Episode 002 with Vaneetha Risener

Episode 002 with Vaneetha Risener on The Connecting Podcast was incredible.

Front: Joel and Vaneetha Risener, Back: Me and Paul Tripp

Vaneetha is truly a modern-day Job, and I’m honored to have been able to interview her with Paul Tripp on The Connecting Podcast. Listen to her full interview HERE.

The Connecting Podcast

I’m beyond thrilled to announce a new podcast I’ve launched with my friend, Paul David Tripp.

The Connecting Podcast

The Connecting Podcast with Paul Tripp and me features lengthy discussions – up to 2 hours – with special guests that will dive deep into the gospel and how it transforms our daily lives. Conversations will cover topics like suffering, evangelism, work, sexuality, culture, and so much more.

Each episode is released on the first Friday of the month and the first episode was just released!

Use Your God-Given Brain

It’s important that we ask ourselves how we form our own opinions, and take a long, hard look at who or what is crafting those opinions. If all the information you acquire about a certain subject comes from one or only a handful of similar sources, your life-building opinions might be formed not by truth, but by a self-affirming echo chamber of fallacies.

Photo: Mikael Kristenson, Unsplash

Consequently, we as rational Christians need to be intentional about diversifying the portfolio of channels by which we get input, while simultaneously saturating ourselves in the ultimate source of truth: the Bible.

And as we make comparisons between our input channels and the Word of God, we’re able to grasp a robust collection of information and opinions, comparing them directly with Scripture. Scripture then filters the information and cultural opinion, leaving us with the building blocks to assemble an abundant life that honors the Lord and brings glory to Jesus Christ.

Why “Live Your Own Truth” is a Garbage Statement

There must be shared common ground on what we believe is real, otherwise, there will always be conflict and chaos. The problem is that most people in the cultural West struggle to find such common ground when it comes to truth, because that culture has been spoon-feeding the “live your own truth” mantra to itself for decades.

Photo: Michael Carruth, Unsplash

We continue to live in the middle of a cultural civil war where skepticism and cynicism is the name of the game because there can never be unified agreement when everyone is living their own truth. Ironically, the command to live your own truth is a self-negating statement because it’s demanding that all of us submit to the unified truth that we must live a certain way…the statement itself doesn’t make any sense. And we wonder why people can’t seem to agree—“live your own truth” is the kind of thinking that leads to mass confusion about what is factual and what is not.

Kissing In The Car

Fear, Fake News, and God's Word

When I was a kid, I heard the urban legend about a couple on a date and parked in a car out in the middle of nowhere. As they kiss in the car, they hear on the radio that an escaped killer with a hook for a hand is on the loose and in the very vicinity of where this young romantic couple happens to be at that moment. They hear scratching sounds coming from the back of the car around the trunk, then outside the back door, then the side door where the girl is sitting in the passenger seat. They eventually drive away, but when they get back home and exit the car, they find a hook hanging from the passenger side door handle. Ooo.

Photo: Unsplash

I’m not sure what this urban legend is supposed to teach us, other than the importance of auto insurance that covers scratches in the surface paint…or maybe that you shouldn’t park with your boyfriend/girlfriend in rural, unpopulated areas and plan on making out when there’s a murderer on the loose. Regardless, many have probably at least heard a version of this story at some point, and it’s stuck with us in one form or another because the story itself generates fear.

Victorious in Heaven

About 15 months ago, I posted about my wife’s friend Erin, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. A post was just made today from Lauren Wells, a close friend of Erin and her family, and I wanted to relay that post here. It’s beautifully written and will help you to specifically pray for Erin’s family:

Team Erin,

Our warrior is victorious in the loving arms of Jesus as of very early this morning. Erin is free of cancer, body restored, whole in heaven now. Steve was by her side. While the grief is overwhelming, there is a bit of solace in knowing she is no longer suffering. The past several days have been brutal and cruel, but her final moments were peaceful and surrounded with love.

Erin fought such a good fight. She ran the race set before her with more perseverance,  love, kindness, gratitude and bravery than I have ever witnessed before in my life. She told me just a few short weeks ago, “I have had such a good life. I got everything I ever wanted.” She believed in every fiber of her being that she already had victory, either way!

It feels terribly unfair that a woman with that kind of perspective only got 40 years on earth. Yet it’s exactly why her story has touched so many people so deeply. Her perspective on life and love is why her legacy will live on forever in us. I told her just 14 days ago, “You’ve changed so many lives. We are different because you shared your heart and your story with us. You have done such good and meaningful work.”

Now it’s our turn. May we each honor Erin and commit to carrying on the story of her life- not just the story of her cancer- but of her whole beautiful life and how she lived it tenaciously, with grace and compassion and an abiding faith in Jesus as her Savior that could not be swayed.

In the wake of her passing, the Selcher family is asking for privacy. Please respect the boundaries that are required to both protect the kids and for the family to hold each other close during this time. Do not stop by or walk in unannounced. The family has always had an open door policy, but for the time being, that is just not what they need.

Any family updates will be forthcoming here and details of services and ways to help the family will be posted as needed.

Waging Hope still,

Lauren

You can help and digitally stay connected on Erin’s Caring Bridge site HERE.

Death is so awful. Even through my own tears as I type this right now, I praise God that death’s power has been destroyed because of Jesus Christ. He is our Living Hope. Erin knew that and now sees that face-to-face.

Eternal Beneficiaries

Sometimes it can be difficult to discern the difference between grace and mercy. They are often used within the same context when describing the glorious and kind attributes of God, but it’s important to understand their distinctiveness and how we benefit from each of them in different ways as Christians.

Photo: Jon Tyson

Grace is often defined as unmerited favor, meaning that it’s a gift, help, or support given to us that we don’t at all deserve. It’s an extension of benevolent kindness from God toward us by which we are able to receive the eternal blessings He lavishes it on us through no effort of our own. We cannot earn grace in any way. If we could, it would—by definition—cease to be grace. It is an undeserved proactive gift from God extended to us by which we are able to experience the riches of relationship with Him through no effort of our own.

Living Together and Marriage

What’s the point?

It’s a good question to ask when examining the validity of getting married today as opposed to just living together to “try things out” and see if you’re compatible before jumping into a life-long commitment…right? Isn’t living together just easier? Wouldn’t it be a good “test-drive” for both of us? Wouldn’t we have more collective money if we lived together instead of separately? Can’t cohabitation act as a good safety net for our relationship in case things don’t work out? Our sex life would improve if we moved in together, wouldn’t it?

In my newest book, What’s the Point?: Asking the Right Questions About Living Together and Marriage, I tackle questions like these and much more. It’s a resource about cohabitation and marriage that anyone can give away to those who are wrestling with the idea that marriage is anything more than a piece of paper, or read ourselves as Christians to be more prepared for those conversations. The intended audience is mainly for college students, but the subject obviously applies to a variety of others as well. There’s also a full gospel presentation within it that directly links to the subject at hand.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy, you can find it here: What’s The Point?

Remembering Big Break

Today would have been the first day of beach evangelism for all the students who came for week 1 of Cru’s Big Break conference.

This morning, they would have gone through their first session of evangelism training on how to listen well, ask good questions, care for people they talk with, and genuinely empathize with the struggles they encounter out there on the beach. Day 1, week 1 of a seven-day conference, repeated each week for four weeks total.

Big Break was utterly unique, and I had the honor of emceeing that conference for almost two decades.