Sex-Trafficking. Horrific words we don’t like to say. So we ignore them. You might even be tempted to stop reading because you either think it’s not happening near you (it is) or you know it is but don’t want to deal with it. But when we’re talking about something that is affecting at least 2.5 million people and has been reported in every one of the 50 states, we can’t ignore it. Period.
Friday (10/14), a new movie comes out that goes head on into a topic most of us never discuss. Priceless is not a documentary. It is a based-on-real-events story of one man’s discovery, involvement, transformation, and sacrifice to do something about it.
Simply put: See it. And as uncomfortable as it will be…ask others to join you.
I thought about writing a “review,” but I can’t. Yes, it’s a very good movie. Yes, it’s gritty. No, it’s not a “perfectly made” movie (though better than most faith-based films I’ve seen).
For some people, it happened in high school. For others, it was a decision made in college. For some, it was a season spanning several months – or years. The circumstances are all unique, but one thing is the same in every case: It won’t let go.
I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians a lot. I was reminded today how Paul’s call to “put on the full armor of God” isn’t only about general spiritual warfare.
What would happen if you and I put on each piece of armor and went to war against the specific past event, decision, or season that doesn’t want to let go?
For today, how about you and I go to war?
No commentary. Just prayer. (Something tells me that’s what you and I need anyhow.)
Armor Piece 1: The Right Mindset
Lord Jesus, Defeater of the devil, Conqueror of death and hell. Help me recognize this isn’t a battle against flesh and blood. This is a spiritual battle against the devil and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The devil has schemes and he is using them to try to convince me that my past defines me. Today, fill me with your Spirit, and help me stand firm, so that in the end, I may stand.
Armor Piece 2: The Belt of Truth
Help me Lord, to speak truth to myself about my past. I confess that I have sinned. I have made choices that don’t glorify You. And yet, these choices, patterns, seasons, and habits are not who I am. While I confess my sin, I profess that what You say about me is true. I am Your child. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. I was bought with a price, the price of your precious blood on the cross. I am being sanctified day after day after day. You, Lord Jesus, are the Truth and what You say about me is true. May Your truth always ring truer and louder than Satan’s lies.
We write a lot about the Bible. We preach about it. We (ahem…I) blog about it. How we got it. Why you can trust it. How to study it. Ways to apply it.
When was the last time you – or I – simply paused to explore what the Bible has to say about itself.
Today will have no commentary. No video. No unpacking and applying. (Though I highly recommend you have a conversation with God about when and how you can do that!) No ranking in order of importance.
This is simply a list of 17 Bible verses about the Bible.
I have put them in the order you can find them in your Bible (except the last one). One quick note: For this post, I’ve focused on verses that speak of what the Bible is, rather than verses exploring why or how to apply it.
As I write these words, it has been ten days since my father’s battle with cancer came to an end. I got the call at 7:10am on Friday, April 1st (no joke).
“We lost him.”
With those three words, the battle was over. We knew the end was coming. We had known since last June. Now the end was here.
He died sleeping peacefully in his own bed. (The way we all dream of going.)
He died mercifully. (Only a week earlier the doctor said the tumor had likely spread to his brain.)
He died happy. (After all, the last thing he ate was one of my wife’s chocolate chip cookies.)
As you might imagine, there is a vast array of emotions passing through my heart and mind. Don’t worry, you are not about to read a blog-post-turned-6000-word-journal-entry.
While there has certainly been a lot of feeling, there has also been quite a bit of thinking.
Thinking about how he lived life…and how I want to live life. Thinking about the parts I want to emulate, and truth-be-told, the parts I don’t.
You see, my relationship with my dad was, well, complicated. The first couple decades were close and wonderful. The last couple decades were…as I said…complicated.
In these last ten days, here are the thoughts that have bubbled to the surface of my mind (at least so far):
You have read her name, but might not remember it. You probably haven’t met her. But if you have, you are glad you did. You might not have even seen a picture of her, but you will by the end of this post.
She has been my partner in ministry since before this ministry began.
