Going Deeper

Going Deeper

What does it mean to go deeper in our spiritual lives?

My family has probably logged hundreds of hours watching fish on our TV. This primarily stems from our girls’ love of fish. Both of them have been mesmerized by the brightly colored fish swimming around and since we don’t have an aquarium, we watch one on TV. You might think this is strange that we would use our TV as an aquarium, but many you’ve probably logged a multitude of hours watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Whether it’s the aquarium, shark week, or some other show like Blue Planet or Finding Dory, many of us have viewed the depths of the ocean through our TV, but never swam in the depths or in shark infested waters. Why? Because it’s scary. I for one like air and not being eaten by sharks. 

This translates into our spiritual lives as well. We desire depth in our relationship with God and have hopefully have made some attempts to go deeper, but have yet to truly venture out into the deep waters. Instead, we choose not to travel very far from where we started. We are like beachgoers who only venture only several yards into the ocean instead of several miles. We are exchanging a perceived depth for a truly profound relationship with God.  We read another book about God instead of getting to know God. Instead of letting a passage take us deep into the heart and mind of God, we are simply reading bigger commentaries. Instead of sitting with God in the silence, we are seeking elaborate practices that make us feel like we are going deeper. Instead of truly addressing the emotional and spiritual problems deep within us, we hope that simply changing behaviors will help us be better Christians.  Continue reading

And who is my neighbor?

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In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is faced with a question. He is asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers with a question about the law, “What is written in the law?” The expert in the law answers with the 2 greatest commandments: Love God and Love your Neighbor. Jesus applauds tells him to go and do just that.

The expert, however, isn’t done yet. There’s a but. Verse 29 says, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” So Jesus tells him the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan, who has no legal requirement to, helps the dying man on the road while the legal experts walk along on the other side of the road so as not to become unclean. Jesus tells him that the Samaritan acted as a neighbor, and to go be a neighbor to people like the Samaritan was. Continue reading

Difficult Prayers

Difficult prayers

If you’re connected with me on social media, you’ve seen a couple of my posts about #MayThe4thBeWithYou today. It’s a nerdy holiday and I’m a nerdy guy. I like Star Wars, but today there’s something more important happening besides a bunch of Star Wars fans enjoying a good pun in order to celebrate some fun movies. Today is the national day of prayer here in the United States. It’s a day where Christians all around the country gather throughout the day for prayer services and often the focus is prayer for our government both local and national.

While this it is very biblical to pray for our government (1 Timothy 2:1-4), I think sometimes this call to pray for governmental leaders often overshadows a harder and more important call to prayer. Continue reading

The Gospel and Lamenting

Copy of Misrepresenting the GospelYesterday morning I wrote a post. Then I turned on the news and saw what happened to Alton Sterling. This morning I woke with the thought that maybe I should hold off on my post. Then I turned on the news, saw what happened Philando Castile, and knew that I needed to write something different.

My friend and fellow Westbrook pastor Caleb Trimble preached this last weekend about the Gospel and lamenting. It was almost prophetic that he should choose to focus on lamenting as he preached through Acts 16. If you have the time, you should go and listen to it. Continue reading

The Next Big Thing

The NextIf you are like me, you like new and exciting things. I am an Apple fan so almost anytime they make a presentation I watch or follow along as various tech blogs live tweet the event. I want to know what their next big thing will be. I want to know what will the next Mac OS or iOS be like. What features will they have? When will the next iPhone or MacBook be out?

You may not be into Apple or even tech, but there’s probably something like that in your life. We’re looking for the next big fad. So many of us want to belong, want to be in the know, or want to be equipped with the latest and greatest.

That was Simon in Acts 8. Typically when we read this story, we think of sorcery or Simony, which is paying for a position in the church. While those are applicable to this passage, I’m beginning to see Simon in a new light as I’ve been reading and reflecting on his brief episode in scripture. Continue reading

Is it really Good News?

Good (1)

So much of what we talk about in church revolves around this idea of Gospel or good news.

Mark opens by saying that his writing is the Good News about Jesus Christ. Matthew 4 says that Jesus traveled around preaching the good news about the kingdom. In Romans, Paul said that he is not ashamed of the Good news of Jesus Christ and just a few verses earlier he defined it this way,

God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. [1]

Continue reading

Waiting on God

waiting on God

In Acts 1, Jesus leaves the disciples waiting. It was just a few days, but I’m sure that for a few of them it seemed like it would never happen. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come on them, so now they waited. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, just waiting.

It can be hard to wait, but here we find out that waiting on God is essential to the mission of Jesus.

I found myself waiting in seminary. I knew that my time in school was wrapping up, so I started looking for ministry. After perusing online job listings for hours upon hours, and sending my resumé to various churches, I found myself at graduation with no prospects for ministry. So Lindsay and I waited. Over the next year I had a few promising interviews, but nothing turned up until the summer of 2013. That’s when I started interviewing at Westbrook, where I am now serving in ministry. The few years that I waited felt like a long time. On top of that, those years came with their fair share of disappointment.

While the disciples did not wait for the Spirit with disappointment, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for some of them. Jesus didn’t say how long, he just said to wait. And then when Holy Spirit comes, they would be his witnesses, but not before. Continue reading

Jesus washed Judas’s feet

MaundyMost of us had the same morning on Tuesday. We got up and at some point we turned on the news, checked social media, or listened to the radio. It wasn’t long before we found out about the attack in Brussels. Another bombing. Another day that we woke up to tragedy. The news progressed in the same fashion that it does when covering these kinds of stories. They interviewed experts, reviewed the actual events, speculated as to the cause, and got reactions from the various politicians and candidates. Some of the reactions condemned those who committed the act and many offered up condolences, thoughts, and prayers for victims and their families.

After some time in shock and disbelief, I got ready for my day, ate my breakfast, made my coffee, packed my things and left for work. This is probably where my day differed from yours. I turned on my car, and started of the CD that is currently living in my car’s CD player. Brother by The Brilliance began to play. Continue reading

Why I’m worrying less about my Bible Reading Plan

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Brett Jordan via Compfight cc

At the beginning of the year, I joined with a group of people from Westbrook in a Bible reading plan. We are following a plan that if done right would take us through the Bible in one year. It’s a fantastic plan and a fantastic goal. The problem, however, is that I’m not going to make it. I’m very behind in my reading and will now finish sometime in January.

Instead of panicking about being behind in my reading plan, I’m choosing not to worry about it any more. When I was only a few days behind I was able to pick up the slack over the course of a few days and catch up. Then I began doing worse and worse and now I’ve basically given up on catching up. Continue reading

A Culture in Need of Forgiveness

I believe that as a culture we’ve entered into dangerous territory. If you don’t believe just watch the news. Whenever something bad is done by someone, see how people react. Most of the time now, the reaction is the same. People want swift justice and without forgiveness. What we have seen in South Carolina is exception to the rule. The victims chose to forgive Dylann Roof. Their actions, however, are rare. Typically see the opposite reaction.

Photo Credit: ivoras via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: ivoras via Compfight cc

A little while ago, the news broke that a college fraternity was caught on a video singing a song with racist lyrics. This was discovered because video showed up on the internet. Whatever station I was watching was interviewing students on campus. They asked an African American student a very important question and his answer showed that we have crossed a line.

The reporter asked him if he would forgive the students involved if they asked. His answer was, “No.” Continue reading