How Eugene Peterson Changed My Life - a Tribute

Today (Monday the 22nd), Eugene Peterson breathed his last breath in this life and his first in the next. 
Eugene Peterson was perhaps best known for his lesser accomplishment: The Message. If you see any tributes to his life, you may read about his meekness and quiet nature; but his tongue could fire arrows off faster than the legendary elf-prince, Legolas. His target? The American church and the American Pastor. He would critique himself before any other but never pulled any punches when it counted. I cannot overstate the influence Peterson has had on me and our ministry. He has four books on pastoral leadership: Five Smooth Stones, The Contemplative Pastor, Working the Angles, and Under the Unpredictable Plant.
Too many times have I found myself been gasping for breath as the prophetic words of this gentle man tore at my worldly outlook on ministry, as Aslan tore the dragon-flesh from Eustace. I read his books slowly so that the sting of the words could sink deep enough to brand…

Commencement Address, Homeschool Graduating Class of 2018 - San Jose, Costa Rica

April 28, 2018

Good afternoon – for those who do not know me, my name is Jonathan Hunter. I have had the honor of knowing these young men and women through their high school years as their youth pastor. Jaci mentioned that everyone prefers funny speeches for graduations. She’s probably right. But, to your disappointment (I’m sure), I don’t have that luxury. You see, I have been given a responsibility toward these wonderful young men and women that I take very seriously A responsibility to continuously remind and point them to faith, to assurance in God and his promises.
For years we have gathered in this room and we have opened these pages to eat from the Scriptures. And as I began to prepare for this speech, I realized that for you four, this is my last chance to stand here to impart to you the Word of God. For my last words, I would leave you with one final warning. It is basic. So basic that might seem insignificant: like bringing a pencil to taking the SAT or wearing a bathing suit…

Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-16
While Simeon watched the sun go down in Jerusalem (remember the story from last week?), little Benjamin huddled close to the fire. As soon as the sun had slipped below the horizon, the wind started. It was a cold, biting wind and Benjamin quickly grabbed his cloak. His father, James, looked across the fire at Benjamin: “Getting cold, son?” he asked.
James was a rugged man. His hair was tossed and his beard tangled. And he smelled like sheep. But Benjamin didn’t notice—his dad always smelled like sheep… or did the sheep smell like his dad? “Benjamin,” his dad called again, “are you dreaming already?”
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders. “Just a little cold,” he said. His father nodded. “It looks as if it will be a cold night tonight. Why don’t you go look for more firewood? We’ll be out here until the sun comes back.”
“Ok.” Benjamin said quietly.
Have you ever been in a dark place where the wind howls and there are no electric lights? Benjamin hated the …

Hoping and Waiting - First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14; 9:2-7; Luke 2:25-26
Simeon was young when the Romans had come. But even now in his old age, he could still hear the pounding of feet on the street, the ringing of the swords; the shouts of the guard;, the groans of the wounded. And the smell of blood--oh how he wished he could forget. His people was a conquered people. For a hundred years they had scratched out freedom, but it was short-lived. Now even as he walked through the city some forty years later, Simeon could feel the eyes of the Roman guard boring into his back.
Simeon loved this city. Once the seat of glory and conquest, now a symbol of resilience and of the faithfulness of God. It refused to be permanently destroyed. They would always keep on rebuilding. 
Oh, his knees. They creaked with every step Why so many stairs? Slowly, one at a time, up, up, up to the temple. When he was a boy he used to run up these steps – sometimes two or three at a time – always with his mother calling for him to slo…

Commencement Speech for Silas, June 11, 2017

“Guard the deposit entrusted to you”
We’re here to celebrate Silas’s graduation. But Silas, you haven’t accomplished much. In a fact, everything we’re celebrating today is a gift that has been given to you. There have been sleepless nights devoted to your arrival at this moment. Thousands and thousands of dollars spent. You love to read. But that didn’t come from you. It came from hours and hours of books upon books being read to you. You love to learn and love knowing things. But that love of knowledge and learning was imparted to you from someone other than yourself.

You have not scaled an impassible wall, nor have you swum the breadth of the ocean. You have actually accomplished little in the grand scheme of things. You were simply given a gift. You have been entrusted with an upbringing and an education that had at its climax, this ceremony: which signifies an end not only to your secondary education, but to your childhood.

But your upbringing and education is not all that has …

What Does It Profit The Kingdom If You Build A Great Ministry But Forfeit Your Children?

The missionary home is a breeding ground for unhealthy levels of stress. Here are ten suggestions to help mitigate the effect of stress on your MKs. These are things you probably already know. Consider them reminders in the middle of the craziness of life   1. Develop routines and traditions: Friday pizza night, Waffle Wednesday, Afternoons at the park, whatever fits your family. Adults and students alike function better when they have an idea of what to expect. And try your hardest to keep traditions you had before moving. Guard these with everything you’ve got!
  2..Always take a deep breath before reacting responding in anger or frustration. Always good to do—but crucial in these moments. Are your kids acting up out of rebellion, or a call for attention? Many kids don’t know how to process what’s going on around them and the unprocessed stress results in behavioral outbreaks. One day just try and offer them a hug and help them find the words.
3.If you’re in Language School, st…

Commencement Speech for Suzi's Graduation

June, 2016
I am much honored to be asked to share some thoughts as we celebrate Suzi’s graduation today.

Suzi has been an instrumental part of Youth Group. Ever since we moved here almost 3 years ago, we’ve been friends. Suzi joined our student leadership two years ago, and her dedication, focus, and hard work have been an example not only for other youth group students but also for me. She would bring focus back to our student leaders meetings when the rest of us would be running off on rabbit trails. She would leave little room for complacency among her friends. Suzi is a passionate person. I can honestly say, I don’t know what I’ll do without you. If any of you are familiar with the AMCA International Youth Group, you know that things tend to change often. In the midst of the comings and goings, all the hellos and goodbyes, Suzi has been a constant factor, not just in Youth Group, but in my family’s life. Suzi I want to say Thank You for touching me and my family.

One of the qualiti…