Think Divorce Isn’t Really a Big Deal? Read This.

A shoe-polished message on the back of an old hatchback chevy broke my heart. It was a play on words, an irony, a defiance, but I knew it was tinged with sadness.

“Just Divorced.”

That’s what I saw written on the back window. It was over-compensation for his failure. It was this man trying to tell the world, “It’s not that big of a deal, I’m happy it happened. Don’t cry for me.”

It was a cry for help.

John Stevens (CC)

You know what the saddest part is?

Unlike his wedding when he was young, bright, hopeful, and his best man surreptitiously painted the words, “Just Married” on the back of his getaway vehicle, this time the man had to write the words himself.

There was no celebration, no one else to join him on this occasion. So he bought the polish. And after the paper was signed and his heart torn in two, he walked to his Chevy, drove somewhere by himself, and scrawled the words on his own car:

How Reading the Bible Can Make You Spiritually Sick

I have a son who won't eat anything.

He'll only eat four things consistently: pancakes, pepperoni pizza, eggs (scrambled), and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Darwin Bell (CC)

He doesn't like ice cream (even though he thinks he does). He doesn't like french fries. What he will eat one day, he may turn his nose up at the next.

Sometimes our approach to the Word is just like a 6-year-old’s eating habits.

The Real Reason Jonah Disobeyed God

I had Jonah all wrong.

Photo Credit: Caroline (Creative Commons)

If you grew up in the church like I did, you've no doubt heard the story of Jonah and the whale (or fish) a thousand times. It's a great story for kids because it involves a giant animal, disobedience, and vomit.

But usually we don't tell kids the whole story when it comes to Jonah. We usually end the story after God spares Jonah, Jonah goes to Ninevah, and God forgives the Ninevites.

But have you ever read the whole book of Jonah? If not, you really should because there is a much larger lesson in the book than just "it's not a good idea to disobey God."

There's a reason God chose Jonah specifically and not someone else.

The Most Unbelievable Story in the Bible

Have you heard the most unbelievable story in the Bible?

It’s not Jonah surviving an encounter with a giant fish.
It’s not God parting the Red Sea.
It’s not Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

Even St. Jerome can't believe it. (dbking, CC)

No, the most unbelievable story in the Bible is a less well-known one.

This Verse Says You Should Be Like Satan

You shouldn’t ignore evil; it won’t ignore you.

Pretending like Satan doesn’t exist is a mistake. That’s exactly what he wants. He’s subtle: telling half truths, using our weaknesses against us.

Kool Cats Photography (CC)

Sometimes it’s easier to act like evil isn’t real because acknowledging it can be terrifying. Fear not. Jesus gave us some good advice on how to deal with evil. When He sent His disciples out to preach the good news He told them that they were in danger:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Matthew 10:16a

Without awareness of the wolves you are more vulnerable to temptation, more likely to stumble, more likely to play their game. This is why Jesus told the disciples to be like Satan in one regard:

3 Sabbath Principles Every Smart Christian Knows

Did you know that failing to observe the Fourth Commandment, the Sabbath commandment, can lead to moral deficiency?

True, Old Testament law is only applicable to the believer inasmuch as it relates to morality, but the Fourth Commandment addresses three ills you might otherwise overlook. It is quite possible to overcome these sins without observing the Sabbath, but smart Christians know that God instituted the Sabbath for our benefit.

Tossing it aside would be foolish.

William Warby (CC)

So here are the three negative consequences of ignoring the Sabbath:

One Lie Many Well-Meaning Christians Tell You About Love

I’ve said it before. You might have too.

But it’s not true.

I understand why we say it. Those who do are all well-meaning. It’s hyperbole to make a point.

Wild Creative Group (CC)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Love is not an emotion.” (Sometimes it’s appended with, “It’s a choice.”)

How to Be a Part of Something That Matters

Quick question: What does the Tower of Babel have to do with Pentecost?

The Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel

You know the Babel story well. We humans got together to try to build a tower that would reach heaven. So God mixed up our languages making it difficult to work together. In the process, He says something interesting:

3 Pieces of Hard Evidence for the Existence of God

God exists outside of our finite universe.

We are bound by time. He created time.
We are bound by fatigue. God does not tire (Isa. 40:28).
We must eat to survive. God is life itself.

