Guys, I’ll be honest. I felt a little bit torn during Easter services yesterday. Don’t get me wrong – our Easter experience was fantastic – I sensed an incredible spiritual unrest among many folks in the room. But I’ve always struggled with the religious aspects of Christian holidays in general. It isn’t that I don’t recognize and appreciate Jesus’ role as Savior. Rather, it’s because I try my best recognize it. I try my best to always be in a state of awareness that recognizes Jesus’ living and active role in every corner of my life. So religion doesn’t really interest me. In fact, it really bothers me. For example: why is Easter the only day you hear some people talking freely about the risen Christ?
Why not every day? Continue reading
I admitted something to my wife the other day that took me a long time to be able to admit to myself:
Facebook isn’t fun anymore.
It used to be a place for you to re-connect with old classmates, network with current connections, and paint a picture for the world to see how cool you are. But now, amidst the sea of parental overshare and the seemingly unfettered onslaught of unsolicited opinions, nobody seems to walk away from a newsfeed reading without at least a slight increase in blood pressure. Continue reading
I tried to avoid adding to the rat’s nest of articles and opinions surrounding the VMA performance of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, but my reading today in Romans brought the issue to the forefront of my mind. I’m not going to comment on the level of morality in the VMA performance, nor will I make any psychologically unfounded guesses as to the cause or reasoning behind the behavior. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’m not too keen on making judgements about someone I haven’t had a conversation with. What I’m more interested in is how Christians react to sin in other people. More specifically, why is it that so many folks who engage in everyday run-of-the-mill sins feel so free to make judgements on the morality of someone on a TV screen? Yes, we ought to find sin offensive if we are going to presume to follow a God who finds sin offensive. But lately, a lot of cyber-stones being thrown by folks who seem to have forgotten that we’re all guilty of something.
Maybe, even on a subconscious level, some of us feel that just because we didn’t personally get on stage and permanently ruin teddy bears for everyone, that God has given us a free pass on our less-noticed, more socially accepted sins. So today, let’s look at the mirror instead of the TV. Continue reading
I keep a blog for my youth ministry students and parents , where I try to regularly post previews of what is to come for our weekly programs. This week, we’ll be talking about the Parable of the Soils. I thought I’d re-post this week’s preview article since, for me, the message in Jesus’ teaching here was particularly moving, especially coming off the coat tails of my last post about evangelism.
I don’t have much of a green thumb. I’d like to, but there always seems to be something getting in the way of me cultivating my gardening skills – weather, new baby, cash flow, motivation – and I then find myself in the produce section of Walmart knowing that the over-priced tomatoes I’m about to buy will be squishy and tasteless. And don’t even get me started on the peaches.
We rent our home, so there is little obligation to do any landscaping beyond keeping the lawn in order. But in the spirit of making a house a home, we decided to do a few minor improvements this spring and summer. I dug some trenches, laid eco-friendly siding, poured mulch, and even planted some wild flowers (planting wild flowers: a self-defeating statement, I know). Continue reading
Here’s a mind-blowing revelation for you: ministry is not without its stressors.
In my previous post, I listed some of the experiences a typical small church youth pastor has in a year of ministry. Some are good, some are bad, but all are spiritually strengthening and uplifting if looked at from the right perspective.
I’ve decided to spend some time studying Paul’s letter to the church in Rome (written from a friend’s house in Corinth in the winter of AD 57). I chose this for myself at this time because the context from which it was written seems to be appropriate for the stress, disillusionment, and questions a young pastor (and any committed follower of Jesus, for that matter) might have at any given time. Just try to picture Paul, as he dictated this letter to his friend: as he paces the room, his gait is labored from multiple beatings over his lifetime. His scarred body and face, just like Forrest Gump’s shoes, tell tales of where he’s been – but his eyes and spirit tell where he’s going. It’s that kind of optimism that I, and I’m sure many others, can use.
If you can relate with the first century Christians who felt beat down, weathered, marginalized, and perhaps forgotten, then I’d encourage you to spend some time in the book of Romans. If you lack knowledge, Paul’s magnum opus acts as an informative manifesto of the Church’s (capital C) essential doctrine. If you lack courage, you will learn to sympathize with the letter’s original recipients, and your confidence will be restored. Continue reading
Like everyone else, I’d like some answers. I’ve looked to CNN for clarity. I’ve even turned on Fox News. MSNBC. Blogs. Newspapers (online, of course). Nobody has quick answers for me. But as I read in Matthew 14, the thing to do in times of sorrow, disappointment, and confusion, is to unload it onto Jesus. Even Jesus himself went to pray in solitude when he was troubled. If you spend even more time in Matthew 14, you’ll also read that when we become too focused on ourselves – our circumstances, insecurities, concerns – we begin to sink. When we feel lost, sunk, or in the process of becoming either of the two, the only logical thing to do is turn our eyes upon Jesus.
And yet too many of us are focusing on our “rights.” Some folks are suggesting that the President, along with gun control advocates, is “politicizing tragedy.” It’s ironic to me that these are the same folks who have taken this tragedy as an opportunity to politicize their faith – folks like Mike Huckabee who suggest that God abandoned the children at Sandy Hook because we’ve “systematically removed God” from schools and government. I agree with Huckabee when he says, “Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end,” but I would suggest that this politician is woefully misguided as to where the “front end” is located. Continue reading