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Does God Change? (Reverse the Curse)

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Does God Change? (Reverse the Curse)

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Does God Ever Change? (Babel vs. Pentecost)

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Does God Ever Change? (Babel vs. Pentecost)

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UPLIFT 2019 | Believe

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Five Incredibly Useful Apps for Youth Ministry

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Things I Hate/Love About Youth Ministry

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LEVEL UP

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There comes a point in your life of faith when you begin to wonder... Is this all there is?

My brother-in-law gave my sons a Playstation for Christmas. It's really cool because it comes with the motion controllers. We've been playing the typical sports game with each other quite a bit lately. It's cool, but pretty basic. It has disc golf, table tennis, volleyball, archery, and a few others.

Like with most games, when it is your first time playing it offers you a chance to learn the basic skills of the game. It will give you a walkthrough of the controls and motions needed to perform the basic tasks. But after a few minutes of learning, it's time to move on to the actual game.


Most video games begin at a very simple, easy to follow level with basic tasks to complete before moving onto the next level or challenge. The difficulty increases as you play through the game, as it should. If all you could do was the basic gameplay tutorials, that would be a really crappy game. …

The Fruit of the Spirit Is...Mediocrity?

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Have you ever wondered if you're good enough?

I believe all the hands in the room would be up. Deep down I think we all wonder if we really measure up, if we're successful, if we're doing ok.

I love these alien cartoons by Nathan Pyle. I'm sure you've seen them, but this one is great:


Graduation is a time when authority figures publicly acknowledge our sufficiency. "My knowledge suffices!" We don't often get that in life outside of school or sports. Maybe your boss will let you know you're doing a good job. Maybe you'll get that promotion or a pay raise. But when we're out on our own, we don't have the same level of feedback and/or course correction like we get in school.

This is even true in regards to our faith. How do we know if we're on the right track? Are we faithful enough? Are we loving enough? Have we done enough good? Have we committed too many sins? It doesn't really help to have a preacher get up every Sunday and s…

Remembering President Grant, the Holocaust, and Eunuchs

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Why You Might Be Wrong About the Bible

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Getting back into the YouTube game. Enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Ancient Enneagram

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What's the number one rule of the Enneagram?

Everybody say it with me now: "I will not type other people."

Learning the Enneagram is a journey of self-discovery. No one can tell you your number. Only you can know your own motivations, fears, and desires. It's not some party trick, Oooh, let me guess everyone's number and tell me if I'm right! You can make assumptions, but you're better off keeping them to yourself. If you tell someone what you think their number is, you are robbing them of a valuable part of the experience.

But while I won't sit here and tell others what I think their type is, it can be a lot of fun to discuss the types of fictional characters. You can't really be "wrong," and even if you are you aren't hurting anyone in the process. When it comes to literary figures, we are often given a glimpse into their inner thoughts, motivations, fears, and desires. We can make certain conclusions about them that we can't f…

PERSECUTED | 40 Days of Focus, Day 25

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:10 | NIV)  You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
(Matthew 5:10 | The Message) Most of us have no idea what it really looks like to be persecuted. We've all experienced bullies and jerks. We've all face insults and passive aggressiveness. But real persecution is deeper than that. Persecution arises out of fear and a lack of understanding. We fear that which we don't understand. We cannot love that which we fear.

One of the most misunderstood types on the Enneagram is Type 5 - the Observer or Investigator. Fives have a deep inner commitment to truth and knowledge. They would rather sit back and people watch than actually engage in social interactions. They read the Encyclopedia for fun as kids. They are typically the type of people who know a little bit about everything and everythin…

PEACEMAKER | 40 Days of Focus, Day 24

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Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
(Matthew 5:9 | The Message) Everyone who would rather avoid conflict, let me know by making a passive aggressive comment under your breath!

There are very few people who appreciate conflict and arguments. Type Eights aside, most people would rather avoid those hard, painful conversations. But I think we are all aware that absence of conflict does not equal peace. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Whenever a family never fights or argues, it's probably because nobody is talking to each other, they're all just avoiding the tough topics that need to be addressed. Anger and resentment bubble and simmer just below the surface. From the outside everything might look ok. But unless there is some conflict, there can never be real gr…

PURE | 40 Days of Focus, Day 23

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Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
(Matthew 5:8 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
(Matthew 5:8 | The Message) Pure in heart. Now that's a phrase we don't use a lot. We don't tend to talk about purity that often. We want our water to be pure. We want essential oils to be a certain degree of purity. We like pure gold and Purity Milk. But our hearts? Is it even possible to be "pure in heart?"

When I think of this phrase I think of innocence. Deep down we all know that we adults are anything but pure and innocent. In fact, if we meet someone in their late teens or early twenties who actually is "pure," we feel uncomfortable around them. We call them sheltered or socially awkward. There's something unsettling about an adult who is "too" innocent or pure hearted. They're just a little too childlike.


