What’s In it For Me?

Whats in it

There is one question that has the potential to bring more harm to our relationships than any other.

“What’s in it for me?”  Without even thinking, our natural bent is so often apt to ask this question. We are constantly looking out for our own benefit.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a conflict in your home or with a coworker or classmate; how would that conflict be different if nobody asked, “What’s in it for me?”

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The Worst Sinner of All Time

Worst sinner

Who was the worst sinner of all time?

If we create a list of historically significant sinners, I have a feeling our list would be filled with people like Stalin and Hitler. We’d fill our list with the figures behind mass murders, bombings, terrorism, or serial killing. And rightfully so, when it comes to the atrocities of the evil that these people committed, it is unparalleled.

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Work, Mondays, and the Theology of the Cross

Work and mondays

Monday often means stress, deadlines, burdens, and anxiety.  It becomes the day when we dread the overly cheerful coworker who makes our day worse by suggesting, “Sounds like somebody has a cased of the Mondays.” Another day at work means worrying whether or not your boss is going to micro-manage you or ignore you. Work means worry about what your coworkers might say or the weight of being in a job that is underpaid and under appreciated. From the daily grind of bosses and deadlines to the grueling reality of balancing a budget and trying to put food on the table, work is often a weight – sometimes an unbearable one.

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Nakedness, Shame, and When Christian Leaders Fail

Shame

Noah is one of those Bible characters that we love to tell our children about. We sing songs about the arky, we remake movies based on his life, and we lift him up as one of the early heroes of the faith. And in many ways, he is a hero. But there’s also a part of the story that we tend to leave out.

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”

He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” – Genesis 9:20-27

Imagine what that must have been like.

Noah was the man that God chose to start over with and moments after the flood, we witness one of the first moral failures from a leader of God’s people. Noah, who was the only righteous person left, gets off the boat and ends up drunk and naked with the door to his tent flapping around in the wind.

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Abuse Doesn’t Get the Last Word

abuse

Renee Alston, in the book Stumbling Toward Faith, begins her story with these disturbing words:

“I grew up in an abusive household. Much of my abuse was spiritual—and when I say spiritual, I don’t mean new age, esoteric, random mumblings from half-Wiccan, hippie parents…I mean that my father raped me while reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I mean that my father molested me while singing Christian hymns.”

What do you say to someone who experienced this?

Abuse like this is far too common. One treatment provider suggested that offenders are all too good at keeping this hidden, especially in our churches, “If children can be silenced and the average person is easy to fool, many offenders report that religious people are even easier to fool than most people.”

Abuse, lying, and systems hiding abuse, make talking about grace with the abused incredibly difficult. Love gets tainted by manipulation and power; grace gets covered by oppression. And regularly occurring stories from victims of abuse, repeatedly remind us of the pain that exists in our world. We may not even realize it, but we all know someone who has been impacted by the trauma of abuse.

How in the world are we supposed to find words to speak, when somebody’s experience of Christianity comes from a manipulative, abusive father?

How are we supposed to talk about grace to somebody who thinks they need to be forgiven for their own abuse?

To read the rest of the post, visit Liberate.

An Alternative to Accountability Partners

Accountability

One of the most frequent recommendations within Christian traditions when dealing with habitual sin is to have an accountability partner. If you’re unfamiliar with the jargon, an accountability partner is a friend, preferably of the same gender, who struggles with a similar sin who will routinely check in with you to see whether or not you are having success in your battle against sin.

Accountability is a good thing.Having relationships with people who are willing to not ignore your sin but ask about it and call you out on it is necessary.  But there’s one problem that tends to be present in these accountability relationships.  They are heavy on the law and light on grace.

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4 Spheres of Calling

Four spheres

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” – 1 Corinthians 7:17

In Luther’s day, he traditionally taught, three primary spheres of calling, usually combining family and work into the same sphere and with the same purpose. Because our culture is one that does not see one’s job as necessarily being only about providing for one’s family but also has a sense of personal fulfillment and significance of its own, I’m use four spheres to think about our callings in this world. [Read more…]

Would Peter Have Been Killed by ISIS?

Isis

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:19

Who would have ever imagined that when Jesus makes this statement to Peter, that he would later be a coward the moment when Jesus, who he is confessing his faith in, would be hung on a cross. Consider the significance of the reality of Peter’s weak and wavering faith in the Messiah.

After three years of walking with Jesus, hearing the messages of Jesus, and witnessing the miracles of Jesus, things for Jesus take a turn for the worse. Peter has assured Jesus that he will be strong and is willing to stand by Jesus even to the point of death, but all of the sudden when crap hits the fan, we realize that Peter is all talk.  Luke records Peter’s timid, weak faith as Jesus is about die:

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Adopted into the Family

Drop Box Official Image

Lee Jong-rak is a pastor in South Korea. In South Korea, every year, hundreds of babies are left for dead on the sides of streets. Pastor Lee had an overwhelming sense that he needed to do something to save these dying babies. 

So Pastor Lee decided he would create a drop box – like you do. He decided he would put a box on the side of his house – a door on the outside, a door on the inside with a sign right by the door saying, ”Place to leave babies.”

Pastor Lee’s home has become a makeshift orphanage dedicated to rescuing unwanted babies off the street. The LA Times described his work when it wrote: “In a country that prizes physical perfection, Pastor Lee Jong-rak, his eyes opened after caring for his own disabled son, has been taking in unwanted infants, who if not for his drop box would be left in the street.”

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Galatians: Now in Print

Now in print

In the beginning of April, I released an abridged version of Luther’s Commentary on Galatians entitled Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther’s Commentary. The goal with this version of the commentary was simple, I wanted average, everyday people who would normally be intimidated by the work of Luther to have an easy way to dive into the work of Martin Luther.

Galatians is one of Luther’s most significant works and is foundational in understanding the distinction between Law and Gospel. In my original post, here’s how I described what I was attempting to do:

First, it’s shortened significantly. The entire commentary is great, but it can be a bit intimidating for the average person.

Second, it’s divided up with headings, chapters, and scripture references that make it easy to read and more devotional in format.

Third, art accompanies the text. As you’re reading, I want you to be able to stop and pause as certain phrases are called out with art.

Fourth, it’s truly Luther. I’m not changing Luther’s words. So when you read the commentary, it is truly the words of Luther as translated by Theodore Graebner. I’ve taken parts out but I didn’t change the style of his language itself.

So how would I describe this book? It’s Luther, but for everyday life. It brings a work that was written hundreds of years ago and remains relevant in our day and puts it in a package that is accessible for the average person.

Today, I’ve got exciting news. Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther’s Commentary is now available in print. When I put together the free eBook (which is still free for subscribers), I couldn’t help but look at the copy and the images and think how great it would look in print.

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