Category Archives: Culture


wedding-rings-setYou likely know the story: God caused a “deep sleep” to fall on Adam and then took one of his ribs and fashioned Eve out of it (Genesis 2:21-22). There is an incredible typology embedded into this event about the true message of Easter. 

The sleep in which Adam enters is well described as a metaphorical death. Adam didn’t physically die, but his “deep sleep” made it appear as if he did. It was symbolic of it. The idea, therefore, is that Eve was able, and only able, to live because Adam, in a sense, died.

His “deep sleep” foreshadows the sacrificial death of Jesus on our behalf.

Christ died on the cross and was pierced in his side for his bride (John 19:33-37); Adam “died” and was pierced in his side for his bride. Like Jesus, Adam gave of himself so that his bride could live. And similar to Jesus, Adam rose from his “death” to live again with his bride.

But the message doesn’t stop here. Immediately after this event Moses writes:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

The term “one flesh” has permanence. It suggests marriage is designed to last a lifetime, which is an incredibly important notion.

There is a theological concept called “the perseverance of the saints” that conveys this thought well. This doctrine teaches that “once saved, always saved.” This is to say that, once a person has been “married” to Jesus, that Jesus will never divorce him. This is because, once a person accepts Jesus, he and Jesus are like “one flesh.” And like literal flesh, it cannot be divided. In Ephesians 5:32 Paul says that this idea of “one flesh” is a “great mystery” and that he is speaking about “Christ and the church.”

This conveys how a marriage, when functioning properly, can serve as a testimony for the gospel.

So marriage represents more than a lifelong earthly relationship between a husband and a wife. It illustrates God’s everlasting relationship with the church, a relationship that nothing can divide.

Paul writes:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

Not long ago a woman in our church lost her wedding ring, which she had for more than 50 years, and was understandably devastated. She found it, but she could have easily gone down the street and purchased a new one. Losing the ring, for this woman, meant losing the testimony of her marriage. While losing it held no affect on the union of her marriage, it was important because it testified of her marriage in a way that no other ring could.

By itself, marriage is an amazing institution. But we cannot forget what it represents.

We should value the meaning of marriage as a testimony of God and his people. When a husband sacrificially loves his bride, that bride is empowered to live for her husband. And this love points upward to what Easter Sunday is all about—a sacrificial love brought about by a savior named Jesus Christ for his bride the church.

And this is a “ring” that can never be lost!

Clearly, this is why divorce so devastates. Divorce is more than a piece of paper allowing you to legally separate from your spouse. It completely destroys God’s witness. It communicates the exact opposite of God’s relationship with his church. It tells the world that there are things that can separate God’s love from his bride instead of the biblical truth that there aren’t.

God has had every reason to divorce mankind. He instead decides to unconditionally and sacrificially love us. This is well showcased after Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Eden, when he took an innocent animal, slayed it, and used its skin to cover their shame, which, like Adam’s proverbial death, points towards Jesus—the Resurrection and the Life.

Have a wonderful Easter.

 —This article is adapted from my book “Marital Roles” (978-1481151238).

Picture Credit


WorldVision-LogoIt’s been a busy week for World Vision. On Monday, March 24, they announced a new policy that would allow “gay Christians” in legal “same-sex marriages” to be employed with their organization. And on Wednesday, March 26, they announced that the policy had been reversed.

World Vision’s policy matters to a lot of people. I happen to be one of these people. First, the organization is one of the largest and most established Christian charitable organizations in the world. And second, it’s one through which I have sponsored a child for many years. Therefore, any policy change of this magnitude will undoubtedly impact my decision to either continue or discontinue my partnership with the organization.

Ultimately these events have forced me to ask three questions concerning World Vision. They are listed below, with some insights into each. My hope is that they provide some kind of aid in how we view the organization from here on out.


World Vision’s Statement of Faith includes, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” This is perhaps why the original policy change was so confounding. The word “infallible” is one of the most profound ways of affirming the Bible, and those who usually use it tend to be on the more conservative side of Christianity.

Thus, a policy change that is vehemently against the Word of God by an organization that claims it as infallible is absolutely astounding. And, in my opinion, lends reason for concern. Even after the reversal.

This morning, on my way to work, I listened to a radio program that discussed some of the behind-the-scenes events leading up to the original policy change. The hosts detailed how this was a decision that was discussed for years, and one that was prayed over constantly. In short, the leadership felt that God’s hand was in it. Richard Stearns and the Board of Directors were, according to the CT article, “overwhelmingly in favor” of the policy change.

This means that the current leadership of World Vision, in some capacity, probably does not view Scripture as “infallible,” at least in the same way a conservative Christian might, which is that it is “incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.” This is extremely important because it reveals the philosophical mindset of the organization’s leaders’ view of Scripture.

In the very least, it’s safe to say that they were willing to overlook their beliefs for the sake of cultural unity, which, one might argue, threatens the integrity of their beliefs.

God’s Word didn’t change on Tuesday, March 25. That is, the single day in between the policy change and the policy change reversal didn’t include an event in which God edited his Word. It was the same before the change, during the change, and after the change, which begs the question, “Why did World Vision renege on their original policy change?”

One can’t help but consider that it was because of pressure. According to Christianity Today, World Vision lost thousands of sponsorships after their initial announcement. Moreover, Christian bands like Casting Crowns, according to one radio broadcast, were ready to dissociate themselves from the organization if the policy change remained in tact.

These are huge hits that undoubtedly threatened the future of the organization. While it’s true that some actually enhanced their support of the organization because of the change, one cannot deny how hard it would have been on World Vision to lose platforms like a Casting Crowns concert.

Personally, I am thankful that the policy change was reversed. And I’m grateful for the brokenness expressed by Richard Stearns in doing so. But I cannot help but be concerned with what appears to be a pragmatic decision, in both of the policy changes. Pragmatism is a philosophy that stresses the practical outcome as the primary criterion of determining truth. Therefore, if World Vision acted pragmatically to reverse their decision, then it reveals a dangerous philosophical element within their leadership. If the leadership is willing to change their minds from pressure on one side, then who is to say that they won’t change it from pressure on the other side?

Our faithfulness ought to be to the Lord. And the aim of our faithfulness is discovered through his Word. World Vision claims that they view it as infallible, but it seems that they were willing to ignore that conviction in their original decision, and even perhaps in their latter conviction. Both seemed to have been made because of what people said, not because of what God said.

It is important to note that I am not suggesting that World Vision reversed their decision because of pressure. I am simply pointing out that the leadership, through this event, might have revealed some dangerous philosophical tenets that should cause us to be concerned for how they might function in the future.

