Graphic: Best Ways To Organize A Cramped Bedroom

I created this infographic to highlight some home organization hacks courtesy of DIY Shelfworks. Having lived in a cramped dorm room for 4 years back in college, I think it will be especially helpful for students who are still settling into new living spaces.

Please feel free to share, adding the link at the bottom of the image.

bedroom hacks.png

For more, visit

Stoop Time w/ Nathan Shurr

It’s Episode 35 of the podcast and this week I’m talking with my good friend Nathan Shurr all the way from Vancouver.

Topics include:

  • Blue Jays
  • Maple Leafs
  • What we’re watching on TV
  • Our love for Pete Holmes
  • Anxiety
  • More Maple Leafs


Please subscribe on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, Pocket Casts (like me!) or wherever you listen to podcasts, and don’t forget to rate / review.

You can also visit the Patreon campaign and consider contributing.

The World Needs More Gritty

On Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, the world was introduced to the newest sports mascot courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers. His name is Gritty, and for some reason he looks like this.

My initial reaction was “what in the world is this monstrosity?” but as the day wore on, this orange fur ball began to grow on me, especially after polling my boys, who reacted as such when I showed them the pic above:

  • 3-year-old: “That funny.”
  • 6-year-old: “Really? Is this for real?”
  • 8-year-old:  “What the heck?”

All of them had a smile on their face, though, and Gritty was clearly a hit once I explained the connection to hockey, a sport the two older boys are playing and increasingly becoming interested in with respect to NHL teams and players.

And that’s the point, really – mascots are meant to be fun and generate some smiles in the midst of a game we all too often take so seriously. For one day on Twitter dot com (and through this morning, even), the overwhelming reaction has been joy and laughter and acceptance, momentarily silencing all the numerous and various ways this world can be so dark and disheartening.

Yes, those things are still there and deserve our attention, even in the context of hockey itself; we need to keep fighting and speaking out. But having said that, the world needs more Gritty, more levity, more sports mascots shooting fans point blank in the back with t-shirt guns.

I mean, come on …

Consider me fully #TeamGritty. And yes, he has been added to my positive storylines for this season post because of course.

Caveat: Gritty did quote tweet a Barstool on the same day this piece came out; and hopefully that’s not a trend that continues. Don’t milkshake duck us, Gritty.

Unapologetic About My Mumford Excitement

It may not be cool to like Mumford and Sons in the year 2018, but I don’t care.

They have a new album coming out in November, and this is the first single  – ‘Guiding Light.’ As per usual, it features a catchy melody and uplifting lyrics like “even when there is no star in sight / You’ll always be my only guiding light.”

Sign me up.

The Sermon on the Mount: A different Way

Here continues chapter three of my Aberdeen Master’s dissertation entitled Following Jesus in the 21st Century: A Practical Theology of Discipleship

3.1: Discipleship in the New Testament
3.2 The call of Jesus: Discipleship as a turn towards something new

3.3 The Sermon on the Mount: A different Way

The Gospel writers present Jesus as one who taught in a number of ways – through stories, by how he lived, and through a series of extended discourses. A central discourse is found in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus gathers a crowd and offers a fresh word to them. It is a scene that is all too reminiscent of Exodus 19-20, words spoken by God to Israel concerning how they were to live in the world; the Sermon on the Mount, therefore, is not to be seen as a new teaching, but rather “as the recovery of what has been God’s will all along.”1 And that will was to call out a people through whom the world would know what God is like.

Jesus’ teaching in this discourse was based on “the proclamation of the inbreaking kingdom of God, which brought an end to other kingdoms.”2 As Jesus brings forth these words, the following becomes clear:

The kingdom of God belongs to those … who are poor in spirit, who are deeply aware of their own inadequacies, failings and rebellion; the kingdom belongs to those who are merciful in response to injustice; the kingdom belongs to those who love even enemies. The way of the kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to the way of the kingdoms of this world.3

Central to this intended contrast is the word of Jesus concerning the disciples as “the salt of the earth”, “the light to the world,” and “a city on a hill” (Matthew 5: 13-14). On one hand, these three metaphors were used to suggest that disciples of Jesus are “to be focused not only on heaven, but are reminded of their mission on earth.”4 At the same time, Jesus’ disciples were to be “a community living a righteous life of such visibility that others will be led to give glory to God;” they were “make visible the reality of God’s reign in the midst of the old order.”5 Therefore, the Sermon on the Mount emphasizes the reality that discipleship does indeed involve a turn from the old to a new way, and involvement within the present realities of the world.

