I recently had a conversation with a Christian friend who confessed her aversion to reading the Bible. The reason she gave is understandable: she’s afraid that she’ll misunderstand and misinterpret the Bible, rendering her more confused than when she started.
We’re all on a road to somewhere, walking a path toward something better—or so we hope. Just as Jesus stopped Paul on his path, Jesus breaks into our lives to reset our direction and create a new chapter within our story.
I confess I have been idolizing a certain kind of normalcy—the steady job that looks successful to everyone else, the insurance, the safety of knowing where you were going to be for more than three months. Growing up with a dad who worked 8-to-5 and a stay-at-home mom, my idea of “normalcy” is a piece of fine china I nurtured. I took this definition of adult life with me while navigating the Christian journey.
God gave us sexual desires with a purpose in mind. And hiding from them goes directly against that purpose. Sexual desires reveal our most basic need for connection to him and others.
When we are insecure we try to manage and arrange our environment and surroundings to try to secure for ourselves the love and acceptance and stability we so deeply need and yearn for.
God does not expect us to change ourselves before we go to Him. God is waiting for us to go to Him so He can change us. He is looking for vessels; chipped, marred and broken.
For months the closest thing I could muster to a prayer was “God, I still believe in you.” It is important for me to keep remembering that, just because I’m in a dark place, it does not mean I don’t have faith.
In truth, tolerance is another form of indifference. We practice closing ourselves off from any potential religious clash in the same way we ignore all the facts we know about sex-trafficking and homelessness in our own country.
Perhaps we need exercise caution when crossing gender boundaries, but God’s call to love also means following his Spirit and serving people the way they need even if that risks misunderstanding and disapproval from others.
God wired us for sex, but our decision to remain celibate until marriage—and God’s apparent lack of movement in the spouse department—gets in the way.
There are questions worth asking in life. Did I put deodorant on? Did I forget to pay my credit card bill? Should I eat the re-fried beans considering I’m on a date? These are helpful questions.
Sweet is the season of spring: the long and dreary winter helps us to appreciate its pleasant warmth, and its promise of summer enhances its present delights. After periods of depression of spirit, it is delightful to behold again the light of the Sun of Righteousness
God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: he loves her with all his infinite heart. Therefore let her people be of good courage; she cannot be far from prosperity to whom God speaks “good words and comforting words.”
We live in a world that tells us we need to be better, prettier, stronger, richer, and more successful than those around us. And when we aren’t, we make ourselves feel better by putting others down.
When I first saw The Tortured Christ, by Brazilian sculptor Guido Rocha, it didn’t ask my permission, it just went ahead and seared itself into my subconscious. Every couple of months since then, The Tortured Christ pops up, uninvited. All of the sudden he’s there, blood splattering on the carpet of my brain and his screams ricocheting off the walls.
Ingrained within us is a desire to take the raw materials of God’s gracious gifts — colours, textures, language, emotions, to name a few — and try to make something that speaks truth, brings healing or facilitates worship.
There are a lot of truths that just came to us more easily as kiddos. The world was simpler, and our place in it seemed easier to pinpoint. Sometimes, I find myself wishing I could just see the world more like I did as a kid.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3 Work. It’s hard sometimes […]
I have a confession to make. The past few days have brought me to seriously question my motives for getting alone with God. I found out the hard way that what comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’… for from within, out of the heart of a person, comes evil … deceit…arrogance and folly. My […]
Do you ever have those days when you just feel “blah?” Nothing motivates you and to do the things that you love, seem laborious. To do the things that you hate, feels worse than it usually would. For me, the things I love include reading, studying, and writing. The things I hate, well… the “honey […]
Someone asks you to help at a charity function or to support a local or overseas organization. You recognize that an invitation to help someone in need has just been handed to you. You think about it, and while you know it would be a good thing to do, you let the opportunity pass by. […]
Beauty matters. A few weeks ago, I was surprised to find myself at the arena downtown a couple of nights in a row. I saw two different recording artists who had come through town on their multi-city tours. There couldn’t have been two more different shows to see than these. The first night’s show would […]
