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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Grace for the Failing Parent

Grace for failing

Any talks of parenting will inevitably lead to a couple of feelings. It will leave us with a greater sense of responsibility and significance in the things we should be doing as parents. Or we will feel an overwhelming sense of guilt by what we fail to do. Countless blogs, books, preachers, and researchers will tell us what steps we should be taking to be a better parent, and many of these are actually valuable steps that might help our parenting.

But what do we do when we understand the significance of our role as a parent, yet are overwhelmed by our inability to do for our children what they need the most?

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How Does Jesus Make Spider-man Costumes?

The other night in the midst of our bedtime routine my son asked a simple, yet profound theological question. Now, perhaps he already has my wife and I figured out, calling for mama to “cuddle me, five minutes” and calling me to ask theological question (with some cuddling too).

The question:

How does Jesus make spider-man costumes?

But what better for bed time conversation with a three-year-old than a brief, yet deep conversation on the doctrine of vocation. Obviously it wasn’t in academic language but instead in the language of a three-year-old, super-hero obsessed boy. We began by looking at his spider-man costume, which he conveniently had half on, despite it being bed time.

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To Those Beaten Up By the Church

Beaten up

Bloody, bruised, and burnt out—our friends, family members, and coworkers are walking out of churches, giving up on God’s family, and at the same time giving up on the message that the Church has been entrusted with. This is the same old story that we’ve been hearing Christians sound alarms over for decades. But what do we do? And what words of comfort might we share for the people we love who’ve been victims of an abusive, graceless system?

Rod Rosenbladt described the kind of people that many of us have met (and many of us are recovering from):

Many of us have met and talked with the sad alumni of Christianity. And many of us have also met and talked with some of the mad alumni of Christianity. The venue may vary, but most of us know or have met men and women who tell us that Christianity was a part of their life in years past, but that they no longer consciously identify with Jesus Christ in His claim to be God and Savior.

How many people are becoming alumni of Christianity because they can never measure up to the demands of Christianity? How often are people walking out on the Church because they aren’t good enough to be a part of one? The problem for those leaving the Church is that when they were beaten up and broken by their sin, many of them weren’t given help; they were kicked while they were down. Instead of the grace that heals the wounds, every ounce of life was taken from them.

To read the rest of this post visit Liberate.org.  You can also read several other posts that I have written for Liberate

Washed in the Blood

Washed

In the 1970s and 1980s, nearly every movie that was set in New York City begins with an establishing shot of a graffiti-covered subway. In an article and podcast episode that describes this and the New York Transit authorities attempts at cleaning up the subway it writes:

That graffiti was like illegible technicolor hieroglyphics—a language that even most New Yorkers couldn’t read. It gave you a sense that the subways controlled by wild gangs of teenagers. And they kind of were. – 99% Invisible

The sense in these scenes is that the city officials had lost control of the subway. And they had.

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Why Christian T-Shirts, Movies, & Music Aren’t Very Good

christian-t-shirts

Christian t-shirts, mediocre films about the rapture, and Christian music that is a copycat of the Top 40 are proof that Christians largely misunderstand the doctrine of vocation. To be fair, this isn’t completely caused by Christian t-shirts and movies, and there certainly are some who do well within those spheres. But largely, within evangelical Christianity, the word Christian has been routinely used as an adjective that allows people to give uncritical approval to music, books, clothing, and movies.

Check out this incredible description of evangelical culture from Redemptorama:

“In Orange county, one of the chosen places of evangelicalism, it was possible to dwell in a total Christian environment. Letting their fingers do the walking through the Christian Yellow Pages evangelicals could buy a car from a born-again dealer, get their taxes prepared by a devout CPA, get their necks unchecked by Christian chiropractors, consult Christian lawyers for Christian divorces, purchase their fashion from a Revelation outlet, get their carpets cleaned by a Christian-operated hydro steam unit, have their coiffures trimmed at Hair After, have their pools cleaned by New Life Pool Maintenance, have their drains unclogged by Agape Plumbing, and get their pests fumigated by Golden Exterminators, Inc.” – Flake, Redemptorama, (HT: Harold Senkbeil)

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