Category Archives: Faith

Robin Williams Standup

Robin Williams, Matt Walsh and Real Hope

It still doesn’t seem real that the comedic legend Robin Williams is no longer with us. Brink & I look back at the epic legacy of Mr. Williams. His talent was exceptional, and it seemed that he had a real joy to share with his audience. That apparent dichotomy in his life – between a public joy and what appears to have been some very dark times in his personal life – makes his story all the more poignant.

The extremely compelling Matt Walsh took to his blog last week and penned a provoking piece on the reaction to the loss, specifically expressing his belief that Mr. Williams death wasn’t something his disease inexorably demanded – but was his own choice.

Brink loved the piece and explains why. He felt it expressed truth in a bold, compelling and touching way.

I disliked it, though I normally very much enjoy Matt’s work. I express my hesitations as to the piece’s timing, tone & claim as to the matter of a decision / vs. the horrors of a disease.

Yet a midst all the inescapable sadness of this story, we wrap our discussion up with the great hope that there is One who is greater than all the powers of this earth – for good or ill. And we can each come to know Him.

Having the Faith to Make ‘The Call’

Easley Call

There’s not too many things we can be absolutely certain of in our lives. Yet here’s one truth we can know for sure – there will come a time when we’ll have to make a decision. We’ll have to say yes or no, to take one path or the other. And when we make that call, some people may pat us on the back and praise us, but others will very likely be vocal in saying we made the wrong choice. That’s hard.

Thankfully, most of us don’t come to that moment in front of a national television audience numbering in the millions… and in front of a crowd of 68,000 screaming fans. Here’s the story of a man whose decision time came in just that epic scenario.

Lance Easley, an NFL replacement official, could never have expected he’d be on the field on the night of September 24th, 2012 as the Green Bay Packers visited the Seattle Seahawks – much less that he’d be in a position to make the call that would decide the contest. Listen below as he tells the unlikely and remarkable tale of his path to that decision, its consequences, and how his faith guided him through the massive backlash.

It’s a story that starts on a football field, but in the end is so much more about how we live our life, our faith & who we are in Christ. Click play below to hear our full interview with Lance…

Bell Affirms You

Rob Bell Now for Gay Marriage

This would be really funny if he didn’t have so many thoroughly good people who look up to him and respect what he says.

Rob Bell has come out for gay marriage. Humorously, this news breaks on the same day as Hillary Clinton’s reversal on the issue. Maybe it’s not as funny as I think it is. It’s late. Anyway. Here’s the money quote… Continue reading

Kids-Christmas-Gifts

The Silliness of the War on Christmas

Kids-Christmas-Gifts

Atheists are not always my favorite people, though there are a few exceptions (and you know who you are), and it seems like there’s no time of year like the Christmas (oops, I mean holiday) season to bring atheists out of the woodwork and into the courtroom. After all, there are insidious threats abroad during this conspicuous time of winter festivities. There is political correctness to be enforced, and nativity scenes to protest and billboards to put up, greeting cards to hijack and all manner of people, agencies, companies and more who need to be sued or at least intimidated into secular submission. Continue reading

TheRoadAhead

On Being Content

For three years I dreamt of moving to Arizona. When I graduated college and found myself single, I immediately exclaimed to my roommates, “Now I can move to Arizona!” I planned and anticipated and dreamed and then it happened. I moved cross country and stepped into the life I had imagined for so long. Here I sit, in the middle of the Arizona desert, on a hot summer night, dreaming about Minnesota—the place I for so long dreamt of leaving.

Now don’t get me wrong, the journey has been sweet. I love my job, the people I’ve met, the constant sunshine and warmth, and the occasional dust storm that takes over the sky. However, there’s a piece of me that longs for greenery, endless pools of water, and the friends I’m now realizing I took for granted.

Finding community as a single 25 year old in an expansive city can be hard, especially when you’re not the girl who frequents the normal twenty-somethings scene. It takes time for people to really know you—it doesn’t happen overnight. And then there’s church, which seems to be my biggest hurdle. How in the world do you go about finding a church and is there one somewhere that offers programs for single twenty-somethings, along with a solid message? It’s always one or the other, but never both. The challenges of getting plugged in can be hard and sometimes it leaves me feeling lonely.

I’ll admit, I feel important when I go back to Minnesota and brag about the mountains, the palm trees, the sunshine, the accomplishments I’ve made at work, and the restaurants I’ve started to frequent. “Hey everyone, meet the cool, new, tan and cultured Jenna. Yeah, that’s right, I did drive myself cross country and completely uproot my life. I’m pretty grown up.” That’s the prideful me speaking.

