What Every Parent Wants (Including God)

Christian discipline

“I’m not sure I like bathtime.” (by Tom Page, Creative Commons)

Read John 2:13-24, Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Sin Inside The Temple

So the people selling animals in the temple, and the people changing out currency were taking advantage of the situation. If you traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, and you showed up with a sacrificial animal, it had to be without blemish. The priests were the ones who decided if it was acceptable or not. Well guess what, it was usually found to be unacceptable. But, conveniently located right here in the temple we happen to be selling pre-approved animals for sacrifice–for an exorbitant price. And, you have to pay for the animal with the temple currency. We can exchange your cash for our currency, in fact we have money changers right here in the temple standing by, but, it will cost you.

Providing a means of exchanging currency and providing animals for the Passover sacrifice was a good thing, but overcharging wasn’t. It was a sin. It was a sin found right there inside God’s temple. And Jesus, out of love for his Father’s house, turned the tables on those taking advantage of the people. He took action.

The religious leadership of his day asked Jesus: What sign can you show us to demonstrate you have the authority to cleanse the temple like this?

Jesus said: Continue reading

Finding Your Identity (and what that has to do with Jesus)

find my identity

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:42-43

Nate Larkin, Samson And The Pirate Monks

I recently heard a man speak by the name of Nate Larkin. Nate wrote a book called Samson and the Pirate Monksand in his book and during his talk he spoke of the different personas he developed as he navigated life. For church and when he was in the presence of God there was Saint Nate. Saint Nate was good (at least on the outside), he memorized scripture, and he said all the right things. He polished that persona to perfection. Nate was great at looking bright and shiny to other Christians. But later, in high school, he found girls weren’t attracted to Saint Nate, so he developed another persona he calls Date Nate. Date Nate was smooth and fun and cool. And you know what? It worked. He could find dates when he took on the Date Nate persona. Then he met the girl of his dreams. But the only problem was, she didn’t like Date Nate. So he invented yet another persona he calls Mate Nate. And that worked too. The girl of his dreams married Mate Nate. Awhile later Nate entered the ministry. But he did so while carrying a dark secret: he was a sex addict, addicted to porn since his teens. After a few years working for a church, Nate noticed several high profile Continue reading

“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ…”

Speaking of the early church in the Roman Empire, Kevin Palau writes:

“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ himself–living in them through the Holy Spirit, giving them what they needed to bear witness and radically love in ways the world could not explain.” From Palau’s book Unlikely)

Unlikely is one of the most important books I’ve read in years. It’s just what I needed to hear. You might have the same reaction: Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel

Joseph’s 5 Steps to Avoid Temptation: Genesis 39:6-23

how to resist temptation

(Tied for the most popular post of 2014 so far, from the archives)

Read Genesis 39:6-23

Genesis 39:6-23

I don’t know what Joseph’s early responsibilities were when he first began at Potiphar’s house, but they may have been intensely physical, because Joseph was ripped (“well built” verse six tells us). He was also a good looking guy. And because of this, Joseph’s master’s wife notices him, and begins to proposition him, without much in the way of subtlety either.

“Come to bed with me!” she says to him. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus, “Don’t Say I Love You”

Jesus never said I love youWhy A Basketball Player Reminded Me Of Jesus

Last week I was playing basketball. A group of us were there at the Cedar Hills Gym in Portland playing 3 on 2. That’s a little awkward, 3 on 2, but we were jabbering at each other and generally having a great time anyway. Then in walks this guy who’s tall. Not NBA tall, but tall, you know, like 6 feet 5 inches. He’s taller than the rest of us, and he hardly says a word. He just joins in to make it 3 on 3 and–in a silent Clint Eastwood-like manner–proceeds to completely dismantle us. It didn’t matter how we arranged the teams, the silent assassin always won. He was so amazingly effective.

And that guy reminds me of Jesus.

He reminds me of Jesus because of this curious quirk in the gospel accounts. Continue reading

The 1 Thing God Wants You To Do (To Reveal Him To The World)

Love one another

God Uses People

Before we get to the one thing, I just want to establish that God uses people. He always has in the past and He still does today. God uses people to reveal Himself to the world. There are exceptions, like the time he led the Israelites with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (3,500 years or so ago). But it’s people He uses, most of the time, to reveal Himself to the world. Even a casual reading of just a few chapters of scripture affirms this.

