Showing posts from February, 2020

Why Is It Weird to Pray Outside of Church?

Real Questions from Real Teenagers
Why is it weird to pray outside of church?

Because we've made it weird.

I admit that I'm not one to always pray at a restaurant before a meal. But we do pray around our dining table at home and before bed and on the way to school. I try to normalize it for our family to pray. We try to pray anytime we see a wreck or an ambulance drive by. And I've been trying to get better about stopping to pray right then and there whenever someone asks me to pray for someone or something.

The problem is that we compartmentalize our lives too much. We have our prayer life, our church life, school life, sports life, family life, work life, social life. There is a place for everything and everything in its place. We take God out of his box when we go to church, but then we shelve him when it's time for school or the game.

The thing is, God doesn't want your "spiritual life." He wants your life. All of it. The whole thing.
Therefore, I urge …

This Is The Way

It is no secret that I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I could talk for hours about the movies, the books, the details, the meanings and symbolism, and the future of the franchise. When I visited Disney World last November, I felt right at home at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu (AKA Galaxy's Edge).

One of the best things to happen to the Star Wars is the Disney+ hit show, The Mandalorian. If you've been living inside a giant asteroid worm and haven't seen the show or anything about it, then go watch it. I have spoken.

The show is essentially a "space western" following the eponymous Mandalorian, our main mysterious character. We don't even see his face or hear his real name until late in the series. He is a bounty hunter commissioned to bring in a high-risk, high-reward target - the 50 year old youngling affectionately named by fans "Baby Yoda."

As cute and awesome as Baby Yoda is, that's not what I want to talk about. This…

A Biblical (Her)meneutic

When studying Scripture about a certain topic, I think the best and most helpful approach is to study it from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is one cohesive story with a lot of twists and turns along the way. It was written by approximately 40 different authors across three different continents spanning multiple Empires and about 2,000 years of human history.

We must recognize the diversity of thought going into the writings of Scripture. Moses and Solomon and Daniel and Paul are all writing from VERY different times, places, and circumstances. Is there disagreement in the Bible? Yep. And I'm comfortable with that. The Bible is not so much a source for answers about God as it is a debate stage about God. That's why God can seem very different from the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, and the Gospels.

The amazing thing, though, is that even through the diversity and arguments, we can see themes and principles developing throughout the story from beginnin…

Why doesn't God show Himself as much today as He did in the stories from the Bible?

Real Questions from Real Teenagers
Why doesn't God show Himself as much today as He did in the stories from the Bible?

This is a great question. I've wondered the same thing myself. Wouldn't it just be awesome if God would make himself absolutely, undeniably visible and present? I would love to witness a miracle. When I run out, he could just turn my water into more coffee. Or writing some kind of message in the clouds. Or healing someone instantly. Or turning all the water in our high school to blood.

This question is closely related to the previous question about convincing people that God is real. Just like we won't be won over by scientific findings or philosophical debates, we also won't be won over even if we witnessed a miracle with our own eyes or heard God's voice with our own ears. I know we think we would instantly change our lives and be completely faithful as long as we live if only God would reveal himself to us in a big way. But that simply is not…

How Do You Convince Someone That God and Jesus Are Real?

Real Questions from Real Teenagers
How Do You Convince Someone That God and Jesus Are Real?

For this and other questions, entire books could be written. How many hours do you have? But I will attempt to be thorough yet concise. So, here we go.

     Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
(Hebrews 11:1)

Simply put, I don't try to convince anyone. That's not really my job. Faith is one of those weird things. There are those who believe, those who don't, and those who are on the fence. For those of us who have faith, it's not our job to convince and persuade others to believe in God. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but hear me out.

Faith or a lack thereof is often a result of many different factors: environment, upbringing, trauma, personal experience, knowledge, exposure, and more. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that if I had been born in Mosul or Delhi or Beijing that I would for sure still be a Christian. I trac…

Empires Gonna Empire

I am a Christ-follower. I try to make that very clear through the way I live and the things I talk about. My highest allegiance is to Christ. My citizenship is in heaven. I live under His kingship in His kingdom. Period.

This past weekend I was able to take sixteen students and four other adult chaperones to Gatlinburg, TN, for Winterfest, and annual teen youth conference that brings 10,000+ Christian students together for worship and biblical lessons. The theme this year was timely. The conference centered around the story of Daniel and his friends in Babylon. The main title was "Not Now. Not Ever." We learned about what it means to live in Babylon and how to stay faithful even in the darkness and turmoil of this evil world.

I've always loved the story of Daniel (after whom I am named), but I've grown to appreciate him even more as I've aged and become more aware of the realities around me.

However, I latched onto something new this time through. It's not t…

BOOK REVIEW – Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very short book and a quick read, but don't be deceived. Your toes will be stepped on! I think DeYoung does a great job of blending scientific research, biblical principles, and anecdotes to make his case.

I think we are all too busy for our own good. But I appreciate (and am attacked by) the fact that he points out: maybe it's not that we're too busy, maybe we're just busy with the wrong things. In today's world it's so easy to waste away our time on social media, YouTube, or Netflix and feel like we've actually accomplished something. We waste time at work scrolling through our Twitter feed and then we spend time at home catching up on work emails.

No matter what your walk of life - whether you're a stay-at-home parent, a CEO, a pastor, or a plumber - this book is bound to punch you in the gut but also offer hope. DeYoung addresses com…

Women Should Learn (and So Should Men)

Our church is getting ready to make the "radical" move to incorporate female leaders in our ministries and worship assembly. I know, I know... you may be thinking It's 2020, and it's about time!

But for a lot of people this is one of the defining characteristics of what makes a church a "Church of Christ." We're the church that doesn't use instruments and doesn't allow women to lead. But that is slowly changing, and I do mean slowly.

Sure, some of the larger churches of Christ around the US have already started using instrumentation in their worship services and allowing the voices of women to be featured. But those are not the majority. It's still very rare for a church of our size and location (smaller, rural church) to make that kind of move.

So why did we do it? Why rock the boat?

We believe that it is the right thing to do in order to more fully become the Kingdom of God as those living in the New Creation. It's not a gimmick to at…

JESUS ASKED: You Don't Want To Leave, Too, Do You?

There are people who hear my story and wonder, "How are you still in church? How are you still a Christian? Most people would have walked away and never looked back."

If you know my (and my wife's) story, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, that's not for today. Suffice it to say that there was a point in our lives when we were hurt by the people we looked up to the most. When we need them, our friends turned their backs on us and adults in the church talked crap about us. They made it painfully obvious that we weren't welcome.

It would have been so easy to give up. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some of my friends who, seeing the way we were treated, walked away from the church knowing that we were just one more example of judgment and condemnation where there should have been mercy and grace.

But we didn't leave. We never left.

The reality is that people are leaving the church. They are walking out the doors and never comi…

Women of Faith

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 
These are not simply rules of attitudes and behaviors to control women. These are virtues that are to be embraced by all God’s people.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what…