For this reason alone, I would be lying if I said that my trust in World Vision hasn’t waned.


In short, I don’t know. This is a question that I am asking, but one that I have yet to answer. As of now, my wife and I still have a child sponsorship through World Vision. We agreed that we would forego that sponsorship after reading about the original policy change. There are plenty of organizations that offer the same opportunity without the unbiblical affirmation. Now that the policy has been reversed, I’m not sure if I should continue or discontinue my relationship with World Vision.

I do know two things, however.

First, I know that children will gratuitously suffer. As Trevin Wax writes, “Children will suffer. Needlessly.” Damage has been done, and some of it is irreparable.

Second, I know that anyone who desires to forego their relationship with World Vision is not, as one social media commentator says, “minions of Satan.” As followers of Jesus, we are accountable to God for how we handle our resources. Sponsoring a child in an unfortunate situation is a good thing. And it’s a good thing that World Vision gives us the opportunity to do that. But a policy that affirms an unbiblical lifestyle in what is considered a biblical organization says a lot about the organization’s philosophy.

I want to help children, but I also want to do so in the right way.

World Vision will have to answer to God with how they handle their business. And I will have to answer to God with how I handle mine. While I grieve that I might forego my child sponsorship with World Vision, I also know that I am liable to God with who and what I support.

My advice is to endorse child sponsorship, and to do it with an organization with which you have no qualms. That organization might be World Vision, but it also might intentionally not be World Vision. Fortunately, there are a variety of organizations out there that offer the opportunity to spiritually and physically help kids in need.



It is a rare thing for a professional organization, like World Vision, to essentially act so unprofessional. It reveals that even the best of us mess up. And sometimes it can be on the public stage. As Christians, we have the opportunity to respond either the right way or the wrong way. If we choose to respond the wrong way, then we are guilty of ungodly behavior, just as much as World Vision was on Monday.

I am grateful that World Vision reversed their policy change decision, even if I do have concerns as to why they did it. At the end of the day, they are a conservative Christian organization that helps people, and does so because of the love of Jesus.

Richard Stearns asked for our forgiveness. As Christians, we ought to give it. This doesn’t mean that we need to support a child through World Vision, or even continue to do so if we have been. It means that they acknowledged their mistake and asked for forgiveness, and now we have the option of giving it.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that our resources go to organizations that advance the true and unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the vision Jesus had for the world, and the vision that we, as followers of Jesus, ought to have as well.

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Son of God movieThe movie Son of God arrives in theaters this Friday. And, like any Christian movie, it’s caught the church’s gaze. The major question surrounding this movie is, “Is it accurate?” That is, does it accurately portray the Jesus found in the scriptures.

As far as I can tell, the movie is an expansion of the television series, The Bible, a series I happened to watch. It’s also a series I happened to review. Since the movie is essentially an expansion of the television series, I imagine that a review of Part Four of The Bible (the part that concerns Jesus) might provide insight into answering the question as to if Son of God accurately portrays the Son of God.

Thus, here is my reviewed preview of the Son of God movie, based on the Son of God in The Bible television series, as compared to the Bible:


“Change the world,” a caucasian Jesus answers, in a slightly British accent.

This is how Part Three of The History Channel’s The Bible ends. But The History Channel seems to have a different perception of what “changing the world” means than Jesus. This is revealed not by what is included in Part Four of the series, but in what is left out. And what’s worse, The Bible did not leave important scenes from the Bible out; it left important moments out of the important scenes, essentially reformatting the original context of the events.

Leaving key moments out of Jesus’ life would have been bad, but including the key moments and ignoring their crucial elements might be worse.

Consider these two portrayals from Part Four of The Bible.


In The Bible’s Last Supper scene, Jesus shares with the disciples that this will be his final meal with them. Naturally, this births fear and sorrow for a group of men who have grown very close to their Messiah.

Jesus quotes John 14:1-6, telling his disciples, “Don’t be afraid. Trust in God, trust in me also. You know the way to where I am going.”

“We don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” a balding Thomas declares.

Jesus replies, “I am the way. The truth. And the life.”

And then he stops.

But there is a very important line missing from Jesus’ monologue in The Bible included in the actual Bible. This line is, “No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6).

Of the various verses in scripture that reveal that Jesus is the only way to the Father, this one is arguably the clearest. Therefore, if a producer of a series on the Bible wants to accurately depict Jesus’ mission to “change the world,” including a scene dialoguing John 14:1-6 is a great way to start, but leaving out the final portion of the passage leaves the biblically immature audience they are supposedly targeting, well, biblically immature.

Jesus is not just the “way, truth, and life,” but the “only way, truth, and life.”


In the same Last Supper scene, Jesus takes the bread and says, “This is my body.” He then takes a cup after pouring wine into it and says, “This is my blood.” He closes by saying, “Remember me by doing this.” These are all included in the Last Supper accounts detailed in the scriptures, but The Bible leaves out another line that reveals how Jesus “changed the world.” This line is, “which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28).

There is an old adage that captures why this line is important:

Jesus didn’t come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

To give The Bible the benefit of the doubt, there is a scene depicted from Matthew 9:1-8 in the early portion of Part Four where Jesus heals a paralytic. Jesus met both the physical and spiritual needs of the man, telling him both “Get up and walk” and “Your sins are forgiven.”

The reason the inclusion of the line is important in the Last Supper, however, is because it is directly connected to his death. Jesus didn’t come just to cure the physical ailments that plague mankind; he came to cure the spiritual ailment that plagues mankind. This ailment is sin and the penalty is death. Therefore, forgiveness of sins cannot come without death, the very thing Jesus references at the Last Supper.

While The Bible reveals that Jesus dies, it doesn’t necessarily reveal why Jesus dies.

This is the meaning behind Paul’s statement that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Jesus didn’t die to inspire bad people to be good, make lame men walk, and put people’s ears back on. He died to make dead people live.

This is clear in the Bible, but not in The Bible.

This is why his body was broken and his blood was shed. Jesus is our substitutionary atonement for the wages that we had earned through our sins. He paid it in our steads, and in so doing he “changed the world” (but probably with more of a Hebrew dialect).


Finally, I want to add that I find myself a little concerned with Hollywood’s recent fascination with Christianity (some upcoming movies include: Noah, Left Behind, Heaven is For Real, etc.; and this is not to say that even these are all biblically accurate). I would like to applaud the attempt at what I would hope are biblical and wholesome movies, but I’m afraid that the Bible might serve as a mere catalyst to make money and that, in the long run, Christianity might be more harmed than helped in the process. Time will tell, to be sure.

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imagesIt was in sixth grade that I met Matt. He had moved to my hometown of Mabank, Texas from Colorado Springs. We met in band and became friends. We weren’t the best of friends, but we were more than acquaintances. Although we now live on opposite sides of the nation, through the magic of social networking we have been able to keep in touch. We regularly dialogue through both public and private channels about the cultural mood concerning homosexuality.

Matt is a homosexual, which, because of my Christian faith, is a lifestyle with which I vehemently disagree. And Matt knows this. Matt knows that I don’t agree with him and I know that Matt doesn’t agree with me. But we choose to share our opinions openly and respectfully, which is the intent of this blog.

I recently asked Matt if he would be alright if I interviewed him about his lifestyle. Matt was kind enough to oblige. The motivation behind this is inspired by comments I often read from Christians against homosexuality. Unfortunately, many Christians handle the situation poorly. While it’s okay to be outspoken against it, (and I believe Christians should be free to share their biblical convictions), it’s not okay for that outspokenness to present itself in hatred. Paul writes, “If I speak … but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

Needless to say, there is a lot of gratuitously loud noise on today’s social networks.

The following is the interview I conducted with Matt. I typed out the questions and sent them to him. Some of the information is also from follow up conversations. Each question includes Matt’s answer and some include my response, if it calls for it. You will notice that these are in blue.

I hope that anyone who has an opinion about homosexuality sees the respect that Matt and I have for one another in our disagreements, and that that respect is contagious as we continue to debate the issue in the public square.


When did you first think that you were gay?

I began to suspect something was different about myself probably in eighth grade. I remember always wondering why the guys around me seemed so interested in pursuing girls.

Are you currently in a homosexual relationship?

Yes I am. I have been seeing the same guy since I was twenty two years old. We met in college and have been together ever since. He even followed me across the country to a new job. Both of our families have met and actually rather like each other. I was really surprised by that. My Dad is someone I would charitably describe as a “Tea Party Republication”, but he has honestly shocked me with his acceptance of who I am and even the guy I am with.

What kind of social pressures did you experience in “coming out?”

My coming out was kind of an accident. I was twenty and in college and, I won’t bore you with the details, but my parents figured it out and initially we didn’t talk for 3 months. When we did start talking again, it was mostly my mom and I. My dad and I had a very strained relationship the first few years, but now everything is more or less the way I would imagine a regular person’s relationship with their parents is. I can’t honestly say, but I would like to believe that I am glad it happened the way it did, because I am not sure when I would have built up the courage to talk to them about it. Probably not until well into my twenties.


What are your thoughts on same-sex marriage?

This sounds so cliché, but my thoughts on same-sex marriage have greatly evolved since I first started hearing about it back in the mid-2000s. At first, I was staunchly against it, and I think a large part of that had to do with my upbringing in the church. I wasn’t, and nor am I now, against people receiving the same benefits and entitlements that marriage brings to everyone. But I was against the idea of calling it “marriage” because I felt that was reserved fully for straight people and the church. But that was back then, and this is now. I am not what you would call an activist for same-sex marriage, but I do believe now that if gay people want to get married, then they should be able too. Again, I can’t stress this enough, I really just believe that everyone should have access to the benefits that marriage provides, not the name or the title. I am sure my fellow gays won’t like hearing that, but it’s just the way I feel about the issue.

Author’s Note: Many of my thoughts concerning this question can be found in this blog: The Meaning of Equality.

Would you say that today’s homosexual movement is on par with the 1960′s civil rights movement?

Yes, most particularly with the Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (1967), which invalidated all laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Today, we draw inspiration from that time period, to fight for what we believe should be afforded to us to be treated as equals in the eyes of the law. People today think it’s crazy that blacks and whites couldn’t get married up until forty-odd years ago, but during that time period it was a punishable offense with jail time involved.

Author’s Note: I believe that by the time I am a grandparent that it will be unbelievable that homosexuals could not marry one another, and that by the time my kids are parents that people will be amazed that marijuana was at one time considered an illegal drug, and that by the time they are grandparents that people will be amazed that polygamy was once outlawed.

What would you say to someone who argues for things like bigamy, polygamy, and incestry in marriage (as an expansion of same-sex marriage)?

I think bigamy already occurs today and has been occurring for a long time. Certainly not on any level with large amounts of numbers or data to back it up. But you always hear the story about the man with another family in the next town over.

The problem with polygamy is that it almost always means one man with multiple wives. And when that happens you take away a wife from some other man. So in a polygamous society, you would have all these young, unmarried men who are unhappy with no wives. Same-sex marriage changes none of that, it leads us as a society away from that. Gay people just want the ability to marry someone instead of no one.

Incest is something that is just wrong on so many levels as it is, it’s not even really worth arguing over.

Author’s Note: I can see what Matt is saying in this, but I find it to be pragmatic. And I think pragmatism is a poor way to make decisions, although we all make decisions based on this philosophy everyday!

For example, would polygamy then be okay if we can manufacture a society where there are no unhappy unmarried men? What if the ratio of women to men was such that every man could easily have ten wives?

The point is that the issue runs deeper than mathematics.

Do you believe that there would be any psychological affects to a child reared in a home with same-sex parents (not having the traditional male and female examples)?

I don’t think there are any major drawbacks to a child being raised in a home by two same-sex parents as opposed to a traditional family set. In this modern age, children are raised by single dads, single moms, aunts, uncles and extended family. I think as long as all parties involved really love the child, then it will turn out alright.

Author’s Note: I believe that one of the biggest problems of our day is that a large amount of children are raised in homes without a stable mother and father. I have the opportunity to counsel many individuals and I can, nearly 100% of the time, trace the issue back to the lack of a father in the home.


Do you adhere to any faith religion?

I grew up Methodist, but just sort of stopped going once I graduated high school. I think even in high school I wasn’t really into church anymore, but it was definitely the place where all my friends went and it was a good place to socialize. I do believe that something or someone exists and had something to do with where we are in the universe today. I would say that I loosely identify myself as a Christian, but more like an agnostic one.

Author’s Note: I would say that it’s oxymoronic to be an “agnostic Christian,” although I can say that I know where Matt is coming from. His upbringing leads him to hold beliefs that are rooted in Christianity, but what he believes is not best described as Christianity. He has become agnostic, which means that he doesn’t really know what he believes, although he is still affected by what he learned during his time in the church.

What do you believe the Bible says about homosexuality?

I am not a connoisseur of the Bible, so all I can really say is that I know it’s mentioned a few times, but never directly by Jesus. I did, however, find this awesome article on the Huffington Post website which sums it up much more eloquently then I can: What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?

