The Power of Words

The Power of Words

A Sermon to be delivered on October 4, 2015 at Christ Redeemer Church in Newark, OH

Introduction and Background

When I sat down at the wire-framed outdoor table at Panera, it had been a long day already. I hadn’t eaten that afternoon, and constant phone calls had my ear throbbing.

The email from one of my best friends the day before saying that he’d like to get together this evening, had come as a bit of a surprise. He said he’d like to share something that had been on his heart.

A heart to heart? With another dude? “Something must be wrong”, I thought to myself.

The last time I had received such an email, my buddy had uncomfortably approached me about some sin in my life – some things that I hadn’t thought much at all about, but that had been nagging at him for weeks, if not months.  

Was this going to be another such encounter? “No way!” I thought, searching my mind a little here and there between meetings and calls. I can’t think of anything I’ve done wrong…wonder what this is all about…

But sure enough, the awkward meeting was not long underway before I learned that some of my words had offended. And there was no way around it – I had blown it.

As it turns out, I had used words that offended my friend.

If you have ever been so fortunate as to have had one of these lovely conversations, then you know two things about them. First, they are very uncomfortable. This isn’t a carnival cruise – its more like one of those miserable “free” cruises you win on the radio – you often get more than you bargain for, and its extremely uncomfortable!

Second, you know that they are moments of great learning and growth. They take a lot of courage for your friends, and they are orchestrated by God for your good. This is life in the New Covenant community. Life in the midst of the church, surrounded by people who care enough about you to kindly, but firmly say, “hey, we need to talk.”

The Key Point: Words are powerful, they can transform lives, heal broken hearts, topple great nations, and they are prized by our King. They are so because they reflect the character of God formed in us. They reflect our hearts.

This passage has many dimensions to it, but I especially want to focus on words this morning.

So let us begin where Paul begins to get an idea of the context for his exhortations.

In every Christian right doctrine, right knowledge of Jesus and His Word, is the foundation for their speech. From right knowledge flow right actions, soft hearts, and truthful words.

The Context – The Transformed Mind 

Back up with me, and read from Ephesians 4 beginning in verse 17 where Paul is going to remind the Ephesian church of “how they learned Christ” – that is to say, who they are in Christ.

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. [18] They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. [19] They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. [20] But that is not the way you learned Christ!—[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)

John Stott argues that the “putting off” and “putting on” of this passage isn’t in the imperative, that is to say, it isn’t a direct command. Rather it’s a reminder of the truth that’s already been accomplished by Jesus in their lives.

Paul is not telling them something new. He is appealing to a truth they ought to know already – if indeed they have “learned Christ” – and he knows they have.

He is reminding them that as new creations in Christ, they must act in a way that reflects their new life. They must not clamp back on the shackles Jesus has paid a great price to break them free of.

As Stott reminds us, “Being a Christian involves radical change.” Once that radical change has taken place in our lives, we cannot, we must not live outside of that reality.

Therefore, Paul is reminding them of the gospel. And so it is that right doctrine leads to right behavior.

With that in mind, he begins to exhort them.

As we read these verses, notice that there is both a negative exhortation and a positive instruction. Put on/Put off. It is not good enough not to say or do something; one must replace the chains and filth of previous speech with the grace and beauty of speech that marks the new life in Christ.

Put off Falsehood

4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Earlier in the chapter Paul says:

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, [16] from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

This earlier instruction flowed from an explanation that their elders served the purpose of building up the church. They are a “gift” to the church because they are speaking the words of God’s truth to the congregation.

This reminds us of the importance of a good pastor/elder!

But Paul extends his instruction to the entire congregation because we have all been joined to Jesus through adoption. We have become fellow heirs and sons in His royal family.

Falsehood ought not to mark the people of God because it is lies that serve as the foundation for the enemies kingdom.

John MacArthur notes that every other world religion is built upon Satan’s lies. The world fell into darkness through belief in lies. The Son of God was crucified because men believed lies. Jesus’ own apostle Peter denied Him speaking lies and cuss words.

In J.R.R. Tolkein’s great writing, the enemy emanating from the land of Mordor is said to speak in “black speech” – a term coined to convey the filth of evil.