But, if I’m to be honest, there’s still something in me that’s not totally at rest here in this wonderful city. There’s a piece of me that longs for the familiarity of home—the sounds, the smells, the people. I find myself thinking that maybe Minnesota is where I belong and maybe Arizona is just meant to be a little break from the reality I’ve always known. If I ponder it for too long, I start to get restless and begin to worry that I’m never going to get things right and that I’ll always be a wanderer.

The one thing I’m learning about myself through this journey is the fact that I struggle with being content. My entire life I have looked either behind to the past or forward to the future for my satisfaction. If only I had hung on to that moment or if only tomorrow would bring me this or that. Those are the thoughts that often run through my mind.

That’s why for three years I sat and dreamt about this new home of mine. I expected it to be the antidote to my discontentment. Instead, I find myself longing for what I once had, thinking that it perhaps was what I needed all along.

But if I’ve learned one thing in the last five months, it’s the fact that my contentment is not to be found in a place or a person or a job or a house or anything of the sort. I will always long for more if that’s where my contentment is derived. I will always be lonely and searching. My contentment, my rest, and my hope is meant to be found in Jesus. I am me no matter where I am. A new city, job and friends will change certain pieces of me, but deep down, I will still be the same Jenna with the same insecurities and feelings of discontentment. Jesus is the only one who can fully step into those pieces of me and satisfy my soul.

Jesus doesn’t change with the landscape or the tide of my fickle heart. He is constant and in Him, so too can I be.

Image credit – 1peachymama.com

Redifinition

In a culture infected with moral AIDS, words lose all meaning; or, they are manipulated to obscure meaning. Thus taxes become “revenue assessment enhancements” ; murder of unborn children is “freedom of choice”; Marxism in the church is called “liberation theology.” These are all good words (in the Nazi era “the final solution” had a nice ring to it also). And everyone just nods unquestioningly.

- Charles Colson, as told by Maria Swanson

crufeature

Insight into the Campus Crusade Name Change

The following is a guest opinion from Grady Toews, who serves with Cru internationally and cares deeply about the ministry. I’d been following the story of the organization’s name change in the past days and some of the controversy that ensued, so I was very interested in a perspective from within the venerable ministry…

By now you have probably heard that Campus Crusade for Christ is changing its name to “Cru”. I have read many comments and articles criticizing the name change, so I would like to provide you with some resources to help you make a well-informed opinion on the name change…


As for my opinion on the matter:

Let me first begin by telling you about my involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ. I got involved with CCC at Montana State University where we began calling our movement “Cru” in 2007 or 08. I won’t get too detailed, but in the summer of 2008 I went on a Summer Project (short term mission) to Croatia where CCC goes by “SvakiStudent” (Every Student in Croatian). As you know, I have served the last 19 months here in Australia where we call the campus ministry “Student Life” (CCC Australia is the umbrella organization). In each of these instances we refrained from calling ourselves “Crusade” because of the negative connotations derived from the name, and our vision of “Building spiritual movements everywhere, where everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus” is the same, even without “Christ” in our name.

The name needed to be changed. Period.

I see people’s body language and attitudes change when I mention that I work for Campus Crusade for Christ. It definitely does not help me go deeper into spiritual conversations. I know many staff members who avoid saying Campus Crusade for Christ, when asked by a non-Christian…or they sidestep the question and answer, “I work for a nonprofit Christian group.”

I try to be bold in proclaiming that I follow Jesus regardless of whether or not I have to say that I work for Campus Crusade for Christ. The name change will make it easier for me to share my faith. You see when people ask me who I work for, I can say, “I work for cru.” It then gives me an opportunity to explain that I am a Christian and what I do without people putting up “walls” by hearing the word “Crusade”. I know others who will do the same.

Cru will never change its mission of preaching the gospel to all nations as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:18-20: “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”

Please email me with any questions or comments about the name change or whatever else you want to know. I am always happy to hear from you!

Until every knee bows,

Grady

yeoflittlefaith

Ye of Little Faith

Could someone please tell me what being a 24 year old is supposed to look like?

Let me be more specific—what is being a single, 24 year old Christian woman supposed to look like?

Honestly, I don’t think anyone could have successfully prepared me for the reality of adulthood.

Even as a 13 year-old non-Christian, I thought my early twenties would mean marriage and a family. By the age of 18 I had discovered the beauty of a relationship with Jesus and proclaimed to my mom, “I will be married by the age of 22. I just have a ‘feeling’.”

Here I am, 6 years later, and that feeling was wrong. I am not married. I live with my parents. I’ve discovered that adulthood is nothing like I had planned or imagined.

I’ve come to realize that I’m a wanderer and a dreamer. I dream big dreams, but I often fail to make them reality. Most of this is due to fear. Another large part is due to my Type A need for common sense and rational.