Are You A Christian?

Are you a Christian?

If you are, then God wants to use you. He wants to use you to reveal Himself to the world, and He wants you to do one thing in particular. And here’s the one thing: Continue reading

The Angry Crowd, Freakonomics, and Doubt: Genuine Seeker (Part 7)

Why do I doubt peer pressure

The Angry Crowd (This Really Happened)

Imagine you’re sitting in class with thirty-five other people on a Friday. It’s late afternoon and before your instructor dismisses you and your fellow students, he makes an announcement. He warns everyone to avoid downtown this weekend, because there’s a large (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) pro-life demonstration occurring there.

But just as soon as he says the words “pro-life,” there’s an overwhelming eruption in the classroom. It seems every student stands up from their chair and jeers and boos and hollers against the pro-lifers. You’re new to the group and their reaction takes you completely off guard. You’re shaken–because you’re pro-life.

From the moment the class booed and hissed at the notion of a pro-life demonstration, it felt almost impossible for you or anyone else to voice a pro-life point of view. The derision in the room was palpable.

Like most people, you like to think of yourself as independent and unconstrained by the thinking of people around you. But you’re sitting next to a good friend who knows you’re pro-life. And in the moments following the contemptuous crowd reaction you find yourself hoping he doesn’t say anything to tip off your sentiments. Continue reading

Firefighter Kills Mother and Unborn Son in Head-on: What Happened Afterwards is Astounding

In Dacula, Georgia a twenty-year old firefighter named Matthew Swatzell just finished a 24 hour shift. While he was driving home that morning he fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and drove head-on into an oncoming car. That car was carrying the wife, unborn son, and daughter of a youth pastor named Erik Fitzgerald.

Erik’s wife and son were killed in the crash. Only his nineteen month old daughter survived.

What happened afterwards is astounding.

[HT Irene, longtime loyal reader.]

The Practice of the Presence of God

Remember what I advised you to do: Think about God as often as you can, day and night, in everything you do. He is always with you. Just as you would be rude if you deserted a friend who was visiting you, why would you be disrespectful of God by abandoning His presence?

Do not forget Him! Think of Him often. Adore Him ceaselessly. Live and die with Him. That is the real business of Christians. -Brother Lawrence


Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

What God Wants

What does God want

Jesus’ Last Moments

Jesus hung there on the cross between the two criminals. The sign Pilot ordered, hung over Jesus’ head, it said, This is the King of the Jews. The bible says the Jewish rulers were “sneering” at him. “He saved others,” they said. “Let him save himself if he’s God’s Messiah.”

One of the criminals who hung there with him also sneered. He said, “You’re supposed to be the Messiah? Save yourself and save us too.”

Darkness came across the land.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two.

Then Jesus called out loudly, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

And then he died.

(Luke 23)

How God Said It

In the story of Jesus’ death we see him mocked and sneered at while he hung there to die. Before that we feel his pain as we see him falsely accused, and whipped, and crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross. We see it, we feel it, we experience it. That’s the way the bible is written. Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever noticed all the sensory experiential language in the bible?

  • Jesus’ first miracle had to do with tasting. He turned the water into wine. And the master of the wedding feast tasted it and said, This is the best tasting wine of the feast.
  • “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” Psalm 34:8 says.
  • Jesus said, I am the bread of life, he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. (John 6:35) In fact most of John chapter 6 is about Jesus explaining how we must eat and drink of him.

And there’s also all the talk about Jesus our bridegroom, and how we’re his bride.

  • Jesus said, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them?” (Matthew 9:15)
  • The bible says in Revelation, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…” (Revelation 19:7-9, see also Revelation 21:2, 21:9-11)
  • And Jesus tells the parable of the virgins and the bridegroom in Matthew 25.

And those are just a few examples. So why does the bible push all this sensory and experiential language on us? What is God saying to us?

What God Wants

What is he saying to us? What does God want? Here’s what He’s saying to us: Continue reading