Falsehood is the province of the enemy, and no Christian ought to dabble in the black speech of Satan.

Falsehood breaks fellowship. This is like the hand stabbing the leg “behind its back” (so to speak)! It affects the whole body. It is like aiding and abetting the enemy; allowing him to use us to hurt other members of our Lord’s glorious army.

James reminds us:

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, [8] but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. [9] With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. [10] From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10)

And so Paul continues… 

Put off Corrupt Speech/Put on Grace 

4:29-30 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. [30] And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  

Let me first state what Paul is not saying. He is not saying that we not speak boldly against injustice or against evil. And sometimes those types of words seem to have a destructive appearance, not an edifying one. However, speaking words of truth from a spirit of love, speaking truth in the face of injustice and evil and villainy, while it may scandalize the listener, will later build up those who are wise, and have a purging affect on those who are true believers in the long term.

To give a secular example – Ronald Reagan did not temper his words at the Brandenburg Gate. Though his senior advisers (Powell/Baker) didn’t want that line use, saying it was “unpresidential” and didn’t fit the occasion, Reagan disagreed. At the crucial moment, he spoke truth, and that truth led to the end of the cold war.

To give a spiritual example – Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms did not temper his words or take back what he had written in his books. Even though it caused great division and scandal in the church in the short term, in the long term Martin Luther helped bring the church out of darkness and into the light of the truth of God’s word.

What Paul is saying is this: you are new creations in Christ. Do not let your words resemble a polluted, mangled, and fallen creation. Do not let your words signal corruption and sin.

Corruption is closely associated with the Fall, and that old body of sin which you have left behind. Corrupt speech ought not to characterize those whom Christ is re-creating in His image.

Words that edify are not always easy words to hear, but they ought always to be gracious words. Our Lord was said to be “full of grace and truth”, and though he had hard saying and rebukes for the people, yet His words always fit the occasion.

“Fitting the occasion” has to do with discernment. Later on Paul goes on to state, “…try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10).

May we have discernment as He did, using words that are a balm of healing as well as a sword of truth.

And the motive for our words is to please the Lord and not grieve the Spirit.

You are to remember what Christ has done for you – particularly in giving the gift of the Spirit who has “Sealed” you for the day of redemption, when Christ comes back.

This is like Paul stating, “your great Savior and Friend has given you the help and safety of the Spirit, and you ought to remember that speaking to others in corruption also hurts your friend Jesus and His Spirit.”

It is a beautiful gospel truth that woven into Paul’s exhortation there is a reminder that they have been “Sealed” until Christ’s return. That is to say, nothing they can do or say will now separate them from their Lord.

And Paul’s choice of “redemption” is not accidental. It is a reminder that while they strive against “corruption” which still inhabits their flesh, they know that one day their mouths will be “redeemed” – God’s re-creation will be complete.

He continues…

Put off Slander/Put on Kindness

4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. [32] Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  

Here is the perfect example of the put on/put off. He says to put away anger and clamor and slander and malice, but to put on kindness and tenderheartedness.

Slander is the maligning of another person’s character – often behind their backs. It is the destroying of a reputation. Basically, it is the passing of judgment on another often in order to show oneself in a superior light.

Again, there is a difference between speaking truth, and maliciously tearing down another person. Often we say things behind someone’s back that we’d never speak to their face. These things ought not to be (James 3:10).

Speaking a rebuke in the spirit of love is done from a desire to edify, and done to someone’s face.

What is the remedy? Gospel kindness.

You can forgive, you can stop slandering, you can conquer bitterness BECAUSE God has done a great thing in Christ.

This is not simply a reminder of the example of Jesus as a pattern to follow. It is a command to replace Spirit-empowered kindness with flesh-corrupted slander.

You have been empowered by the Spirit to live in the likeness of His pattern.

Therefore, not only does the example of Jesus humble and focus our minds, but the Spirit gives us the desires we need to be kind, to speak truthfully, to withhold slander, and the maligning of others.

This is what it means to live as a new creation – this is what new covenant life in Jesus is all about.

Conclusion – To what end are we living?

5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. [2] And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Let me conclude with these two verses because they are a beautiful reminder of who we are in Christ, and to what end we are aiming.

