Earth Day

Hello bloggers!

Today is Earth Day. What’s sad is the only reason I know that with any kind of authority is because the Google Doodle told me so. I mean, let’s face it, when compared to the other holidays we celebrate around here Earth Day doesn’t stand a chance. There are now lights that blink and twinkle and captivate our attention. There is no bunny bringing copious amounts of chocolate. There’s not even a tradition of going outside and barbecuing. As far as the traditions go, Earth Day leaves us wanting a little bit. 

I know, caring for the environment is somehow a leftwing conspiracy to trick us all into using recycled toilet paper so that Al Gore can laugh at us from his mountain top lair. Global warming is obviously a myth because winter keeps happening, and in Pittsburgh at least it got super cold this year. But hear me out on this, our planet deserves to be taken care of. Maybe you don’t believe in the climate change thing or you have some sort of political vendetta against the people who do, but we all have to realize that this is the space we occupy, and perhaps from time to time we ought to clean up our room the way our parents told us to. 

I don’t know what that looks like for you. Maybe it’s an effort to recycle more, or clean up the local roadway, or ride your bike rather than drive your big honking SUV (guess which one I’m doing?) Or maybe it’s just a matter of getting outside and enjoying creation. Go sit in the grass somewhere and read a book, or sit in a hammock and take a nap in the sunshine. Some of us go weeks without ever actually spending time outside, and I’m not entirely sure that’s the way that God intended things to be. So we may not have presents or chocolate or fireworks, but today is a day worthy of celebration. So go out and celebrate!

And I’ll try to do a better job to remember it next year!

Settling In

Greetings friends!

Sarah and I have been in the new house for about a week now, and things are starting to come together. We’re still a ways away from completely moved in and settled, but things are starting to take shape. Following what has been months of uncertainty and chaos, I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to start to look around the house and see that things are shaping up in the place that we’re planning to live for a long, long time. I have come to love enjoying a cup of coffee in the living room (even though our couch doesn’t come until Tuesday) and listening to my record player. I have come to love playing fetch with the dogs out in the back yard. I get excited about the things that haven’t happened yet, like riding my bike to work or school, or moving in to my insanely brightly colored office in the basement. 

(Yes…a Superman colored office…)

But it’s also nice to be settling in to routines and habits that had been thrown overboard with the move. For the longest time, my life has been fairly equally divided between three categories. I was either working at Westminster, working at PTS, or working on buying a house. Now a third of those time suckers is gone, and it has opened up some space for rediscovering some of those soul tending activities that were the first to go. For a while I had been in the habit of waking up earlier than needed to drink coffee and read the Bible, and then just enjoy the sunrise. For a while I had a Thursday night routine of being home alone while Sarah was working, eating Chinese food and watching crappy TV. It’s been good to rediscover these old friends. 

My point in all of this is to encourage those of you who are in the midst of busy seasons. I’ve been there. They can feel endless. They’re not. There will come a time when you can set aside business and get back to life giving activities like blogging. Hang in there. Seasons are just temporary. They will move on. There will be sanity eventually. Just hang in there. 

And look forward to more blog posts from a brightly colored office!

What others are saying: World Vision Continued

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Greetings bloggers!

Like a bad 24 hour news network, I am kind of still worked up about a story that should have died a while ago. I am both intrigued and wounded by the events of a few weeks ago and the decisions that were made and then unmade and then made again I guess at World Vision. So I’ve been scouring the internet to find people who are saying smart things. There are a few!

Like this story over at Red Letter Christians. The key line from this story in my mind? 

I believe that love requires honesty. As Christians, we are told to love the world, which includes being honest with the world. But truth without care isn’t love. It’s an easy, trendy way to feel good about ourselves.

Also worth a read, this article on CNN from Rachel Held Evans. Maybe one of the brightest voices coming out of the evangelical circle right now. Big take away from this article: 

When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

I’d encourage you to read more of these articles in their complete context. And even more than that, I’d encourage you to sponsor a child through World Vision (or Compassion if you’d prefer) to make a difference in someone’s life. 

More to come I’m sure!

