You Can Control Whom You Fall in Love With

Only Jesus can truly bring you life in this area.You’re standing in what feels like rough pasture. Across the fence lies one that looks greener and smooth. You’re contemplating a choice, dear Christian.

You’ve met someone who makes you feel like you haven’t felt since…you can’t remember when. He’s meeting your emotional needs, just being himself. She “gets you” in a way nobody else does. When you imagine companionship with this person, you catch a glimpse of the life of which you once dreamed.

One problem: that person is off limits.

One of you is already married (or in a relationship that has not explicitly ended). S/he might be outside your age range. Or s/he might be unsuitable – mired in sin, or perhaps not a Christian.

Perhaps you started out with quite a compatible spouse, but you’ve long since lost that “peas in a pod” verve. Now you think you see it in someone else. Someone who’s dropped looks or hints that s/he’s thinking the same.

Being known, being appreciated, being fought for (instead of fought with) or finally triumphing over years of loneliness…

It feels like life.

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Tipping and Grace: Do Christians Ever Have the Right to Stiff?

jar2A former pastor once told of an experience as a caterer. He served two groups in the same day that could not have treated him more differently. The first was a gathering of homosexual folks; they were warm, friendly, and left a great tip. The other was impatient, grouchy, fault-finding, and left no tip at all.

The second group was a pastors’ luncheon.

Tipping has become a flashpoint in our social consciousness. I suppose it was inevitable that the smartphone age would allow us to capture and publicize everyone’s tips. (Here’s a montage of tips that would be hilarious if not for their rudeness.) But it’s worth talking about for Christians, because any question of generosity becomes a checkup on how we’re doing as the salt of the earth.

Some Christians respond to this call by leaving tracts for their waiters instead of tips.

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It’s the worst thing ever.

Look, I get the reasoning. Tracts can potentially lead to salvation, and salvation is worth far more than few bucks.

But we Christians aren’t supposed to be operating on our own reasoning. We’re supposed to be operating on God’s. Here’s it is, if you’re interested:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)

My friends, waiters and waitresses live off their tips. When I worked as a pizza delivery driver (a nice earner during football season, I would mention to the college folks), my tips usually amounted to two to three times my actual wage. It was still only marginally worth the wear and tear on my car (and my gas tank). Very rarely will eight or nine bucks an hour get anyone through college. So trust me, your waiter isn’t there for the joy of minimum wage.

 

God understands and appreciates the practical plane, and he ties the validity of our works to it with cords of Scripture. Jesus teaches that meeting worldly needs is a terrific opening to the Gospel (and not the other way around). Christians’ failure to meet these needs gives the world an easy opportunity to beat us at our own Christ-commissioned game: generosity.

Never offer a prayer to which you can be the answer.

But there is an even greater matter on my mind today. Suppose your waiter or driver gives you bad service. Drops food, rolls his eyes, or something. It is often our practice in that instance to withhold tips, in the hopes of “encouraging” better service next time.

I just want to ask one thing.

Is that anywhere close to the way Jesus handles us?

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Would You Change Anything?

What if God's timeline for you was the best possible one?

Well, October 21, 2015 is here, and the writers of Back to the Future, Part II have let me down.

Despite that movie’s predictions, many things haven’t arrived. No flying cars. No hoverboards. No bionic implants, drone dog-walkers, or Jaws 19, though Star Wars might hit that mark eventually.

You know what else hasn’t arrived?

My wedding day.

Hold the phone – yes, there are men who look forward to that. My brother was one of them. I say “was”, because it’s now past him. How the fat-cheeked rugrat I remember from my childhood grew into a hatchet-faced stud and wooed the perfect match for him, I’ll never know. But he did, and I was his best man Saturday. Good times had by all. (The bride fused the bachelor and bachelorette parties into one laser tag game. You married the right woman, bro.)

And as I sat there during the first dance, fumbling for words for the toast I was to give, a realization hit me: I wasn’t envious that my brother had “escaped” singleness and I had not. I wasn’t sad at all.