Too often we Christians abuse our freedom in Christ. I believe this is the case because we forget the cost of our loose words, and the power they contain for good.

No one here wakes up on Saturday morning having to make the trek to the temple. You don’t have to spend several hours hauling or herding an animal to its destination, only to watch the animal butchered, the blood pouring out in sacrifice. You don’t have to spend your afternoons staring at the blood trickling down over the alter; a reminder of why you would be there in the first place – sin. You sinned.

Yet we do have a sacrifice – and a bloody one at that.

Too often our thoughts are not meditating upon the cross in a meaningful and personal way. Too often we forget that profane word, that unkind gesture, that crude joke, that unloving action, all cost Christ a painful trip to the cross.

So Paul wants us to remember the gospel – not in order to enslave us to moralism, but to remind us that we have been bought with a price, and that price was far too high for us to be uncaring in action, cold in heart, and loose with our words.

So in these final two verses the apostle says that we are to “imitate God” in order to be a “Fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There are two main things we need to take away here…

  1. You have been adopted into the family of Jesus, and are joined to Him spiritually as a bride is joined to the bridegroom. Therefore your identity is to be found in Him. We are to be imitators of Him as “beloved children.” You have put off the old man and put on the new. Brothers and sisters, let us walk that way this week – in the power of the Spirit, let us strive toward holiness with our mouths. Lifting each other up. Saying things that mark us as Christians. Not saying other things that would cause our Father grief.
  1. The aim of our speech is to bring glory to God. If we cannot say for certain that our words would be a pleasing aroma to Jesus, then we ought to reconsider their content.

Ultimately, there is life and death in our words – there’s a great deal at stake, as Paul reminds us elsewhere:

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, [16] to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

No one is sufficient for them because we cannot fully understand the privilege of being a child of the King and representing Him here on earth.

Not only is it our privilege, but bringing glory to God is the highest reason for our very existence. For as Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Jonathan Edwards sums up:

In God, the love of what is fit and decent, cannot be a distinct thing from the love of Himself, because the love of God is that wherein all holiness primarily and chiefly consists, and God’s own holiness must primarily consist in the love of Himself. And if God’s holiness consists in love to Himself, then it will imply an approbation of the esteem and love of Him in others. For a being that loves himself, necessarily loves love to himself. If holiness in God consists chiefly in love to himself, holiness in the creature must chiefly consist in love to Him. And if God loves holiness in Himself, he must love it in the creature (pg. 173 the end for which God made the world).

Our words reflect the very image of God being renewed in us, and therefore the character of God being formed in us is shown forth in our words. Because God regards His own character as the most pleasing and worthwhile thing in the universe, He loves to see this character reflected back to Himself and shown to a watching world as a testament to His own greatness.

May the Lord bless the rays of His character that shine forth from your mouths, and may you look at your words more carefully – for what they really are – powerful tools in the Redeemers hand, reflections of His attributes and the work He has done within you, for the edification of the church and the glory of God.





Weekend Reading: October 3, 2015

Welcome to your weekend!  This will be a more abbreviated edition of the weekend due to sermon prep for tomorrow (thankfully) occupying my time.  Nonetheless, consider checking out these articles!

The big news of the week is the shooting in Oregon, my home state. It seems that the shooter was singling out followers of Christ and executing them. This is tragic and we ought to pray for the families of the victims, remember how that to be identified with Jesus is a serious thing. It is to “loose your life” in order to gain eternal life. And what a life that is!  May the God of comfort be with those families. 

This act of terror brought to mind what the nation went through 14 years ago. And recently I saw this great ESPN 30 for 30 short on the ceremonial first pitch that President Bush tossed out during the 2011 World Series. Baseball fan or no, this will bring goosebumps and a renewed appreciation for the American Spirit.

This week FT wrote about an interesting new advance in the science of memory. They are working toward capturing moments of life – waves of energy – so that they’re accessible for those who have lost much of their memory function. Fascinating stuff…

In case you were wondering, the latest in the presidential race (on the GOP side) is that Carson and Trump are neck and neck in the national polls. We are a little over three weeks away until the next debate – this one will be hosted by CNBC.  

Speaking of presidential stuff, may God protect us from this nonsense…

And this is probably the best Blog I read all week. It’s the story of an NBA player who has suffered several years of injury, but says that God is using it to break him of his idolatry. 