One might read this section of Matthew and raise the question of whether or not these teachings of Jesus were meant to be applied within the scope of daily life. For Hauerwas and Willimon, to focus on this question is to miss the point altogether; rather, we are to ask, along the lines of what Keck has suggested, “what if all this is not new and more stringent rules for us to observe but rather a picture of the way God is?”6 The teachings of Jesus simply cannot be separated from who he was and is as God’s Son and the perfect embodiment of God’s kingdom come. For Jesus to speak and act in the way that he did was simply an expression of his identity as both human and divine; there was literally no other option. Therefore, “the basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what works but rather the way God is.”7

As Burridge argues, “Jesus’ ethical teaching is not a separate and discrete set of moral maxims, but part of his proclamation of the kingdom of God as God’s reign and sovereignty are recognized in the here and now.”8 Jesus’ words from the Mount, therefore, must be understood as part of “his whole preaching about the kingdom of God, to which a response is sought to his call to wholehearted discipleship in a life lived in community with others who also respond.”9 While, as Bonhoeffer rightly suggests, “there are countless possibilities of understanding and interpreting the Sermon on the Mount”, the reality is that “Jesus knows only one possibility: simply go and obey. Do not interpret or apply, but do it and obey. This is the only way that Jesus’ word is really heard.”10 In order to resist this hermeneutical trap and in so doing distance ourselves from these words spoken by Jesus, we are unmistakably called to follow the example that he left.

1 Leander E. Keck, “Ethics in the Gospel According to Matthew,” Iliff Review 41 (1984), 51.

2 Stanley Hauerwas & William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989), 87.

3 Camp, Mere Discipleship, 55.

4 Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, 111.

5 Donaldson, “Guiding Readers – Making Disciples: Discipleship in Matthew’s Narrative Strategy,” 45, 48.

6 Hauerwas & Willimon, Resident Aliens, 85.

7 Ibid., 85.

8 Burridge, Imitating Jesus, 61.

9 Ibid., 76.

10 Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, 181.

1 Positive Storyline For Every NHL Team

Around this time last year, I pitched a story for theScore that was fairly well received – Season in a sentence: 1 positive storyline for every NHL team. Since I can’t quit hockey writing, here’s an update for 2018-19 as my contribution to season preview content on the world wide web.

But first, a prediction: Your favourite team likely won’t win the Stanley Cup. Sorry.

Ducks: To this day, when I think of the Ducks, Paul Kariya is the first player that comes to mind, and on Oct. 21, his No. 9 will be retired. He was one of my favorite players back in his day, and I had the great fortune to cover part of last year’s Hockey Hall of Fame induction festivities, where he finally got the recognition he deserves. Kariya forever.

Coyotes: This may become a theme (see Vegas), but I’ll definitely be rooting for Alex Galchenyuk to succeed now that he’s free to run wild in the desert. Coyotes were hot to end last season, and have a shot at making the playoffs. New blood is good!

Bruins: As an old dad who has followed this team since the 80s and benefited personally from a great 2017-18, I can’t remember a time I was so excited about a group of young, fun, talented prospects set to take over this team. And that’s on top of my love for mainstays like Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci. But the most positive thing about this team these days is the immortal captain’s Instagram account, which is quite literally everything.

Sabres: Jack Eichel + Rasmus Dahlin = enough said. Also, please take care of precious hockey boy Jeff Skinner, Buffalo.

Flames: The perseverance of players like Derek Ryan is inspiring. I love to see undrafted veterans get a shot after plying their trade in the minors and overseas for so long.

Hurricanes: Dougie Hamilton won’t let hockey culture get him down.

Blackhawks: The Blackhawks ended up giving us one of the best stories of last season, courtesy of emergency backup goalie Scott Foster. I’m no Chicago hockey fan, but I always root for the little guys, so I’m all for Alex DeBrincat making an even bigger name for himself after falling in his draft year.

Avalanche: Colorado could build on last year’s playoff season AND end up with the first overall pick at the 2019 Draft, namely Jack Hughes. It does not get more positive than that.

