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Simple Faith

Becoming a Christian is easy. That does not make Christianity shallow, there are great depths to Christianity and the mysteries of God. What does it take to be a Christian? A Google search will yield endless results and lists – none of which seem to be the same. Acts 16:31 reads, in part (NASB). “BelieveContinue reading “Simple Faith”

Ambassadors in Chains

You may remember that Jesus once proclaimed, even before He died on the cross, that if people wanted to believe in Him and follow Him they should “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Me.” What does that mean during this virus situation? Well, one piece of what this saying means is found inContinue reading “Ambassadors in Chains”

The Sick Heart

Following God doesn’t mean rainbows and white picket fences and big houses. It hurts to be what you are making me. I can’t see my future—who will take advantage of me when I’m vulnerable? I do not know the minds of men—who will see what I am and set boundaries with mockery as the plumbContinue reading “The Sick Heart”

Choose the Good Portion

Everyone feels the oppressive atmosphere of an uncertain and prolonged future battling Covid-19. We watch in horror the ripening Civil Rights unrest, which expanded from American to global protests. We witness the maltreatment of refugees, natural disasters overtaking the West and South, and we have a formula for one very exhausting world. Many oddities haveContinue reading “Choose the Good Portion”

Our Legacy

I know you have heard of David, of “David and Goliath,” who later became “King David of Israel.” But have you heard of David’s great-grandmother, Ruth? A whole book in the Old Testament is devoted to her life, and it is Ruth’s story today that is our “Boost from the Bible” for this week. BackContinue reading “Our Legacy”

Drawing Near

Let’s get to it—do you ever pray and pray and pray and get no answer, and then you try to figure out why and some people tell you to repent because God can’t hear you? Or to wait? Or that silence means ‘no’? Or that you’re not praying in God’s will but for your selfishContinue reading “Drawing Near”

A Leap of Faith?

All of us want to know what the future holds. People turn to fortune tellers, Ouiji boards, astrology, psychics, and other things in an effort to predict the future. As Christians, we know these are futile. When faced with a decision, we struggle with which way we should go. We pray about it, we evaluateContinue reading “A Leap of Faith?”

Other Plans

Do you know of the TV journalist Ted Koppel?  Many may not, these days. Ted Koppel is retired now, but for many years his 30-minute late night TV News show, Nightline, was watched by many. Ted Koppel’s life reads like an advertisement for the truth of the saying, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making otherContinue reading “Other Plans”

God’s Injustice

I have always been attracted to the minor prophets. Since they only had one message to proclaim, it must have been an important one. Not to diminish the importance of other prophets such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, we might call the minor prophets “one-hit wonders” to use a baseball term. What we see recorded aboutContinue reading “God’s Injustice”

The Rock

Though George Thomas was a future UNION General in the Civil War, he was born and raised in the South – in southern Virginia, to be exact. There, Thomas and his family – his widowed mother and sisters – owned some slaves. In the Spring of 1861, after Fort Sumter in South Carolina had beenContinue reading “The Rock”

To the Faint of Heart

‘I’m prepared for school.’ My 7-year-old daughter stares at me. ‘I’m ready for school, mom. How many minutes?’ I’m not prepared for her school. Oh, I have the books and the supplies and the lesson—but I am not prepared. I’m tired, I’m only halfway through this French press of glorious black coffee, and I’m resistantContinue reading “To the Faint of Heart”

Post-COVID Hope

As we contemplate the post-COVID word, one has to wonder what it will be like. Let me say that I am neither a theologian nor a medical professional . I do hold a doctorate, but not in the medical field. As someone once said, I’m not the kind of doctor that does anybody any good.Continue reading “Post-COVID Hope”

In the Image of God

We are made in God’s image, his likeness. At creation, God said the earth was good. Upon creation of man and woman, he decreed it very good. What does it mean to be created in His image? It is not a physical resemblance. Although our children may have a physical resemblance to us, people willContinue reading “In the Image of God”

Abraham Lincoln & Serpents

As I have said before in this “Boosts” series, I am a student in the study of the American Civil War, and of President Abraham Lincoln. No occupants of the White House before or since have had to deal with quite the level of stress and challenge that Abraham and Mary Lincoln faced during the Civil War. Our country was almost lost due to the secession of the southern states; the chattel slavery of black Americans was almost doomed to last eternally in the South; the allied nations during World War 1 and World War 2, would not have access to what was called “the arsenal of democracy” – a United States of America – to give them aid that was necessary in the fight against tyranny in both wars.

