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Showing posts from 2014

Jonah: The Storm

Here's my sermon from last Sunday night. It's basically a recap of my last couple of blog posts. Check out more sermons on the Sermons tab above.

Jonah: One Hell of a Storm

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The Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.

I have seen it from the shores of Greece, Alexandria, and Israel - the waters are clear, the breezes are cool, and the view is breathtaking. Life as we know it began around the Mediterranean. The Sea brought life and luxuries. Trade and travel could take place between nations and continents because of the Sea. Countless myths and legends revolve around the Mediterranean. The Western world has come to almost romanticize that particular body of water.

But there was nothing captivating or romantic about the Sea for the Jews. From the earliest days, the Israelites had an aversion to large bodies of water. "The Sea" represented evil, chaos, danger, wildness. The sea could not be tamed. The sea was where demons lived. The sea was no place for a good Jewish boy to be.

That's why many of the stories in the gospels are quite shocking as they take place on/in/around the Sea of Galilee.

And that's why it would have been unthinkable for a pro…

Jonah: Going Down

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Life is full of ups and downs.

That sounds so cliche, doesn't it? But  things become cliche for a reason. There is some definite truth behind that saying. One minute things are going well, the next everything seems to be falling apart. Or sometimes it's the other way around. It feels like you can't catch a break and then suddenly everything just seems to fall into place.
Many times the ups and downs, the thrills and disappointments, the victories and defeats are truly no fault of our own. The company is downsizing. The stock market is wavering. A natural disaster swept through and caused major damage. Those times are sad and tragic. We can easily empathize with someone going through such a rough patch in life.
I don't think anyone deserves to have their house leveled by a tornado or their child killed by a drunk driver.
But what happens when someone sinks to the depths of despair by their own volition? What if it's clear that a person is suffering because they have mad…

Jonah: It's Not about a Fish [Sermon]

Here is a sermon form of my previous blog post and Sunday morning class that I am teaching.

Jonah: It's about More than a Fish

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What is the story of Jonah about?

Ask that in a Sunday school or church setting and the automatic answer is "A guy who ran away from God and got swallowed by a whale big fish." Because we church-goers know the difference between an whale and a big fish. [insert smug-face emoji here]

Seriously. The whole story of Jonah is about a guy who got swallowed by a fish? Really? That's all we get out of the story?

Do you know how much of the story is devoted to the fish? Three verses. Yes, three. Count them:
17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 1:17; 2:1 & 10) The same number of verses mention the "leafy plant" God gave Jonah for shade. So should we say that Jonah is about a guy who needed a break from the sun?

The story of Jonah is not about a st…

Nice to Meet You, Finally

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Have you ever "met" anyone online or over the phone? Online dating is HUGE right now. There are the familiar sites like Match.com or eHarmony, but new dating sites keep popping up all the time. ChristianMingle targets single Christians across the country. OurTime is geared toward those over 50. All told nearly 40% of single American adults have used an online dating service at one point or another. Of those on dating sites, around 66% have gone on an actual date with someone they met online. The result? About 1 in 4 have met a spouse or long-term partner through online dating. (source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/21/online-dating-relationships/) That just blows me away. I am thankful that I have never been a "single American adult." My wife and I were high school sweethearts. But I do know how awkward it can be to meet someone in person for the first time after having "met" them online or on the phone. But why does it cause anxiety? Why is it awkwa…

Cultural Prophets

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The weather recently has been about as predictable as a 13 year old boy the last couple of days. Sunny for a while, then the clouds roll in, rain, thunder, lightning, chaos, panic, wet dogs, followed by sun and humidity the rest of the day.
The other morning I found myself looking up at the sky through our kitchen window as the clouds thickened, wondering if it would rain soon. It looked kinda clear (partly sunny/mostly cloudy - what's the flippin' difference!), but the weatherman said there would be a chance of rain. I wasn't buying that prediction. Then I realized: my kitchen window faces East.
Muttering Christian-approved curses for the sleep deprivation that comes from being a parent of two young boys, I turned and went across to the living room window which faces West. Sure enough, the sky had a gradient from depressing to ominous. All I had to do was look West and see the storm approaching.
One of my favorite genres to read is dystopian future type novels. There have…

Discipleship: The World Is Watching

Who is my neighbor?

That is the most dangerous question anybody ever asked Jesus. And the answer changed the world.

The Day Christians Were Silent

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I checked my social media feeds like a teenage girl on Sunday night and Monday. What would people be saying about Miley Cyrus this year? She did something crazy, something out of the box, something I've never seen before.

But the internet was silent. And Christians were silent.

What did she do? Check it out for yourself:



That's right. Miley won the big award - Video of the Year - and had a homeless teenager named Jesse accept the award on her behalf. His speech was an eye-opening look at the plight of thousands and thousands of runaway and homeless youth across the country and in LA specifically.

Thousands of teenagers are living on the streets for various reasons. Some were kicked out of their homes, some lost their homes, some ran away from home. Whatever the reason, these kids are not going to go anywhere or make anything of their lives without someone to give them a hand up.

There are groups across the country trying to reach and help this particular demographic. Companies…

Must Love Others

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There's a song we sing in church sometimes, an old hymn called "Oh How I Love Jesus." I grew up singing that song. It has a very simple tune and a very repetitive chorus - easy for a young boy to pick up on.