Blue Jackets: I was a big fan of watching the Coyotes a couple years ago when Max Domi and Anthony Duclair were impressing as rookies. Both have since moved on, and the latter signed a “show me” 1-year, $650K deal with Columbus this summer. It looks like he might play with former Bruin Riley Nash, who did not look out of place playing with Marchand and Pastrnak last season. Go get ’em, fellas.

Stars: It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Tyler Seguin, and the Stars dropped THE coolest contract extension tweet I’ve ever seen.

Hockey needs more fun, and Dallas brings it on and off the ice.

Red Wings: Detroit seems to have lucked out in the Draft once again, watching Filip Zadina drop to No. 6 this past June. The hurt that comes with seeing Henrik Zetterberg hang up his skates could be lessened with a Calder-worthy season from this kid.

Oilers: We are all blessed every time Connor McDavid takes to the ice.

Panthers: It’s kind of absurd how much we don’t appreciate Aleksander Barkov. The freshly-minted Florida captain is low key one of the best all around players in the league, and should be a perennial Selke finalist.

Kings: Sticking with last year’s because it’s awesome. Jaret Anderson-Dolan is a long shot to crack the Kings’ roster, but inspires at any level by bearing the surnames of his two mothers on the back of his jersey and being committed to fighting homophobia in sports.

Wild: It’s still odd to think about Eric Staal not playing for Carolina, but the 33-year-old scored 42 goals for a Minnesota team not really known for offensive dominance. It would be cool to see him keep rolling in a contract year and get more suitors as a UFA this time around.

Canadiens: I’ve become a huge Carey Price admirer in recent years and can’t imagine what he’s thinking as the best player on a team that’s traded other core guys in some sort of retooling effort. He deserves better, and hopefully the rest of the Habs steps up to his level.

Predators: Roman Josi’s response to a teammate being suspended for domestic violence was admirable.

AMEND Together is a primary prevention initiative dedicated to ending violence against women and girls by engaging men and boys to be a part of the solution. You can support the organization here.

Devils: “Boyle is at his second camp with the Devils as a Masterton winner and a cancer survivor. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with treatments for his 3-year-old son Declan, who has undergone multiple procedures for an arteriorvenous malformation in his jaw” (via Abbey Mastracco). This remains my favorite story in the NHL, hands down.

Islanders: John Tavares is gone, and this is Mathew Barzal’s team now. Also, while I don’t agree with Robin Lehner’s politics, I have a huge amount of respect for his willingness to be open about his addiction and bipolar diagnosis.

Rangers: This is basically a copy/paste from the Canadiens storyline, just replace Price with Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers have 1 forward signed past 2019-20, and this team is clearly in a rebuild as the aging goaltender continues to sit on his throne with as much grace and handsomeness as ever. Long live the King.

Senators: “We’re a team.”

Seriously though, Craig and Nicholle Anderson are the salt of the earth and I hope the Sens do right by them. I had to add the story of Craig’s new pads after learning about it after originally posting this. From Craig Medaglia:

“So I had the company send me a blank template and I printed off 3 or 4 copies and my wife decided to make it a project for her and the kids,” he continued. “She starts drawing the pads, Levi was just colouring over everything but Jake took some interest in it. He really put some time into his design and came up with these cool pads.”

Anderson sent his son’s design off to the manufacturer to have it digitized and was thrilled with the end result.

“We didn’t tell him that we were doing it,” Anderson said about using Jake’s design. “He was super excited when they arrived.”

Flyers: Since 2010-11, only 1 player has recorded more points that Claude Giroux, and his name is Sidney Crosby. He willingly shifted to the wing last season, allowing Sean Couturier to emerge as a force to be reckoned with at both ends of the ice. What a guy.

Also, Gritty.

Penguins: Please never change, Phil Kessel.

Sharks: Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns play on the same team, giving Joe Thornton an excellent shot at winning a Cup. It’s a good time to write for a Sharks blog.

Blues: After a devastating season-ending knee injury, my boy Robby Fabbri is back and ready to break out. Nothing but love for Guelph Storm alumni.

Lightning: Steve Yzerman has always been one of my favourite hockey people, and I greatly respect his decision to step back from GM duties to spend more time with his family. If this his last year with the Lightning, let it be one where his hard and savvy work is rewarded with a championship.

Maple Leafs: Love them or hate them, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Canucks: When I was working at theScore, I rarely looked forward late night shifts featuring Vancouver games … until Brock Boeser came along.