World Vision, The Bible, PR Problems, and You

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Good morning bloggers,

When a few days ago, the folks at World Vision decided to allow the hiring of same sex couples for their American operations, I thought to myself “This is blog worthy.” But then I was lazy, so I didn’t respond. When hundreds of evangelical Christians decided to cancel their child sponsorships through World Vision, now believing that they are outside the realm of biblical living, I thought to myself “This too is blog worthy.” But then I was lazy, so I didn’t respond. When World Vision announced last night that they would reverse their policy, under the pressure that came from these evangelical Christians, I thought to myself “It’s time to stop being lazy.”

Embarrased

Whatever your view on any of this, we all need to live with an incredible awareness that “the world” (define as you’d like) is going to remember this moment in Christian history for a long time, and both sides of the issue are going to make it harder for us to spread the gospel to people who need grace and love and forgiveness, because it looks like we the Church are devoid of grace and love and forgiveness. When people are looking to be accepted and welcomed, when they look at what went down this week they’re going to look elsewhere for that acceptance and forgiveness. Why you ask? Let’s look at three big issues that are at play in this debacle:

1) Everybody threw the bible in the trash can here.

Sure, evangelicals have a point that homosexuality is decried in the Bible. I don’t know that I agree with the way they interpret that point historically, but I can’t deny the words themselves are in the scriptures. What I find incredibly disheartening about this is that hundreds of people turned their backs on scripture when they decided to cancel their child sponsorship. There are (I’ve counted) as many as 9 biblical references to homosexuality. There are (according to Google as I haven’t counted these) as many as 300 references to our interactions with the poor and powerless. This isn’t to say that our charity to the poor should cary more weight than the homosexuality issue (though, personally I think it does), but it does say that to cancel a sponsorship of a child who will now go hungry simply because you are upset with the practices of the organizational apparatus that gets the money there is as anti-blblical as hiring same sex couples. It is. Plain and simple. We (cause we are all one body, so what you do is what I do as well) returned evil for evil on this one, and if you ask me we hurt the wrong people.

2) We did this very publicly while we are demanding everyone’s attention.

Son of God. Noah. Heaven is For Real. Right now, Christians are begging for the world’s attention through our media efforts. We’re putting movies out there, and let’s just suspend for the moment the idea that they are attempts to exploit people’s faith to make cash, we have in a really big way asked the world to look at us right now. And in the middle of all that attention we’ve asked for, this is how we behave. Petty. Judgmental. Consumeristic. We can make all the pretty and well edited movies we like, people aren’t going to pay as much attention to those movies as they are to what we do with our faith. What we have said to the world (whether we meant this or not) is that the issue of homosexuality and denying those folks employment is more important to us than feeding, clothing, housing, and educating poor children around the world. What’s scary is, I think that is what an alarming amount of the church believes. 

3) Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis

I think one of the central questions that we as the Church should ask ourselves is how do our beliefs influence our actions? If you are against homosexual marriage, does that mean that to hire someone to work for you who is not against it mean you are supporting their beliefs? If you are in favor of child sponsorship, are you really engaged in child sponsorship because you feel like it is building the kingdom, or are you sponsoring a child only because it makes you look good? I think we were exposed in this debacle, exposed that what we say and what we do are rarely ever the same thing. Have we loved our neighbors as we have loved ourselves? I don’t care what side of the issue you are on, we have to agree that we have not.

I affirm, believe in, advocate, and strongly defend Romans 1:16. I am absolutely not ashamed of the Gospel. I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ. I am not ashamed to believe what I believe about love and redemption and grace boldly in our world. I am, however, at this very moment, extremely ashamed to be a Christian if it means I’m going to get sucked into this World Vision mess. And like I said before, I am. Even though Sarah and I sponsor a child through a different organization, so we really have no official dog in this fight, the actions of the few represent the actions of the many. I am ashamed that the Church could have let things get like this. 

That said, complaining doesn’t help. The world will treat that as negatively as they will the shenanigans that prompt the complaining. The only thing we can do is continue our meager attempts to build the Kingdom of God from within a broken church, to spread the love of Jesus Christ as far and as wide as we can get it to go. Many people sponsored children in response to the sudden exodus of sponsors from the original announcement. Good. I hope you’ll keep your sponsorship up now that World Vision has changed its mind. To those of you who cancelled a sponsorship because of the original announcement, now that they have reversed course will you consider picking up where you left off? Can we find the people in our lives who are homosexual and invite them over to dinner in an effort to spread the love of Jesus Christ, not the hatred so often associated with that particular sin? Can we be the love of Christ to everyone we meet, and not this infighting disgusting mess of sinners that we are so easily tempted to become? 