Author’s Note: The author of this article begins by suggesting that homosexuality is not as big of an issue as modern day Christians make it, because it is addressed relatively little in comparison to other issues in Scripture. But this is like saying that prostate cancer isn’t as big of a deal as breast cancer because it doesn’t have as big of an awareness month, one that prompts NFL players to wear hot pink highlighted uniforms and people to wear faddy bracelets.

The fact is that it is discussed in Scripture, (homosexuality that is), which makes it important. And when it is discussed, it is identified as sinful. The reason it isn’t discussed more is, arguably, because of the culture in which the Bible was written, specifically the New Testament Gospels. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that homosexuality wasn’t as big of an issue in ancient Jerusalem, the holiest place in the world at that time and the place that Jesus performed most of his ministry and made most of his claims, as it is today. Rape isn’t densely refuted by Jesus either, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong.

Thus the statement, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so it must be okay” is a weak and misguided argument.

It is also important to know that Jesus essentially did talk about homosexuality. The Bible describes him as the “Word of God made flesh” (John 1:14), and so anything that is included in Scripture is verified by Jesus. He was the living embodiment of every word of every claim of the Bible. And so if the Bible speaks against homosexuality even once, then Jesus essentially, by virtue of his nature, talked about it.

As for the rest of his article, he seems to argue from ignorance. That is, his argument is, “I’ve personally polled some scholars and commentaries and some of them say that we can’t really know the context of these passages that include language forbidding homosexuality. So, we shouldn’t forbid it without knowing the cultural implications of the day.”

This is a poor reason to refute something out of hand. He is taking shaky evidence and making what he believes is an irrefutable claim. That’s poor debate etiquette. 

Do you believe that people are born gay (is it a choice or a predisposition)?

This is honestly a tough question for me to answer. I think everyone is born with certain traits amplified and/or dampened down due to conditions in the womb/external environment, so I can’t say for certain that it’s a predisposition. At the same time, I am fairly confident in saying that it’s not a choice either. I guess I would need to see more research on the matter before I committed to saying it’s a predisposition.

Author’s Note (this is an edited excerpt from a previous blog): Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin (1 Cor 6:9), and therefore those that believe Scripture are simply trusting what it says. With that said, Scripture also says that sin is a “predisposition” (Rom 5). It’s something every person is born with. And as a predisposition, everybody has a “decision” to either act on it or not. Some act on it by lying. Others act on it by stealing. And some act on it by planting a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a predisposition to which every person is subjected. Thus, since Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin, (and since it speaks of sin as a predisposition), it is not unreasonable to say that homosexuality is the fruit of a decision rooted in a predisposed, sinful nature.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s okay. We would never, for example, suggest that rape is okay. No one could reasonably say, “Aw, leave that guy assaulting that woman alone. Stop trying to rewire his predisposition with your personal preferences. He can’t help himself.” This isn’t to say that homosexuality is on par with rape, only that a sin is a sin, and the tiniest sin is enough to separate man from God.

Do you think, from what you know about Christianity, that a person can be a Christian and live an openly homosexual lifestyle?

I think it is possible for someone to be Christian and a homosexual at the same time, yes. God created everyone the way they are for a reason, and whatever that reason is, only God knows. It’s impossible for me to say it’s a sin, because so many things that we do today are. Our culture and society is vastly different than the one that is written and talked about in the Bible. I think someone’s relationship with God, is just that. Their relationship. It isn’t up to you or I to pass judgement on the way they reach out to God.

Author’s Note (this is an edited excerpt from a previous blog): It is interesting that someone would desire to remain associated to Christianity if he also desires to refute some of its basic claims. I say this not against Matt, but to many celebrities, such as Macklemore, who attempt to do so.

There is an old illustration that describes this well. The illustration details a repair man replacing the parts of his boat. After purchasing the boat he begins to replace its every component. He switches out the motor, the hull, the deck, and the seats. Before long, there is no original element left of the boat.

Is it the same boat?


Likewise, when one switches out all of the original components to Christianity, as determined by God primarily through the Bible, it is no longer Christianity.

Is there anything else that you would like to say or add that wasn’t included in this interview?

I just want to say that there will never be a time, no matter what happens, that I would actively hate someone for the beliefs they hold, or the religion that they practice. We are all immensely more complicated than these few social issues that bring out the worst in some people.

I will always be willing to rationally discuss and debate anything with someone as long as I am afforded the same courtesy. Which is why I like you so much Jared!  You are one of the few people I am still friends with where we don’t get into some heated screaming match over who’s right and who’s wrong.

Author’s Note: I believe that Matt is on to something here, and that even those that disagree with his lifestyle can learn from it. Christians should never actively hate people because they disagree with them. This is both counterproductive and unchristian. Jesus never hated those that disagreed with him. In fact, while hanging on the cross, he prayed for them. We may believe that they are separated from God, but hating them doesn’t advance the gospel. Our job is to share the truth, to share it in love, and to hope that God uses our efforts to save them and lead them to eternal life in Christ.

Final Note: I usually put the phrase “same sex marriage” in quotations, because I believe the term to be oxymoronic. That is, I believe it is on par with saying, “squared circle.” In this interview the term shows up from time to time without the quotations because it is included in Matt’s answers, and he doesn’t view it that way.

Picture Credit


christian-tattoo-on-wristThe phrase “come as you are” is one that is synonymous with the Christian faith. It’s a phrase that’s heralded to the downtrodden, the prodigal, and the lost. It’s one that suggests, “It doesn’t matter where you have been or what you have done, because Jesus accepts you ‘just as you are.’” Thus, it’s a highly appealing phrase because it provides a great hope for those who feel as though they are beyond repair.

It’s a wonderful statement. But it only tells half of the story.

When we view the phrase from a biblical framework, there are a few conclusions to which we can come:


Paul writes in Romans 5:12,

Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

This essentially means that everyone is conceived and born into this world as sinners, separated from God. This is what most refer to as “original sin.” This idea of original sin is advanced in Romans 3:10 when Paul says that our sin leaves us utterly depraved, with no desire to search for God. This means that before God we are “just as we are,” which is hopelessly lost. This also means that the phrase “come just as you are” is a bit misleading because although those who come to God through Jesus all come “just as we are,” we really don’t come at all.

It is instead God who comes.

In the Garden of Eden He walked in the cool of the day to find Adam and Eve after they had sinned (Genesis 3:8).

At the Tower of Babel he came down when we disobeyed His command to spread out and fill the earth (Genesis 11).

And he ultimately came when he sent his Son Jesus to die in our steads because we were lost in our sin (John 3:16).

God has been coming and finding us just as we are since the beginning of time. And he always finds us “just as we are.”


