What if your church was infested?

After they burned Heretic Steve, the congregation enjoyed their monthly potluck dinner in peace.

After they burned Heretic Steve, the congregation enjoyed their monthly potluck dinner in peace.

Not infested with roaches or termites. What if your church was infested with heretics?

What if there were people who were actually inside your church, people who sat in church every Sunday, who pretended to be like you and me, but they were anything but? What if they were imposters who did not catch the “vision” of your church? What if someone was not so sure about some of the basic faith tenants that your pastor teaches?

Would you round them up?

Would you interrogate them?

Would you “bug bomb” your church to get rid of the heretics once and for all and keep the church pure and clean?

Well here’s the thing, people. Our churches are infested. And it’s up to us to decide what we are going to do about it.

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I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I can get really obsessed with.

One of them is keeping up with the news.

I’ve got a particular news app that I check daily. Every once in a blue moon, I will actually watch the news on television. I like to stay informed and often times the news will give me some new anecdote to share over dinner. It makes for good conversation.

But being “informed” can easily turn into an obsession for me. Sometimes, I get into this state of mind where I have to know what is going on in the world, as if I’m afraid of being “left behind” if I do not keep up. And it really is not until I am forced to unplug that I remember I do not have to know everything that is happening in the world.

When I am forced to unplug for a week, I remember that constantly keeping up with all the bad news in the world does not really make me happy. It is not good for my health. After a week without the news, I feel more optimistic, more centered, more ready to live my life. And contrary to everything I might have believed, the world is still spinning, even if I do not know anything that is going on.

There is something to be said about knowing what is going on in the world and I’m not advocating a know-nothing, ignorance-is-bliss existence. But we have to remember that news is a product that people are trying to sell to us. It is like any other product from light bulbs to fast food. It is designed to make us crave more, even if the product does not really make us happy, healthy or satisfied. News tends to create cravings in us for more news.

Consuming a constant stream of news can make us forget something very important as well.

The most important news stories, the ones that we need to keep up with, the ones that we need to know and share and remember are almost always not the ones that are broadcast on television.

The news stories that will be most important to us will happen right in our own homes. No one else will report them or even know about them, but they are still important nevertheless.

news

Remember, the news stories that we remember the longest are the ones we write ourselves.

So, I was not very successful in avoiding the internet this week.hobby-lobby

The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby and other Christian companies has produced a veritable flood of contradictory comments in my social media feed. One person praises Jesus for a religious freedom “win.” The next person shakes his fist at the heavens. (I credit this to me, being very non-discriminatory with whom I associate with online, thank you very much.)

Still, it can make for a frustrating exercise to see so much anger on one side and so much righteous glee on the other, and everyone in favor of burning everyone else at the stake.

So I’ve sorted out the facts and the opinions.

And I’ve come to an inescapable conclusion.

I believe the Supreme Court had to rule the way it did. Evaluating religious beliefs in a court is a dangerous precedent.

But, the decision is by no means a “win.” It is bad…for everyone. We are all losers in this fight. We would still all lose if the court had gone the other way.

There is just no good outcome of any of this. Here’s why.

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It has been over four years.

Years full of prayers and wishes.

Years of pleas. 

The years have cost us more money and medical intervention than we ever would have dreamed. But the last four years have not just taken from us, they have added much to us too. If you have ever thought about us or prayed for us, we are thankful for that. We are humbled because we know there are couples who wait twice as long as we do. There are couples who never the end to their story that they desire. And so, we are fortunate.

And Cheri and I are finally making the rounds with this announcement.

pregnancy announcement

No, this isn’t going to become a dad blog…at least not automatically. But we will be sharing more details about how we got here (and what’s up with that photo in the lower right)…

…but that’s an announcement for another time.

Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders?

Usually on Fridays, I’m telling you about several things that came across my radar, but today I’m dedicating this post to just one thing today,9780801016561 to tell you about one book on my shelf.

So have you ever carried the world on your shoulders? Yeah, that’s Atlas Girl.

I met Emily Wierenga in Africa this January. Now, I’ve read Emily’s blog for a few years, I’ve even corresponded with her a couple of times here and there.

What I did not expect is that Emily is pretty much exactly how she writes. What you see is what you get. Her stories are not a facade, not an act. She writes vulnerably and sensitively because she is just that vulnerable and sensitive with people in real life. Traveling around Uganda and Rwanda was an emotional experience for all of us. But it was Emily who was the first person off our little bus every time to pick up the first child who crossed her path. She’s the kind of person whose actions give everyone else permission to follow.

So I was really looking forward to getting a copy of Emily’s memoir, Atlas Girl in the mail.

For goodness sakes, how can one person have lived so much?

It is not that Emily has just done a whole lot or had a bunch of adventures. It is that life has happened to Emily. You’re going to read about a childhood battle with anorexia, young romance, struggles to reconcile her own beliefs with her parents’ often rigid faith, a parent’s battle with cancer, the birth of her children, travels around the world (she has been everywhere), and some kind of desperate hope to leave the past behind and never return.

Isn’t that what a lot of us are doing? Trying to escape our pasts?

But it’s Emily’s past that has given her the voice she has today, the same as you and I. I really hope you make this book a part of your summer reading. It will inspire you as lovers of stories, as writers of stories and just as people who are struggling to live out your stories.

Check out my link to the book. You can read a few pages and pick up a paperback or send it straight to your phone or Kindle, and you’ll start to realize that this feeling of carrying the world on our shoulders…we are all carrying the world.

What is the point of being a Christian anyway?

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

Is this a picture of heaven, or a timeshare? Because the sales pitch is usually about the same.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because it seems like we need a sales pitch to get people in the door. What will I get if I agree to this thing called Christianity?

Will Jesus make my life better?

Will I be a better person?

Will I get to go to heaven?

There are a myriad of promises that were made to us when we first accepted Jesus as our “personal” savior, a bunch of guarantees that we could be certain of. I don’t usually do this, but I love Micah Murray’s blog so much, if you haven’t read his Four Reasons I’m Not Going to Heavenyou should (right after you’re done here.) He’s done a great job and I’m not going to retread his points.

There are a lot of bait-and-switch jobs we do to get people to accept Jesus. They are the little Easter Eggs that we scatter around in the hopes of making Jesus more appealing. But I’ve got to think that the greatest trick that we have perpetrated, the biggest bait-and-switch of all time has got to be the certainty that if you accept Jesus, you get to go to heaven when you die.

Here’s what I mean.

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