There’s a scene in the movie Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik are looking out over a cliff as the masked man dangles from the rock face even though they just cut the rope that he was climbing. Vizzini says, “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!” To which Inigo replies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” That’s the way I feel sometimes about the way that we use faith.
Faith is considered one of the three theological virtues along with Hope and Love. Of the three, however, I think faith may be the one that is the fuzziest. I think it’s the one we use the most and define about the least. Many people will say that they have faith, meaning that they believe in God or that they hold to a particular “Faith” like Christianity or Judaism. We are told to have faith or encouraged to come to faith in Jesus, but what does that really mean? Continue reading →
I don’t know if it’s an epidemic in the American church. I don’t know if it has to do with our culture, but I do know that there is something that a lot of us struggle with, including myself, when it comes to living as a follower of Christ. We wrestle with the thought that we’re just not doing enough or that we’re just not good enough. We’re trying really hard and we could just do better then we’d be better Christians. The fact of the matter is, however, that our live of following Christ is not primarily about doing good things, it’s about being formed into a good person. Continue reading →
Words can be very intimidating, especially if you don’t know what they mean. You may have experienced this when going to the doctor. A while ago, our daughter was sick and we took her to the pediatrician. When the doctor examined her, she told us that she had a virus and then gave us the name of that virus. For a split second, this this is scary, that is until she said that by the end of the week she’d be over it and she’d just have a sore throat.
Sometimes being a Christian can be the same way. People may use unfamiliar words to talk about being a Christian that if left undefined can seem intimidating or even scary. Disciple and discipleship fall under that category. They’re simply not words that we use on a regular basis outside of church and considering that the meaning of disciple in the Bible is somewhat rooted in what it meant to be a disciple of a teacher in the 1st century, it can be even harder for us to grasp. Continue reading →
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 →
This question should be at the center of everything that a church does. How do we live out the great commission that Jesus gave us? The strategy for many is to get people into the church building so that they can be taught. We want them in discipleship classes, Sunday schools, Sunday services, and sometimes Sunday night services. Before I go on, I should admit that there’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. I am a full time pastor, and I teach some of these kinds of classes. The problem is that by themselves, they fall short. The heart of discipleship is teaching people to be like Jesus and doing this in a classroom alone means that we don’t have the chance to show people how to live. People hear us speaking, but don’t get to see us live it. That’s why life on life discipleship is important, and to do really be able to do that we have to be like Jesus all the time. Our lives need to be saturated with Jesus and his gospel. Continue reading →
If you are on social media at all, you have witnessed the explosion of posts that followed the SCOTUS ruling on Same-Sex marriage. Many words, both loving and hateful, have been posted, shared, and tweeted about what people think about marriage. When I read the posts from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I think that often they saying more about their faith and view of discipleship than their view of marriage.
In Seminary, the primary focus of my thesis was Faith and the work of James Fowler. Fowler created a faith development theory and at the heart of that theory is a very helpful way of understanding faith. Faith is ultimately about trust and whatever you find at the center of that trust becomes the foundation of your worldview. If God is at the center of your faith, then God is the foundation on which you build your worldview. If you, money, power, sex, or anything else is at the center of your faith, then that is what your world is built around. To have faith means to order your world and life around that person. Continue reading →
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.
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 →
I grew up in the 90’s so whenever I hear the terms hack, hacker, or hacking, I immediately think of someone typing really fast on a computer trying to break through some sort of firewall. The term “hacking” however has evolved over the past decade and now share their latest “life hack” on Facebook. If you’re not familiar with the term “Life hacking” it “refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.”  There’s even a website called Lifehacker.com. Now to be honest, there are a lot of neat tips and tricks out there for making life easier, but when it comes to following Jesus there aren’t any life hacks. Continue reading →
This last weekend I had the opportunity to preach alongside our executive pastor at Westbrook (you can listen to the sermon here). We are in the middle of the Freeway series from People of the Second Chance, and Rob and I preached on taking the step of discovery. As we shared in our message, the point of discovery is facing our past in order to move forward.
For many of us, this is probably counterintuitive to what we have been taught and believe about becoming a Christian. We are “new creations” in Christ! Our former way of life is in the past. In one sense this is true. You have been freed from the power of sin and from what you were slave to in the past, but now you are also called to keep in step with the spirit. New life in Christ means that we have to learn to walk in the ways of Jesus through the Holy Spirit and not continue to walk in the ways of our culture or family. If you have listened to or watched Peter Scazzero, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, you’ve probably heard him say, “Jesus may be in your heart, but grandpa is in your bones.” Continue reading →
In our culture submission is a dirty word. We fight for our rights and our freedom. We don’t want anyone to be over us. The problem is the life of a disciple is a life of submission. It is a choice to submit first to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and second to live in humble submission to other brothers and sisters in Christ. Lent is a perfect time in the liturgical calendar to reflect on the practice of submission because it was so perfectly exemplified by the one who has every right not to submit, Jesus Christ. I was given the opportunity to reflect on the practice of submission and Lent over at Restoring Pangea. I invite you to head over and read my post Submission – Realizing that I am Philemon.