The most popular use of “coming just as you are” is used in the context of worship and not salvation. It’s not difficult to find a worship song that includes the phrase. The idea of such songs is that, regardless of how you spent your week, you can still “come as you are before your God.”

This, however, can be a very dangerous endeavor.

Consider for a moment a couple named Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). The couple sold a piece of land but held back a portion of the funds in their offering to God. The text says that the result was that Ananias “fell down and breathed his last” (Acts 5:5). Sapphira suffered the same fate (Acts 5:10).

Ananias and Sapphira didn’t die because they didn’t give God their entire paycheck. They died because they essentially came before God unprepared for worship (i.e., they “came just as they were”).

The context of their sin is seen in Acts 4 when the church was of “one heart and soul” and not “one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them” (32). Ananias and Sapphira wanted others to think that they were part of this one heart and soul, but didn’t actually want to be of the one heart and soul.

They “came just as they were,” and it was the death of them.

The Old Testament conveys the same message. The High Priest, prior to worship, needed to offer up sacrifices “for his own sins and then for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 7:27). The idea is that instead of coming to God just as he was, he prepared himself to stand before the presence of God.

Before we “come just as we are before our God,” we should examine ourselves in order that we may come before God for worship.


We live in what many call the “post-modern” world. The post-modern mindset questions the very idea of truth, suggesting that it doesn’t exist. This tends to breed compromise and tolerance. All beliefs are welcomed, accepted, and meaningful, but no single belief takes precedence over another. In other words, Jesus may work for one person, but not for another, and that is okay.

This worldview, however, simply does not jive logically, especially with the faith that we call Christianity. Jesus claimed to be “the way.” Thus he is either “the way” or not “the way,” but he cannot be “a way.”

Although this is the case, there are some who attempt to combine post-modernism and Christianity, which results in half-truths like, “come just as you are.” The phrase sounds welcoming and forgiving, but it isn’t necessarily biblical because it is an incomplete sentence.

A better way of stating the phrase would be, “Come just as you are, but expect to be changed!”


In the book, Jim and Casper Go to Church, (a book in which a believer and non-believer travel the nation visiting and evaluating churches), Jim and Casper visit a church in Portland, Oregon called “The Bridge.” The title of the chapter is, Come As You Really Are.

The chapter is about how “The Bridge” is a church designed for those who have become disenchanted with the “normal” way of doing church, and so it accepts the “outcasts” who can come as they “really are,” as opposed to the rest of us who come, I’m assuming, as we “really aren’t.”

These “outcasts” have tattoos, smoke at the entryway, and talk during the “sermon,” among other things. Jim and Casper seem to really like this church because it accepts people “just as they are,” while other churches allegedly use the phrase without truly meaning it.

The problem with this is that becoming a follower of Jesus is more than just “being who you are,” because “being who you are” means being a wretched sinner. Being “who you are” means that, although you identify your shortcomings, you are okay with them because, well, “it’s just who I am.”

But God calls us to leave our sinful ways behind and to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Granted, this takes time. It is not expected (or even possible) that we immediately become a perfect person upon becoming a Christian, but there is a process that should begin to take place in us called sanctification. This process does not mean that an individual is not saved if he has a tattoo, smokes, or talks during the sermon (to cite the list included in Jim and Casper’s book). It does mean, however, that when a person becomes a follower of Jesus that he begins to act more like Jesus. And Jesus lived contrary to the world.

Coming just as you are is essentially impossible, but by the grace of God He finds you where you are, changes your heart, and calls you to become something holy.

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The_Fault_in_Our_StarsThere’s a moment in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when the Roman nobleman, Cassius, says to another nobleman, Brutus, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” The context of Cassius’ statement is that his and Brutus’ unjust destinies are not the result of anything supernatural (something “in the stars”), but of their own poor choices.

This is a statement that has held its place in culture, but author John Green’s latest book seeks to dismantle this philosophy.

Green  himself, in response to a reader’s question, writes,

“. . . that’s ridiculous. There is plenty of fault in our stars. Many people suffer needlessly not because they’ve done something wrong or because they’re evil or whatever but because they get unlucky. I wanted to try to write a novel about how we navigate a world that isn’t fair, and whether it’s possible to have a full and meaningful life even if you don’t get to play out your life on a grand stage the way Cassius and Brutus did” (The Fault in Our Stars: Collector’s Edition, 4).


The Fault in Our Stars is a book starring Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16 year old cancer survivor whose physical life has been left in shambles from her battle. Her lungs, as Hazel herself describes, “suck” and she is subjected to toting oxygen around wherever she goes. To say that she lives an abnormal teenage life would be a grand understatement.

The novel takes off when Hazel attends a support group and meets another cancer survivor named Augustus Waters, a quick-witted, humorously-cynical 17 year old boy who quickly falls in love with her. The two embark on a philosophical journey together as they share their deepest emotions concerning the unjust landscape of their lives.


Augustus Waters is arguably one of the most lovable characters in modern day fiction. I recently told my wife that “I wish he were real, because I would love to know him.” He is the rare personality that brightens up life because he sees it from a unique angle. Some of the more humorous portions of the novel exist when Augustus sacrifices his video game avatar to save nonexistent, pixelated innocents. In so doing, his character naturally dies and he himself loses the game. But this is how Augustus plays the game, because it’s how Augustus plays life. He is obsessed with the concept of dying an honorable, meaningful death, and has a difficult time reconciling how that is possible when one dies of cancer.

It is Augustus that helps bring life to the dying protagonist, Hazel Grace. The friendship and relationship they foster is certainly a positive element to the story and although they both live on the diving board of death, together they are capable of standing firm on that slippery, flimsy board.


Much of The Fault in Our Stars is spiritual. A quick Google search will reveal that John Green considers himself a Christian, although he allegedly doesn’t like boxing himself in with this title. The support group takes place in a church, God is often alluded to, and Bible verses even appear here and there, albeit out of context.

To say that the book paints an accurate picture of biblical Christianity, however, would be far-fetched. In fact, I would go as far as to say that God is often recreated and mocked. Augustus and Hazel would be what I consider nominal Christians. They seem to understand the basic concepts, like most Americans would, but they certainly don’t live by godly standards. It is assumed that everyone goes to heaven and that those that die of cancer might even have a special place there, although, to be fair, the protagonists seem to deny this claim.

The novel’s title, in and of itself, suggests that there is fault with God’s sovereignty in creation, and that mankind isn’t responsible, or at least as responsible, as Shakespeare’s Cassius alleged. Spiritually speaking, this is simply not the case. The fault is not in God (“the stars”), but a result of the Fall of Genesis 3. This is arguably my largest contention with the novel. Green assumes that all people are good and that things like cancer are unfair additions to life. While I would agree that cancer, and other evils like it, are horrible and devastating occurrences, we cannot ignore that such things are the inevitable result of mankind’s decision to disobey God. Thus, Cassius was right. The fault is in ourselves.