But isn't that the point? Jes…

MERCIFUL | 40 Days of Focus, Day 22

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Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
(Matthew 5:7 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
(Matthew 5:7 | The Message) A word about mercy. The word is closely related to the concepts of justice and grace. Here's an easy way to keep them all straight.
Justice: I get what I deserve (positive or negative)Grace: I get what I don't deserve (positive)Mercy: I don't get what I deserve (negative) We want the world to be fair and just. We want everything to be boiled down to a simple ration where the guilty are punished and the "good guys" get rewarded. But that all breaks down the moment we understand that bad things happen to good people, and the "bad guy"sometimes gets away with it. We begin to believe that the world is chaotic, that it's dog-eat-dog, and that only the strong survive. We can't take anything for granted - even our personal safety and survival.
Some of us…

HUNGER | 40 Days of Focus, Day 21

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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
(Matthew 5:6 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
(Matthew 5:6 | The Message) What are you hungry for? What are you thirsty for? What sustains you? What keeps you feeling whole and satisfied?

For certain people among us, the answer is simple: perfection.

We all know those people who want everything to be done right, for everything to be as good as it could possibly be. We know those who chase perfection in all they do - how they raise their family, how they perform academically, how they clean their house, how they organize the files on their computer. There is a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things. They have a very binary view of the world - right/wrong, black/white, good/evil, straight/crooked.


Good enough is not good enough.

We call these people "Perfectionists." They find their home at th…

MEEK | 40 Days of Focus, Day 20

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Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
(Matthew 5:5 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
(Matthew 5:5 | The Message) Google defines the word "meek" as quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive. It's closely related to humility. We have a hard time with those words in our society. It's a shame that meek rhymes with weak - because that's not what it means. It's a shame that humble and humiliation share the same root. We associate humility and meekness with weakness and fragility.

A Clydesdale may be meek and submissive, but that in no way means he's weak or fragile. To be meek is to harness your power, to control your strength, and not to impose your will on others by force.

Again, it's closely tied to humility. To be humble is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.

I always find…

MOURN | 40 Days of Focus, Day 19

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Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
(Matthew 5:4 | NIV)  You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
(Matthew 5:4 | The Message) Enneagram Type Fours are commonly known as Individualists or Romantics. They tend to be more creative types - painters, musicians, authors, poets, etc. They have a unique way of seeing the world, and they want to be seen by the world as unique. They are driven by a desire to be special, different, authentic, but most of all to be accepted for who they are. You may not know who they are from one week to the next as they try on different personas and styles.

But the thing that really sets Fours apart from most other types is their comfort with melancholy. Fours tend to be drawn to sad movies, heartfelt TV dramas, and emotional indie music. They embrace sorrow like it's a close friend. It's been said that Fours don't have emotions, they are emotio…

POOR | 40 Days of Focus, Day 18

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Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:3 | New International Version)  You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
(Matthew 5:3 | The Message) When we focus in on aspects of Scripture like the 10 Commandments, it can be easy to think religion is all about following a set of rule and regulation. For the Jews, it wasn't just the 10 Commandments. All together the Rabbis tallied 613 commands in the Torah. Beyond that they developed their own traditions and practices to act as a sort of "hedge" around the commands so they wouldn't even come close to breaking them.

For instance, the command to keep the Sabbath Day holy evolved into an elaborate system of regulations concerning how far one could walk, what tasks could be done if absolutely necessary, and trying to define "work" as tightly as possible. Religion became more about rights, rituals, rules, and regulat…

CONTENTMENT | 40 Days of Focus, Day 17

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“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:17) I've always thought this command was somewhat out of place. All the other previous commands having to do with our treatment of others were very action-oriented. Murder, adultery, theft, lying - these are all things we can actively do to a person to cause harm. But who does it harm to covet?

What does it even mean to covet?

If you ask Google to define the word, here's what you get: yearn to possess or have (something). Some synonyms include "desire," "be consumed with desire for," "crave," "have one's heart set on."

So this final of the 10 Commandments is more about an inward attitude than an outward action. In fact, this could be the one thing that leads to all the others. Look at what James says about this.
What causes fights and quarrels amo…

TRUTH | 40 Days of Focus, Day 16

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“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."
(Exodus 20:16) You know what phrase I'm tired of hearing? "Fake news." It seems like we are watching from the sidelines as the talking heads on TV try to tell us what is true and how we know. Everyone has a different truth, or "alternative facts" as some might say. Something either happened or it didn't. It doesn't seem that complicated.

But on the other hand, it makes sense that we do this, and it's not a new phenomenon. All of us operate under various cognitive biases, or preconceived ways of interacting with the world. These biases alter our perception of reality. They "help" us determine what is true or not.

For example, confirmation bias is our tendency to search out and pay attention to only evidence that backs up our already held beliefs. The bandwagon effect is our tendency to believe whatever everyone else is believing or thinking. The continued influence effect is …