As always, that love can begin with a civil discussion in the comments. 

 

ejun@pts.edu

Tales from the Trip Chapter One: Dis One

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Greetings bloggers!

As many of you know, I was away the last few weeks in South East Asia on a mission trip. Of course many of you have been asking about the trip, and what stories I might have to bring back. Might I suggest checking out the sermon I preached this week, where I give a pretty broad over-view of what we did on the trip by downloading it here. But here on the blog, we’ll dive a little deeper into some of the stories, and I thought I’d start with the grossest story from the trip, just to make sure no one wants to read any of the rest of them! It’s a pretty long story, so sit back, relax, and prepare to be grossed out. 

So naturally for part of our trip we stayed in a four star hotel. Why not, right? It was marvelous. You could see the beach from the window in our room. We had a breakfast that would rival any buffet that Las Vegas could throw at it. And every night when we stayed at this particularly location, we had shrimp the size of my hand for dinner, dipped in this incredible salty/peppery/limey sauce I’m determined to replicate here in the states. But they also had a pool, a big pool with a hot tub and all the fix ins. So naturally when one of our team members informed me that he had never learned to swim before, Honest J’s Swimming School was opened for business. 

We swam for maybe, maybe, 45 minutes. After I got out (without anyone drowning mind you, so I will call myself a successful swim instructor!) I noticed that I had some water left in my ear. Praise be to the Lord I had the foresight to bring along my ear drops from home. I don’t even really know why I brought them, as I almost never need to use them. So I threw some drops in my ear that night and woke up the next morning with more water in my ear. Odd, I thought, but whatever. We spent the rest of the day in a van driving around, and the water remained. Eventually, my ear clogged up completely. I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear. This was more than just a little bit frustrating. Every meeting we were in I could hear at most 50% of what was going on. We were spending time with people who would quickly qualify for saint status, people who I would normally hang off of every word they said because they were modern day Jacobs, wrestling with God and Man and overcoming. And I couldn’t hear them. 

About 5 days into this affliction, I was at a low point. I was frustrated, tired, and annoyed. I had spent all this money and all this time to get over to this country and spend time with these people, and I couldn’t hear what was going on. I was picking up bits and pieces, but I wasn’t getting the whole experience. Something had to be done, and the sooner the better. 

So as our team arrived back in a major city on Sunday, we had access to a major international doctors office. So our trip leader and I went on Sunday to the doctors, where we found the entire office completely abandoned save for one man in a lab coat. This guy looked Asian, but spoke incredibly good English. After an incredibly quick exam, he determined that I had congestion in my ear, not much wax, and prescribed more ear drops and pills to take. I thought the diagnosis sounded weird, but he was the guy with the lab coat, so who am I to argue! I thanked him, paid my $75, and hit the road. The Doc said to come back on Wednesday if things had not improved, but that he would be surprised if that was the case. I was excited, things were on their way back to normal. 

By Tuesday afternoon however, things had still not improved. So I got impatient, and went to the doctors a whole twelve hours before I was requested to. At this point, several things came to my attention that called my previous visit into question. For starters, the previously abandoned office was now bustling with activity, including doctors and nurses and receptionists and patients, just teeming with life. It was at this point that I noticed a sign which informed us that this particular doctors office had no hours on Sunday, even though that’s when I had been seen. Pretty fishy. Then our trip leader noticed a wall which contained the business cards and photos of everyone that worked in the office, and suggested that I find the guy who saw me on Sunday and use his card as a reference. Upon careful examination, the man in the lab coat from Sunday was nowhere to be found. It is at this point that I formulated the theory that I was actually seen on Sunday by the janitor who assumed he had seen it done enough that he could play the doctor, and that the ear drops were in fact formula 409, because that junk will clean up anything!