Golden Knights: Similar to the Coyotes, the trading of Max Pacioretty to Vegas opens the door for me to root for the former Canadiens captain. Keep those smiles coming, Patches.

Capitals: Washington wowed us all with their Stanley Cup celebrations, and hopefully the hangover has passed. Next step will be watching new dad Alex Ovechkin and Co. raise the banner and receive their rings, and hopefully others will join Devante Smith-Pelley and Brett Connolly in not going to the White House.

Jets: Patrik Laine lost 14 pounds in the offseason by cutting candy out of his diet. Methinks he’s going to be breaking some water bottles in the coming months.

Puck drops for real in 2 weeks. Let’s hockey together, friends.


A Turn Towards Something New

Here continues chapter three of my Aberdeen Master’s dissertation entitled Following Jesus in the 21st Century: A Practical Theology of Discipleship

3.1: Discipleship in the New Testament

3.2 The call of Jesus: Discipleship as a turn towards something new

The initial call to follow Jesus as described in the New Testament appears to have two levels to it: a general call to repentance and a more specific and personal call to action.

On the first level, as described in the gospel of Mark, Jesus began his ministry by making a general declaration to all those that would follow him: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15, New Revised Standard Version). According to Dunn, the call to repentance as expressed by Jesus “would have initially been heard as a reiteration of the call of the prophets to turn back to God, that is, by implication, from a life in breach of God’s commandments, from a social irresponsibility which should have been unacceptable in the people of Yahweh.”1 Jesus invoked the Greek verb metanoeo (to repent) as a call to conversion to all; it is a call “to radically alter the manner and direction of their whole life, in its basic motivations, attitudes and objectives, for a society to radically reform its communal goals and values.”2 Dunn emphasizes this point by arguing that “the best translation for the word used by Jesus would actually be ‘convert’, understood in its literal sense, ‘turn around’ and head in quite a new direction.”3 Repentance, then, is not to be seen as “wallowing penance, but as a prerequisite for following in discipleship in the present and into God’s future.”4

This is a challenge to common understandings of repentance today that might revolve around the idea of confession with a view to receiving forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. Rather, it is a call to determined positive action, taking tangible steps to align one’s life with the Way of Jesus. For Peterson, the imperative call to repentance “requires a decision to leave one way of life and set out on another. It commands a change of mind or heart that results in a change of direction.”5 To that point, Camp argues that repentance must lead to change; “without change, without deep thoroughgoing change, one could not enter and participate in the kingdom.”6 Over and against the aforementioned common perception of repentance, it would appear as though Jesus was calling people to literally change the course and shape of their present daily lives with a view to impacting the world around them in positive and meaningful ways. Repentance is not solely about personal confession and transformation, but also involves a level of social responsibility in accordance to the arrival of the kingdom of God on earth wherein the command to love the neighbor is central.

Furthermore, the call to repentance is qualified by the call ‘to believe’, whereby Jesus was calling all those that would follow him not to a new set of rules and principles to adhere to, nor to some sort of life-saving equation of repentance and belief equals eternal life in heaven, but to reshape their lives according to his message of good news. He was calling them to adopt a new “attitude, an orientation of life, a worldview or mind-set rooted in their innermost being … a fundamental conviction that motivated and gave character to the whole range of daily living and relationships.”7 To believe, therefore, “requires a personal, trusting, relational involvement in this comprehensive reordering of reality.”8 Within the context of powerful and oppressive political and religious systems that sought to set themselves as the highest authorities and to absorb all people under their rule according to their way, Jesus introduced an alternative story with his proclamation of ‘good news’ for all. Camp brilliantly qualifies the nature of that good news with the following statement:

The good news is not first and foremost a message that gives hope for the afterlife; the good news is not first and foremost a message that one may have inner peace and tranquility; the good news is not first and foremost that one may experience an ‘authentic’ life; the good news is, first and foremost, a proclamation that the long anticipated rule and reign of God has now come in the midst of human history. The good news proclaims that we may participate in God’s new creation if we will repent and accept the new reality.9

Jesus was calling all those that wished to follow him to a life of transforming faith, a complete reorientation of how they were to go about their daily lives. The beginning point of discipleship, therefore, involves repentance, a turning away from the old and believing that through Christ, a different way of living had been made possible. Repentance must be understood not as a temporary and situational confession of sin, but rather a transformative, life-altering turn towards and commitment to the person of Jesus Christ and his message of good news.