I may dream big, but I also take reality heavily into consideration. I’m 24 and single, which means I need to have a job. I need to have savings—just in case. I must be able to pay my bills, including the unexpected ones. I feel a pressure to take only calculated risks—which means I tell my friends about a major desire in my heart and then chew it over for a year or more. The timing has to be “right”. I have to “feel” like it’s time to make the next move.

No giant leaps of faith for me. Just sitting and dreaming and hardly ever acting.

But I’m starting to question if sitting and dreaming is the way I’m supposed to live. There’s something about it that feels disingenuous to me. Am I really honoring God and those I care about by sitting and dreaming? Am I unknowingly trading God’s unique call on my life for a “responsible” and “safe” existence?

Didn’t God give me dreams, desires, passions, and gifts for a purpose?

Am I glorifying Him when I choose not to take a bold step of faith, simply because I’m scared or because I feel a need for financial security?

This is where my brain starts to spin and I find myself sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor with tears in my eyes. This is also where I begin to envy my married friends, because it seems like they have the answer. They don’t have to wallow through the swamp of questions. They don’t have to worry about making a mistake and being alone. Decisions are easier for them. Or so I tell myself.

These questions overwhelm me. How do I balance head and heart? How do I seek God when sometimes I feel like He’s not answering my prayers? How do I know whether it’s His voice or my sinful flesh leading me?

How, as a 24 year old single woman (with a desire for marriage and a family), do I wait for Him and seek Him, with the knowledge that He is wonderfully good to those who do so? (Lamentations 3:25-27)

How do I look to Jesus (and NOT marriage) as the answer?

These are the questions that have haunted me as of late. I want to live an authentic life. A life full of exploration and adventure. I desire to hear the stories of others and to show them Christ’s love. I hunger for a vivid life of color and movement.

I dream of things that could only be from the Lord, but I’m terrified to trust Him to make those dreams real. I’m terrified to step out boldly and take risks—even though I know those steps are what will lead me to the authenticity and color that my soul longs for. They’ll lead me to a closer relationship with Jesus, which will totally transform my life.

And herein lies the root of these questions, my unrest, and my fear—I am far less filled with faith than I ought to be. I often don’t believe that God is big enough to take my dreams and make them real. I don’t believe that He is trustworthy enough—that He will be there to help me if I make a wrong turn and stumble. I find myself believing that I am better at taking care of myself than He is. I willingly trade my dreams of authenticity and color for a life of enough money to pay the bills and enough stability to know I won’t fall.

I am one of little faith. Even though I know what Christ has done for me. Even though I read the Bible and am reminded that I have been given everything I could ever need.

So, there’s the answer to my many questions. Faith in Christ.

There’s no real formula for “successfully” being 24. The only thing that really matters is a life-changing faith in Christ. A trust that He is all that He says He is. A belief that He will follow through, even when we can’t see the next step. A willingness to say, “Lord, I’m scared and clueless, but I trust you in the midst of these feelings. I believe you are faithful and I know that you are withholding no good thing from me.”

That’s the kind of 24 year old I want to be. Actually, that’s the kind of every age I want to be. I will ask God to do the work that needs to be done in me, because apart from Him, I’m incapable of being anything other than a scared and motionless 24 year old.

christianfailfeature

Why I’m Against a Marriage Amendment

There’s something rather disturbing happening in America, and, frankly, I’m surprised not more people are picking up on it. After all, if a serious philosophical shift was happening in a country, you’d expect intellectual leaders of all stripes raising their voices as one, yet I haven’t seen anything of the kind.
So, by way of introducing this trend, let me ask a question; is it within the judicial court’s province to define morality? Do we want to give the government that power? Of course, the answer would seem to be a resounding “no!” And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.

I write, of course, of the debate between supporters of so-called “same-sex” marriage and the supporters of heterosexual marriage. On the one side, SSM supporters are attempting to get the courts to agree with them that the gender of the marriage partners isn’t important, so they have suits filed against this county for such-and-such a ruling and that state for such-and-such a bill.

On the other side, supporters of one-man-one-woman marriages are attempting to get an amendment passed that would legally define ‘marriage’ as between one man and one woman exclusively. I think they’re trying to fight fire with fire by going to the same courts that the SSM supporters are going to and trying to get them to rule in their favor.

The problem with fighting fire with fire, however, is that sometimes you just have twice as many fires.
You see, if we give the courts this power, we are essentially blurring the line between the law of the land and the law of nature, or to call it its other name, the moral law. You see, those two things are very, very different. The moral law is, simply put, a system that everyone on earth agrees upon. Everyone agrees that killing is wrong. Now, of course there are people who might bring up some cultures where cannibalism is practiced as an exception to this rule. The problem is, no cannibalistic culture eats its own members. It might laud the consumption of one’s enemies or eats its deceased members, but, if a man kills another man for food, that society would punish him. Theft is also something that we can all agree upon is wrong. In fact, along with murder and theft, we would also all agree that cheating on one’s spouse, lying, and jealousy for something someone else owns is wrong. So, I would argue, every culture on the planet agrees that murder, theft, lying, and adultery are all really bad things.

Hmm. That list sounds familiar.

But, that’s not all that Morality says on the matter of, well, morality. Because, morality simply does not matter at all if there isn’t a higher power at work. Seriously. I’m not just saying that because I’m a Christian (although, I’m sure some readers stopped reading this article the moment I wrote that). Morality means absolutely nothing if there isn’t some kind of reward and punishment system in place. Why should I care if there isn’t some kind of punishment for all my bad deeds? I could rape little children and it really wouldn’t matter in the long run because, once I’m dead, I don’t exist.

Sorry, Rob. There must be punishment, and lots and lots of it, for morality to mean anything. Thus, if there’s punishment, there also must be a punisher, a being, better than us, who has a standard to measure a person’s conduct against. Christians call this being God. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another religion that has a being like the Judeo-Christian God, but, you’re free to call Him what you want. We call Him Yahweh, because that’s what He calls Himself. Anyway, a higher power, a punisher, must exist for morality to mean anything.

Now, this punisher, God, has a standard and, being just, He would naturally want to give people fair warning of the danger they’re in and, also, how to get out of danger. And, thus, we have a written document, the Bible. Because, you see, Christianity can be viewed as a moral system and that very system is what has given rise to our legal system and, yes, even our values of hard work, faithfulness, the value of children, etc. That is the moral system that even the least Christian of the founding fathers assumed. It was assumed all over Europe at the time and it was assumed in the thirteen colonies of America. And it greatly influenced the law of the land here.

Now, the law of the land is the law, set down by the government, for the general governance of people’s behavior. It tells us not to murder, lie, cheat, or steal; otherwise, the government will come after you and punish you for those things. But, where did the government get this idea?

Evolutionists would tell you it was developed over hundreds of thousands of years as man evolved to think and reason and, thus, for a society to survive, it created these rules. These rules then help us run a smooth and efficient society. Whether this is a valid argument or not (and I suspect it’s not), it really is peripheral to my argument that morality is based upon a higher power, whether divine or evolutionary. Either way, morality came before government. Thus, law is the acknowledgment of a pre-existing moral system. Thus, the law of the land is subservient to the law of morality.

Now, the legal system being an acknowledgment of the moral system means that the American legal system is heavily indebted to the Christian moral system. The courts simply do not have the power to change that moral system, no matter how much they may want to. It’s not their place. Any law that clashes against the established moral law immediately is invalidated, again, whether people like it or not.

Herein lays my problem with the pro-SSM organizations and pro-OMOW (I didn’t just make up that acronym. You have to dig deep into Google to find it, though) group; they are attempting to give the court the power to decide what is moral and immoral. The role of the courts is not to do that. The role of the court is to acknowledge first what is moral and immoral then decides what category the thing in question falls into.
So, what does this have to do with SSM? Actually, it has everything to do with it, because the debate about marriage is a moral debate. You see, the pro-SSM group keeps couching the legitimacy of marriage firmly in the realm of a ‘right.’ But, a ‘right’ isn’t given out by the government. If it was, then any government is perfectly welcome to oppress and enslave its people, denying the rights of women and minorities as it pleases. Of course, we fight against those kinds of governments because it’s better for people to have rights. Thus, if we say these governments are bad for denying the rights of their people, we are acknowledging two things; 1), that rights do exist outside of governmental control and, 2) that having rights is a good thing. Not just a good thing, but the value of a government is based almost entirely upon the way it treats its people. And the way it treats its people is based upon its moral system. That makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s why we fight for the freedom of others, because it’s a good and moral thing to do. So, we can easily see that any talk of ‘rights’ is a talk heavily seasoned with morality.

That being the case, the issue of homosexual rights is an issue of morality. Unfortunately, we are quickly giving the government the power to decide what the definition of “right” and “wrong” is, rather than deciding whether something is right or wrong. If we do that, then we’ve essentially given moral authority to people who can be mistaken, bought, and threatened into making something moral or immoral. That would be disastrous. Do you really want a judge who can be bought for several thousands of dollars to judge that child pornography is legal and, therefore, moral? Of course not! That’s madness! But, that’s what we’re essentially opening ourselves up for.

Thus, I am against a marriage amendment while still perfectly supporting traditional marriage. It’s just that it would be far safer to keep this debate a discussion based upon moral systems, rather than judicial precedence. It would set a far more dangerous precedent that will get us into much more trouble than a few hollow victories in the court rooms. Let’s, instead, attempt to change the hearts and minds of the people who hold the power to vote people in and out of office and, thus, affect real, lasting change in America. This is really the only safe way to move forward in this debate.