Tuesday, I saw a short French Doctor, who had the incredible benefit of actually being a doctor. His name was on the office after all, so this felt like it was a step in the right direction. It turned out that my swimming had caused a buildup of a tremendous amount of ear wax (told you this was gross!) and that was the reason for the clog. Usually, the doctors could put an attachment on a garden hose and squirt your ear until all the wax came out. This was painful, but effective, and usually pretty quick. However, my new French friend informed me, they were without such equipment. And so he was going to have to go in manually to remove the wax. He had what looked to me like a metal toothpick, and began the process of removing each and every piece of wax. He narrated the entire ordeal in a heavy French accent. “Ok, now I’m going to go in and get dis one.” After saying that, the toothpick would scrape against my inflamed and agitated ear drum, sending sharp pain through my entire body. Even now, weeks removed from this experience, I cannot think about his voice saying “Dis one” without feeling some sort of residual pain. It was easily the most painful 20 minutes of my life. 

But then, after he went in for about his 30th “Dis one”, my ear was opened and I could suddenly hear. I asked him to stop, and he asked if I was in too much pain. I told him no, that actually a sense that had been missing for the better part of a week had just returned to me, and I wanted to take a moment to listen and just hear things. I heard birds outside the window. I heard motorbikes and the congestion of a major Asian city. I heard the sounds of the now appropriately busy waiting room just on the other side of the wall. I heard things. And it was beautiful. 

There are lots of lessons to learn from this. I spent a lot of time thinking about the body of Christ that Paul talks about, how when one member is suffering all the other members suffer with it. I don’t typically spend a lot of time thinking about my right ear, but I did that week. My whole being became consumed with what was wrong, rather than what was going right. But my mind also turns itself to miracles. Maybe a lot of Christians out there don’t believe in miracles, and I’ll admit there are times that I am skeptical. But after 7 days of prayer, I firmly believe God sent me a miracle wrapped in a lab coat and carrying a thick French accent. I also believe that he sent a joke a few days earlier, with a “doctor” to see me and send me home with a funny story. But I do know this, in my day to day life, I’m going to be a bit more open to God working miracles, even if they happen through normal people like you and I. 

Many more stories to come. Stay tuned. 

Working in Community

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Greetings bloggers!

I am excited this morning. Like actually excited. Just a few clicks below Christmas morning excited (it is admittedly hard to beat Christmas morning). My head sprang up off the pillow with a sense of joy and excitement I’ve not seen in a while. The coffee tastes better this morning. The air seems crisper, cleaner, and more full of wonder. What could possibly cause all of this excitement and jolly-ness in me today? 

I get to go to staff meeting. 

I’ll give you a second to recover, because this isn’t something that people typically get excited about. In fact, I’ve heard from several people in the youth ministry world that they hate their staff meetings, that they have disagreements with the staff they are surrounded by, that they don’t get along with people. I’ve frankly never understood this. I suppose it’s a carry-over from the days when we in youth ministry felt the need to justify our ministries to everyone we met. Maybe that’s still the case in some of the churches out there, though I surely hope not. At least here at Westminster, everybody takes youth ministry very seriously, and so it only makes sense for us to take every other ministry seriously. 

Our staff meetings aren’t that innovative or unique. We start at 9 (in just a few minutes actually) with a bible study, where we will review the texts that whoever is preaching that week will be using. It’s a great space if you’re preaching, because you get to hear the insights of the 10 or so people sitting around the room on the text. If you do it right, you don’t even have an idea where the sermon is going before that study, you just have the texts and you let the staff people around you help shape the direction. Sermons should (at least every once in a while) be born out of community, and this is a great way to do that. After the bible study, we go up the hall to the conference room to talk through the calendar, see what everybody is working on in the coming days, and pray for each other. It is the church staff equivalent of asking “what’s up?”, and it gives helpful insight into what everyone’s working on. Everyone around the circle is incredibly passionate about their ministry area, and if I was excited about nothing else I would be excited about just listening to their passion for ministry. 

I don’t know what your church setting looks like, what shape your staff meetings take, how you get along with the people around you. I hope and pray yours is a situation like mine. But if it’s not, my question would be what steps can you, the lowly youth worker, do to improve the culture of collaboration in your church? How could you reach out to work with another ministry area on something, maybe a joint project or even just getting together to pray for each other’s ministry? Big change can start with just one person, so it might just as well be you!

As for me, I’ve got a staff meeting to get to.

Close to empty

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Greetings bloggers,

Things have really piled on these last few days in a beautiful/stressful/exciting/terrifying/awesome way that have left me sitting here at my desk speechless, or perhaps a better word for it would be type-less, as I’m am working on some final school work for this term. Here’s just a bit of what’s been going on: 

Sarah and I bought a house

This included going back and forth with the seller on a price and not sleeping very much through that process

This also included the house inspection today, and thinking about all the work I’m going to have to do around the house

This has now moved to seeing what the seller will take care of from the inspection and what we will have to do, which means we have reentered the negotiation phase and it’s lack of sleep.