The implications of this become evident as Jesus begins to call specific people to be his disciples. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus calls specific people to specific actions; in Matthew 4, for example, he said to Simon and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people” (Matthew 4:19). For Barth, Andrew and Simon are examples of those “who are called by Jesus and follow him in the sense that they accompany him wholeheartedly and constantly, sharing his life and destiny at the expense of all other engagements and commitments, attaching themselves to him, placing themselves in his service, and thus showing that they are qualified to be his disciples.”10

Here we begin to see some of the deeper and more personal peculiarities involved in answering the call to follow Jesus, in which a certain measure of self-denial is involved whereby one must begin to call into question all previously held loyalties. While it is to be noted that these first disciples are described as having instantly dropped their nets in response to the call of Jesus, it must not be understated to what extent they sacrificed their old way of life to begin afresh. This giving up of the old way of life is described by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an act wherein “the disciple is thrown out of relative security of life into complete insecurity; out of the foreseeable and calculable realm into the completely unforeseeable, coincidental realm; out of the realm of limited possibilities and into the realm of unlimited possibilities.”11 Self-denial, for Bonhoeffer, means this: “knowing only Christ, no longer knowing oneself. It means no longer seeing oneself, only him who is going ahead, no longer seeing the way which is too difficult for us. Self-denial means only: he is going ahead; hold fast to him.”12 The call to discipleship, then, “is the call that summons us away from our attachments to this world. It is the death of the old self in the encounter with Jesus Christ.”13

Much like God’s call to Abraham, which separated him from all that he had previously known, discipleship in the New Testament is a call that “separates the followers from their previous existence. A call to discipleship thus immediately creates a new situation.”14 And throughout the gospel of Matthew, the reader begins to uncover more of what this new situation will involve: “disciples have to be prepared to expect hardship (8:20), to leave house and family (10:37; 19:27-30) and to deny themselves, take up their cross, and even lose their lives for Christ’s sake (10:38-39; 16:24-26).”15 As Willard characterizes it, “family and occupations were deserted for long periods to go with Jesus as he walked from place to place announcing, showing and explaining the here and now governance or action of God.”16 Certainly there were those – like the rich young man in Matthew 19 – who considered the cost of following Jesus to be too great. Jesus called this man to follow him by reframing the traditional commandments within the context of tangible, life-giving action through the selling of his possessions and passing the profits on to the poor. But, “when the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:22). Upon hearing the word of Jesus spoken clearly and directly to him, he found himself unable to make that necessary break with the old, believing that that the cost of becoming Jesus’ disciples was too great.

However, one must be careful not to assume that specific commands that Jesus made to individuals in the Gospels are to be read as universal in relation to all that may wish to follow him; what is central is the question of whether or not one will trust in “the Word of Jesus Christ, believing it to be a stronger foundation than all the securities of the world.”17 While the call to discipleship involves sacrifice, and the giving up of the old for the new may not always be an easy proposition, the good news of Jesus’ call is that to deny one’s self and follow him is to begin down a road that can literally change the world. Brueggemann explains it well when he says that would-be disciples are called to follow a God “who disrupts the lives of settled people, who gives them a vocation that marks life by inconvenience and risk.”18

At the same time, “the ground of the call is the good news of the gospel that God has a powerful intentionality for the world, which, when enacted, will make a decisive difference for good in the world.”19 And, as Jesus calls out his disciples, “the simple, uninfected imperative is ‘follow me,’ an imperative that sets folk on a new path of obedience, trailing along the path that Jesus himself walked in obedience.”20 To answer the specific call to follow Jesus is to hear the Word of God spoken afresh through him and to reorient one’s life according to the reality of the kingdom of God now present in the world; to do so is to and embody transformative good news for the world, as expressed in the teachings and example of Jesus himself.

1 James D.G. Dunn, Christianity in the Making, vol. I: Jesus Remembered (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2003), 499.

2 Ibid., 500.

3 Dunn, Jesus’ Call to Discipleship, 20.

4 Richard A. Burridge, Imitating Jesus: An Inclusive Approach to New Testament Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007), 47.

5 Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation in Following Jesus (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009), 22.

6 Lee C. Camp, Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2003), 79.

7 Dunn, Jesus’ Call To Discipleship, 29-30.

8 Peterson, The Jesus Way, 22.

9 Camp, Mere Discipleship, 73.

10 Barth, The Call to Discipleship, 5

11 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. IV. (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001), 58.

