Monday, February 29, 2016

How Parents Don't Flirt With the Idolatry of Sports

1. Sports are not bad. 

2. My family does sports in our community rather than outside it.

3. We must set limits.

4. God has called our family to worship with our church on a weekly basis.

5. I want my children to find stronger community with fellow Christians than with their sports teams. 

6. When “breathing” is not optional, it’s time for a heart check.

You can read the rest, including explanations.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Musical Roller Coaster

Very clever.

If you want to view it in full screen, might want to take some Dramamine first.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to Fight With Your Spouse Biblically
1. Be honest about what you’re fighting about.
2. Take care of matters quickly; don’t let them fester. 
3. Be a giver in the relationship, not a taker.

4. Never tear down, only build up. 
5. Remember that God is watching you. 
6. Root out your own inner demons. 
7. Let grace rule.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Three Lenses of Marriage

Two years ago the Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel had an article in The Times describing how marriage is polarizing: The best marriages today are better than the best marriages of generations ago; the worst marriages now are worse; over all, the average marriage is weaker than the average marriage in days of yore.

Expectations about marriage have risen, Finkel wrote. People now want marriage to satisfy their financial, emotional and spiritual needs. But while some people spend a lot of one-on-one time working on their marriage, and reap the benefits, most people spend less time, and things slowly decay.

The way we talk about marriage is polarizing, too. If you read the popular literature, there are three different but not mutually exclusive lenses through which to think about marriage decisions.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Hour of Unusual Threat

Many Christians in the world today do not know the life-threatening danger that comes with believing in Christ. We have gotten used to being free from such persecution. It seems like the way things must be.
So our first reaction to the threat that things might be otherwise is often anger. But that anger may be a sign that we have lost our sense of being aliens and exiles (“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles . . .” 1 Peter 2:11).
You can read the rest.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Power of Saying Yes

HT: Bethany Jenkins

Wouldn’t it be great if we, as Christians, were known by our colleagues as the most helpful people in our workplaces? After all, helping others is one way to love our neighbors. It should be a joy to say yes to those who need something we can give them.

For me, though, uttering yes is too often a burden, since one of my idols is efficiency. I want to be productive and finish as much work as possible, and other people are obstacles to that. Their problems are messy, and I fear getting roped into something that will end up taking more time than I anticipated.

You can read the rest.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

From Drugs to Jesus

The TV series Breaking Bad nearly made drug dealers look cool. Walter White was an everyday chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, began using his skills to produce and sell methamphetamine in order to pay for treatment and create a financial nest egg to leave behind for his family. As the ├╝ber-popular show went on, White was involved in all sorts of elaborate encounters with police and criminals alike. He captivated audiences.
If I told you this show was loosely based on my life story, you wouldn’t believe it. And you shouldn’t—mine isn’t near as eventful. Ten years ago, though, I was selling marijuana and prescription pills. My client base was mostly other 20-something guys like myself. I’d make deals that were $30 here, $5 there. And I wasn’t doing so for some faux-altruistic cause like battling medical bills or trying to feed my family. There were no police standoffs or territorial drug wars; I just liked making a little extra money. Becoming a two-bit drug dealer in my neighborhood wasn’t too difficult, either.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cultivating the Imagination

The burgeoning faith-work movement has does a fine job refreshing our thinking about the importance of stewardship in the areas of work and creative service. But one area that continues to suffer neglect is that of the human imagination.
The problem isn’t so much with understanding imagination as a “tool” (which it is), but in understanding its deeper and broader purpose in the Christian life. We all recognize and admire the imaginative capacity of a Steve Jobs, for example, insofar as he used it deliver new and innovative conveniences.
But do we have a more basic concern for cultivating and stewarding the imagination in and by itself? Do we see value and meaning in the process of connecting reality with faith, truth with beauty? Do we recognize the type of long-view foundation it takes to even get to that more “useful” Silicon-Valley phase?
We rarely give ourselves the time and space to pause and cultivate this corner of the human intellect, and even when we do, it’s often for the wrong reasons. As Stephen Grabill puts it in Episode 6: “We need to develop a palate for what is good, not just for what it can do for us, but for what it is in itself.” Later in the episode, artist Mako Fujimura echoes this same point. “Perhaps the greatest thing we can do as a Christian community is to behold,” he says. “Behold our God. Behold his creation.”
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Lecrae's Upcoming Memoir