Perhaps the most interesting story of the week was linked by Challies and involves a man, a whammy, and a baffled network. It all led to ruin…

Video of the week!  An airplane, a hanger, and a lot of nuts and bolts. 

And did you know??? …the Pope did a meet and greet with that KY clerk during his trip to the states?!  What do you think of that? I have to say I thought that was probably the bravest thing he did on the junket. 

This is funny – Jason Gay at the Wall Street Journal has a humorous piece for sports fans as a follow up to the big WSJ write up on the dangers of sitting all day.  

Speaking of danger…New York liberals are competing for the title of holder of the most dangerous ideology in their ridiculous bid to honor KGB spy Ethel Rosenberg. 

Can Facebook predict whether your parents are divorced??   Yes. Yes it can. 

Lastly, two helpful things, check out this short book review on a new release re: common core. I ordered the book for the preface alone.  AND if you’d like to clean out your GMAIL this article by the guys at Wired will prove super helpful!  

That’s it!  Enjoy your weekend!


Weekend Reading: September 26, 2015

Welcome to the weekend and to another edition of Weekend Reading. It was a super busy and notable week! Here are the stories I enjoyed the most…

The big news of the week was two-fold – the papal visit, and the sudden retiring of Speaker John Boehner.  I can certainly appreciate the historic nature of the papal visit – it was an amazing thing to read about the logistics, and to be in DC the day the pope arrived – I saw first hand the higher level of security, and how many people were talking about the visit. In fact, a good friend who is Catholic went to the joint session of Congress and said it was ‘surreal’. But I was struck by how political the visit seemed. There were masses scheduled throughout the visit, of course, but in his address to Congress the Pope never mentioned the name of Jesus, or the Gospel, or really any tenants of Christianity. For a man who is supposed to be the leader of the worldwide Christian faith, this struck me as really odd at best, at worst, it was professional malpractice, evidence of personal cowardice, or worse, a sign that he isn’t truly a follower of Christ. No matter what your opinion,  I think it’s a fair critique to say that it was a missed opportunity of gigantic proportions. Putting myself in his shoes, with world leaders watching and all the media hanging on my every mispronounced syllable, I would not miss the opportunity to share about the only One who can truly mend all the social ills the pope addressed. Think of what Paul did when he was given his chance to address powerful men – he didn’t address Roman oppression of Jews, human trafficking, economic or environmental issues – he shared the truth of the Gospel to such a point that the King had to respond, the dialogue coming to a head in the following way:

Paul: King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.”

Agrippa: “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”

Paul: “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” (Acts 26:27-29 ESV)

Even though there were other important things Paul could have addressed, he was still focused on those principle faith issues that form the bedrock of our worldviews and determine the eternal destination of our souls.

Along similar lines, a few things to check out:. 1. This book would be helpful for those wondering the difference between the historic Catholic and Protestant faiths, and 2. The White House took serious heat from the liberal Editorial Board at the Washington Post for being more afraid of offending the President of China than the Pope. Considering the guest list, I agree. 

The second big thing that occurred this week was an announcement by Speaker Boehner that he’ll be resigning from Congress next month, and I found this story the most interesting. 

There were a series of other things to check out, and I’ll just mention them briefly here:

There’s a new 360 degree Star Wars video out, very cool! (h/t Alex W.)

Best article I didn’t get to finish: Why Police and Firefighters Still Can’t Talk to Each Other.

Book FYI: Tony Reinke and DG released a free ebook called ‘The Joy Project’ this week. 

Yogi Berra passed away, and the NY Post has some of his best quotes here. 

Hillary is having more email trouble…the FBI is hot on her scent. And she’s been called out for hypocrisy again, this time in the education arena.

Speaking of serious trouble, Volkswagen is deep in it: “Volkswagen shares plunged by nearly 20 percent on Monday after the German carmaker admitted it had rigged emissions tests of diesel-powered vehicles in the United States.”

The Syrian refugee crisis continues…a story here talks about American involvement. One of the things that’s been on my mind is how the church is going to respond to this. I hope we see the church – at least in America – coming around these people in aid and comfort.