Patrick Feller (CC)

But God gave us three pieces of hard evidence as ways to reveal himself to us.

The 9-Step Guide to Finding the Church God Wants You to Attend

It's hard to find the right church.

Looking for one can feel like attending a timeshare seminar, a blind date or a multi-level marketing "party".

Jim Sorbie (CC)

But if you persevere it will pay off. Katie and I went through the process a year ago, and we learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here are nine steps to finding the church God wants you to attend:

Why We Can't Afford to Be Lazy Christians

The stubble on my face betrayed me.

I woke up that morning without motivation, listening to the gurgle of Mr. Coffee. It smelled like morning, but I didn't feel much like work. So I dallied. Who knows what I did instead of shaving—combed my RSS feed, loitered in the shower enjoying the hot water, or watched the weather for the ninth time.

zneppi (CC)

Whatever it was I knew there was nothing important on my agenda that day. Sure, I hadn't shaved in 48 hours, but what was another day?

* * *

"I meant to ask you yesterday." My boss began. "The IT directors from around the state are on campus today. Would you mind sharing your experience configuring iPads?"

Of all days.

The Real Reason Jesus Turned the Water into Wine

Jesus' first miracle was kind of mundane as far as miracles go.

Yes, changing water into wine is, no doubt, an amazing feat, but it seems kind of out of place in the oeuvre of Christ. Typically Jesus' miracles involved meeting a deep need: healing, feeding, saving His disciples from storms.

But water into wine? No one was going to die if they ran out of wine.

Loci Lenar (CC)

Perhaps this is why Jesus was reluctant when his mom came to him for help. Providing more booze for an unprepared wedding party was hardly an urgent matter.

But I think Jesus saw it as an opportunity to make a larger point.

1 Way to Lead Someone to Christ (Even If You Have No Clue What to Say)

I've said it before, but I'll say it again:

Evangelism is scary.

Logically it shouldn't be, because we know we stand on truth, but it still is. We don't like rejection. We don't like persecution.

No one does.

Andrea Tummons

But if we believe what we believe, then we know that God cares about the lost. And so should we. If Christ can die for us, we can kill our pride for the sake of the kingdom.

So I have a challenge for you.

8 Things To Do When Your Work Feels Meaningless

My full-time job is in the education sector as an IT Specialist. Most days I enjoy it.

Then there are other days.

Peasap (CC)

Days where I wonder, How many more printers can I fix? How much software can I install? It all seems so meaningless. I'd rather be talking to God, or spending time with my family, or fulfilling my calling.

Then God reminds me of His Son.

Why Waiting is Normal

Do you ever wonder what Jesus was doing all those years before John baptized Him? I do.

How to Live Life with No Regrets (Or Maybe Just a Few)

Brendon Burton (CC)

As the doctors entered the room they couldn't help but hold their breath. The stench of death overpowered them. There lay a feeble man with only days left in him, and there was nothing they could do.

He was a great man, and it was too soon for him to part from this world. But it was apparent that sheol was imminent.

Even God's messenger, Isaiah, told Hezekiah he was going to die.

Does God Want You to Prosper?

Not long ago I read an article on Relevant Magazine's website lamenting the misuse of the following verse:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

The author complains of Christians using the verse out of context to apply to their personal circumstances rather than viewing it in its biblical context. (Read the whole thing here.)

Tax Credits (CC)

While I think that the article has merit, in principal it bothered me. Why? Because I believe deep down that God really does want to prosper us.

The piece stuck with me, and my mind wrestled with it in the background as I went about my business.

Then, a few days ago, I came across a verse that seemed to confirm my presupposition.

What a Scared-out-of-his-mind Dad Can Teach You About Reaching Your Goals

Both father and son sported white knuckles as if gripping their own lives.

The father's heart thumped in his chest. He did his best to stay calm, despite knowing death was at hand.

Bruce McKay (CC)

No, he wasn't running with the bulls or fighting a fire. 

How to Respond to Correction

They laid him on a bier covered with spices and various blended perfumes, and they made a huge fire in his honor. 2 Chronicles 16:14

Dominic Alves (CC)

I can smell the aromas, can't you?

The smoky bonfire infused with the scent of herbs, cinnamon, and aloe—a bittersweet blend for a bittersweet occasion.