91XcI088iwLHT: Trevin Wax

Personal stories are, indeed, powerful, and that’s why I was so captivated by another black memoir that releases this year – Unashamedthe first book from hip-hop artist and rapper Lecrae.
I’ve followed the trajectory of Lecrae’s career over the years – noting his success in Christian circles and his rise to the top of the Billboard chart. But I’ve been only an interested outsider, someone whose foray into rap or hip hop goes about as far as dcTalk during my teenage years. (Which is to say, not at all.) Rap is one of the few kinds of music largely absent from my otherwise eclectic playlists. My wife, Corina, is originally from the Eastern European country of Romania, where the dominant musical style is techno and the cultural backdrop of hip-hop doesn’t exist.
So, needless to say, neither of us comes from a background or experience that would draw us to Lecrae’s story. But there we were on a plane together, reading an advance copy of Lecrae’s memoir, turning pages like it was an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Unashamed is a story of redemption, yes, but the redemptive struggle is cast in terms of being the “outsider” – a motif that appears at the beginning of the book and carries all the way through to the end. Lecrae’s journey is not merely from sin to righteousness, or from lostness to salvation. It’s the journey of a man who comes to recognize his status as an outsider and embrace it as the paradigm of Christian faithfulness.
You can read the rest.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Not Colorblindness, But Color-Smartness

HT: Trillia Newbell

People will often say in relation to ethnic and racial diversity that they are “color blind.” Many times, it’s their way of expressing that they see all people as just that, people. Everyone is the same, and they never differentiate between people based on color. I’ve also heard it as a defense against racism, “I’m not racist. I love all people. Actually, I’m color blind.” But I’d like to suggest that we are not color blind, we don’t need to be color blind, and we should strive to not be color blind. Instead, I’d like to suggest that we embrace being color smart.

You can read the rest.

Friday, February 12, 2016

This Week's Church Sign

As a worship leader, I can tell you that sometimes it's a bit of a risk to sing the same song two weeks in a row.

But this, I don't think, is not a good idea.

Have a good weekend!  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Singles Awareness Day

So unfortunately this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday.
I say unfortunately because in most of the churches I’ve seen in life make a really big deal about marriage and families and romance and kids and happily ever after, and rightfully so. Those are good gifts from God in many people’s lives.
But what is so unfortunate about Feb 14th falling on a Sunday this year, is that many (most) churches have gone beyond celebrating marriage and family.
For the past several decades we’ve all but idolized it.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Info On Ash Wednesday

-What is Ash Wednesday?
-How do we observe Ash Wednesday?
-Why should we observe Ash Wednesday?
-How Ash Wednesday enriches our lives and our relationship with God.
You can read the answers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Three Ways Current Western Culture is Unique

We live in a turbulent cultural moment. The world around us is rapidly changing, and we face many challenges unprecedented in the history of the church. Augustine fought the Pelagians; Aquinas synthesized Aristotle; Luther strove with his conscience; Zwingli wielded an axe; but probably none of them ever dreamed of a world in which people could choose their gender. Secularizing late-modernity is a strange, new animal.
Identifying the historical and global isolation of our culture does not discredit it. “Weird” does not always equal “wrong.” Nonetheless, seeing ourselves in a broader perspective can go a long way toward humbling and opening us up to where Scripture wants to transform our thinking. I say “our” thinking because our first impulse in cultural critique shouldn’t be bashing others, but searching our own hearts. Since culture isn’t what we see but what we see through—the glasses, not the landscape—we’re often more “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2) than we realize.
You can read the rest.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Life Lesson from Super Bowl 50

