Unity When Tempers Rage

In many ways, when conflict arises in our lives, we can be bent toward winning the argument instead of reconciling the relationship. What if, however, our main goal in the face of conflict was to unify with the opposing side rather than destroy it?

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In Acts 15, the Apostle Peter gives us a good example of using the truth of the gospel to unify a group of Jewish believers and Gentile believers. A “sharp dispute and debate had arisen” between the two camps (v. 2), with Paul and Barnabas on one side and certain believers on the other. These believers insisted that the non-Jewish Christians had to adhere to the custom of Moses (the Law), or they could not be saved (v. 1).

3 Fail-Proof Ways to Make the Most of Summer

Every single May, my wife and I pack up our family to move to Ocean City, Maryland for the summer. We move into our spot on the coast for six weeks in order to run one of the most influential, life-changing events Cru has to offer a college student.

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We host 35 students and 15 staff for a Summer Mission. The best part is that my two young kids get to be a part of it too.

Summer Mission is a lot like spiritual boot camp for college students who want to grow in their faith and learn how to more effectively share the gospel. At the beginning of the Mission, I often tell the students that we have five weeks to prepare them for the next 50 years. We take that responsibility very seriously.

We ask the students to step out in faith. To be willing to grow in ways that may feel quite uncomfortable, because while they’re in Ocean City, we’re not going to do life “business as usual.” Practically, this breaks down into weekly prayer times, Bible study, large group meetings, corporate worship, ministry activities, organized evangelism, men’s/women’s times, and social events, along with a few surprises thrown in for their development.

Should We Have Kids?

Many married couples are putting off the decision on whether to have children … and an increasing number choose to not have any.

The past 20 years in college campus ministry have given me much opportunity to observe the choices made by recently graduated newlywed couples. Most of these couples live in that interesting stage of life commonly called “Married-With-No-Kids.”

Sure, some couples make the choice to immediately start having kids after they get married. And some start the adoption process early into their marriage. But from what I’ve seen, a lot of married Christian couples wait anywhere between one to six years before pressing questions about children enter the picture. My wife and I waited around five years before we had our first daughter. Most of the couple friends around our age waited about the same time.

When Life Gets Tough, Self-Esteem Is Not the Answer

I have two daughters in elementary school, which means my perspective of the world has taken on a drastically different viewpoint in comparison to how it used to see things pre-children. In fact, it might sound somewhat silly, but before I had kids, I had no idea who Daniel Tiger was. Can you believe that? I also didn’t know about the delightful Curious George Swings Into Spring movie special on PBS. Weird, huh?

Before I had kids, I would never have been so ridiculously excited for the Frozen 2 movie trailer.  And I never would have listened to multiple Sofia the First soundtrack albums on repeat in my car. What a sheltered life I used to live.

But as a result of my consistent kid-themed entertainment intake, I’ve become well-versed in the repeated message it routinely drips with—namely, to be a good human, you need a robust self-esteem.

PreachersNSneakers

Does it really matter if preachers wear hip clothes or live expensive lifestyles?

What should preachers wear or not wear for a Sunday morning sermon? Modest clothes? A suit? Stylish outfits to mirror culture? Plain clothes to avoid appearing overly flashy?

Pastor fashion is an interesting topic recently thrust into the limelight by the popular Instagram account PreachersNSneakers. Over 155,000 followers find humor in the way the account gently pokes fun at celebrity preachers for their wildly expensive footwear and attire. By posting pictures, often in split screen, showing the hefty price tag attached to the pastor’s trendy clothes and designer footwear, followers see the irony of these outfit choices.

But some have balked at the not-so-subtle judgmental tone PreachersNSneakers has taken. And as with practically everything on the internet, strong opinions have formed on either side of the subject. Which begs the question, “Does it really matter if preachers of the gospel wear hip clothes or live expensive lifestyles?”

Pressure Points Now Available

It’s been a long time from start to finish, but Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress is finally available! You can purchase it directly from New Growth Press for a reduced price, or find it on Amazon.

If you’re a college student, high school student, or young professional (or know someone who is), I wrote this for you. Covering the pressures of life purpose, relationships with others, and difficulties, Pressure Points aims to focus you on gospel-centered solutions when life’s bumps get tough. I’d love it if you’d buy a copy and leave me a (hopefully positive) review.

Thanks so much.

 

5 Things Taylor Swift Gets Right on Her 30 Birthday Lessons

Taylor Swift is turning thirty in December. In light of that, Elle recently published her article about the 30 things she learned before turning 30. The list has since become a massive trending topic on social media, because people like me and my wife are mildly-to-obsessively interested in nearly everything Taylor Swift puts out there for the world to see.

In her list, Swift beautifully blends heart with humor, along with practicality and purpose (her love of Command Strips to hang things on the wall, for example, was both funny and functional).

Sure, there are plenty of things on her list I disagree with. A few I’m neutral about. Another handful I can’t relate to. But honestly, I also believe Taylor Swift gets some of it right. Therefore, here is my spin on the five things she gets right on her 30 birthday lessons …

My Article on Sexual Abuse and the Church

I had the opportunity this week to write an article for FamilyLife about the now well-known subject of sexual abuse in the context of the church. It was not easy for me to write this article, as it is also a personal topic for me.

My hope and prayer was to give a person who has experienced abuse some thoughts to consider as they ask the question, “Why should I even try to go back to church after what happened to me there?” At the very least, I’m hopeful it can point you in the direction of Jesus…the one who knows your hurt and loves you endlessly.

Click here to read the full article.

I’m so pleased to announce that on April 22, 2019, my fourth book Pressure Points will be available to purchase from New Growth Press.

This book has been 2.5 years in the making, and I’m thrilled to see my first book getting published outside of Cru (who, by the way, I still love dearly).

I’ve written it specifically to college students or soon-to-be college students, and I really feel it will help you walk with God during your years of higher education. My friend, Paul Tripp, wrote the foreword and he (of course) nailed it like the boss he is.

Please consider this book for yourself if you’re a college student, or get it for a friend, child, grandchild, or neighbor who needs some practical and honest guidance while in their late teens to early twenties. It will point to the gospel of grace, and make you laugh too.

You can Pre-Order on Amazon here, or read a more full description from my publisher’s site here.

For the One Who Doubts

After I became a Christian during my freshman year of college, the Psalms were such a comforting oasis of honest poetry to me because of how raw and candid they were when I read them. In the months following my decision for Christ, Psalms was always the book I turned to first when I started my private times in the Bible simply because I felt like as I read the Psalms, they were actually reading me.

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I loved how “human” they were by the fact that I could easily see myself in their words. In many cases, it was almost as if my reflection could be spotted when the Psalm scandalously described frustration, anger, or confusion with God. Psalm 13 (a Psalm of David) gives us a good example of what I’m talking about: