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 →
Way back when, the apostle Paul wrote a couple of letters to the Thessalonians (Thessaloopians if you’re a Veggietales fan). Near the end of the first letter, Paul tells the reader to “pray without stopping” (1 Thess. 5:17). And without fail, every time this phrase gets brought up at a Bible study or Sunday school, everyone in the class turns to me and asks: “Preacher, how do we do this?”
The implication is that we as people don’t have time to pray throughout our entire day. We have families, careers, and numerous other things that all clamor for our attention, so we can’t just stay home and pray all day, every day. What about when we’re eating, or sleeping, or going to the bathroom?
So here are a couple of my thoughts on praying without stopping: Continue reading →
When I was in college, I participated in the Army ROTC program. One of the fundamental skill sets we learned early on was Land Navigation, which consisted of map reading, orienteering, and plotting out a course over the terrain to find different points on the map. We would often use a variety of skills and tools to hike through the woods to these points. We’d use compasses, protractors, and different techniques to find our points.
When I think of trying to better understand or connect with God, I think of this hiking or map reading imagery. So here are four things that you can use to connect with God: Continue reading →
For a while now, I’ve been looking forward to seeing ‘Dr Strange’ in theaters for a number of reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason was the integration of Scott Derrickson serving as the director and one of the writers. I talk a little bit more about Derrickson here, but the short version is that he is a Christian who uses a secular medium (movies) to tell the Gospel story.
I know that ‘Dr Strange’ is going to be seen by a huge number of people. And that gives Christians and church leaders a great opportunity to have a common reference to discuss the Gospel with people who saw the movie. So I want to talk about a couple of places where I saw the Gospel in ‘Dr Strange’. Hopefully parents and church leaders can use this as a starting reference for discussions and conversations with their kids or non-Christians in their churches.
I have to warn you though, I cannot do so without spoiling the movie. So this is your [SPOILER WARNING] Continue reading →
A few years ago, Mel Gibson, the worldwide movie star, had a very public and very terrible breakdown. He used racist, misogynistic, and sexually violent language talking about people, both in broad groups and specifically targeting a few, including his then girlfriend. After the dust of settlements and court hearings died down, Gibson essentially went into hiding.
Until this week, when he began to do the press tour for his new movie.
One of the stops was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Now, I know Colbert to be mostly a comedian, but I also know he does not like to leave proverbial elephants in the room. I’ve watched him ask people some rather tough questions for a goofy late night talk show. So when Gibson came out, they eased the conversation to the topic of this very public breakdown. During the conversation, Colbert said something that struck me with such gracious poignancy, because I, and many others need to be reminded of it. He said:
“No person is their worst moment” Continue reading →