They were unlikely friends.
One man had betrayed his family and culture to work for the corrupt, overbearing government they despised. His old friends now counted him among the thieves and murderers. They even refused to worship with him.
His associate was part of an anti-government movement. This occasionally militant group aspired to wage war against the government and return to the glory days when their culture and religion ruled.
These men had little in common, and they should have been enemies. But they decided to lay aside their past and their politics to work together for the common good.
This story sounds naïve and unrealistic. In today’s divisive world, everything is divided into camps of red and blue, black and white. We can’t even imagine a scenario in which two people this different could find a way to work together.
But this is no made up story. This is the true story of Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot, two of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Continue reading →
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
We all know the golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s practically hard-wired into our brains.
Yet even though we know the golden rule so well, we often have a harder time putting it into practice. Too often, we prefer one of the golden rule’s cheap substitutes, such as… Continue reading →
I’m accustomed to seeing Donald Trump Twitter tirades. I’m not, however, accustomed to seeing Southern Baptist theologians as the object of those tirades. Yet, yesterday morning, I woke up to this:
Opinions of Donald Trump aside, when was the last time a Republican Presidential nominee publically went after an influential Evangelical leader? I can’t think of an example. Republicans used to actively court Evangelicals, not crucify them.
And the cordial feelings tended to be mutual. Though the Republican Party has never aligned perfectly with Christian teaching, conservative Evangelicals could generally rely on the party to produce candidates who valued life, character, and religious freedom.
Yet that assumption has been slowly eroding, and Trump’s tweet seems to be the nail in the coffin. The gospel no longer fits neatly into a political party (if it ever did at all). Continue reading →
Each year, a different aspect of the Easter story grabs my attention and causes me to reflect. This year, it’s been Pontius Pilate.
Pilates’ sins were many. He ignored his convictions and his wife’s wise counsel. He gave in to the whims of an angry mob. And he condemned Jesus to be crucified — not because he believed Jesus was guilty, but because it was more politically expedient.
And when it was all over, he washed his hands — trying to convince himself and others (unconvincingly) that he was not responsible for the unjust execution that was about to take place.
Pilate exhibited a complete failure in political leadership. Unfortunately, his failures are all-too common. Continue reading →
This post about faith and work was originally published on IntersectProject.org.
Everywhere you look, Christians are talking about the importance of re-connecting faith and work. You can find a growing body of resources to help you think through these topics.
But I often still wrestle with the question of how. As a pastor, I know that connecting faith and work is important, but practically how can I do it? If you’re a pastor, teacher or small group leader, perhaps you’ve asked this question, too.
As I’ve been reflecting on this question, here are a few practical tips I’ve considered:
Continue reading →
In Russell Moore’s recent interview on C-SPAN, a caller made this statement:
I really wish Christians would not have anything to do publically with politics…You’ve got to ask yourself: What would Jesus have done? Jesus wouldn’t have had a thing to do with politics.
This caller is not alone in his disdain for politics. Scores of Christians believe that Jesus was about saving souls, not addressing politics. They believe that Jesus cared about spiritual matters, not earthly ones. Perhaps you hold this opinion, too.
Is this perspective correct? When it comes to politics, what would Jesus really do?
Read the rest of this post at the Intersect Project>>
My toddler occasionally watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it, think animated Mr. Rogers with a preschool tiger.) One day I heard the characters singing this jingle:
Everyone’s job is important. We all help… in different ways.
My ears perked up, so I sat down to watch alongside my son. I learned that Daniel wanted to be the line leader. But when he received a different classroom job, he was disappointed. By the end of the episode, he learned that some classroom jobs are less glamorous, but all of them are important.
This lesson is simple enough. So simple, in fact, that the show’s creators put it to music. But believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.
Read the rest of this post at the Intersect Project>>
He knew what he was doing was wrong. God had clearly told him not to. But he saw it. His eyes lingered over it, and he began to crave it. Finally, he went against his better judgment and took it. He knew the potential consequences — that it could destroy his family and community. He hid it, convinced that no one would ever know.
Yet one fateful day, his secret was exposed. All the gory details were out in the open. And he and his family suffered the consequences.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But I’m not talking about Josh Duggar and his Ashley Madison account. I’m talking about a man named Achan. Continue reading →
Have you ever had a good day turn bad? Elon Musk can empathize. Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX, celebrated his 44th birthday on June 28. The day started off great, I’m sure. Who doesn’t like birthdays? Yet that morning one of his SpaceX rockets, destined for the International Space Station, exploded after launch. What started as a great day quickly turned sour.
Paul and Barnabas had one of those days, too. Luke tells us the story in Acts 14:8-23. Continue reading →
[Editor’s Note: My wife, Katie (a teacher), and I collaborated on this post.]
The dawn of a new school year is often a time for complaining. Parents complain about the early start to the school year, the local school system, or the fact that their child got that teacher. And teachers may complain about education policy, increased responsibilities (without increased pay), or the fact that they got that child in their class.
Yet a new school year also means that thousands of Christians return to their classrooms to make a profound impact on children’s lives. This is a huge responsibility and privilege — and teachers need your prayers.
Please consider praying for the following: Continue reading →