to strangle her or to hug her. Everything in me wanted to strangle her, but the little pastoral instinct I possess informed me that the words I had intended for good had been received negatively. That situation led to a number of productive conversations about how I lead, how she grows, how I grow, and where God is at work polishing off the rough spots in both of us. Many times, messes that are navigated with prayer, honesty, and a commitment to honoring the other lead to growth on all sides.

You can purchase your own copy of “Community is Messy” here:


Reborn on the Fourth of July

I would highly recommend Logan Mehl-Laitur’s “Reborn on the Fourth of July: The Challenge of Faith, Patriotism, & Conscience.” I was provided a complimentary copy of the book directly from the publisher for review purposes. If interested, paperback copies can be ordered for under $11 at Amazon or directly from the IVP Books. 

The author writes in the epilogue, “We must not love our country shallowly, as a great number of pundits do, speaking casually about it as a gift from God to the world.  This is a misunderstanding of how God has ordained nations. Nations are accidental to creation, not an organic part of God’s plan for the world but a contingent reality in place because of the fallenness of our world.  Like pastors, ordained things serve a finite purpose.  In the hereafter, we will finally be that nation of priests our spiritual forbears were called toward.  We will no longer need nationality or worldly citizenship” (179).  

Click here for more about the author or the the book.
Reborn on the Fourth of July