We all have an insatiable desire for something more. In this frustrating life, where our appetite never ceases, we constantly find ourselves seeking to satiate these cravings. Usually, we end up concluding that we need more money to do so. Yes, we all need to buy the basics like food and shelter. But most of […]
Though the word “Trinity” can’t be found in the Bible, the theological term is used to describe God’s mysterious nature that is woven throughout the pages of Scripture. Theologians have always had difficulty finding adequate metaphors to help us understand the how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct, yet unified. How […]
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and anyone who fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4.18 The Western church has nearly always struggled with interpreting earthly safety and prosperity as a thumbs-up from God. I’d lay money that this fallacy […]
And so it was that all were brought safely to land. (Acts 27:44) The Apostle Paul had a lot of travelling adventures, perhaps none more harrowing than the shipwreck episode in Acts 27. As Paul and other prisoners are being transported via boat from Caesarea to Rome, they encounter a fierce storm, followed by the […]
I just got off the phone with one of my best friends who now lives a few thousand miles away. She is struggling with a substantially altered “normal” after a recent major life change. Although this change is good, she feels at the mercy of the depression that has wrapped its heavy arms around her […]
‘Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You go, and do likewise.’ (Luke 10:36-37) For many of the Jews in Jesus’ day, one of the most unexpected (and unwelcome) aspects […]
Like many non-denominational, evangelical church kids, I grew up on Christmas, Easter, and stranger-danger. Lent was one of the strangers. Most years, Resurrection Sunday would slip in and out of my world unannounced, without even a Good Friday service to herald its coming. Lent, in short, felt too Catholic for my Protestant roots — roots […]
The start of a new year can be both exciting and intimidating. It’s filled with hope for success and fear of failure. At the start of the new year we look for resolutions: we acquire more projects, more friends, more money, more triumphs, more of whatever will make us feel good about ourselves. Why? To […]
Feza Ertek eludes description. The sheer density of her spirituality either attracts or repels. She’s direct in the way that really spiritual people are; as if she’s somehow transcended the minor earthly concerns of the body. We mortals of flesh and blood trade in a currency that Feza transcends. And yet she wasn’t always that […]
The bass was pumping — hard. Packed bodies gyrated across a spacious dance floor with the ebb and flow of a human tide, a swirl of energy powered by a techno soundtrack that rattled the ribcage. Overlooking the scene was a large wraparound balcony, where the rulers of Europe’s club scene surveyed their subjects with […]
So why am I treating it that way? Scroll, tap tap. Like. Scroll, tap tap. Like. Scroll, eh, don’t like. Scroll. That’s how I spend hours each day — mindlessly, unintentionally, and passively weeding through social media content. Last week, when my head hit the pillow, I remembered I didn’t have quiet time with God that day. So, […]
I shuffle along the white sandstone street in Jerusalem, trying desperately to focus on our tour guide’s words. To my left, a vendor loudly advertises his wares — dresses, rugs, jewelry, and wood carvings, the same items we have seen at every market stall from here to Caesarea. I adjust my ankle-length skirt for the […]
When I was a young teenager, someone at church looked at the casual way I dressed and asked, “Is that how you would dress if you were going to meet the Queen?” In that moment, I had an epiphany. I realized that if God is my King, I ought to have respect, and it should show […]
The paper glimmered, the race to the tree thrilled, the anticipation built. Then, it was over. A strange sensation of dissatisfaction crawled in. Guilt tip-toed behind disappointment. For many, Christmas is either spent sitting among tons of stuff that will only temporarily satisfy — or catching the hint of sadness in their mom’s eyes because she couldn’t afford every single […]
“I’ve already had 900 jealous thoughts today. What’s wrong with me?!” I sent my best friend this text the other day. There’s a good chance I was just hungry, but considering my constant state of envy, I don’t think that’s the case. “Nothing. You’re normal.” She was quick to respond, and I know she’s right. […]
As a new patron to a grocery store, I have realized that I have an incredible amount of power when I walk through the doors. And even more so when I get to the checkout line. Any sign of impatience (glancing at my watch, scanning the other aisles), and out of nowhere, a new cashier’s light […]
I don’t make friends very easily. In fact, it can take quite a while for me to feel connected to someone. I don’t mind the quiet and being by myself; sometimes I prefer it to the alternative. I enjoy just being in other people’s presence without feeling the need to make small talk. The list […]
The outlook was bleak. As I lay hooked up to an IV in the city of Chongjin, I realized how much my mistake had cost me. I’d wasted all my money, lost my friends, abandoned my family, and turned my back on God. Now, at 23-years-old, I was going to die in North Korea. Nurses […]