She is the Vice President of my Board of Directors.
She is the very first person I come to with new ideas.
She encourages my dreams. (And prays for God’s wisdom in the dreaming.)
She challenges me more than anyone else. (In all the good and necessary ways.)
Her name is Kari. 20 years ago today she said “I do” and became my wife.
Today isn’t about Bible study tips…or a presentation…or a new book…or a video…or an interview.
Today is about you getting to know the person I couldn’t do ministry without.
Getting to know the person who makes doing this ministry more fun. Getting to know the person who makes this ministry better. Getting to know the person who makes me better.
It all started on April 23, 1994…
If you’re looking for a movie that will inspire you, make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think about God’s right-by-your-side-even-in-the-suffering presence – you need to go see Miracles From Heaven. Oh…and you can watch it with your entire family. (Kari and I recently watched it with our three kids and they all loved it.)
Miracles from Heaven opens today – March 18, 2016.
King Solomon. The “wisest man ever.” He started out well. Really well. He ended…um…quite a bit less well.
As I’m doing my annual 4 Month Bible Read Thru, I recently read Ecclesiastes, one of the books written by Solomon. I ended up reading it several times as I prepared to preach a sermon at my home church on Ecclesiastes. (You can listen below.)
Now, don’t get too upset with me about this, but I had these two thoughts pop into my head as I was reading…
“I think Solomon was in a bad mood when he wrote Ecclesiastes.”
“Solomon is a ‘sound-bite’ kind of guy. He would have done well on social media.”
With that in mind, here is how I envision the book of Ecclesiastes if King Solomon was on Twitter.
Listen to the sermon…
March 3, 1996. The day it all began. I was a youth pastor with zero acting experience. About 125 people sat in a small church in North Seattle. I walked onto the stage and said, “In the beginning was the Word…” Two hours later, I stepped off the stage.
Twenty years ago today, this ministry was born!
You can’t tell this as you read, but there was a significantly long pause between when my fingers typed the last sentence, and when they typed this one.
It is nearly impossible for me to think back to that night without standing in awe of all God has done in the two decades since.
What I thought was going to be a “side gig” to my job as a youth pastor, turned into storytelling, writing, books, a blog, speaking, and connecting with ministry leaders all over the world.
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”Psalm 126:3, NIV
Will you celebrate God’s kindness, faithfulness, and generosity with me for a few lines?
- God has allowed me to speak on three continents, in seven countries, and in thirty-five states.
- He has allowed me to do live events for about 300,000 people.
- He has lead me through the writing of three print book, several eBooks, six CDs, a DVD, and the Relational Bible Study™ video course.
- He has had me partner with others by contributing to four other published books.
- He’s guided me to write and send out almost half-a-million blog emails.
I can’t believe God lets me do this.
Thank you Jesus. You are good. I say along with Isaiah,
Sunday was Valentine’s Day. Last week I shared some of the most-read, most-recommended, and top-reviewed Christian books for married couples. This week is a similar list for singles. This list only contains books that I’ve read, come highly recommended, or were very highly-rated on Amazon. (Click any of the green buttons below to get download this list in PDF format – and feel free to share!)
Get Your Free Copy of “The Most-Recommended Christian Books for Singles”
A few quick notes…
NOTE 1: This is not a “best-to-worst” list. I simply put them in the order they were originally released. So…If you like older, time-tested books, start at the top. If you’re more into the latest, hot-off-the-presses titles, work from then bottom up.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Rather than spend several hundred words waxing eloquently about marriage, I thought I’d share some of the most-read, most-recommended, and top-reviewed Christian books on marriage. Next week I’ll share a similar list for singles. (How’s that for a Valentine’s Day set of bookends?)
Get Your Free Copy of “The Most-Recommended Christian Marriage Books”
A few quick notes…
NOTE 1: Rather than attempting to “rank order” these, I decided to simply list them in the order they were originally released. If they’ve been updated, I have noted that. So…If you like the classic, time-tested books, start at the top. If you’re more into the latest, hot-off-the-presses titles, work from then bottom up.