New Year’s Eve (Boosts from the Bible #14)

It was just the two of us. Now that we were in our fifties, my wife Diane and I were going through our usual difficulties on New Year’s Eve: trying to stay awake to midnight. What seems ironic to me is that as the clock ticked away, I turned to Diane and said, “Good riddance to 2019. The year 2020 just HAS to be better!”

Surprised by Joy

I’m terrible about establishing desirable habits or changing negative ones, but I was reasonably successful about a year ago with an endeavor. I forget who told me about it—I’m so sorry—but I was reading Anna Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

We Receive to Give

“Hey, dad, can I take Pike down to the mailbox?” COVID-19 aside, Kacie and I travel a lot, so we love having a townhome. My ten-year-old, Samuel, loves being old enough to walk down to the mailbox in the mornings – with our very protective Dutch Shepherd, Pike. It makes him feel big. I didn’tContinue reading “We Receive to Give”

Powerful Prayer

If we want something done we often seek someone with an “In.” Want to change something in your city, who do we know that knows the Mayor? Access to someone in power is the world’s way of getting things done. Guess what? We have that kind of access to God. You might say “Why pray?Continue reading “Powerful Prayer”

Slow Down

When I was nine years old in the third grade at a Christian school, we often memorized assigned Bible verses in class as part of our weekly curriculum. One particularly drab weekday—I say this because I wanted to go outside to recess, and lunch that day was grilled cheese, my favorite, and oh, wouldn’t 11:45Continue reading “Slow Down”

Finishing Well

What enables us to finish well in life? The answer is Jesus. He gets us. He understands us. Why? Jesus was all man – he could touch people, he spoke with an accent, he could blend into a crowd. Yet he was all God – he could heal, he spoke with authority, he could changeContinue reading “Finishing Well”

Boosts from the Bible #12 (Sidelined)

Have you ever had a time in your life where things changed for you dramatically, practically overnight? Certainly these times are kind of like that, but I mean when things changed personally…just for you – for you and no one else around you at the time.

Boosts from the Bible #11 (Abraham)

Some may be tempted to react to all of these (as yet) hard to answer questions by deciding, once you see the sun rise through your bedroom window, to turn over in your bed, and pull the covers over your head.

What, Me Worry?

Starting in the mid-1950’s and well into the current century, a fictional character by the name of Alfred E. Neuman graced the covers of MAD Magazine. His image became a national icon, along with his well known phrase, “What, Me Worry?”  Neuman’s line could well be adopted by Christians, as there is an abundance ofContinue reading “What, Me Worry?”

Boosts from the Bible #8 (The Story of Joseph)

Now here’s the thing. We can feel cursed, and lose hope, but God does not want us to lose hope! God has a deep plan going on here, just as God had a deep plan with Joseph. Let us keep faith with God just as Joseph kept faith with God.

Is God Always Good?

There is a popular saying in Christian circles that goes “God is good all the time.” This is certainly true. Scripture is full of references to God’s goodness. It is not in His nature to be not good. We may think of ourselves as good people but, if you’re like me (and I know youContinue reading “Is God Always Good?”

Boosts from the Bible #7 (1 Kings 19:9-13)

No one really knows what it’s like to be completely isolated until one has to go through it. Isolation is especially aggravating when it is not your choice to do so – when you are forced to be alone.

Boosts from the Bible #6 (Matthew 11:28-30)

Now to the Fire and Brimstone Preachers that you might have bumped into, this is a cockamamie set of verses. For them, being a Christian is something only a few people can pull off, and, in their eyes, it probably isn’t you.

Is Jesus an American?

As Christians, we hold a dual citizenship. We have citizenship in an earthly country. I am a citizen of the United States. Proudly so. Notice that I did not say I am an American Citizen. There are two continents with the word “America” in their name. If I am an American citizen it is assumedContinue reading “Is Jesus an American?”

Boosts from the Bible #5 (2 Cor. 1:3-11)

We are called to GIVE comfort, but also it helps to RECEIVE comfort – and we can always receive comfort from God. Paul, in our reading, called God “the Father of all mercies and the God of all consolation.” But sometimes it’s hard identifying with the Creator of the Universe, which is one reason why God sent His Son so that we may trust in God more by trusting in this amazing Jesus that we read about.

