All posts by Jon Swanson

About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

Abandoned nets.

While I’m traveling, I asked some friends to answer a question: What’s the story related to Jesus that is most compelling for you? Today’s post is from Johanna Fenton.

“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once… -Mark 1:17-18, NLT

Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to abandon my nets…that is, my profession. I know that sounds awful – and please believe me that I am not intending to do that in the near future. But, as my sister Becky once said, sometimes it’s nice to exchange one set of problems for another.

I might not mind exchanging one set of problems for another – one profession for another, even though if I were like those first disciples I’d have no clue what that other “profession” entailed or even what it was.

But my understanding is faulty. The disciples in their fishing profession were also bound to their family through that profession. They weren’t just abandoning fishing for fish (because – let’s be clear – there’s also something called fishing for people). They were abandoning their loved ones – maybe even a family tradition of fishing on the Sea of Galilee. How dishonorable!

Well, now that you present it like that, maybe I don’t want to exchange one set of problems for another…as maybe they’re not so…equal.

But that is the situation here.

Catching fish with nets is probably easier than fishing for people. Learning from your father is probably easier than learning from your Father and his Son.

A new family business you’re getting into…

But of course the truth is, my profession is bound up with my family. Take health insurance. Abandon my profession and suddenly I place my family in jeopardy.

So yes…the Lord can ask anything from us and anything will prove costly.

Lord, help us to be ready to hear your voice, though we can never fully be ready. Let us hear your voice calling – that is all we can hope for. Because if we don’t hear, then we don’t have choices to make and we don’t have an alternative path, which is what you offer.


Johanna helps people understand Bible translation in theory and practice and writes her way through lectio divina at

Can You Read my Mind?

While I’m traveling, I asked some friends to answer a question: What’s the story related to Jesus that is most compelling for you? Today’s post is from Susan Pieters.

Any woman over fifty will remember the most romantic moment in the 1978 film Superman, when Lois Lane (Margo Kidder) is lifted in the air by a handsome superman (Christopher Reeve). She’s reveling in his ability to stop trains, use x-ray vision, save her life, and fly in the sky while he holds her. As capstone of the moment when she falls in love, she wonders if Superman has yet one more power, as expressed through the background music: Can you read my mind?

We long to be fully known. Being known signals the end of loneliness, the end of miscommunication, the end of pretending, the end of being separate. In marriage, we are completed when we are fully known by our partner physically and emotionally, and become one. Or try. Again, as any woman over fifty will know, there is a limit to how well your partner can read your mind, can truly see into your heart, can comprehend your deepest self and accept it.

I’ve always felt that Jesus could read my mind. I get a chill from how he greets Nathanael (John 1:47). Jesus describes Nathanael’s character before he is introduced, which shocks Nathanael. Then Jesus says “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree.”

Neither Jesus nor Nathanael gave away the secret as to what Nathanael was doing. But for Nathanael, Jesus made it clear that God saw him, knew him, could indeed read his mind.

When I read the Bible well, it feels written just for me, a personal message from a man who knows how I’m responding to his words, who loves me, and feels my love for him. I believe in a God who reads my mind.

Susan Pieters is a slightly published fiction writer and an editor at Pulp Literature magazine (

Take these things away.

While I’m traveling, I asked some friends to answer a question: What’s the story related to Jesus that is most compelling for you? Today’s post is from James May. 

Our congregation has been studying John’s gospel in Bible studies and sermons. I like Jesus cleansing the Temple.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand – a celebration of freedom from slavery. As he turned over the tables, Jesus shows his willingness to set us free from slavery. [Malachi 3:1 “… the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple” (ESV)]

I ask, “Is Jesus just cleaning his Father’s house so that God’s people can better meet with him there?”

Then I ask, “Have things slipped a bit, and we need Jesus to tweak the way we do things – just get us back on track?”

My heart, my mind, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to drive away everything that doesn’t belong in the center of the place where he meets with me.

“Take these things away.” Jesus had recently turned wash water into the best wine; he is about transformation. He’s now the place where we meet with God, and everything is on the table.

It’s actually not about the money. It’s much worse. It’s anything that I honour more than Jesus. The name for that is idolatry. Jesus shows that he’s changing the way things are done. “Take these things away.”

Do I dare ask Jesus to take a peek into the temple of my life and see what I regard as holy? If I ask him, it is likely to be messy – not only what he sees, but also the process.

Jesus, the Passover Lamb of God, is the only one able to set me free.
The Jews demanded a sign. Jesus points us to the ultimate Passover: the cross.

Karen, my wife, read this and said “oh the cleansing of the temple, haven’t we done that already?”

“It needs to happen over and over,” I answered.


Jim May is from Vancouver, B.C. Canada “On work days I’m generally in my classroom teaching struggling 5-to-8-year-olds how to navigate the mysteries of the printed word, in writing, reading and English language acquisition. ‘Spare time’ finds me cooking, cycling, Bible studying, writing, taking photos, walking with my wife and my old dog, connecting with my grown children and aging parents, repairing things, gardening.”

If you want to know Jesus.

While I’m traveling, I asked some friends to answer a question: What’s the story related to Jesus that is most compelling for you? Today’s post is from Dr. Lee Warren. 

When my friend says, “I’m not sure about Jesus,” I say back, “Let’s read the Gospel of John.”

John to Know.

My friend might say, “Okay, but how? Just read?”

And I’d say “Listen to this:

Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator;
His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—

A light that thrives in the depths of darkness,
blazes through murky bottoms.
It cannot and will not be quenched.

“You see,” I say, “He’s the Voice. From page one, John says Jesus is the Voice. He was there from the beginning. He’s the Word, the Creator, the Light that Shines Through the Darkness. Boom. Jesus is The One.”

My friend scratches his head. “Why Are You Capitalizing Everything?”

I smile. “Because John is telling us to be blown away by The Voice. You want to know Jesus, be prepared to be overwhelmed.”

He nods slowly. “Wow, He sounds amazing. But real life is hard. I need practical tips to get through it.”

I answer, “Then we need to read the book of James.”

James to Grow.

He shrugs, “James?”

“Check this out,” I say.

 Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure.  

“Good advice,” my friend says, “When life is hard, faith teaches patience. How do I deepen my faith?”

“By listening to The Voice,” I say, “John to know, James to grow. A little at a time.”

(John 1:1-5 and James 1:2-3, The Voice Translation, The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society)

W. Lee Warren, MD (@drleewarren) is a writer/neurosurgeon/Jesus Follower from Auburn, Alabama. I reviewed his book, No Place to Hide


Stories about Jesus.

I’ll be out of the country from March 1-14. I could let 300 go quiet, I could use reruns. But I thought it might be interesting to have other voices during that time.

I decided to write to a handful of people who I respect and who might be interested in having guest posts at

I offered the opportunity to write a post of about 300 words answering the following question: What’s the story related to Jesus that is most compelling for you?

It can be one of his parables. It can be about something he does. It can be about something he says or is done to him. It can be about the story or about the difference that the story made to you.

Those posts will start next Monday. I’m delighted with what we will be reading.

But I’m curious.

How would you answer that question?