The Green Stick… As a child Leo Tolstoy was led to believe by his beloved brother Nikolai, that he, Nikolai, had written the secret for universal future happiness on a green stick buried at the edge of a ravine in Yasnaya Polyana, their family estate. With future disclosure of this secret, the world would be swept up by love and by all the good things that love would bring. The Legend of the Green Stick remained a powerful metaphor for Leo Tolstoy throughout his eighty- two years as he struggled to define, by pen and personal conduct, the conditions for a world free of misery. In the later period of his life Tolstoy found the Sermon on the Mount to be the secret to happiness and human flourish calling it a New Life-Conception. Tolstoy requested to be buried where the Green Stick is said to be: There should be no ceremonies while burying my body; a wooden coffin, and let anybody who will be willing to take it to the Old Zakaz forest, to the place of the little green stick, by the ravine.

The Green Stick… is a place I spell out significant things we need to be thinking about and discussing – the foremost of which was Tolstoy’s great concern…. obedience to the Sermon on the Mount. Key topics here include the Sermon on the Mount, Tolstoy, Prayer and New Monasticism, Bonhoeffer, Global Mission and Church Planting, LIFE and justice issues, Native American issues and Reconciliation, Non-violence including institutionalised vengeance, Christian Ethics and Political Theology. Periodically I spout off about the evils of the central banking families and the exploitation of the poor through high-interest lending. And, I’m not beholden to any political party.

You can contact me directly via email ( and/or interact with me through the comment link in each post.

Old and New Monasticism.

Old and New Monasticism.

By way of biography... I’m a native of Kansas City, was the founding pastor (1994-2015) of Church at the Gate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and a three-term South Dakota legislator. Kristen and I live in Aberdeen, Scotland where I’m working on a PhD at the University of Aberdeen on the Sermon on the Mount interpretation of Tolstoy. I’ve written several books including Obtainable Expectations: Timely Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount and Obtainable Destiny: Timely Exposition of the Apostolic Letters and  The Fall Away Factor and Momentum: God’s Ever-Increasing Kingdom. When it comes to family I’m richly blessed; son Caleb and Alaina, son Thomas and Melody, and daughter Kaitlyn. And two dogs, Lucy and Lockett.

My latest book is called Tolstoy’s Novel Idea: Obey the Sermon on the Mount.