On Social Media, We Can Do More Than Complain

We have a negativity problem on social media.

We rant about certain Presidential candidates, or we rant with equal fervor about those who don’t support said candidates.

We moan about gas shortages or the long lines at the pump, or we leverage the crisis to moan about fossil fuels or why we all can’t just use bicycles.

We grumble about faddish cultural phenomena like Pokémon Go or the latest top-40 song, or we grumble at the grumblers for criticizing our pet fad.

We hurl insults at athletes who speak out on race issues, or we hurl insults at athletes who don’t speak out.

We disparage gun owners, or we disparage anyone who speaks negatively about firearms.

And the media! How we all love to heap insults upon the media, this purportedly debased, monolithic entity with sneering, moustache-twirling executives in smoke-filled rooms planning the destruction of the American Dream. All of us — right or left, conservative or liberal — can find ways to complain about the media.

And that’s just a sample of our negativity on social media. I’m sure you could add a few items to the list.

As I scroll down my feeds, I see us circling a never-ending pit of cynicism, negativity and snark — aimed directly at those who don’t see the complex world exactly as we do. And I know that I’m part of the problem.

Here’s the worst part: These complaints spew from we who claim the name of Christ. This negativity flows from we who claim to have the world’s greatest hope.

Read the rest of the article at IntersectProject.org.

The Ashley Madison in All of Us

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

When People Love You (or Hate You) for Your Faith

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

Four Ways to Pray for Christian Teachers

[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

The Gospel’s Remedy for Inequality

I’ll be honest with you: Philemon has never been my favorite book of the Bible. I knew the story: Paul encouraged Philemon to welcome back his runaway slave Onesimus. Simple enough. But the letter was brief, seemingly hard to apply, and dealt with the thorny topics.

But as I wrote a lesson for Treasuring Christ Curriculum, I was forced to wrestle with Philemon, study it, and deal with its complexities. And I was blown away. Philemon taught me how the gospel restores tattered relationships. It challenged my generosity.

Most of all, Philemon taught me that the gospel brings radical equality.

Remember: Onesimus was a slave. While first-century slavery was different than the slavery we know from American history, it was still unjust and unfair. As a result, Onesimus was considered socially and economically inferior.

But when Onesimus encountered the gospel, everything changed.

  • Onesimus had been an outcast, but Paul called him a “child” (Philemon 10).
  • Onesimus had been Philemon’s “bondservant,” but now he was a “beloved brother ” (Philemon 16).
  • Onesimus had been treated as sub-human, but now he was to be greeted like an apostle (Philemon 17)

With the gospel, the man who penned a third of the New Testament was no better than a runaway slave. The gospel brought a radical, Christ-centered equality.

At this point, most of us are nodding our heads in agreement. We think that inequality is bad and equality is good.

Yet practicing this truth is much harder than it seems.

Because we are experts at manufacturing inequality. We seek to frame our lives in such a way that we come out better than others. So we identify one of our perceived strengths — such as skin color, education, career success, theological knowledge, physical fitness, politics, or heritage — and we make it the standard by which we judge others.

We declare ourselves the kings of our own kingdoms, and we render others inferior.

It happens to all of us. Ask yourself:

  • Honors student, do you really believe you’re no better than high school dropout?
  • Wealthy executive, do you really believe you’re no better than cleaning crew that takes out your trash?
  • Political activist, do you really believe you’re no better than the party you oppose?
  • Stay-at-home mom, do you really believe you’re no better than the mother who leaves her kids with a baby-sitter while she goes to her 9-to-5?
  • Personal trainer, do you really believe you’re no better than your overweight neighbor?
  • Proud American, do you really believe you’re no better than an Iranian?
  • Pastor, do you really believe you’re no better than the untrained deacon?
  • Straight man, do you really believe you’re no better than the person who struggles with same-sex attraction?

Inequality is insidious. It creeps into our lives without our knowing.

Yet the gospel shatters inequality. The gospel tells us that we were all equally sinful before God. It reminds us that we all deserved God’s holy wrath. Yet it also points us to Jesus — who suffered and died so that we all could be forgiven.

You see, the gospel makes all our manufactured inequality seem petty. We are all the same at the cross: Black and white, blue-collar and white-collar, fat and thin, smart and dumb, even slave and apostle.

That’s why Paul could call a runaway slave his “son” and “brother.” That’s why Jesus taught us to love social outcasts like tax collectors, women, Gentiles, and the poor. And that’s why you’re no better than anyone else.

The gospel gave Onesimus dignity, spurred him to reconcile with Philemon, and it may have even encouraged Philemon to free Onesimus (Philemon 12, 17-18, 21). So the gospel changed everything for Onesimus. And it can change everything for us.

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Five Essential Survival Tips for Stay-at-Home Dads

I have been a stay-at-home dad for the past few years (in addition to being a full-time student and part-time writer). My wife and I decided that this arrangement made the most sense given our present life and work situation. And we are not alone, as statistics reveal. More than 1.4 million dads stay at home, according to a 2009 study.

Being a stay-at-home dad has taught me valuable (even spiritual) lessons — mostly via the school of hard knocks. So if you find yourself in the same situation, here are five tips for surviving and thriving as a stay-at-home dad: Continue reading