Joy Comes

All of us have experienced what we call “The dark night of the soul.” Times when we feel like there’s no way out. Times when we don’t think things will ever be better. We are stuck in a rut of hard times, one bad thing happening after another. We wonder “Where is God?” And justContinue reading “Joy Comes”

Boosts from the Bible #4 (Psalm 118)

Do we see God has an ENDURING presence, or an “and-does-nothing” presence? Do we feel God’s love is steadfast or shaky? Are we sure that forever is in our future, or is forever just a belief we held in the past?

Mirrors and the Christian Mandate

Mirrors have a purpose. We use them to get ready for work, for an evening out, to make sure clothes fit right, straighten up our hair a little, or just to make sure we don’t have cilantro stuck in our teeth after eating at a Mexican restaurant. When we take a moment to look into a mirror, it is to see a picture of ourselves and make necessary changes. It would be completely pointless to gaze into a mirror, notice our shirt is buttoned incorrectly, then just leave it and continue with our day. That would completely negate the purpose of the mirror.

Boosts from the Bible #3 (Psalm 46)

Frankly, you and I had, in our lives, a great many things we were taking for granted before COVID-19 showed up. Every winter we took the latest flu epidemic in stride, as we traveled hither and yon and, though our economy has had its rough spots, kept getting stronger and stronger as the stock market kept going higher and higher. What does God have to say about these times? Well, let’s look further into Psalm 46.

Boosts from the Bible (Romans 8:18-38)

We often find it hard to pray in the tough times. Sometimes we don’t know the right words and are afraid we haven’t spent enough time in prayer against the virus and for others, as well as for ourselves.

Useless Prayers

Prayer. As Christians, it is something we practice, something we believe in, something that has great power. We pray because we know that God hears our prayers and wants to answer them. Prayer unlocks potential. Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe in and practice prayer. When someone asks me to pray for themContinue reading “Useless Prayers”

Boosts from the Bible (Philippians 4:4-14)

I read an article a few days ago profiling the reaction of the little town to one of their own having the coronavirus. At that point, against the governor of that state’s recommendations, that church was holding a physical worship service though taking some precautions. One woman there told an interviewer: “I feel like the Lord is going to protect us. He’s not going to let anything happen to us in church.”

Addressing Human Trafficking in the United States

Poverty creates a sense of hopelessness whereby parents may feel forced to send their children away with a stranger who promises a better life, or where a young girl feels like she must turn to someone in the sex industry to make money, or where a man feels as if he must enter a country illegally in order to provide for his wife and children, or where a parent is unable to adequately care for a child who is then snatched up and sold to become a soldier.

Now is an Exciting Time!

It was like all of the proverbial hinges of the shallowness of the American Church industry were finally rusting and falling off. I was excited that, maybe… finally… my fellow Christians would realize that so much more hope and freedom lies beyond the door of these media-thirsty parody leaders.

Willingly Stupid

It is troubling to think that we’ve blindly bought into this mentality so deeply that we actually believe a person wearing a face mask reveals their political persuasion, that we believe listening to science is somehow a betrayal of our faith, or that pursuing racial equality means we are not patriotic. We should feel embarrassed for what we allow ourselves to believe.

American Prophets

What would it look like if everyone chose to listen right now, instead of hiding in fear behind a shield of ignorance, obstinance, politics, and false Christianity?

Shut Up and Hear

Everyone is screaming, but no one is listening. We treat our individual knowledge as if it is the ultimate truth. Our perception of God becomes our god.

Remove Jesus Statues?

      Jesus statues, police assassination plots, the continued exposure of racism among police, continued protests, and a spike in COVID-19 cases. As with everyone else trying to sort through these unfolding events, I have initial thoughts, responses, and reactions that form when anything changes. I also try to sort through everything from a Godly/Christian perspective.Continue reading “Remove Jesus Statues?”