But King Asa's burial was especially sobering given the last five years of his life. It was more than the celebration of a life, but also a cautionary tale against those too proud to accept criticism.

How the "Good" King Screwed Up

Warning: Your Mom Can't Save Your Soul

Having a mom who goes to church is not grounds for salvation.

Maybe you even attended church as a child. You read the Word, you sang "Jesus Loves Me". But you never submitted your life to Christ.

Simon Harrod (Creative Commons)

Your mother might be Teresa, but she cannot save you. Sure, she prays for you. She hopes beyond hope.

What Everybody Ought to Know About the End of the World

Did you know that there is enough water in the atmosphere to cover the entire globe?

The United States Geological Survey estimates that there is 3100 cubic miles of water in the air, enough to bury the earth at a depth of about an inch (source). 
This shouldn't come as a surprise to readers of the flood narrative in the book of Genesis.

Edward Lim (Creative Commons)

To be sure, one inch is a far cry from the twenty-two foot depth described in Genesis 7:20, but thinking about the flood in these terms leads me back to the creation story. Furthermore it offers some interesting insights to the future of creation.

Remember what happened the second day?

How the Ultimate Screw-up Got One of the Bible's Most Important Gigs

When you think "screw-up" in the context of the Bible, a whole slew of people probably come to mind.

There's king Saul, anointed of God, who disobeyed the LORD by keeping the plunder of Amalekites instead of destroying it, broke the law by offering sacrifice, and consulted with a medium.

There's Solomon who, despite a heaping amount of wisdom and vast wealth, turned from the LORD to foreign gods.

Moses, who took matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian.

Adam and Eve, the original screw-ups, who ate from the one tree God forbade.

But perhaps the ultimate screw-up in all of scripture is none other than Jacob, son of Isaac.

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel (Rembrandt)

You know the stories. Beginning at birth he grabbed the heal of his twin brother on the way out of the womb earning him the name "supplanter". He later extorted his brother to gain the birthright, then tricked his near senile old man into giving him the blessing.

So naturally God chose him to be the father of His people.

Say what?

Are You Taking The Lord's Name In Vain Without Even Knowing It?

"I'm just a realist."

Have you ever heard that phrase before? You may have said it yourself a time or two.

Jeffrey (CC)

Pessimists drag it out like it's a pet. They hold it up to their cheek, close their eyes, and comfort themselves with it.

Then they go on being sourpusses and killjoys.

What's Wrong With Pessimism?

There's nothing wrong with pessimism if you're an atheist.
There's nothing wrong with pessimism if you're a naturalist, a post-modernist, an existentialist.

But if you claim Christ, don't tell me you're just a realist.

Because if you believe in Jesus, here's the reality:

Don't Like Someone? Try this.

What do you do when you don't like someone you have to see every single day?

Maybe it's someone you work with or a next door neighbor. Maybe it's a family member or a classmate. As much as you want to, you can't get away from him. What do you do?

Photo Credit: Recycle This (Creative Commons)

I had some neighbors who were like this. They were inconsiderate, loud, filthy. Beer cans littered the driveway. The grass was never mowed. I wished they would move.

Then God pierced my heart.

The Most Important Bible Character You've Never Heard Of

Have you heard about Melchizedek?

I wrote about him a couple of years ago, but I wanted to condense the information into a more readable post.

Melchizedek is mentioned in Genesis, Psalms, and Hebrews. But chances are, you've never heard of him.

Photo Credit: miraculix1951 (creative commons)

So who is he?

One Common Mistake That Could Ruin Your Relationship with God

I've done it countless times. You may have too.

The Lystranians certainly did.

They looked up in the sky and saw something amazing, intriguing, and unexplainable. A distant planet between them and the sun. A tiny but swift rock that we know as Mercury. They were in awe of it, and they worshiped it.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo & Video (C.C.)

Maybe back then it was obvious. Now it's subtle. It starts out as a hobby or an admiration and blooms into a destructive appetite for more. Though we would never admit it to our ego, our minds' timeclocks betray us; we worship created things instead of the only thing that is not created.

I Am.

We worship an athlete or a musician, but at some point we are always left feeling empty. It's kind of like worshiping a lump of gold made to look like a calf.

