Jesus and the Digital Pharisees

It's kind of ridiculous to ask, "What if Jesus were on Twitter?" But indulge me for a second, anyways. I've noticed something about our generation's engagement online and with those we consider "Christian celebrities" - famous pastors or church leaders who have big platforms. There's a tendency among those of us who blog, tweet, write, post, instagram, etc toward a subtle kind of Phariseeism. Our generation prides itself on not being legalistic, of casting off the sort of religious, rule-making paradigm we didn't quite like about our parent's version of church. But in our zeal to not be like those we think are bad representations of Christianity, we've adopted a legalism of a different sort. In Luke 18, Jesus shares a haunting parable about who is justified in the eyes of God. I'm struck by a few things in this passage. First, Luke gives us a vague description of the audience.  The...

Continue Reading

Your Family is Not a Problem to Be Solved

 In a symposium published by The Guardian, novelist Richard Ford was asked to deliver his best advice to aspiring writers. Forgive me for quibbling with the wisdom of a celebrated muse, but I was offended by his first two pieces of advice: 1) Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea; 2) Don’t have children. In Ford’s view, marriage is only useful insomuch as it furthers personal aims and children are optional nuisances to be avoided, if possible. Marriage is merely instrumental instead of aspirational. I’m not sure if Ford’s advice was meant as tongue-in-cheek, but it reflects the utilitarian and the flaccid attitude toward the family in our time. As if the rigors of family life are an impediment to selfish career aims. It would be easy to dismiss this kind of logic as the liberal worldview of the elite—and in some measure it does...

Continue Reading

Getting Free by Pursuing Jesus

Chances are you have seen Jefferson Bettke's viral video: "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus" which has now been viewed almost 27 million times. A lot of has happened in Jefferson's life since the release of that spoken word video. God has given him a great platform to share the gospel in unique and powerful ways. He is out with a new book, Jesus>Religion. I had the chance to interview Jefferson for my weekly blog at Leadership Journal's Out of Ur. I asked him about one of the subjects of his public speaking ministry: the grip of pornography on young men: Pornography has been a subject of much of your public speaking. How can the gospel free young men from porn's grip? The good news of Jesus is that he has brought new creation right here in the midst of the old one. The kingdom is near as he says and that means his rule,...

Continue Reading

The horrible social costs of gambling

I'll never forget the one time I visited Las Vegas. I was in town for a wedding and was awed by the amazing architecture. It seemed to me, at the time, that no expense was spared by the developers. But while Christians can admire the beautiful architecture of Vegas, we must admit that there is tremendous social cost to the seemingly innocent vice called gambling. When I was a pastor, I saw first-hand who the gambling industry preys on: the poor. Sure you have your high-stakes wealthy who drop lots of money, but mountains of social research have documented the troubling social costs of gambling. Really the only ones who win, when a casino comes into your town, are the business-owners and the local governments. And sadly, those local governments end up paying out more in social benefits over the long haul. Families, the poor, and communities suffer greatly. Recently, the...

Continue Reading