There are other claims about God in the novel, one being a fictional father in a fictional novel that the fictional author, Peter Van Houten, claims represents God (which isn’t in good taste). But one of the more revealing aspects of Green’s spiritual claims might be in an answer he gives to a reader in the Collector’s Edition of his novel. Green writes that “books belong to their readers,” which, contextually speaking, was Green’s way of saying that readers have the freedom to interpret elements of the story to their own desires. If this is a block of Green’s foundation to his worldview, then it might explain how he interprets the Bible, which consequently affects much of what he believes it means to be a Christian, which affects his view of “the stars.”


There is essentially one major sexual episode when Augustus and Hazel engage in premarital sex during their trip to Amsterdam. There are other episodes of various characters, including Augustus and Hazel, kissing.


The book is inherently violent insofar as it is about kids with cancer, and Green pulls no punches in relating the facts about what a kid might go through when dealing with such a disease. In preparing for this book, Green spent time serving as a chaplain at a hospital with terminally ill children and wanted to convey the painful reality of death, not the graceful death often painted in other novels.


The novel includes various uses of “s–t” and “d–m.”


No drug content, but the characters, underage, do partake of champagne. To my recollection there are no scenes where the characters get drunk. Augustus often has a cigarette in his mouth, but he  never lights it. It is a metaphor that he is in control of his life and that this tool of death has no power over him.


The most negative elements of this novel rest in the influence it will undoubtedly bring to its young readers. Because it is such an engaging read and because the characters are so lovable, I can see many students learning from much of the fictional elements involved, treating them as truth. There are false concepts of mathematics (specifically claims on the philosophical understanding of infinity) and medicine, as well as misguided claims of biblical Christianity. There are also logically fallible philosophical claims that have little, if any, warrant. Green opens the book in writing, “This book is a work of fiction. I made it up,” but this does little to clarify what is real and what is not real in its claims.


The Fault in Our Stars is a very enjoyable read. It’s hard to put down and it can be read quickly. I would not personally recommend it to any person younger than 16, and even with that (given my Christian faith), I would be cautious. It makes a variety of philosophical claims about life and can serve as a tool for philosophical discussions concerning gratuitous evils, which are conversations parents should have with their children. But it is my conviction that these conversations should be rooted and cultivated by Scripture, not fiction. Although, fiction is a fun way to add to the conversation after a firm foundation has been built in God’s Word.

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.


1-macklemoregayThis is a rendition of a blog originally posted in July of 2013.

Last night on the Grammys, Macklemore sang his culturally beloved song, “Same Love.” This song is essentially written as a mantra against those who oppose homosexuality, specifically as it relates to “same-sex marriage.” It’s also become somewhat of a mascot song for those that support homosexuality. Macklemore, according to his own lyrics, isn’t gay, but he is put out with those who oppose it.

The song includes three verses that make bold proclamations concerning homosexuality, summarizing three of the most common reasons to support it. Each is listed below with a few insights into each, suggesting how they are misguided.


The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago

Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin (1 Cor 6:9), and therefore those that believe Scripture are simply trusting what it says. With that said, Scripture also says that sin is, and Macklemore agrees, a “predisposition” (Rom 5). It’s something every person is born with. And as a predisposition, everybody has a “decision” to either act on it or not. Some act on it by lying. Others act on it by stealing. And some act on it by planting a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a predisposition to which every person is subjected. Thus, since Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin, (and since it speaks of sin as a predisposition), it is not unreasonable to say that homosexuality is the fruit of a decision rooted in a predisposed, sinful nature.

But this, contrary to Macklemore’s rap, doesn’t mean that it’s okay. We would never, for example, suggest that rape is okay. No one could reasonably say, “Aw, leave that guy assaulting that woman alone. Stop trying to rewire his predisposition with your personal preferences. He can’t help himself.”

Macklemore is perhaps correct in suggesting that “right wing conservatives think . . . it can be cured with religion,” but right wing conservatives who think this way are wrong. Sin cannot be cured by religion. Sin can only be cured by Jesus. And while the organized worship of Jesus is in fact “religion,” it’s not organized worship that cures sin. The Bible certainly doesn’t speak of “religion” as “rewiring” our sinful natures. It speaks of Jesus as making us a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). There is a big difference. We aren’t even the same machine after he gets ahold of us and we therefore can’t be “rewired.” The old “wires” aren’t even there anymore.

But God “loves all his children,” right? That’s what the Bible says, is it not? Actually, no. It says quite the opposite. While God indeed loves people, all people are not his “children.” Only those that claim Jesus as Lord–and believe everything that comes along with this claim–are considered his “adopted children.” The Bible records Jesus, God’s Son, telling a group of unsaved individuals that their “father” is “the devil” (John 8:44).

In other words, God is not their father and they are not his children.


It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself

Here, Macklemore essentially says that “gay is the new black,” meaning, that those who oppose homosexual behavior are on par with those who opposed the abolition of slavery. But I don’t see signs in restaurant bathrooms and over water fountains for “homosexuals” and “straights.” I don’t see schools for “homosexuals” and schools for “straights.” I don’t see straight people forcing homosexuals to sit in the back of the bus. In fact, I see quite the opposite.

Ryan Anderson for example, a proponent for traditional marriage, was interviewed (or attacked) on Piers Morgan’s show for his beliefs. Piers and Suze Orman (a lesbian) both sat at the central table whereas Mr. Anderson had to sit with the audience. No doubt this was because of his stance on “same-sex marriage.”

Christians, at least those with the right state of mind, aren’t telling homosexuals that they have to sit at the back of the bus. They are standing up for biblical rights as dictated by Scripture.

Macklemore suggests that everybody deserves human rights, to which a Christian should agree. Everybody deserves basic human “rights.” But Macklemore, along with countless other “left wing liberals” (to parallel his title), misunderstand what a human “right” is. Marriage, for example, isn’t a human “right” so much as it is a God ordained institution (Gen 2) to which one can be privy if he abides by God’s standards. And God defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.

To make it anything else is to alter the very meaning of the word, forcing it to become something entirely different. We might as well call walking, running, say that 2+2=5, or remove other standards like the unlawfulness of incest or polygamy.

Redefining marriage is to take a God-designed institution and manipulate it into something that we want it to be. It’s telling God that we don’t want him, but we do want his ideas so that we can manipulate them into things that fit our personal preferences. We are throwing out the baby and the bath water, filling the tub up with something else, then calling it the same thing.