And as magnificent as creation is, it is worthless compared to God. The beauty of the ocean is as ordinary as a nap. The brightness of the sun but a firefly.

Which leads us back to the Lystranians and Mercury. Or, as they called it, Hermes.

How to Ward Off Evil Spirits: What Every New Christian Should Know

Our front flower bed was quite embarrassing.

People who came over were too polite to say anything, but the weeds had taken over, and the few good plants we had left were starting to wither, dying of claustrophobia amidst an army of inconsiderate vegetation.

Photo Credit: aussiegall (creative commons)

A couple of months prior, Katie and I had worked very hard to clear out all of the weeds and old mulch left in the beds. We spent hours hunched over the earth. I took a hoe to the dirt in order to snag the roots, and we disposed of them.

When we were done, we had a nicely tilled bed with a few shrubs and some rose bushes. It was simple, and it looked good.

But you can guess what happened within a few days:

Want Wisdom? Do This One Simple Thing

I have always held wisdom in high regard.

I ask God for it almost every day. I desire it; I seek it out.

Photo Credit: Hamed Saber (creative commons)

So I was thrilled when I came across a simple way to be assured of gaining wisdom.

Don't Let Pride Get in the Way of Purpose: Unleash Your Potential By Listening to Rocks

I know what your thinking: He finally snapped. He's totally lost his mind.

The jury is still out on that, but stick with me; reserve judgement until the end. Then you can call me crazy if you please.

So what do rocks have to do with your divine purpose and potential? I thought you'd never ask:

How to Be in High Demand Without Selling Out: What eBay Taught Me About Self-Worth

I stared at my computer screen in disbelief.

0 bids.

That's what it said. The item had gone unsold.

Photo Credit: Thomas (creative commons)

Back up a bit and I'll explain. Between my dad and my father-in-law I had become hooked on classic rock music. On Saturdays I used to navigate for my father-in-law in his big black pickup truck as we traveled through town looking for vinyl records and stereo equipment at garage sales.

With my meager budget, I usually came home with just two or three records which I would promptly unsleeve and place carefully on my turntable.

One day I saw an album I didn't recognize, but I had a feeling about it. It had the Atlantic imprint and looked pre-rock 'n' roll so I took a chance and paid the unshaven owner the seventy-five cents.

My instinct paid off.

Why the Monotheist Must Believe in Free Will

I can prove to you that mankind has free will.

But in order to prove it, I assume you believe three things:

1. God is omnipotent.
2. God is benevolent.
3. Evil exists.

For your average monotheist, these three things are not much of a stretch. I would guess that the vast majority believe this way.

Photo Credit: sacks08 (creative commons)

If you are a Christian, and believe that the Bible is true, then you believe these things.

For omnipotence, see Revelation 19:6.
For benevolence, see Psalm 100:5, Mark 10:18.
For the existence of evil, see Genesis 6:5.

Now, let's get to the heart of the matter:

The Most Effective Way to Tell Others About Jesus

If you're anything like me you're shy, timid, and downright scared to talk to other people about Jesus.

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I'm scared because in my mind, that means I am betraying Jesus somehow. If I really believe what I say I believe, shouldn't I be shouting the gospel from rooftops? I remind myself of the the verse, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). But I'm still timid. What if I get rejected? Yelled at?

I recently came to a realization that has helped me in this regard.

Want to See Miracles in Your Life? Read This.

Miracles only seem miraculous when they happen infrequently or when we cannot explain them.

Yet just because something can be explained scientifically or happens every day makes it no less miraculous.

Jesus turned water into wine once, and it was a miracle. But what if he did it every day of his few years of ministry? The people would expect it, get used to it, and ultimately find it to be unmiraculous.

Miracles happen every single second.

The Most Powerful Prayer I Ever Heard

Katie and I were out of answers.

We had done everything we could think to do, but still our foster son was out of control.  We knew that foster care wouldn't be easy, but neither of us expected it to be this hard.

Photo Credit: Jesslee Cuizon (creative commons)

One Sunday during the altar call I went forward to pray with the pastor. I explained to him the emotional anguish our son was experiencing and his resultant destructive behavior. Then we kneeled to pray.

I expected him to pray like I had been praying: to ask for healing for our foster son, to ask God to give us wisdom, patience, and solutions to our problems.

But he didn’t.