HT: Josh Daffern

No one gave Denver a chance, and I mean no one. For the past two weeks, pundits and sports commentators (of which I listen to many) tripped over themselves describing the different ways the Panthers were going to dominate Superbowl 50. Cam Newton is the MVP. Their offensive line is too dominant, their offense as a whole unstoppable. Denver is too weak, too old, too hobbled. The question wasn’t who would win the Superbowl but by how much would Carolina dominate? At least that was the talk, which, once the game actually started, amounted to exactly zero.
What we saw last night was a Denver defense absolutely dominate Cam Newton’s Panthers from start to finish, never letting Carolina get a chance to breathe. Denver didn’t squeak out a win, they won comfortably by two touchdowns. Denver deserved every bit of this Superbowl, the one that no one, absolutely no one thought they could win.
So what’s the life lesson from all this: Forget the skeptics. You do you.
You can read the rest.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Church Sign on Hypocrisy

Wait, what?

Even without the typo, I still don't understand the message of this sign.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Grill a Christian

Quite the interesting "college ministry" happening in the UK.

Last Tuesday I came across a small advertisement on a bike shed in James College, advertising an event in which I would be able to “Grill a Christian.” I would be presented with a “panel of Christians” who would tell me what they “actually think” on things that matter to me. It made me think of a sort of sinister interrogation, in which a string of believers would be chained before me and submitted to my relentless questioning – an inquisition, if you will. Alternatively, I could just attend the event for the free food.

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bridging the Food, Knowledge and Identity Gaps

HT: Brandon Showalter

Food breaks down barriers like few things can. It’s almost like it has magical powers or something. With apologies to my wheat-averse and gluten-free readers, who doesn’t love a fresh loaf of homemade bread? And since this is the evangelical channel of Patheos, (he has to make at least one appearance per blog post, doesn’t he?), the man Jesus Christ loved him some food! Throughout the pages of the gospels the Lord is frequently spotted…eating. Loaves and fishes, anyone? There’s something hugely significant about this.

You can read the rest.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

When You Sin

HT: Jason Helopoulos

Every Christian sins. Every child of light stumbles into momentary darkness. Every prince or princess acts like a rebel at times. As Christians in this world, we are sinners and saints. Redeemed, yet still needing to repent. Forgiven, yet still needing to forsake. Confessing Christ, yet still needing to confess sin. This reality of our lives is not easy. In fact, few moments in life pain or discourage the Christian more than the instant we become conscious of having committed yet another sin against our heavenly Father. Surely, it grieves us. And at times, it can lead to anxiety, guilt, melancholy, embarrassment, and even depression for many Christians.
In the midst of such struggle, the Christian does well to remind themselves of the gospel comforts of Scripture. There is peace to be had and love to enjoy. Our Heavenly Father ever extends His grace to us. The Christian also does well to take to heart gospel encouragements. We desire to pursue Christ and work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). As we tread through this Valley of Baca (Psalm 84:6) let us readily embrace both the comforts and encouragements of the gospel. Falling into sin, though never good, provides such an opportunity.
You can read the rest.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Smallness of Zacchaeus

When I was a little boy, the only thing I knew about this man was that he was small. Later I realized that he was a tax collector and nobody has to tell someone from West Virginia the government is bad and the tax collectors are the worst of the worst. Later when I was studying the Romans, I learned that many tax collectors were allowed to charge what the market would stand, pay off the government, and keep the rest.
Nothing ever changes.
But it was his size that stuck in my head, since the first song I learned about him (with hand motions!) began: “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.” This is not Shakespeare in As You Like It. It isn’t even Sesame Street, but if you ever heard the tune you can never forget it. This is not so bad, because a major point of the story is the smallnessof this big powerful man. He wanted to see Jesus and could not.
You can read the rest.