What God Can't Do

I'm posting over at Medium.com today on What God Cannot Do.

Here's how it starts:

Around the dinner table one evening my nine-year-old said, “God can do anything.”
“That’s technically wrong.” I told him.
There is one thing God cannot do. He cannot contradict himself. Because, in doing so, He would cease to be God. I don’t write these words without reverence for our Creator; this is no jest.
I bring this up to remind you and me of the stability and security of God — His changelessness.

Click over to read the rest.

6 Common Expressions We Borrowed From the Book of Matthew

Whether a student of the Bible or not, one cannot deny the titanic impact the collection of books has had on the English language (and the entire Western world in general). As one of the earliest forms of literature, these Hebrew and Greek writings set the precedent for all literature that followed.

Patrick Tomasso

We looked previously at six common phrases originating in the Old Testament, but here are six more which come from the book of Matthew alone. Not surprisingly, Jesus said all but one of these.

Does God Ever Seem Unreachable?

The lovely Debra Pedrow is featuring an article of mine on her website today about a time when a classmate and I failed to summit a volcano in the Mexican wilderness.

Anton Repponen

Here's how it begins:

In 1943 a Mexican farmer named Dionisio Pulido smelled something like rotten eggs. Thinking little of it, he continued working to prepare his land for spring planting. 

Not long after he noticed a crack forming in his field. 

Residents of Paríctuin and surrounding towns in south central Mexico had reported hearing thunder for days, even though the skies were clear. 

Within a few hours of spotting the crack, the farmer saw smoke billowing upwards from the hole. Dionisio Pulido had stumbled upon a developing volcano. 

By nightfall the volcano was in full eruption, spewing forth ash and liquified rock. The entire town would soon be under lava. After nearly ten years of eruptions, Parícutin, as the volcano came to be known, stood over 400 meters tall. 

That’s what Ben and I had come to see.

Are We Alienating People from Christ?

One of the things they don't tell you when you're a teenager trolling the shelves at Barnes and Noble, envisioning your name on one of the covers, is the amount of marketing you have to do when you're an author.

They really should train the staff to spy out aspiring book geeks like myself. Once spotted, the be-smocked bookseller could politely tap him or her on the shoulder and say, "You realize writing the books is just the beginning, right?" Then those whose bubbles are tough enough not to burst from the reality check could double down on their dreams, gird their loins, and pick up a marketing book while they're there.

Alexander Ronsdorf

As an author trying to create a career from my writing, my favorite source for practical marketing advice is the podcast interview. They are free sources of information from people in the trenches of online advertising and content marketing.

(Want to know which Christian podcasts I listen to? Click here).

Several months ago, while listening to one such interview with a well-respected marketer, the interviewee made an offhand statement, tangential to the conversation. The aside served as a metaphor to illustrate popular ignorance. He said, essentially, that evolution is a scientific fact, yet millions of people reject it. The implication was clear: these people are idiots, and no amount of logic will cut through that.

How to Find Peace This Election Season

I'm guest posting at Kevin Halloran's site today about how not to freak out in response to the upcoming presidential election. Here's a snippet:

If you were to ask just about any Christian his or her take on the status of America today, I can bet the answer would be more negative than positive.
Respondents might cite moral decay exacerbated by the embrace of postmodernism, debilitating national debt, racial violence, erosion of freedoms, and the list goes on. Were I to assess the situation myself, I would be inclined to agree with such a summation. The nation appears headed in the wrong direction morally, politically, financially, and just about every other “ly” word you can think of.
But as bad as things seem to us in the 21st Century, Jews in 2nd Century BC Palestine had it much worse.

Click here to read the rest on KevinHalloran.net.

P. S. My most recent book, Under the Sun: Discover Your Calling and Live a Meaningful Life is on sale today for 0.99. Hurry up and grab your copy!

No, Your Church Isn't a Big Deal

A few years ago I began seeing a proliferation of t-shirts and bumper stickers that screamed, “My church is kind of big deal." A quick google search reveals several churches who have run similar campaigns or sermons series. 

Stefan Kunze

Before I continue: I like my church. Quite a bit.

But the truth? Neither my church nor yours is that big of a deal.

These 6 Common Sayings Actually Came from the Old Testament?

English is filled with strange idioms. Take for example “one fell swoop” which holds the meaning of “all in one go” or “in a single action.” Chances are you’ve heard the phrase and said it yourself. But do you know where it originates?

We have William Shakespeare to thank for the expression. In MacBeth, Macduff upon learning of the murder of his wife and children responds, “Oh hell-kite! … All my pretty chickens, and their dam At one fell swoop?”1

Boston Public Library (CC)

Literature and pop culture lend to language many of the idioms we use today, and dozens of our common expressions come to us from the Holy Bible. Here are six you might not know came from the Old Testament:

To Anyone Whose Life Is Going Great

Harsha K R (CC)

Dear Mr. Happy Go Lucky:

I am so thankful God has blessed you in innumerable ways, both materially and emotionally.

The Supernatural Power of Adoption

I had not given much thought to the word “begotten” at the time Katie and I adopted two boys.

Just a couple of weeks before our daughter's first birthday we climbed the steps of the courthouse, and not-so-patiently waited outside the courtroom. Adoption was a decision we both knew was right, but that knowledge couldn’t work to suppress the nerves produced by our impending legal responsibilities.

Mannhai (CC)

Within the hour the gavel would slam the desk, and Katie and I went from having one child to three. The boys had been in our home for some time as foster children, but prior to that day, they were not legally ours. They belonged to others: first their birth parents, then the state. But on that day, the sordid DHS case was closed, marking the beginning of a new and challenging saga.