At 28, the only thing I’m sure about is that I’ve stopped growing — in inches that is. As I reflect upon my near three decades on this earth, I’ve realized I’ve forgotten a lot, learned a little, and am still discovering even more. In a culture where our 20s have become the be-all-end-all decade […]
Whether you realize it or not “What is God really doing in my life?” “I should do more to show God to others somehow.” There are moments or days or months (or years) when we feel like there’s no physical, tangible, touchable evidence of His presence in our lives. So we ask ourselves these questions, […]
My father immigrated to America in hopes of finding a better life for himself. When I was a young teenager, my dad loved to share the story of how he had to hold up his wooden roof during the monsoon season. Whenever I complained, my dad reminded me how good I have it. At a […]
People are moving all around me. People sitting, standing, walking, or kneeling. Children grab at their parents. Sometimes they cry or giggle, contributing in their own way to this constant flow. Music fills the room; singing becomes inseparable from prayer. The service has formed into a dance of coming and going, prayer and praise, sound […]
Oh great. My parents sponsored a starving African child in my name instead of buying me a real Christmas present. It was Christmas morning. The whole family was together, even though most of the children were married and starting their own families. We were about to open presents. There was only one thing on my […]
“Let’s be honest,” my friend says to me. “You didn’t really want to drive all the way down there just to get coffee, right?” I thought of what I really wanted to say to my friend, the questions I wanted answered, and the emotions that were galloping through me. I wanted to confront my friend […]
One year later, learning the same lessons Nothing has changed in a year. I am nearly 27, I am unmarried, I am childless (see what I just did there?) and I’m waiting for something big to happen. Again. I worked at a great place the whole school year. I had the opportunity to get another […]
Though I consider myself a Christian, I am well acquainted with doubt. When I think about “God,” the concept seems so astoundingly ridiculous; I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would believe — let alone submit to — an omnipresent, invisible, supernatural being, who created the entire universe out of nothing. During a time […]
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. (Albert Einstein) When I was 16, I imagined a lot of things about myself as a 20-something. I hoped to be out of my parents’ house, close to […]
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. (Mark Twain) For most of us, forgiveness is one of the most difficult virtues to master. I’m no exception; I’ve been known to hold a grudge and make it last a lifetime. Forgive him? After he hurt me? After he offended […]
My husband and I have been in the market for a new home for almost a year. Almost. A. Whole. Entire. Year. We have never been in want, but we are now in a season of wanting; wanting a permanent home, wanting a place for our child to grow up, wanting some stability and financial […]
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. — Mark 12:30 If you’ve gone to church all your life, chances are you’ve heard this verse. Many times. I sure have. It’s one of those verses that […]
Sometimes, I feel like God has favourites. And I’m definitely not one of them. From the outside, my life seems picture-perfect; yes, there may be some microscopic flaws here and there, but on the whole, it looks like I have it all together. But the reality is, I spend countless nights huddled up in a […]
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” — Matthew 6:24 My grandmother was a deeply faithful Christian and the most generous person I’ve ever known. A few […]
Peaceful. Still. Reflective. These are not words that are typically used to describe urban life in the modern world. If you live in a city, “anxious,” “fast-moving” and “noisy” are better descriptors. While I, for one, love the busyness of living in the city — the people, the buzz, the noises, the creativity — I […]
The concept of God’s calling, and in particular the concept that God has a calling for your whole life and for every area within your life that you have the power to know and follow, is one of the most important in the history of theology. It provides an organizing principle for understanding everything we […]
Easter is upon us, and I’m excited. Like many church kids my experience with this time of year has been a mixed bag of sacred and secular; chocolate and the Easter bunny accompanied by the three day trek from the depths of despair at the Cross to the heights of the resurrection triumph. As a […]
I’m failing at my Lenten intentions. Again. Every year I set a standard for how I will live the next 40 days, and without fail, I never do it just right. This year my plan was to drink four litres of water a day, and with every glass of water, to pray over a specific […]