When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

The most curious element to Macklemore’s song is its citation of the Christian faith. It is baffling that someone would associate himself with Christianity, as Macklemore does, if that person denies all of its claims.

There is an old illustration that describes this well. The illustration details a repair man replacing the parts of his boat. After purchasing the boat he begins to replace its every component. He switches out the motor, the hull, the deck, and the seats. Before long, there is no original element left of the boat.

Is it the same boat?


Likewise, when one switches out all of the original components to Christianity, as determined by God primarily through the Bible, it is no longer Christianity. And Macklemore’s statements that the Bible is merely a “book written thirty-five hundred years ago” hints to his feelings that his contemporary thoughts override its ageless truths.

The context of Macklemore’s rap suggests that anything that might hurt someone’s feelings is considered “hate,” and this is not “anointed.” But what if we turned around the line? What if a “right wing conservative” suggested that it was hateful to force one’s homosexual agenda upon him? Why can it only be a one-way street? Would this not be the homosexuals employing the “hate that caused war” onto us? Isn’t that what Piers and Suze did to Ryan during their interview?

But what if the initial “haters” weren’t “hating” at all? What if there was a good explanation for why they believed the way they did about homosexuality?

One of the clearest passages in Scripture describing homosexuality as a deadly sin is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Paul writes, “Do not be deceived; homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is a way of saying that homosexuality is contradictory to God’s standards and that it is evidence of a life that has not been redeemed by Jesus. The result is no inheritance of God’s kingdom, or no eternal life in what most call “Heaven.” Thus, if you claim any association with the God of the Holy Scriptures then you must abide by this standard, otherwise you are building a new boat.

This is an important verse because it reveals the devastating reality of the sin of homosexuality. I don’t oppose homosexuality because I am a stubborn-minded bigot who is simply regurgitating my environmental conditioning. I oppose homosexuality because God opposes homosexuality. I also oppose it because, according to Scripture, it is a lifestyle that reveals that one has not been redeemed by Jesus, and this lack of redemption will ultimately result in an eternity separated from God. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.

Now, if I may, a rap of my own:

Jesus is the best and I’ll tell you why
He came to earth to live and then to die
For you and me because we were lost
God sent his only son to die on the cross*

*Stolen from a VBS rhyme from when I was like seven.

Further Reading:
What Macklemore Got Wrong … And Right by Denny Burk

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babyI should probably add to the title: “And Why They Are Unwarranted.”

Some weeks ago “#praytoendabortion” became a trend on Twitter. And, to the astonishment of many, the trend lasted for a few days. These astonished individuals, considering the trend unwarranted, tweeted such statements as,

“#PrayToEndAbortion is such an ignorant trend. Women deserve the right to their own bodies and to decide what happens to their bodies.”


“#PraytoEndAbortion is trending. *expletive* It’s up to every women to do what she wants to her body. Period.”


“Yes, let’s all #PrayToEndAbortion. Not ending rape or sexual assault, but let’s worry about eliminating a woman’s right to choose. #prochoice.”

After evaluating the discussion, I’ve narrowed down the most common statements from today’s outspoken tweeters into three responses. I’ve also included some insights into each response.


One of the most common phrases I hear about abortion, particularly those who have participated in it, is, “I had an abortion.” In fact, one girl actually told me on twitter that she “had an abortion two weeks ago.” I’m not sure I like this phrase. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t like this phrase at all, not only because of what it means, but also because of what the phrase itself implies.

The phrase “I had an abortion” likens the event of abortion to getting an unwanted mole removed. A person who goes to the doctor to get a pesky mole removed from his face might be found saying, “I had a mole removed,” and would be justified in saying so. The idea is that the mole was an unwanted part of the body. It served no purpose. It was probably ugly. It might have even been cancerous. Regardless the reason, the phrase, “I had a mole removed,” is a warranted statement to detail the experience.

The same is not, and cannot be, true regarding abortion.

When a pro-life individual endorses the phrase, “She had an abortion,” that individual is essentially conceding to the pro-choice philosophy that an abortion is like having a mole removed. The statement fails to convey that a person was murdered during the process. It softens the experience to be more palatable, when the unbridled fact is that something absolutely devastating happened. The woman didn’t “have an abortion.” She didn’t remove an unwanted part of her body. She sacrificed one body to spare the inevitable effects to her own.

She committed an abortion.

A woman’s body is the only thing in this world that is capable of cultivating human life. And that’s special. With all of the advancements in science, scientists still can’t produce an artificial womb. This fact alone reveals that pregnancy is designed to be a beautiful gift, not a wretched curse. And although a woman may have the right to do what she wants with her own body, and although a woman’s body is inevitably effected by a pregnancy, her body isn’t the only one at stake, regardless of the age of the unborn child.


Of the various responses I hear, this one is perhaps the most unfounded, (if there is any foundation to these responses at all). This is because this response implies that a child conceived out of unfortunate circumstances is somehow less valuable than a child conceived out of fortunate circumstances.

The response implies that an unborn child might be a person, but that the person is less valuable, and justifiably murderable, because of how he was conceived.

Make no mistake about it, rape is a horrible thing. There is nothing that can be said that could justify a person forcing another person to have sex. And because sex is the way people are conceived, sometimes the act results in a pregnancy. And, unfortunately, rape, being a sexual encounter, can also result in a pregnancy. And conception through rape is always an “unwanted pregnancy.”

But even this doesn’t justify taking the life of the child. The unborn child is innocent of how he was conceived and should not suffer because of it.

When #PrayToEndAbortion was trending, I happened to get into a few discussions concerning the topic. One individual asked me, “What if it was your daughter who was raped?” The question was an intimate one, for I am currently expecting my first child, a daughter. My response was as follows: “Life is life, regardless of the unfortunate circumstance of conception.”

While I don’t have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body, and while rape is a devastating event, the fact is that such an act still doesn’t justify the murder of an innocent child.

It just doesn’t.

We should not be in the business of determining which life is more valuable than another based on circumstances outside our control. When we do, we follow in the footsteps of people like Adolf Hitler, who desired to dismantle an entire ethnicity because they did not meet his standard of life.


This is perhaps the most popular response for a pro-choice argument. And it is assuredly one of the most fundamental questions concerning abortion. If a person becomes a person at conception, then abortion is murder. If a person doesn’t become a person until birth, then abortion is not murder.

What is the answer?

I want to provide my insights in two ways. First, I want to address a picture I saw during the Twitter trend that one individual posted with a statement likened to, “I’m solving the issue with this single picture!” Here is the picture:


As seen, whoever designed this picture suggests that since an egg yolk is not a chicken, and since an acorn is not a tree, and since silk is not a dress, that a sperm-impregnated egg is not a person.