After the week where I was trying to write two papers at the same time and failing miserably, we’ve moved straight into finals week. 

One of my finals was turned into a take home final paper, which is excellent.

But I’m still not writing at my best. Dang.

I have an actual sit down and take it kind of final on Thursday, the day before I leave for South East Asia.

Oh hey, I’m going to South East Asia. 

At some point I should probably pack.

Also, through all of this I’ve started the beginnings of a cold. Here’s to only breathing through one nostril.

 

These seasons of life come from time to time, where everything just gets piled on. It is my experience that in these seasons the best thing to do look forward in hope and anticipation to resolution, and to thank God for all that he is doing in your life at the moment. So while I am physically, emotionally, and intellectually running on empty, I choose to fill my take with joy. I choose to think about

Barring some unforeseen calamity, Sarah and I will be moving into our new house in a few months.

This house is way nicer than the house we’re living in now! Like, has its own spa tub to relax in at the end of the long days in nice.

This house will be ours. We will own it. We can do with it as we please. We don’t have to worry about landlords or leases. We will be settled.

While I don’t get to be there as often as I’d like to be, work is spectacular! Ministry is really going well.

This Thursday morning Bible Study that I never thought would get off the ground is still going strong, 6 months later.

We’ve perfected Ripstick Soccer.

Even though I hurt just about every time I play.

I get to go to a strange (to me) place and see what God is doing there.

I get to fly, which is a small miracle I never want to forget to praise God for.

The other day I figured out how much work I still have to do before I get to be ordained. I do in fact only have 2 years left at PTS.

Not only is there light at the end of the tunnel, it’s getting pretty bright!

I am married to one of the most wonderful people in the world, and we get to go on these crazy adventures together.

My family has been all over the place when it comes to this house buying stuff, and just hanging around and eating good food.

 

There are lots of reasons to be thankful. So now that my tank is a little fuller, I’m going to try to put words on the paper for this final. Remember to keep your tank full. Remember to have a heart of praise, even in times when praise seems so far from our lips or fingers. Remember that as empty as our tanks may get, gratitude will fill them each and every time.  

Godspeed,

J

Slumpin’

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Greetings bloggers,

After a flurry of Facebook posts about my writing for seminary, everyone has been asking me if I have a lot of writing to do. And truthfully, I really haven’t had that much in the last few days: 

-A sermon on Wednesday in the Chapel
-A sermon for this morning at Westminster
-A Youth Group message for last Wednesday
-A 4 page book report for Christology
-A 7 or so page paper for Pastoral Care

Not really breaking the bank. What’s really throwing me off my game is that I am in the midst of a writer’s slump. A slump that is best illustrated by Mr. Sam Seaborn:

 

When I sit down to write, I have these lofty expectations of how I want a paper or a sermon to sound, the kinds of emotions or thoughts I want it to convey. Lately, those thoughts are not what are coming through the keyboard and onto the page. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to get what’s in my head out on to the paper. 

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Slumps come and go. There’s really no scientific way to get rid of them, other than to just keep writing. The temptation is to put writing aside and never sit down at a laptop again. It’s also a temptation to post a million times to Facebook, because every second you’re on Facebook is a second that you’re not writing. These are temptations I am known for giving in to. 

The papers will get done. While I wasn’t really happy with either sermon I’ve written, people seemed to get something from the one on Wednesday, and I can only hope that the Holy Spirit will work through what I am about to walk downstairs and preach this morning. And that’s really the beautiful part of all of this. As someone who carries faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit can work through a lot of the broken pieces and failed attempts that I’ve tried to offer up before. If I am willing to let my ego get out of the way, it turns out the Spirit can use really awful writing to speak to people and move people in new ways. 

Come Holy Spirit!

Creation Vs. Evolution: Wait, we’re still having this debate?

