Advent 2 - Meditations from Jeremiah

Read Jeremiah 11:1-8; 16:10-15
Consider The indictments against the chosen people only intensify after chapter Jeremiah chapter two. Their evil has long enough been a stain not only on the earth, but against God whose name they bear. God will be faithful to his word, and there will be no escaping the promised judgments.
In today’s world, the word ‘faith’ has become a harmless word, stripped strength and substance. When something goes wrong, we ‘have faith’ that things will turn out right. But why? What basis is there for such a claim? Faith is a word that demands a foundation. If my wife tells me she will buy milk at the store on her way home, I can have faith that she will – because she has proven herself trustworthy and has given me something in which to trust (the words she spoke). If she did not say anything about buying milk, I would have no grounds to trust that she will buy anything whatsoever, regardless of how trustworthy she is – because she has not given me a proposition in wh…

Advent - Meditations from Jeremiah

1. Reminder: Why We Hope  (Jeremiah 2:5-13)

Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake your God... (Jer 2:19a)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the people of God were waiting for God’s promised savior. They were ruled by foreign powers who were unsympathetic to them and the worship of God. There was the haunting recollection that their God had brought them into a land to rule themselves, to be a kingdom of priests before God in the world.

But darkness had come upon the land and the kingdom of priests reveled in evil and wickedness. God thrust them into the captivity and punishment which had been promised since Sinai, and so patiently delayed for centuries. They never ruled the land again like they had at first.

They were looking for a savior, a rescuer, someone to lead the charge against the Romans like Moses against the Egyptians, Joshua against the Canaanites, or David against the Philistines. They expected God to fix the problem of Roman rule. But that’s not what …

Love The Glory That Comes From God: Commencement Address, Class of 2019

May 11, 2019 Dear Ashley, Libby, Sam, and Sienna -
Congratulations. I hope you know how proud everyone here is of you. Your parents have treasured you from the moment they knew you were coming. They changed your diapers, held your hands as you learned to walk, and tenderly washed scraped knees. Countless sleepless nights and long days were poured into nurturing and guiding and teaching. Today's ceremony marks both a celebration and a loss. Even as you still have to finish some coursework, today we also celebrate your readiness to enter the world: the hope and dread of every parent who still sees in your eyes the same baby they held in their arms when you first arrived. Take to heart the words of scripture: honor your father and your mother.
It is customary in such commencement speeches to share words of inspiration and motivation. But, for those of you who have read Winnie the Pooh, I'm afraid I'm more of an Eeyore than a Piglet. What I bring for you is a sentence - breathed…

The Victory of the Cross - Reflections on Good Friday

I count it an immense blessing to live in a country where Good Friday is a national holiday. Yesterday, a parade went by our home. Pontius Pilate led the way with his wife, followed by Caiaphas the high priest, a large group of Roman guards, and finally Jesus carrying the cross.
We protestants often don’t think too much about Good Friday. But it was the climax of Jesus’ life on earth up to the resurrection. It is in his arrest, trial, and execution that Jesus is seems to be defeated. And yet it is here that the Gospel writers find him victorious.
John records the deep irony of Jesus’ trial with Pilate. There are three main characters: Jesus, Pilate, and “the Jews.” (It is important to understand that “the Jews” is John’s way of talking about the Jewish authorities, not just a random group of Jews.)
Jesus had been arrested and brought before a local council of Jewish leaders. There were no credible witnesses against them, but they still wanted him dead. They brought him to Pilate appa…

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 …