There are significant fallacies with this picture. For brevity’s sake I’ll focus on one.

Chickens can lay eggs without the egg actually being fertilized by a rooster. So the author is correct in that the egg yolk isn’t a chicken, much like a woman’s unfertilized egg is not a person. If the egg was fertilized, then it would be a chicken, albeit in an early stage.

He is right in his statement, but wrong in his conclusion.

The idea is that there is an obvious difference between a fertilized and unfertilized egg. One is a chicken and the other is breakfast, respectively. This picture actually helps disprove that which it is trying to prove, than the other way around.

Second, I would be remiss to ignore that my stance on abortion is drawn from my faith in Jesus. Quite simply, God’s Word declares that children are a gift of the Lord and that God actually knits a person while he is in his mother’s womb. For this reason alone a “fetus” is a person from conception.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward (Ps 127:3, NASB).

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb (Ps 139:13, NASB).

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you (Jer 1:5, NASB).


Who am I, as a man, to argue with an abortion-minded woman against her desire to terminate a pregnancy affecting her body?

I’m an individual who cares about life, especially innocent life.

If the unsafest place for a person is inside his mother’s womb, and if we are okay with that, then we live in a culture that knowingly embraces the Holocaust 2.0.

I’m not a man telling a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. I’m a man affirming the right to life. This is something that Jesus came to give everyone, and to give it abundantly.

“The thief comes only to … kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

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draftThe other day I saw a post on a social network, from a Christian, linking an article of a young man, who is also a Christian, outlining his realistic potential to be drafted into the NFL this summer. The original poster, in linking the article, posted something along the lines of, “With God all things are possible!”

While I am sure the intent of this individual was genuine, (and while I’m proud of the prospective NFL player), I am afraid that  Jesus’ statement, “With God all things are possible” was severely taken out of context here. And this is unfortunately just one example of how this statement is often abused. You see, when Jesus said, “With God all things are possible,” he wasn’t suggesting that God’s goal for the believer is to bless him with the rare opportunity to become a professional athlete. In fact, he wasn’t talking about how God’s goal for the believer is to accomplish anything that the world might deem rare and illustrious. Such an interpretation would suggest that any believer can achieve such a goal, and that such a goal would be the height of what it means to be a believer.

Instead, God was talking about something spiritual. He was talking about how it’s impossible for a person to be saved from eternal death, but that with God it becomes possible.

And this is something that I would rather be made possible than the ability to play football in the NFL.

While it’s true that it might be in God’s plan for a person who happens to be a believer to play in the NFL, the NBA, the MLB, or even the NHL (is hockey even still a sport?), Jesus’ statement, “With God all things are possible” has nothing to do with such a feat. Instead, it has everything to do with what man can’t do, which is save himself. But thankfully, with God, we can be saved from ourselves, our sins, and death.

To read a full exposition of Jesus’ statement, I invite you to read my recent article “What Does it Mean when Jesus says, ‘With God All Things are Possible?’” in the Odessa American.

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OrphanSince announcing our adoption roughly two years ago, my wife and I have encountered a range of questions concerning the details of the process. This article cites the three most often asked questions and provides insights into each of them.


When my wife and I first announced our adoption, we didn’t have any kids. Today we are expecting our first biological child. Naturally, before the pregnancy, many assumed that we discovered that we were unable to have biological children. We began to hear comments like, “You just wait! I know of a lot of couples that decided to adopt and then got pregnant!” (You can imagine their elation once we announced our pregnancy!) We also began to get some sympathetic looks in attempts to mend our alleged pain. We even had some rather bold personalities directly ask us if we can’t have kids.

Now that we are pregnant we often hear the question, “Are you still planning to adopt?”

The question assumes that adoption is reserved as a secondary plan for parents that can’t have kids, and that adopting while also having the ability to have biological children is like adding an unneeded ingredient to a recipe.

The “cake” is just fine without the “extra cup of sugar.”

Our motivation for adoption is rooted in our faith in Christ. This is why it isn’t dependent on our ability or inability to have biological children. We knew we wanted to have biological children and we also knew we wanted to adopt, so we pursued both.

It doesn’t have to be “either/or”; it can be “both/and.”


As a pastor I often get the question, “Pastor, why go on mission trips overseas whenever we have lost people right here in our own city!” My answer to such a question is likened to my answer to the current question concerning adoption: Why should love be restricted to regions?

Like the previous question, this one assumes that we have only one option. It also assumes that one option is better. But the gospel isn’t restricted to our local contexts. If I travel to a neighboring town and come across a lost person, I would never tell him, “I would love to share the gospel with you, but you see, there are a ton of lost people in my hometown, so I cannot talk to you about how you can have eternal life in Jesus.”

This is because the gospel is for everyone. We should share it with our neighbors across the street and with the strangers across the world.

This is what Jesus taught:

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:14).

The amazing thing about God’s love is that it is unrestricted. And this truth translates into the ministry of adoption. It is true that our nation hosts countless children that need a mom and dad, but this doesn’t negate the truth that other nations also host countless children that need a mom and dad. Like the calling of a missionary to serve in the field, so God calls couples to adopt children from all over the world, and that is a testimony to his relentless love for “all creation.”


Of all the questions we have had, this one is the most vitriolic. We have lost longtime relationships with individuals because of their vehement opposition to our desire to adopt a child that might have a dark skin pigmentation.

Such a child, in their words, “Is not welcome in our home.”

It is important to note that this question is misguided in that there is one human race. If this truth could be understood then the type of thinking mentioned above could be abolished. While it is true that our race includes people with different skin pigmentations, such differences do not categorize people into different races. Such thinking leads to ethnocentrism, which results in things like the Holocaust.

We should be careful in how we use the word “race” when speaking of humans.

It would be naive to suggest that a light skinned family adopting a child with a dark skin pigmentation does not come with its obstacles. I often think about what it would be like if I was the only light skinned person in a family, adopted out of my country of origin. It would undoubtedly invoke issues. But these issues are not insurmountable. In fact, victory in such issues would be beneficial. And this is one of the reasons why we believe God has called us to go in this direction.

Multi-ethnic families can provide a beautiful picture of God’s boundless love for people of all different colors and nations.


Adoption is a glorious thing. It’s the act of a guardian embracing an unguarded child and saying, “I choose you as my son.” What a remarkable thought! An adopted child can claim something that nobody else can: “My mom and dad came after me. When I was lost, they found me and gave me love.”

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Such love is not bounded by the restrictions listed in the questions above. It transcends them. And it’s the love that God illustrates to the world. As potential parents of an adopted child, we choose to love this child because God chose to love us.

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

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