Skip to content

Category: John

Final thoughts: Jesus, his kingdom, and predicting the end of the world

Apparently, in a matter of hours, we’re all going to die.

Really.

According to a Christian Numerologist—whatever that is—September 23, 2017 is the day when an unseen planet known either as Planet X or Nibiru will come crashing to earth, creating tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, flooding, and—far worse—the widespread release of the movie mother! to a frantic public.

This will result in wide-spread panic, confusion, and other levels of mayhem.

There is already evidence of this: The Great Solar Eclipse, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the flooding in Houston, and the Mexico City earthquake.

Even the Bible backs up this claim, Luke 21:25-26:

“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” read more

1 Comment

Why is the cross so hated around the world?

Last Tuesday, as I waited outside for someone to unlock my church for an event, a young couple walked by. As they passed, the woman read aloud, not once but twice, a sign on the door and gave a loud, exaggerated snort of derision. Then she actually turned around and came back to snap a photo of it. Judging from her sharp, sarcastic laughter, I was sure the photo would be posted online with a snarky comment — something about the stupidity of church people.

On the outside, I briefly made eye contact with her and gave her a nod and a smile.

But on the inside, I sensed the insult and felt a rush of snappy retorts. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit kept my pie-hole closed.

After she left, I turned to see what she had found so funny. The sign just said: “No woman’s [sic] Bible reading tonight.” read more

1 Comment

Love or shame: What’s behind your use of the phrase “love like Jesus”?

There’s a new mantra appearing across social media, admonishing Christ-followers to “love like Jesus.” But something’s been bothering me about the way this phrase is used, and I’ve been trying to figure it out. I think I’ve finally put my finger on it.

gunbibleHere’s what it is: I agree 100% that we should love like Jesus. Period. End of story. Triple exclamation point. But people are saying “love like Jesus” not to encourage one another toward true godliness, but to shame anyone who disagrees with them. They say it about everything from abortion to LGBT issues to the politics of poverty. And when they say it, they seem to mean, “Agree with my position on this issue, because I am sure Jesus would share it.” Therefore, if I disagree with their position, the implication is that I do not “love like Jesus” on that issue. So those who agree with them are “loving like Jesus” and those who don’t are just “haters” – leaving no room for dialog or dissent. read more

Leave a Comment

Giving the devil his due: the art of the lie

As I stood at the top of the staircase in the academic building at my august British university, the voices began: “Failure. Flunkie. Flop.”

I had just experienced what was, and remains, the most awkward, humiliating moment of my life. In the final hour of my seven years of effort, my two oral examiners had just rejected my PhD work. After hearing the news, I had to stand up in front of them, cram my useless 400-page paper into my briefcase, and exit the room in heavy silence. One of them had simply stared at me without expression; the other never made eye contact.

Classes were letting out, and the atrium below bustled with throngs of students, chattering and laughing. Their journey of chasing their dreams was just coming to birth, whereas mine had just died. read more

Leave a Comment

Four mistakes that keep me from loving my neighbor

It’s no secret that I have felt out of place in the Portland metro area where I live. I’m a Montana boy in a big city, and after living here for 17 years, I still fight the culture shock—and the fact that despite my wish to live elsewhere, I seem to be right where God wants me.

LoveThyNeighborAsThyself

I crave peace, quiet, and elbow room, all of which are virtually nonexistent in my densely packed neighborhood with its traffic-clogged streets. And the neighborhood is visibly deteriorating.

My inner turmoil reached critical mass recently as I walked my dogs. It’s a beautiful time of year, but I couldn’t enjoy the warm sun or budding flowers. I didn’t even notice them.

Instead, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of disgust. It wasn’t because anyone had wronged me. It was about aesthetics. read more

Leave a Comment

New life in the zombie apocalypse, part 4: Spiritual weapons and sustenance

Note: I love zombie apocalypse stories because they are a great metaphor for life crises. This blog series on the topic has four parts: 1) waking up in the crisis; 2) defining “alive”; 3) abandoning self-sufficiency; and 4) spiritual weapons and sustenance. All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.

To conclude our journey through the zombie apocalypse, we’ll discuss the two most important keys to survival: What about weapons for self-defense? And what about sustenance (food and water)?

So, what about weapons?

ZSNTransparent3a3fd3-300x285Would I choose a projectile-type weapon (for example, a gun or crossbow), or a melee weapon (such as a hatchet, sword, or dagger) for close, hand-to-hand combat?

There is no better reassurance than having a gun hanging off one shoulder—the bigger, the better. However, a gun is loud (zombies can hear, you know!), bullets could be hard to find, and a lot could happen in the moment it takes to reload. In fact, in a 2013 television episode of Mythbusters, Jamie and Adam took on the question of weapons in the zombie apocalypse. They compared a melee weapon (an electronic axe that registered fatal hits) to a projectile weapon (a gun which did the same) and found that the former kept a person alive longer, because the latter took too much time to reload. So if they say so, it must be true. read more

1 Comment

A fowl reminder of grace

rooster-crowing-2A rooster’s crow aroused me from sleep during a campout / speaking engagement last weekend. Normally that sound is pleasant to me, but this time I was annoyed. This rooster’s morning song apparently was on Eastern time or earlier, because here in the Pacific Northwest it wasn’t morning; it was only 1:30 a.m. Not only was the day not about to break, but I was pretty sure the sun was still hovering somewhere over Europe.

So for about half an hour, I lay listening to a time-challenged bird, desperately hoping to get some sleep before I had to speak in the morning. Then I caught the irony: my topic was the apostle Peter—who, after insisting he’d die for Jesus, in truth was so afraid to die that he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had predicted he would (John 13:38). read more

Leave a Comment

Saturday in limbo

rainAs I write this, it’s a gray Saturday morning, with the rain pounding against my window. Today is very different from yesterday, which was a sunny Friday. Specifically, it was Good Friday.

Just hours ago, I attended my church’s Good Friday service. As always, it was an unsettling time. A time to do three things: Remember Jesus’ death. Eat the elements. Go home.

There was no message about the resurrection. No announcement about Easter Sunday activities. No promise of coming hope.

Not that I’m complaining. In fact, I think Good Friday should point to the cross, not the resurrection. Because Jesus’ death is too important to forget. And it’s only bearable because in hindsight, we know it wasn’t the end. When Jesus spoke his last words – “It is finished” – he meant his work on earth in the flesh, not his whole story. read more

Leave a Comment

“Friends” on Facebook: To stone, or not to stone

stone in handI have finally come kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century: I am now on Facebook. I have resisted social media because: 1) I find the interaction to be somewhat superficial, and 2) I’ve never heard of journalists or potential employers checking a person’s social media and finding anything which raised their estimation of him/her. However, due to the upcoming book launch, my publisher asked me to start a Facebook page. So I pulled the trigger.

One important part of setting up a page (other than figuring out how to get the stupid thing to work the way I want it to) is to find “friends.” But that’s a broad term. On Facebook, sometimes getting “friends” feels more like feeding a narcissistic urge to see how many people remember me. read more

2 Comments