12 Ibid., 86.

13 Ibid., 87.

14 Ibid., 61-62.

15 Terrence L. Donaldson, “Guiding Readers – Making Disciples: Discipleship in Matthew’s Narrative Strategy,” in Patterns of Discipleship in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1996), 44.

16 Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’ Essential Teachings on Discipleship (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2007), 6.

17Ibid., 77.

18 Walter Brueggemann, “Evangelism and Discipleship: The God Who Calls, The God Who Sends,” in The Word That Redescribes the World: The Bible and Discipleship, ed. Patrick D. Miller (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006), 93.

19 Ibid, 122.

20 Ibid, 123

Defining Discipleship

Here begins chapter three of my Aberdeen Master’s dissertation entitled Following Jesus in the 21st Century: A Practical Theology of Discipleship. To recap:

Chapter Three

Discipleship in the New Testament

As with many aspects of New Testament theology, it can be difficult to ascertain an overarching sense of continuity and synthesis from the different authors. In regards to the topic of discipleship, it can be argued that “each of the New Testament writer’s presents the concept of Christian discipleship in a manner related to his own ideological background and perspectives, the perceived needs and understandings of his audience, and the specific details of the situation addressed.”1 As a result, the New Testament texts may offer quite different portraits of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. One could easily look specifically at Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or Acts and enter into a prolonged discussion on the topic from the perspective of what the individual author presents as the relevant material.

Nevertheless, according to James Dunn, “it is essential to scrutinize the records of the original discipleship of Jesus, in order to gain insight into the spirit and character of that discipleship, in order to get some kind of yardstick by which to measure one’s own discipleship.”2 He further goes on to argue that the New Testament texts are essential in regards to understanding discipleship because “the events and sayings of Jesus’ ministry which called them to discipleship, which shaped the character of their discipleship, or which provided the model for their discipleship will have been among the Jesus traditions which the first disciples were most eager to preserve and pass on.”3 Therefore, while being written from a variety of different perspectives, the New Testament, as the record of the beginnings of the movement known as ‘the Way’, is inherently built upon the teaching and example of Jesus and later conversations in relation to what it meant to follow along on that ‘Way’.

While one must be careful not to assume that discipleship in the New Testament automatically translates into today’s context, it does provide the 21st century reader with a decipherable pattern of discipleship anchored in the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.

3.1 Defining Discipleship

To begin, it is important to articulate exactly what one is referring to when they invoke the terms ‘disciple’ and ‘discipleship’ in relation to the New Testament. In the gospels as well as in the book of Acts, the most common term employed is mathetes which, when translated from the original Greek, renders the meaning of disciple to be ‘follower’, ‘adherent’ or ‘student / pupil’.4 This term is a derivation of the verb manthanein, which means ‘to learn’, and is frequently used by the gospel writers to refer to those who follow Jesus – approximately 68 times in Matthew, 44 times in Mark, 34 times in Luke and 73 times in John.5

It is interesting to note, however, that the New Testament authors do not employ a term for ‘discipleship’ within the scope of their writings. Rather, “the verb ‘to follow’ (akolouthein) and the adjectival principle ‘those who follow’ (hoi akolouthountes) appear regularly in the Gospels to identify the crowds who thronged around Jesus.”6 These terms are not only used in reference to the multitudes, but are also used 14 times by the gospel writers in the sense of following Jesus specifically as his disciple, inferring that there is a more personal ingredient involved in following Jesus than to physically trail behind him. 7 To be a disciple of Jesus, therefore, requires a deep commitment; it involves more than “simply to go around with him as the crowds do. It is to follow in the way that is life, to follow his teachings and his example.”8 But, as Karl Barth notes, the use of the verb akolouthein – which he translates as ‘to go after or behind someone’ – rather than the noun akolouthesis, meaning ‘discipleship’, should inform us from the outset “that we are dealing with an event that cannot be enclosed in a general concept.”9

Discipleship in the gospels, therefore, is encapsulated in the act of following, walking with and listening to Jesus, but appears to be more open ended than the learning of and strict adherence to general rules and principles.

