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  You can also read several other posts that I have written for Liberate

Washed in the Blood


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, 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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Repetition, Repetition, Repetition


There’s a retired lab technician called EP, who in the book Moonwalking with Einstein, is referred to as “the most forgetful man in the world.”  EP suffered from one of the most sever cases of amnesia ever documented; his memory extended back only as far as his most recent thought.

The book records his amnesia in a dialogue:

“What is the thing to do if you find an envelope in the street that is sealed, addressed, and has a stamp on it?” Frascino asks.

“Well, you’d put it in the mailbox. What else?” He chuckles and shoots me a knowing, sidelong glance, as if to say, “Do these people think I’m an idiot?” But sensing that the situation calls for politeness, he turns back to Frascino and adds, “But that’s a really interesting question you’ve got there. Really interesting.” He has no idea he’s heard it many times before.

“Why do we cook food?”

“Because it’s raw?” The word raw carries his voice clear across the tonal register, his bemusement giving way to incredulity.

I ask EP if he knows the name of the last president.

“I’m afraid it’s slipped my mind. How strange.”

“Does the name Bill Clinton sound familiar?”

“Of course I know Clinton! He’s an old friend of mine, a scientist, a good guy. I worked with him, you know.”He sees my eyes widen in disbelief and stops himself.

“Unless, that is, there’s another Clinton around that you’re thinking of—”

“Well, you know, the last president was named Bill Clinton also.”

“He was? I’ll be—!” He slaps his thigh and chuckles, but doesn’t seem all that embarrassed.”

In a recent post on Liberate, I described his amnesia when he responds to his own reflection by saying:

“An old man… that is all.”

There is something interesting about this story, however.  EP regularly would go on walks around his neighborhood, despite not being able to remember what his own house looks like and having no idea the directions around his neighborhood.

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Because the Internet

Because the internet

This post is a guest post by my friend Jacob Goff. Jacob and I make sure to hang out whenever I’m in St. Louis. He rambles about theology occasionally on SimulBlog and also is a co-host for the Theology After Dark podcast.

The rise of Luther’s revolutionary influence coincided with the invention of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg.

Why was this revolutionary? How does dispersing better information more efficiently to a greater number of people have such a huge impact on the thrust of Church history?

Before the printing press, it was way easier to hide knowledge.

If your business model is built on hiding knowledge from people, then you would have been really frustrated by this new threat which democratizes knowledge.

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Freedom of Work

Freedom of work

Freedom is not a word I would typically use to describe work. Even in good jobs, there is a weight and pressure that makes work much closer to slavery than freedom. There demands of the difficult days, the painful conversations, and the stressors of the job make work feel like being in chains. There’s a burden that comes in the tension as you anxiously wait to see if today will be a good day and your boss will be care-free or if today will be a day with the micro-managing boss who checks in on every single detail.

And add to the external burdens, the internal, self-created burden that comes in our work. For many of us, we use our job as a means of validation. Our careers, our success, and our job satisfaction become the measuring stick for our worth.  Because of this, I am a slave.

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Disciple-Making in the Living Room

Disciple making

When Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” it starts in the living room. For most of us, the primary callings that we have take place in our home. We are called to be husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister.  As parents, the calling to be a father or mother is not only a call for physical provision and protection, but it is a call to make disciples. The most important goal that I have as a dad is to raise my kids to believe the Gospel. As a dad, before I can ever worry about preaching the Gospel in my church or neighborhood, I need to preach the Gospel under my own roof.

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Minding Your Own Business


It’s easy to dream about the living the life of somebody else. We can look at the allure of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has endless amounts of money that most of us couldn’t even imagine. Or we look at the excitement of the entrepreneur, who might not be wealthy but clearly loves what she does. Or we look to the popular speakers and writers who share their stories in front of thousands and have best-selling books with people hanging onto every single word. Or even amongst our own friends and family, we can do the same thing with the house we own, the family we are a part of, and the types of vacations that we go on.

As a culture, we make it our business to envy the lives of the people around us.

We are experts at knowing what type of life would make us happier than the life we are in right now. We are prodigies at dreaming about the life we don’t have. We sit at our desks and daydream about what our work will be like someday. We contemplate the future dreams of our family and imagine what our family life would be like when we finally get that promotion.

But what about right now?

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