It’s probably because my wait has cornered me into another one:

God would have been a fool to give me a wife any sooner.

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Every Year You Grow, He Gets Bigger

aslan1In Prince Caspian, the second of the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, the four Pevensie children are unexpectedly whisked back to Narnia for new adventures. Lucy, the youngest, faces isolation and fear as the children gain their bearings. Her trial is more difficult than this time around. But all is forgotten when she is unexpectedly reunited with Aslan, the mighty lion and Narnia’s king.

“Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.” 

The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face. 

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger”. 

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. 

“Not because you are?” 

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Eventually the day is saved, the kingdom restored. But Lucy’s battles are not over. She will continue for a little while to be misunderstood by the others, to watch as Aslan tarries and gathers before finally completing his rescue. And she has yet another adventure ahead of her years later, the most difficult of them all, during which she sees Aslan only sparingly and has to navigate mostly by what she has learned of him, doing her best to remember what he would say or desire.

Sound familiar?

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It’s Not the President’s Job to Lead Us Back to Christ – It’s Ours

No President has your access to the people in your life.

The 2016 election season is fast approaching. It’s like Christmas; it starts earlier every year. (Kanye’s already getting into the 2020 season. I wish I was kidding.)

And with the season comes all the trimmings: straw polls, televised debates, talk of which presidential hopefuls have and haven’t a chance…and amongst Christians, which candidate (Republican, of course) might “lead our nation back to God.”

My politically-minded brothers and sisters have the right goal at heart. We desperately need revival in America.

But it is not the job of the President of the United States to lead us back to Christ.

Recently my small group has been reading Multiply by Francis Chan. It addresses an unconscious fallacy in the church: that teaching and evangelism are primarily the work of people more gifted and talented than we are. That the job of spreading the Good News belongs mostly in the hands of pastors, deacons, and those with a television audience.

It’s a crippling lie.

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Moon Landings, Conspiracies, and the Reliability of the Bible

A common strategy to watch for from Biblical skeptics.Did you know that some people don’t believe we landed on the moon?

Seriously. They think that NASA tried, couldn’t, and faked it on a TV soundstage to save face before Russia.

They’ll tell you there is “evidence” to prove it. They’ll pepper you with dozens of “facts” that will supposedly doom your beliefs about the Apollo program.

Some of these facts are actually intriguing and can catch the layman off guard. “Why aren’t there any stars in the lunar photographs?” “Why didn’t the lunar modules leave any craters?” “How could the astronauts’ air-conditioning work in the vacuum of space?” “Why is so much Apollo 11 telemetry missing?” “Why do the astronauts’ memories seem to contradict each other?”

Their strategy: to present an elephantine list of supposed problems with the Apollo accounts, and then hope you’re overwhelmed by the sheer length of the list.

And when you launch into a blow-by-blow rebuttal of each and every point, they spring their trap.

“OH, COME ON!!!” they say. “You look ridiculous. If there are this many holes, it can’t possibly be true!”

And yet…they’re still wrong.

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How to Stop Feeling Alone in a Room Full of People

We all can feel alone even when surrounded by our greatest fans.

You probably know how this goes. Moments come where we feel something unshareable, something that seems to set us apart from the gathering. For some of us, these are just moments.

For others, it’s more akin to a lifestyle. Finding someone like-minded is cause for celebration, along the lines of finding a vein of gold on your property. But they seem few and far between. Our struggles pull us toward isolation.

This is often our God-shaped hole. There are parts of us that are just too deep for any human to reach. Those needs belong on the broad shoulders of God.Lost in a crowd?

However…God Himself did not intend for humans to live alone. In a stunning act of humility, He designed us to need each other as well. (It’s also one of His tools of sanctification, for in order to handle people well, we have to grow up.) The person who lives without others, is not living as God intended.

So when we find ourselves feeling alone and misunderstood even in the company of others, whether temporarily or as a habit, how do we deal?

Not the way you’d expect.

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