Discipleship in the New Testament points us back to the divine-human conversation that has been taking place since the moment of creation, as discussed in the previous chapter. On one hand, this conversation is “continued and perfected in Jesus because in him God addresses humanity in and through a human being who speaks God’s word and with God’s authority.”10 This is the basis for the call to discipleship as outlined in the New Testament; God’s authoritative word freshly spoken through Jesus. And at the same time, “Jesus is not just the one who speaks God’s word, but he is also the one who first listens to God’s address and follows it in perfect obedience.”11 As Eugene Peterson puts it in his biblical paraphrase, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14a, The Message).

In doing so, Jesus demonstrates and embodies the reality that God continues to call people to live faithfully to the reality that he is Lord over all creation, and that he is deeply interested and involved in the present realities of the world. This is to be the witness of all those who wish to follow him. Based on this initial sketch, it will henceforth be argued that discipleship involves the following: to be called out of old ways of living in order to embrace something new; to hear and be shaped by the teachings of Jesus; and to be engaged in the present realities of the world in accordance with the example of Jesus and his message of good news for the poor and marginalized.

1 Richard N. Longenecker, ed., Patterns of Discipleship in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1996), 4.

2 James D.G. Dunn, Jesus’ Call To Discipleship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 3.

3 Ibid., 4.

4 Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, s.v. “Disciples.”

5 Longenecker, Patterns of Discipleship in the New Testament, 2.

6 Ibid., 4.

7 Ibid., 4. Longenecker cites a few key examples of the more personal usage of these terms, which can be found in Matt. 9:9; 19:21; Mark 1:17-18; Luke 5:11; John 1:43.

8 Melvyn R. Hillmer, “They Believed in Him: Discipleship in the Johannine Tradition,” in Patterns of Discipleship in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1996), 77.

9 Karl Barth, The Call to Discipleship (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 6.

10 Christoph Schwobel, “God as Conversation: Reflections on a Theological Ontology of Communicative Relations,” in Theology and Conversation: Towards a Relational Theology, ed. J. Haers & P. De Mey (Leuven: University Press, 2003), 56.

11 Ibid., 56.

Why I Talk About My Anxiety

This was originally written in 2015 as a contribution to #BellLetsTalk. A lot has happened since then, but I thought it was worth a repost with some edits and updates.

The night before our third son was born, I took to Twitter to share a few thoughts in regards to my struggles with anxiety. I always get super reflective around times of change, and welcoming a third son into the world certainly qualified.

Since it was around #BellLetsTalk day, I thought I would share those tweets here, and reiterate the fact that I’m always available to chat for those who need an ear.

Anxiety is something that has affected me for as long as I can remember, and I’ve often felt paralyzed by fear, doubt, and worry, often to the detriment of those I love the most. I can’t say I’ve fallen into a full on depression, but I can pinpoint times in my life where I would wake up and comfort myself with the thought that this point in the day would be the furthest I’d be from returning to bed, which is where I really wanted to remain.

It was only through my wife’s loving encouragement and support that I was able to fully acknowledge that my anxiety was a problem – not only for myself but also for others – and to seek help through meeting with a counselor and talking to our family doctor.

With three boys to raise, it’s something that needed to be reeled in, not only to model to them that a better way of living is possible, but also to demonstrate that there is no shame in talking about our feelings and seeking help when the need arises. This is something that remains an every day struggle, but I feel I’m on a better path. Connecting with people via social media has been helpful to that end, so know that I’m always open to chatting if anyone out there needs to open up.

The truth is, I waited too long to address it, but am glad I did when I did. A few weeks after he was born, our baby boy was diagnosed with a heart issue that required a procedure at Sick Kids; while it was successful, he did develop a blood clot as a result, requiring injections for several days. Two years later, my wife Lauren was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her treatment involved two surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.

I don’t think I would have made it through those times without my anxiety medication, various centering techniques I’ve picked up along the way, and being open about my feelings with people who were willing to come alongside us. Life is hard, the world is messed up, but we can take steps today to make things a little bit better for ourselves and the people we love.

As I mentioned in ‘Why Somewhere North?’, there’s a place in Scotland (pictured above) that I consider to be my favorite place on Earth, the happy, peaceful spot I picture in my head in anxious times.

If there’s one thing I can suggest right now to help, it’s to think of your happy place, take some deep breaths, and try to believe everything can be ok. Who knew Happy Gilmore was that life changing?

All this to say, please keep talking, please keep listening, and please know that you are not alone in this world; if you’re struggling and need a non-judgmental ear, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or via email, all of which can be found near the top right of this blog.