The Gospels are full of stories and moments that challenge us, as the reader, to take a long hard look at ourselves. The woman caught in adultery (John 8), the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), and the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) all challenge the reader to reassess grace, holiness, and mercy in their own lives. One story that I don’t think gets the attention it deserves for it’s challenge to the reader is the story of Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness. It’s found in three of the four Gospels (John never really plays by anyone’s rules)
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really pay much attention to it for a long stretch. I think I got lost in the details of it; fasting for 40 days and a conversation with the devil can make the story feel incredibly unrelatable. I’ve done short fasts, but nothing close to a month. And while I’ve had some incredibly spiritual moments, both good and evil, I can’t say I’ve ever had a direct conversation with the devil.
But if you move past the sensational parts of the story, you can begin to see the true humanity of Christ. And that, after all, is the point of the story.
We’re too quick to dismiss this story out of hand. After all, how tempting can anything be for God? That question neglects the crucial component of Christ which is His humanity. He was one of us. (If you read nothing else, pause and let that thought bounce around in your head for a little bit – Christ was, and is, one of us). The temptations that Jesus faces are temptations that every one of us can relate too. Here’s how: Continue reading
You can do a lot in the world of online garage sales. You can have auctions, sell some of your own stuff, and even place a ‘Wanted’ ad if you’re in the market for something. It’s recommended that you include a ‘condition’ (usually new, gently used, used, etc.) in the description to help people figure out if they should respond. So, for example, if I wanted a dining room table, and I was comfortable with a couple of dings or scratches, I might put out an ad like this:
‘Wanted – Dining Room Table, New or Gently Used’
Over the last few years, I’ve watched as Christianity and culture seem to get further and further from each other. And while I certainly don’t know all of the reasons why the walls of the church get higher, so to speak, each year, I do have an idea or two.
Many in the church seem to be trying to ‘collect’ their Christianity, in the same way as any other collector would. Churches seem to serve as large display cases or china cabinets for pristine figures, comics, or dishes. They seem to be concerned with preserving the quality of their wares instead of fully using them.
Here are a couple of thoughts on ‘collecting’ Christianity: Continue reading
A few years ago, I was training to run a marathon when I came across an interesting technique for getting through the race. Most experienced coaches were advising that you have a “rest plan” or strategy for pacing and recovering during the race. Among planning on trying to drink water and gatorade early on and eat some fruit along the way, they advised that you plan on times where you intentionally back off your pace. It was a way of building rest into the race.
It’s tempting to live life like a sprint, where you dash as fast as you can from one task to the next, trying to get everything finished. And there are definitely times when you just have to push through and get stuff done. But it’s also been shown that having something to look forward too, a “rest day” of sorts, is also critical. It turns out that life is much more like a marathon than a sprint, and we may need to dangle some carrots along the way to help us get through.
So here are three ways to dangle a carrot (and hopefully get some rest along the way)
I enjoy being creative. Whether it’s wood working, writing stories, or some other outlet, I like to create stuff. It often times helps me process and express some of what is going on emotionally internally.
Today I wrote a story to help me process and talk about some of the difficulties that come with chaplaincy and pastoring. Namely those most intimate moments and conversations that I’ve been invited in to. Names and details have been changed to protect privacy. This isn’t an attempt to justify or judge anything that’s been expressed.
It’s a rough draft. The “world” is not fully built, and the narrative isn’t quite what I’d want it to be. Some of the imagery isn’t as subtle as I’d like, and I’m sure some of what I intended to express isn’t readily noticeable.
That said, I still want to share what I can. So here is my first pass…
A visit with Jim
A little over two weeks ago, I got married. And after taking our honeymoon, my wife and I moved back into
my our house and began to settle into a “new normal”. For the first couple of days, the house was an absolute wreck, what with wedding gifts, luggage, and another persons stuff to put into the house I had been living in. But over the next few days, my wife and I got the rooms organized, began a garage sale pile, and went shopping for some things. Slowly but surely, the mess got sorted and put away, and the house became our home. There was just one problem:
I didn’t know where half my stuff was.
Now, I was mentally prepared for things to get moved around. I knew that the kitchen would get reorganized from the way I had it. I knew the bathroom was going to need to get rearranged. And I knew the bedroom was going to moved around.
What I was unprepared for was the amount of emotional attachment I had to misc things and their places. The sofa was always under the windows, but not anymore. Never mind that I like the new lay out, it’s just weird. My cereal was always on the counter, not the cabinet above the fridge.
All of these small changes got me thinking about how someone’s life changes when they first become a Christian. Here are a few ways being a newly wed is like being a new Christian: Continue reading