As I mature, both in years and in my understanding of faith, songs like this begin to bug me. Just take a look at the lyrics:
There is a name I love to hear; I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear; the sweetest name on earth

It tells me of a Savior's love who died to set me free
It tells me of his precious blood - the sinner's perfect plea

It tells of One whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe
Who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below

Chorus: Oh, how I love Jesus; Oh, how I love Jesus
Oh, how I love Jesus because he first loved me

Here's the problem I am beginning to have with this song and others like it. It makes us feel good, but it doesn't encourage us to do good. There is nothing in this song that would spur me on towa…

Listening

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I haven't written much at all this year. I go through seasons where I need to listen more than I speak and read more than I write. While I haven't been writing much, I have been reading more than ever. I have never been one to breeze through a novel in a couple of days. I envy those "speed readers." But at my own pace and leisure, the number of books on my list has grown significantly over the last few years. I've already read more books this year than I did over the total course of last year.


Here are the voices to which I've been listening. Here are the lives I've been living. Here are the conversations into which I have entered.

The Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick RiordanBringing Up Boys, by James DobsonEnder's Shadow, by Orson Scott CardThe Last Olympian, by Rick RiordanWhat's So Amazing about Grace? by Philip YanceyShadow of the Hegemon, by Orson Scott CardThe Lost Hero, by Rick RiordanTwelve Ordinary Men, by John MacArthurJurassic Park, by M…

Weekly Devotional: Act Justly

He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
-Micah 6:8
The prophet Micah has just boiled down the entire Law of Moses into three goals. The whole Law, everything God requires of his people, is summed up in these three requirements: 1) act justly, 2) love mercy, and 3) walk humbly with God.
Now, this is actually a paradox for me. As I said last week, the more rules, regulations, and requirements there are, the better I can look by comparison. There's a bigger safety net should I stumble in a few areas. So in a way, having rules upon rules upon rules is easier, safer, more comfortable.
When it's boiled down to three simple areas, there may be momentary relief from the weight of the Law, but then reality hits you. Justice, mercy, love, humility, and faithfulness are too big to ever perfect. There will never come a time when you can look at these three requirements and say, &qu…

Weekly Devotional: What Does God Want?

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What's God's will for my life?

People ask that question all the time. I've asked it. You've asked it. It's as common of a question as they get. And it seems that for every person who asks that question, there is another person trying to answer that question for others.

Even when you read Scripture, the answers to the question, "What does God want?" vary from person to person.

Ecclesiastes says this: "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind" (12:13).

Fear God. Keep his commandments. Done.

But...which commandments? There are, according to most counts, 613 commandments from God found in the Law of Moses. Just fear God and keep his checklist of requirements. You'll be fine!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. But 613 is a little steep. So let's boil it down to 10. Keep the Ten Commandments and you'll do well. In fact, Jesus tells a guy that if he just keep the…

Weekly Devotional: What's Love Got To Do With It?

This Friday is Valentine's Day. Little is known about Saint Valentine, but there is evidence that he was died in northern Rome on February 14. One thing led to another and now we commemorate his life by buying expensive chocolates and cut flowers.

Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love - specifically romantic love. I'm sure there will be countless proposals in fancy restaurants across the globe, and many more children who are able to do the math backwards 9 months from their birth date.

To the world, romantic love is about as good as it gets. Hollywood makes billions by capitalizing on our felt need for love, affection, and romance. Nicholas Sparks and Danielle Steel know exactly the kind of thing their audience longs for. Songs are written in the name of love. Masterpieces are painted and sculpted for love's sake. Romantic love has inspired plays and poetry, wars and suicide. To the world it would seem that the pursuit of romantic love is the highest calling one c…

Train Up a Child: Five P's of Parenting, part 2

I've been on a parenting kick recently. Not sure why. Probably has to do with the fact that being a parent of two is much more demanding than being a parent of one. No offense to anyone who is raising a single child! I've just found that, for myself, raising two demands much more of my time, efforts, energy, and patience.

So I've been trying to focus recently on what it means to be a good father. And as I study, learn, and grow, I am attempting to share my thoughts so that somehow I might help make a difference in the lives of other parents and children.

I'm offering up Five P's of Parenting that tie in closely with Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Yesterday, I wrote about the first two P's, Prayer and Presence. Now I'm going to finish up with Passion, Persistence, and Perseverance.

3. PASSION
I think Proverbs 22:6 is one of the most misunderstood and misused of all the colle…

Train Up a Child: Five P's of Parenting, part. 1

I am a horrible bowler. I'm lucky if I get within 20 points of 100. On the Wii I'm pretty good, but in real life I'm that adult who should probably go ahead and use the bumpers.

And I know why I'm no good at sending a 10-pound sphere down a 60-foot lane in an attempt to knock down the ten pins. Two reasons: 1) I only go bowling once or twice a year, tops, so I have no chance to practice at getting good. 2) My release is horrible.

Really good bowlers have their steps, their back swing, their release, and their follow-through down to a science. And it's all a matter of muscle memory for them. They know as soon as the ball is released if it's going to be a strike or if it's going to veer left.

It's all in the release. Give the ball a good start down the lane and the rest will take care of itself.

It's all in the release.

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Many of the…

Let's Talk About the "P" Word

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I am a young father of two amazing boys. My amazing wife is a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). We are in our mid-twenties. We've been married 5 1/2 years.

That puts us right in the thick of a raging battle. We are on the front lines of the "Mommy Wars," the
"Daddy Wars," the "War on Women," the "War on Men," the pacifier wars, the cry-it-out wars, the circumcision war (I wish I were kidding about that one...), the home school vs. public school wars.

(In a sad twist of fate, one of our guilty-pleasure shows is Cupcake Wars. Our ancestors will be quite confused by that one when they research our culture in the coming centuries.)

It's BRUTAL out there.

Everybody's an expert. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody knows what worked for their kid, so of course it must work for all kids everywhere for all of time!

The dreaded "P" word has been cause for taking offense and going on the defensive. Wars and battles and bloody massacres destroy…

Proverbs: The Righteous and the Wicked

My sermon from last Sunday night. It's an expansion on a previous post called "What Was Mary Thinking?"

Enjoy.