How to Survive a Shipwreck

How to Survive a Shipwreck

I had marked Jonathan Martin’s book How to Survive a Shipwreck as one to read for months before I actually did. Martin writes as a prophetic poet. At times it seems he speaks another language entirely. One you can recognize but often don’t know how to speak. The transparency and vulnerability in which he tells his journey invites all of us to seek God in an authentic way. Martin walks the reader through how to journey with God through the heartbreaking seasons in your life.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

The waters that drown are the waters that save.

There is no going back down the birth canal when the Spirit of life is pushing you forward, despite yourself.

There is nothing quite so scary as the Holy Ghost, because we intuitively know that to make room for this Spirit is to make room for our own upending.

On the other side of the storm that tears you to pieces is a capacity to love without doubt, to live without fear, to be something infinitely more powerful than the man or woman you were before it happened.

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Not All Solutions are Equal

Not All Solutions are Equal

This past weekend I spoke at my friend Trevor’s church in Mason, Ohio. They’ve been doing a series this month on my book Redeeming Pleasure, and I had the chance to preach the last weekend. I brought books with me to sell but needed to stop by my bank to get cash for it. Specifically, I needed $5s and $10s to make change for people. When I Googled to find the nearest Wells Fargo branch, I was disappointed to learn they had all permanently closed within a few hours drive. My friend Caleb was with me so I asked if we could use his bank. The only problem was that all of his bank’s branches were about to close early for the day since it was Saturday.

That left us with a more creative option, to go to Walmart and get cash back from a purchase. I walked up to an employee and explained what I was trying to do and asked if she’d be able to give me cash back in certain denominations. She looked confused and told me she couldn’t open a drawer to see what was in it till I made a purchase. I asked her which drawer she’d been using and what she thought might be in it. I told her I was from out of town and couldn’t get cash from my bank. She then asked me what bank I use. When I told her it was Wells Fargo, she said they didn’t have any nearby. Yes, I’m aware of that. Hence why we are having this discussion.

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Jesus Isn’t Just for Christians

Photo Credit: Sébastien Thibault

We’ve been in a month-long series at Central on peace and I taught the third installment of it last weekend (see: Eating with Enemies). The response I’ve seen so far is overwhelmingly positive. Many people have told me this has been some of the most eye-opening conversations about faith they’ve ever had.

But as should be expected, not everyone agrees on this discussion. In reading through the pushback we’ve received, I’ve noticed that most of the comments focus on Muslims. Essentially, the argument is that they are so bad they should be exempt from enemy love. One person even compared it to us telling people to love the Ku Klux Klan.

I have a few thoughts on this. First, what was happening in Rome when Jesus and His disciples taught and modeled how to love enemies rivals anything the Muslim world has produced then or now. The early church lived in a culture that tortured and killed Christians for the amusement of the majority, so it’s hard to see how we might find exceptions today. There are great expressions of Islam in the world today and there are horrific versions of it too (as is true of almost any group of people).

Loving enemies doesn’t validate their actions, it validates our faith in Jesus. In addition, Jesus gave us no qualifying terms on who this enemy love applies to and who it doesn’t. There are no conditions which must be met before we act. Therefore, love everyone. (more…)

Eating with Enemies

This weekend I got to preach what has become one of my favorite passages, Matthew 5:43-45. My main idea was that if we won’t trust Jesus as a practical teacher, we can’t trust Him as a spiritual savior. When it comes to how we should practically treat those around us, Jesus instructs us to love both our neighbors and our enemies. And in case you were wondering, this encompasses everyone!

Here are some of the key points from the message:

  • You can always find a reason not to treat others as your neighbor.
  • Loving enemies will always cost you something.
  • You can decide to treat people as your enemy, but Jesus won’t do it with you.

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Christianity with Benefits

Christianity with Benefits

For most Christians reading this, being a Christian has been a pleasant experience for us. It has gained us respect, or friends, or community, or a network, or at a minimum a sense that we are moral people. If you can make sense out of Jesus and the Bible, what’s not to love about this?

But this association we have enjoyed is rapidly diminishing around us. It’s becoming ever clearer that being a Christian these days will likely cost you something. Or, at least some versions of Christianity will cost you. While many people confuse it for a political discussion, the reality is that a very spiritual discussion is happening right now about what it fundamentally means to be a Christian. Consider what Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) recently wrote on Twitter.

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Let Your Life Speak

Let Your Life Speak

I was recently given a copy of Parker Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak. Parker writes from more of a Quaker perspective and I’ve really enjoyed it (as I have with other Anabaptist roots the last few years). The book is now almost twenty years old and has become a bit of a classic when it comes to hearing from God on how we live our lives faithfully to what God has given each of us. As a pastor, I talk often with people who are attempting to discern God’s will for their lives in areas both big and small. Parker offers quite a bit of perspective in navigating these questions.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

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