I am starting to believe that God is intentionally frustrating. It seems like a bold statement, but as I listen to some of the things Jesus said on behalf of God, it causes me to wonder. The more I listen, the more things jump out at me as not quite right, or just plain frustrating. […]
I was a very stoic kid. Despite the severe brokenness in my family, despite reoccurring cases of clinical depression and anxiety amongst those who were near and dear to me. Despite the fact that there were various financial hardships, and despite getting in trouble for things at school that weren’t my fault. Through it all, […]
Learning to fully trust in God is something I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to grasp. Recently, I was blissfully swimming in the turquoise, oceanic waters. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shinning bright, and there was not a cloud in the sky. My friends and I took the day […]
The last time I observed Lent, it was a disaster. My friends in my small group were all making their Lenten intentions, and though it was not my denomination’s practice, I wanted to join them. I decided to fast from snacking. I announced my decision to the group, and deliberately did not bring my favourite […]
It has always seemed so mystical. Like it’s this supernatural power that outpours upon you, resulting in overwhelming emotion and perfect clarity. Some describe it in a way similar to The Force in Star Wars. Growing up, the “will of God” was taught to me as a sort of supreme enlightenment. As an unshakable sense […]
If we were to play a game of “my dad is better than your dad” I’d win every time. There’s no contest. My dad is remarkably similar to Ron Swanson in his love of grilled meat and ability to build things. He’s a fair boss and natural leader. He’s wise in practical matters and won’t […]
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:2 It’s the thread linking every human being on this earth together. And it’s something that connects even the most diverse of people. We are all someone’s son or someone’s daughter. God, probably […]
During high school, my friends and I always attended youth group on Friday nights. It was pretty typical: the evening comprised of playing different games and eating food. After the games were done, we would be ushered in to a room whereby we would sing songs and then listen to a short talk given by […]
I never knew who to feel sorrier for at youth group — the new kid who was made to drink Coke through someone else’s sock, or the kid who invited them. Anyone who has ever been to a Christian event knows Christian culture has some unique quirks. I’ve been immersed in it my entire life. In […]
I experienced a spiritual crisis of faith by the time I was 10. When I was five-years-old, I had accepted the gospel whole-heartedly. But five years later, I wondered how I could have so easily believed it. I was living in a little evangelical bubble: not only did my family attend a small conservative church, […]
I sat in the second pew, holding back tears as I watched that familiar face disappear behind the lid of the casket. I glanced over at a grieving wife, son and daughter. I turned to look back again at the casket as the funeral director placed a large cascading bouquet on top. “This is life […]
After a 4:30 a.m. wake up call, I figured a little caffeine was in order to make it through my early morning flights. I had a long day ahead of me, and Starbucks sounded like a perfect fix before the first boarding call. The misery of waking up at the crack of dawn completely justified […]
Maybe it was when church began to resemble a movie theatre or concert experience, serving Starbucks in multi-million dollar sanctuaries. Or maybe it was the incredible amount of pain and abuse countless individuals experienced within a community of people who claimed to follow the message of the love of Christ. It’s no secret that Christianity […]
The moment you realize you don’t think you know what you believe anymore is a scary one. You feel like you’ve messed up. So you shut down. You sit in church and stare at the pastor and try to listen to what he’s saying, but it’s really hard. You kind of feel like you’re in […]
I know the season of thanksgiving is over. People all over North America have eaten their fill of turkey dinner leftovers and pumpkin pie. And even though Christmas has taken over Starbucks (along with everywhere else), I still feel the need to be thankful. I’ve gained a different perspective lately. The past few months have […]
The snow falls outside my living room window. I can hear my mom singing my little sister to sleep upstairs. I walk to the door that leads to our basement. I turn the knob slowly, trying not to make a sound. I go in and close the door tightly, leaving me alone in the dark. […]
“Let’s be honest. You know your heart. The Lord knows your heart. And everybody else can go suck a lemon.” A dear friend said that to me a month or so ago. It stuck. I realized that my opinion of myself often is reflective of others’ opinions of me. I care far too much about […]
I’m the worst with directions. I’m not exaggerating for effect. I’m just that directionally challenged. Ask my friend Tyler about the time we tried to drive 20 minutes into the country and two hours later ended up somewhere near Toronto. It was an adventure to say the least, but our friendship survived (barely). Fortunately, there […]