The Value of a Life

Is the value of life Inherent or Imparted? Protests, marches, riots… It’s about race, but it’s also about something deeper than race. The true issue is at the core of our lifestyles, mindsets, and even our beliefs. Political and governmental organizations are not the only entities wrestling with the symptoms resulting from the core problemsContinue reading “The Value of a Life”

Dear Christians

Dear Christians, There’s an event recorded in John 8 about a woman being brought before Jesus who was caught sleeping with a married man. She was brought to stand before Jesus in the Temple (likely still naked in order to shame her). The religious leaders and attorneys said that the law commanded she be stoned,Continue reading “Dear Christians”

Rest

When any major event happens that seems out of our control, we try to find meaning. Any time there is a catastrophic hurricane, tornado, or tsunami, voices speak up trying to offer a reason why these things happened. It is part of the innate desire within us for meaning beyond what we can see. ManyContinue reading “Rest”

Movement

  What does it mean to be a Christian? Part of it means the fulfillment of God’s command to “fill the earth and subdue it.” Paul writes in Ephesians that the purpose of our salvation, or our being “created in Christ Jesus,” is for the purpose of doing the good works that God has preparedContinue reading “Movement”

Enlightened Rebellion

It’s confusing to me that people often associate rebellion with the rejection of Christianity or Christian morality. Maybe within their family or small circle of friends it could seem to them like rebellion, but what most people proudly exclaim as being independent or free is actually conformity to the most animalistic of instincts that shouldContinue reading “Enlightened Rebellion”

The Contrast: Send Them All to Hell?

One of the practices I wanted to change heading into the 2020s—other than my wife, Kacie, getting me hooked on watching Downton Abbey nearly every night (that show is amazing…and, yes, I’m still straight)—is committing to write more frequently about my theological observations as they present themselves in life’s everyday events. Enter: Gasparilla’s Sant’ YagoContinue reading “The Contrast: Send Them All to Hell?”

The Entertaining Pastor

American Christians prefer a formulaic theology to one of relationship. Relationships take time, they take maintenance, they take deference… and, when it comes to a relationship with God… it requires submission.

What the… Hail?!

There is a place in Lakeland, Florida, beside one of the lakes, that my children and I have always referred to as the Secret Hideout. My two sons regularly ask if we can go to the Secret Hideout for a while. We go there and throw rocks into the lake, play in the dirt, climbContinue reading “What the… Hail?!”

The Long Game

A conversation with my daughter, Alyson, sparked this post. She was talking to me about various issues going on in her life now that she’s a 16 year old in a college environment, and a lot of the interpersonal drama she sees playing out. We talked awhile about how to respond to people who gossip,Continue reading “The Long Game”

The Lost Sanctuary

Sanctuary: A place of refuge or safety. A holy place; a temple or church. Language reveals much about who we are as people and the values we uphold. Recently, my wife, Kacie, and I visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City (and no, we are not Catholic). Setting aside the gaudiness of the statuesContinue reading “The Lost Sanctuary”

Allegiance

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. So, I turned on something I thought would bore me to sleep, The Bible miniseries that ran several years ago (turns out… it’s not as bad as I remember it). The problem is, I’m a theology student and get easily sucked into anything philosophical or religious. One scene that playedContinue reading “Allegiance”

Temporal

All throughout the years 2012-2016, it seemed like I was constantly surrounded by death. During that time, I sat with too many people I loved as they were dying. It’s much different than seeing the death of a bad person, a stranger, or even an acquaintance. Those moments caused me to think less of physicalContinue reading “Temporal”

Racial Elitism

There is no room for elitism in Christianity. White nationals, black panthers (the group, not the amazing Marvel movie), and similar groups have no place in Christians’ way of living. The tribal mentalities that cause us to group ourselves by ethnicity, orientation, title, education, or accomplishment, all disappear before God. I recently watched several interviewsContinue reading “Racial Elitism”

Generational Mindsets

The world is evolving and change is inevitable. Technology is developing and changing as the future unfolds quickly. Another thing that is changing quickly: My generation. It seems like many adults just dismiss my generation as immature, unreliable, and incapable. Although this may be true in certain aspects of our lives or for certain individuals,Continue reading “Generational Mindsets”

Unworthy

Growing up in church and having been a part of churches with a wide range of views, I’ve heard the following verse quoted – and its meaning questioned – in many different settings regarding the taking of Communion: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner willContinue reading “Unworthy”

I Am God

“Pointing out the faults of others is often a tool to make us feel better about ourselves and mask our own imperfections. This often results in the harmful neglect of good things. We do live in an imperfect world, but we can rejoice in the fact that God accepts us all in our imperfection.”-Steven SonafrankContinue reading “I Am God”