He may have said a few of those things, but there was one thing he prayed that was so powerful, I can’t even remember anything else. It was four words:

How Joseph Was Able to Resist Potiphar’s Smoking Hot Wife

It's the classic interview question:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Before the employer hires you, he wants to know where you are headed. If you tell him that you see yourself in Seattle on a house boat whale watching, but you're applying for a job in Ohio, he's probably not going to hire you.

He wants you long term, not just for a year or two.

More importantly though, the answer to that question also reveals what's important to you.

You Need A Vision

Even if you're not prepping for a job interview, you should still ponder the answer to this question. If you don't clarify in which direction you want to go you will either be stuck in one place, or even worse: you will move in the direction someone else wants you to go.

Even Superheroes Need Jesus

No matter how awesome you are, I bet you're not as awesome as a superhero.

You probably can't leap entire buildings in a single bound. You don't have telepathic powers. You probably can't hit a two-meter-wide thermal exhaust port with your targeting computer turned off.

Yet as great as superheroes are, they have flaws too.

"Can you wipe out that much red?"

In The Avengers Natasha Romanoff, AKA the Black Widow, tells the story of how Hawkeye spared her life when he was charged with her execution. Now it was Hawkeye, under the spell of Loki, who needed saving. So Black Widow inquires of the villain how to free him from the spell.

Loki chalks this gesture up to sentimentality, but Black Widow says, "It's really not that complicated. I've got red in my ledger, and I'd like to wipe it out."

In response Loki asks her, "Can you? Can you wipe out that much red?" To the dismay of Natasha, he then begins to list off all of the horrific things she did before joining S.H.I.E.L.D.

The normally thick-skinned spy is brought to tears, because she knows that Loki is right. She can never make up for all of the bad things she did in the past (even though she tries).

Our stories are very similar. No matter how awesome we are, no matter how much good we do, we all have red in our ledgers—negative balances in our karmic bank accounts. Though we may not have murdered innocent people, we have all done things we regret—things we know were wrong. We are all liars, thieves, adulterers, and backstabbers:

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20

And no matter how hard we may try, we cannot make up for the evil we have committed.

Depressing story, right? But there is a more excellent way.

The Real Reason You Feel Incomplete

Admit it.

Sometimes you feel like something's missing. You feel like there's something or someone out there that will make you feel whole.

Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

You can't really pinpoint it, but you feel it; you feel incomplete.

We Are Unfinished

Have you ever heard a musical scale?

Listen to one where I stop on the seventh note of a C Major:

Doesn't it sound weird? That last note is begging to be resolved by the eighth and final note of the scale.

Listen to it again, but this time I'll finish it out.

Do you hear how the eighth note releases the tension with the completion of the scale?

Humans are just like that penultimate note in the scale.

So You Want to Stop Sinning?

I wasn't sure I could make it home.

Of course, I hadn't wanted to go to the doctor in the first place. I assumed it was a bad cold, and we all know there’s no cure for that, right? What could I do but treat the symptoms and let it run its course?

The only thing I'd get out a trip to the doctor was a co-pay.

But as I started to feel worse, I decided to go to an urgent care clinic just in case.

By the time I made it back to the examination room, all I could feel was my head and my joints pulsating with every heartbeat. I had to lie down to keep from passing out.

I could barely sit up when the doctor came in.

Why Wearing Deodorant Is Biblical

God says to sacrifice burnt offerings as “an aroma pleasing to the LORD” d
ozens of times in the Old Testament (Numbers 29:8 for example).

We no longer have to sacrifice animals under the New Covenant, but Romans 12:1 tells us to “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”

So if sacrifices give off a pleasing aroma, and we are supposed to be a living sacrifice, that means we should smell good, right?

Wear deodorant. Take a shower.

For God’s sake.


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Is the Fourth Commandment Still Relevant?

The word “Sabbath” appears ninety-six times in the Old Testament.

That might not seem like that much, but consider this:

The words “repent” and “forgive” (or any form of these words) combined only appear eighty-three times in the same space.

Don’t Forget This 1 Fact About Christ’s Death

I’d rather have been crucified.

That’s the thought I had in my head one morning in the shower.

A few months ago, my pastor preached a moving sermon using the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste as an illustration--a story I had not heard before.

Let me briefly tell it here: