What is Spiritual Formation?

I’ve written on this before, but the question is coming up again. Simply put, spiritual formation is a new buzzword and perspective on the one thing the Church has been doing since the very beginning, discipleship. However, this new perspective (some may even argue an old perspective) is not the kind of discipleship that you may find in many mainline churches. The discipleship programs that I see most often involve getting you to commit to attending church weekly, go to Sunday school or join a small group, tithe (can’t forget to get our money!), and commit to personal Bible study. To me, this feels a lot like the “Gospel of Sin Management” that Dallas Willard talks about in The Divine Conspiracy. True discipleship is not about ticking the right boxes and saying “I am a disciple of Jesus.” Rather there is something different that is called for. Enter the perspective of spiritual formation.

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I Think I Made A Mistake

So the other day I was scrolling around Twitter, which I do quite a bit. I came across a tweet that I thought would be a great way to have conversation with some well meaning people.

Now I don’t hold many controversial opinions. For the most part, I think I fit in pretty well with most churches. I simply ask that people not have a blind faith, and question everything. Any way, I chose to respond to this by being open and honest because I’ve learned that I am not incredibly open about my actual beliefs. My response was

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This Cursed Blinking Line

I have been sitting here for weeks trying to think of something to write. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas. I have a bank of things ready for me to develop, but no of them are particular interesting to me at the moment. I feel cursed with this desire to say something, but have nothing to say. So I sit here and stare at this blinking line. Taunting me. Chiding me. Telling me that I am worthless since I have nothing to say. Why in the world would I start writing a blog when I have nothing to say?! There is no way that this is something I am supposed to do. God didn’t call me to write, otherwise I’d have something to write about. This cursed blinking line has become to me what the snake was to Eve. It is my distrust of God. It is my adversary in this battle for a path forward.

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Is There A Place for Me?

I remember about this time last year, I first started to get an understanding about a virus, that had made it’s way to the United States, and was incredibly contagious and had the potential of being incredibly lethal if we did not get a firm grasp on it. Today, the world looks so different. So many things have changed, and somethings haven’t. But today, I notice this growing concern I have had for months now. Maybe it had been hidden from me because of the world that has been so saturated with politics, that I simply cannot think of anything else. Maybe it’s because I work myself so hard that I cannot stop for a moment to think of anything of real substance. Maybe its because of the mounting mental health concerns that each member of my family has to deal with. Maybe it’s something more. But I’m realizing that I deeply, truly miss being in Church.

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Why Should I Pray?

“What’s the point of praying?! It never does anything!” There are times in our lives when the disciplines that we practice seem to carry no weight in our lives. We know that we should do things, like praying, because we’ve been told our entire church lives that that is what Christians do. Yet, prayer feels meaningless when life doesn’t change or we do not recieve a response. Does this mean that we should be prayering? What if it means that our expectation of prayer has been wrong all along.

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Shaped By Suffering: How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home

I think we can all agree that 2020 was one heck of a year. Many of us had to deal with loss and suffering whether that be lifestyle changes, loss of job, or the death of family and/or friends. 2021 hasn’t started out any better with the capital riots, and the strained transition of power between Presidents. As I was looking over my bookshelf, trying to determine what books I wanted to read for this blog, one caught my eye that seemed to be a good resource for the year we just had. Shaped by Suffering: How Temporary Hardships Prepare Us for Our Eternal Home by Kenneth Boa with Jenny Abel was published, rather timely, in February of 2020 by InterVarsity Press, and completes a trilogy of books on cultivating an eternal perspective. Boa and Abel essentially take on the age-old-question, in this book, “How can a good God allow suffering?” By looking at the epistle 1 Peter, they suggest that God uses our suffering for our spiritual formation to make us more like Christ.

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The Bible Tells Me So…: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It

The Bible Tells Me So (book cover)

A few month’s ago, my step father handed me a book and asked me to read it. I’m always super apprehensive about taking books from people because I never know what I’m getting myself into. For the most part, I prefer to know a little more about a book than simply someone suggesting it to me. So, I figured my step father couldn’t be too bad, plus I was curious about the kind of material he was reading. He was definitely curious about my opinion as well. I took it, partially reluctantly and partially out of curiousity. That book was The Bible Tells Me So…: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns, published by HarperOne on September 15, 2015. Enns is the Abram S Clemens Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University and host of a podcast called The Bible for Normal People. While this book has been out for a few years, it certainly has many good thoughts and considerations that people need to take into account while reading the Bible.

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Is the Bible An Instruction Manual?

The Bible. Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. Have you ever had a hard time being able to read it and understand how it applies to your life? I certainly have. I spent many years believing that I was not faithful enough, because I simply wasn’t getting anything out of Scripture outside of what a pastor, theologian, or commentary told me. I didn’t enjoy reading it (sometimes I still have this problem). Then it occured to me, could it be because of the way I was reading the Bible? Of course not! The Bible is God’s instruction manual to me, to teach me exactly how I am to live my life. Yet, I don’t see how I am supposed to be navigating things like the internet, social life in the middle of a pandemic, or what funds would be the best place for me to invest my money. If the Bible is and instruction manual, shouldn’t I be able to come to it with my problems and find the exact right answer? Of course I should, but of course this is not the way the Bible works. Maybe this is because the Bible is NOT and instruction manual.

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Going Forward Into 2021

As we start the new year, I’ve been giving a lot of thought on the direction of this blog. I know that I’ve been posting inconsistently, while practically begging for interaction. The nice thing is that 2020 was the best year, analytically, since this blog first began in 2013. I think that means it’s time for me to actually focus a lot harder on creating content here and trying to expand in other areas. I have plans for 2021, but I’d love some input on what you, my readers, are most curious about.

The foundational idea for this blog is that I have always wanted to know God deeper and more intimately. I often thought of David being called a man after God’s own heart, being my guide for the kind of person I wanted to be and they path this blog was going to take. This is still a deep desire of mine, but I think I’ve let the application part of Bible study fall by the wayside. I believe that we can come together as a community and help one another grow in Christlikeness and deeper in our relationship with God and one another. I, personality, believe it is impossible to really learn this in isolation. As part of my plans for the next year, I am planning on being much more active on social media, practicing my faith with you. Two other ways I am working on developing this space for 2021 is through a podcast and a some subscription based platform. Right now, I am certainly in the testing phase on my ideas, so I do not have anything to publish yet. If you would like to join me in the creation of these spaces, please let me know.

I have been dealing with a lot of depression and anger with God over the past year. I am looking forward to getting out of this funk and celebrating the live I have been given and helping others enjoy a relationship with the Maker of the Universe. We’ll continue reading books, studying the Bible, and discussing this life we have with God. I look forward to the journey this life is going to take, and I hope and pray that it can be illuminating for all of us.

What More Do I Need to Do?

The world has become a strange place as I am without a church and am “church shopping” in the middle of a pandemic. My wife and I have decided that it is best for us and our family to maintain our distance from people that we do not know and spend our Sunday morning streaming church services. Recently we were listening to a message from one of our perspective churches, and the pastor chose to do a sermon series that was based on the Rapture. While I could certainly argue against such a concept, the subject matter wasn’t even the most offensive piece of this pastor’s message. After spending weeks laying out the idea that the Church is going to miraculously disappear right before the world needed it most, the pastor looked at the congregation and said, “You have to get ready. You have to be ready when Jesus returns.” I believe the implication of this statement is that there is some lifestyle or personality changes that need to be made, so when Christ comes he will make you disappear too. I have been thinking about this ever since. Not because I was convicted to change my life for Christ, but because I was so terribly offended by the statement. Let me explain.

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