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Good afternoon bloggers,

In my continued effort to blog more, I thought I’d weigh in on something that’s making its way around the internet (and, thus cash in on a bigger audience)! And that is the creation vs. evolution debate that went down a few days ago between Ken Ham, founder of the Creation Museum in Kentucky, and Bill Nye, everybody’s favorite science guy. Actually I had heard about the debate well before it had happened, but I honestly didn’t think it would be that big a deal. For many of us, this issue is tired, played out, and done with. But I guess there are enough people for whom this is a deal breaker, so the fight goes on. 

Unflappable gif pagespeed ce b6yoAeN6YxTo his credit, Mr. Ham tried to point out that the central issue at play for him is the reliability of the Bible. If the Bible is the authoritative word of God, then what it says in its pages must be true. Mr. Ham tells us that if you count backwards through the various genealogies in the scriptures, you’d arrive at the conclusion that the earth is 6,000 years old, and that we are 4,000 years removed from the flood in Genesis 6. I think it’s admirable that Mr. Ham wants to keep the bible at the center of the conversation, but where I think he goes awry is when he assumes that for the Bible to be true, it must be literal. That, to me at least, is a more compelling discussion than whether the earth is 6,000 years old or billions of years old.

So here’s an example to discuss: 

11 Then Jesus[a] said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with[b] the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father[d] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

We’re presented with two options here in this story. Either Jesus is telling us a historically factual story, the point of which seems to be that one of the countless fathers in his area was an extremely compassionate and grace filled man, or in fact Jesus was using this story to point us in the direction of a bigger truth. The fact of the matter is, if the truth of this story stops at a father and son who had some relationship issues to work out, that wouldn’t really have a big impact on our daily lives. But you and I know differently. You and I know who that Father is, and how much of the prodigal son we turn out to be on a daily basis. There is a truth beneath the surface that is much more compelling than just a historical fact or fiction study. 

In the end, just about everyone who saw the debate agrees that Bill Nye won. It wasn’t hard. He had a tremendous amount of evidence on his side, like fossils and ice cylinder dating and things like that. But if you ask me, we missed the grander argument in this debate. We missed the question of whether the Bible must be 100% historically accurate to be authoritative in our lives. We missed the question of what to do with the deeper truths we encounter in these stories from the scripture. We missed the broader issue in favor of the controversial one, something Christians seem more apt to do day after day. 

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Ok, maybe I am Tina Fey…

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Greetings friends,

So perhaps just showing off his incredible sense of humor, shortly after my last post about how we’re not always as busy as we think we are, God presented me with an incredibly busy season! I’ve been reading, writing, quizzing, testing, and (lots of) driving for school these last few weeks. I’ve been on trips and retreats and early morning bible studies, and sermons and messages for work. I’ve been gearing up for the trip to South East Asia. And Sarah and I are deep in the process of buying a house. So, just a few things have been going on lately. Just gotta keep the hand to the plow.

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In this season, I’ve learned a few lessons that seemed worthy of sharing: 

1) God comes first.
The more my busy schedule takes more and more energy, the more and more I realize that I am completely dependent on God and his grace to get me through the day. The times that I try to do things on my own, I fall apart. It has been remarkable to me in this season of insane busy-ness how many of my prayers God has answered, mostly just the ones that I need to get me from point A to point B. Failure to recognize how good God has been to me lately would be a tragedy! So in our busy seasons, I think it’s of vital importance to remember how God good is to us. 

2) Family Second
As I mentioned, Sarah and I are going through the house buying process. It’s a brutal combination of excitement and patience and joy and sorrow and everything in-between. But from time to time, it’s pretty important to set aside some time for just the two of us. The times I’ve enjoyed most lately are those we spend sitting by our new record player just listening to music and spending time with each other. In busy seasons, the time we have with our loved ones will be surely limited, which means that the time we spend with them needs to be substantially more meaningful. My struggle (as it always is in this digital everything world) is to focus on presence. I don’t want my head to be in the midst of the busy things to come when I’m with my wife. I want my mind to be in the room with us. 

3) Ministry before academics
I might catch some flack from some folks on this one, but as a seminary student who happens to have a full time job in ministry, it’s important to remember that my ministry comes before learning about my ministry. Of course I have books and papers and things to work through, and those all have deadlines. But the ministry to the students who we have coming in our youth group comes first. I love the time I get to spend with students on Wednesday nights over a game of Ripstik Soccer or the early morning coffee and conversations with the guys in the Hunt. These are the reasons I study. These are the things that should come first.

How do you get through the busy seasons? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!