The first time I came across one of those rock structures where oddly shaped rocks were meticulously balanced on one another, I was transfixed. Like many around me, I had a hard time taking my eyes away from an artist who defied the laws of physics (not to mention the laws of patience) to create […]
Have you ever seen the ’90s movie Liar, Liar? Jim Carrey plays the role of Fletcher, a lawyer and a habitual liar who loses the ability to say anything untrue for 24 hours. A number of awkward situations arise as he blurts out the most inappropriate but honest responses to those he encounters. It is […]
In our culture, I see apathy and escapism everywhere. I think they go hand in hand. I hear them in simple phrases, like, “It’s alright,” “It doesn’t matter,” “No one is going to care,” “Don’t worry about it,” “You can only do so much,” “Do what you want,” “Whatever.” I see them in sports, games, […]
Note: Our friend Tyler–who blogs at Full of Running and curates music at Vinyl Me, Please–brings words to places where most minds fear to tread: the profound ways we’re affected by music, and the insight we gain only through painful experience. We asked if he’d write about a time when the two things came together. […]
Have you ever looked back on a decision and seen what you could have done differently to avoid a world of hurt? When it happens to me, my mind starts to race through a game of “should-have, could-have, would-have.” It’s a bartering, of sorts, with the past. “I should have done this instead,” or, “I […]
The church had shaggy green carpet, and a musty smell to boot, but that didn’t seem to bother the worshippers. That Sunday morning, as my family passed through the glass doors of the old brick building, we were greeted by smiles and gospel choruses. The foyer bustled with people coming and going between services — each making their way from the […]
When I was a girl, I was not allowed to have Barbie dolls. My parents didn’t want to encourage me to live in a “Barbie dreamland.” Even though this decision made me feel left out from time to time, I understand that they wanted to protect how I learned about self-image. Let’s be honest: Barbie […]
God’s been teaching me a lot about Himself in funny ways lately. For my 20th birthday, my parents gave me an amazing ring. It had a big blue topaz stone in the middle with five tiny diamonds lining either side. I was not expecting anything at all for my birthday: I can rarely think of […]
“Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a person who wanders from his place” —Proverbs 27:8 I remember the first time I witnessed a sparrow hit a window. I thought, “This never would have happened if the bird hadn’t left the nest.” Leaving the nest is a dangerous business, yet it’s also necessary. A […]
Psalm 34:22 “No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.” Some characters from the Bible are difficult to identify with. You may not feel the strongest connection to Samuel, Noah, or Job. But David is the Bible’s everyman. To the poor or the young, he is David the shepherd boy; to the eminent, […]
So I’m up at Malibu Club, a Young Life camp, on the BC Coast this week, hanging with a bunch of high school kids from Arizona and Montana. One kid came up to me today and asked me to sit down with him. He mentioned that he had a hard time believing in God, or […]
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2 Much effort is required to rescue someone, say, from exploitation. Yet the rescue is just the beginning of a new journey. A longer process of healing is needed to lift psychological and emotional weights. This illustrates sanctification, the journey of transformation that follows salvation. Sanctification […]
Do you need God to be good? I think a lot of Christians would quote something like Isaiah 64 on this one: “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Or they might point to the words of Jesus to the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10: “No one is good except God.” However, the standard of good […]
I’m in the audience, listening to a popular band play their latest record. I’m surrounded by a lot of people that are as excited as I am to be at the feet of the lead singer we paid good money to spend an evening near. I buy a t-shirt, turn my camera back towards myself with […]
As you have believed, so let it be done for you Matthew 8 Jesus’ disciples barely weathered a potentially life threatening storm as Jesus slept soundly. In panic, they woke Jesus and he pacified the storm around them with a word. As the storm within them calmed, Jesus perplexedly asked where their faith (confident expectation) was. The disciples had […]
The kingdom Jesus preached is an environment that does not fear looking upside-down to others. It involves risks; sometimes very small ones, sometimes great leaps of faith, standing upon nothing except the promises of the Bible, what some call “blind faith”, or, disparagingly, “foolishness”. In this universe He created, God has set forth many paradoxes. […]
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro I am an Anglo-Catholic snob. Where I worship there are six candles on the altar, the whole Nicene Creed is recited, and liberal amounts of incense anoint the congregation. My heart grieves when I hear that the panicked clergy of our […]