Mercy > Sacrifice

I’ve been rereading the New Testament and, as always happens depending on life stage and circumstances, something stood out to me that previously had not: two similar statements made by Jesus when confronted by religious leaders. So, I decided to do a little digging… and here’s where it led. “Go and learn what this means,Continue reading “Mercy > Sacrifice”

Gray Areas

I really worry about Christians who have a black and white answer for every issue that arises. Sure, there are many aspects of life which are directly addressed in Scripture as being right or wrong, but there are also many that are not neatly defined. Take the Rapture, for instance – just kidding that oneContinue reading “Gray Areas”

Rejecting God

How often do our traditions get in the way of the things God has commanded us to do? Jesus uses a specific example in Scripture to address those who place a higher priority on tradition than on caring for others. Just to set the verse up a bit, at this time in history, parents wouldContinue reading “Rejecting God”

I am Whole.

Recently, I read a Christian-based article talking about how God wants us to be crushed in order to make us new. Needless to say, this is an extremely false view of Christianity. I began thinking about how this mentality has come about and the many phrases that get uttered in order to sound hyper-spiritual. AnotherContinue reading “I am Whole.”

Friends with Benefits

As happens far too often with well-meaning people, good things get messed up. Instruments that may be of a benefit to mankind (i.e., government, technology, or business) have a tendency to become agents of control. What was meant for the enrichment of life is used as a tool to deprive. Religion is no exception. WeContinue reading “Friends with Benefits”

Social Legalism

Have you ever been in a situation where your view differed so drastically from the majority, or a leadership personality, that you felt as if you must be completely wrong? Perhaps, in that moment you felt the need to change a habit, mentality, or belief that has always been a part of your life, onlyContinue reading “Social Legalism”

Toxic Culture

Unless you’ve been in North Korea for the last few years, it’s likely that you’ve heard or read about some kind of gender-based social movement. More than likely, that social movement has the male gender or climate change as its central villain. While I often agree that an issue should be addressed, it’s very blindContinue reading “Toxic Culture”

A Dead God?

There are many sects within Christianity who, rather than operating under the desire to follow the creative direction of a living God, are content to live by a new dead law. Often, folks with this mindset will try to create a false hypothetical narrative within Christianity in which A leads to B, and results inContinue reading “A Dead God?”

The “A” Word

Turning to science to answer the question “When does life begin?” is a completely ignorant expectation. If a medical doctor or scientist tries to prove/disprove the source of life or the supernatural/spiritual using scientific measures, then that person has completely stepped outside legitimacy and into his/her own personal belief. Likewise, it’s just as ridiculous forContinue reading “The “A” Word”

Self-Righteous

Scripture states that there is none righteous other than God. As soon as you create a doctrine of righteousness that is holiness based on external actions, rather than the imparted righteousness and holiness of God… then you have stepped outside of Christianity and created your own religion. Self-Righteous: convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrastContinue reading “Self-Righteous”

Evolutionary Continuity

We like to believe what we know is constant. A large part of our thought processes historically, educationally, spiritually, and even scientifically are based on this assumption that what we observe now can be the basis of how things have always operated and will continue to operate in the future. There’s just one problem: everythingContinue reading “Evolutionary Continuity”

Jesus, Predictability, Social Experiments, Sex

We like to think of ourselves as independent and unique, but the truth is: we are predictable and gravitate toward uniformity. Those who know me well have, at some point, heard me talk about observable patterns, they interest me. There are community patterns, cultural patterns, generational patterns, relationship patterns, and historically cyclical patterns to nameContinue reading “Jesus, Predictability, Social Experiments, Sex”

Judge

Let’s be honest, fellow USA’ers, we just don’t like to think that much. Television, sports, shopping, alcohol, marijuana all may be well and good in moderation (even the Bible commands the Israelites to get trashed occasionally), but in regularity they’re just mental escapes that distract us from exploring the deeper realms of life. I likeContinue reading “Judge”

Enlightened Regression

We like to think of western culture as somehow enlightened, but how enlightened are a people who dehumanize those with whom they conflict? We like to think of ourselves as people of reason, but how intellectual is it to shout down those with whom we disagree or dislike? There have been many examples of thisContinue reading “Enlightened Regression”

Perpetual Error

Those of us who grew up in church have more than likely heard a message at some point about “producing fruit,” and what the speaker thinks “producing fruit” should look like. It usually is presented as a certain system of morality or church attendance that the person feels should be applied to all those whoContinue reading “Perpetual Error”

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