We were now a family of five: two adopted children, and Georgia, our only begotten.

So, It Turns Out the Fall of Man Is Even Worse Than We Thought

After high hopes for a productive day, all seemed lost when the clock read 3:03 PM and Katie and I were already exhausted. It was at that point we realized we had devoted nearly the entire day to food.

Dave McKeague (CC)

Upon waking we acquiesced to the children’s demands for breakfast. Overripe bananas and Peanut Butter Crunch. Then we proceeded to appropriate funds for the month during our monthly budget meeting in which we designated a grotesque sum for groceries and eating out. Shortly thereafter we planned meals for the week, then assembled a grocery list accordingly.

By this time it was the lunch hour, so we dressed and drove to the nearest eatery all six of us could stomach on our way to the supermarket. Never grocery shop on an empty stomach.

At the market we did our worst, traversing the aisles and playing Santa to our list. After paying, we made the trek home and unloaded the groceries. “Just leave those out.” I said to Katie. "I’ll need those things when I cook dinner."

It was disheartening to dedicate such a large part of our day to something so fleeting as food. In a few hours we’d be hungry again, nullifying the two meals we’d already eaten. And in a week, all the groceries would be gone.

Part of this scenario is the reality of four children in the house. But another part is the reality of being human. Food, as pleasing as it can be, is simply a mechanism for survival. If you don’t eat, you die, and your body will make sure you’re aware of the fact. But has it always been this way?

What You Might Not Know About John's Baptism

Other than Jesus, John the Baptist might be the most scandalous figure of the New Testament.

With the anointing of God, John set up camp in the Judean wilderness, preaching to any who would listen. His message? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matt. 3:2).

Israeltourism (CC)

Here was a guy eating bugs and hanging out in the bush telling people the long-awaited Messiah had come. But the real scandal centered around one thing: his baptism.

Maybe It's Time We Redefine Ourselves

What do you do?

Isn't that the first thing you ask after meeting someone? Other than first name, it seems to be the most important piece of information you can obtain. Once we get those two data points, we can begin to accurately triangulate our new acquaintance's identity.

And since we place such a high value on occupation (I use the term loosely), it's no wonder that the loss of a job leads to a loss of identity. It's no wonder stay-at-home parents despair when their children leave home for good to go to college. Their job is done.

InAweOfGod'sCreation (CC)

We wrap up our identities in what we do. When we lose that thing—whatever it is we do—we feel a loss of purpose. As an author I have struggled with this. If a book doesn’t sell well or isn’t reviewed well, then I must not be worth very much. It is hard for me to separate my worth from the books. 

But the truth God has been reminding me of is this: Your identity lies not in what you do, but to whom you belong.

Easy to say, right? But unfortunately for us humans, it’s not as simple as that. And the more I’ve thought about that statement, the more I’ve realized just how deep the problem goes.

The Best Way to Respond to Sin

In 2005 New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi apologized. That much we know. What, exactly, he apologized for is unknown. Here’s just a snippet of what he said:

"There's been a lot of distraction, definitely, over the last year, and I'm sorry for that, I really am.”(1)

Marc Bruneke (CC)

You see, Giambi's grand jury testimony in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) investigation had been leaked and published in the San Francisco Chronicle just a couple of months earlier. In the testimony, Giambi had allegedly admitted to injecting himself with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

But since none of this information was official or even supposed to be public, he couldn’t or didn’t want to say what he was sorry for. Admitting to the drug use would give the Yankees the opportunity to void his $80 million contract.

Fast forward a couple of years to 2007.

How Has the Evolution Argument Become So Predominant?

We Christians have been duped.

We’ve been snookered into believing the theory of evolution is an argument worth having. It’s not really.

How has this happened, and why won’t the issue go away?

Yes, I believe evolution is a false theory. From what I’ve read and understand, the fossil record doesn’t bear out what we’d expect to see if all life came from one single-celled organism spawned from a lightning strike or carried to earth by aliens.

Kevin Dooley (CC)

The Genesis narrative depicts distinct and unique creations by a Creator, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But what if I’m wrong? What if evolution is a thing? What if we all came from a blob of organic material?

How Jesus Frustrates the Scientist in Us All

How would you weigh your own head?

That’s one of the many bizarre questions interviewers at Google have asked potential job candidates over the years. Drawing a blank? That’s what the questioner wants: to see how you respond when the answer isn't obvious.

Seattle Municipal Archives (CC)

But while weighing your own head might sound difficult, it is doable. (In fact William Poundstone wrote a book answering alleged Google interview questions in his work, Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?). Your head, after all, is composed of matter and therefore has mass. But what if you were trying to measure something less, well, measurable?

In 1 Chronicles, King David decided to do just that.

Hosea Explains Wealth Ignorance Perfectly

When I was a kid I had a friend who had everything: trampoline, pool, all of the latest video game systems, you name it. He was spoiled, and he acted like it. He never seemed to express gratitude or even acknowledge the source of his possessions. Now that I’m a dad, I try to be hyper sensitive to the issue, attempting to ensure my kids appreciate what they have and the value of gratitude.

Seth Sawyers (CC)

We’ve all seen the heirs and heiresses frittering away their family’s wealth, spending untold amounts of money on needless frivolties. In fact they’ve become sources of entertainment for the world, featured in tabloids and reality television shows. Their root problem isn’t spending, but rather a lack of appreciation for the amount of hard work required to obtain the wealth.

But this problem isn’t new.