There was another prosecution from the Auschwitz death camp. This time a 90+ year old lady was prosecuted for her complicity in the death of several hundred thousand persons.

TECH NEWS: Is anyone surprised that Apple is looking into building their own car? I am actually really curious to see how they do with this, and hope they don’t give us some design that looks like the papal Fiat (no offense to that suped-up golf cart manufacturer). What is most interesting is that they have such an aggressive time line for their project…

Presidential Campaign Trail: Scott Walker dropped out of the race, and Ben Carson took fire for comments about Muslims. Carson’s basic argument seems to be that the beliefs contained within the laws of Islam come into conflict with the Constitution of the United States, therefore he would not advocate for a Muslim to be President unless they disavowed those particular conflicting laws. It’s an interesting argument, and anyone who has any familiar with the subject has to admit that it has truth merit to it, but I’m unsure as to why its truly relevant. I’m less certain why he continues to address it at all. Also, Joe Biden is one step closer to announcing his presidential run. 

Pretty Cool Music: The debut of R.C. Sproul’s hymn album ‘Glory to the Holy One’ was some months back, but here the whole album performed in concert, is posted on YouTube.

David Mathis wrote a blog called, ‘Four Prayers for Bible Reading’ that was really encouraging to me this week.

Educational: A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article on how oil is transported (truck, boat, pipeline, train) now and how each area can improve.

More on the Fall of (modern day) Rome: Obama to nominate first openly gay service secretary to lead the Army. 

Sports upset of the week: Ole Miss beats Bama.  I found it interesting reading because I know next to nothing about Ole Miss, and what struck me above all else was how confident sounding the underdogs were after the game, and how the Alabama folks seemed to chalk it up to their own failure, as opposed to anything done right by a less-talented Ole Miss. Perspective is everything…

Lastly, the world seems to get more dangerous every day, and it doesn’t help that we let the fox guard the henhouse…(h/t Uri G.)

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy your weekend!


Weekend Reading: September 18, 2015

Welcome to your weekend! I’m writing to you from Mackinac Island Michigan, where a major GOP event is about to get underway this weekend. There’s a Presidential Straw Poll this weekend and some of the campaigns are working a little too hard for votes. Refill your coffee and kick back for some weekend reading…oh, ALSO…I’ll just note that this week most of my stories come from the Wall Street Journal. If you get paywalls then I apologize, it just so happened that most of my reading was from that source this week.

Since I mentioned it already, let me begin with the Presidential – it’s on my mind, after all. During this week’s debate there was a really silly question from Jake Tapper about what secret service code name you’d like to have if they were elected President. This elicited some funny moments and some really dumb answers. But WaPo has had some fun with it, and created their own Code Name Generator for us commoners! (I am affectionately known now as ‘Double Eagle’!!!).

Who was the biggest loser of the debate? Probably CNN…but maybe Bush…

Since I’ve been traveling this week, there were two opinion pieces I didn’t get to read but wish I did. They are both from the Wall Street Journal. First is a story on the racial disparity in abortions, and the second was a piece about women in the infantry (written by a female West Point grad).

A few weeks ago my former colleague Lanhee Chen wrote a terrific Op-Ed piece for the WSJ about undoing President Obama’s unilateral presidency. Worth the read!

On a more serious note, video number 10 was released by the undercover group working to expose Planned Parenthood. This sent more shockwaves throughout the media, and even influenced the GOP debate this week.

And if you’re following the Dem nomination contest, then you’ll note that Socialist Bernie Sanders now has a double digit lead over HRC in New Hampshire. But what is the deal with this guy?  Who is he? Well he spoke at the (seemingly) uber-political Liberty University, a Christian school where social conservatives send their kids, and if you start adding up all the programs he’s proposing the total comes to about $18T – that “T” stands for TRILLION. That’s the first thing you should know. Google will take you from there…

Now you might get the impression that all I read are news articles – not so!  I take in a steady diet of the Bible (how else am I going to wash away all this nonsense!? haha).  And I’m always interested in new Bible reading plans. Well, here is one that coincides with Jim Hamilton’s book God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (about 600 pages of fine Biblical Theology that is worth the read!). Very interesting to pair a Bible reading plan to a theology book like this…

SPEAKING OF BOOKS:  Kate could tell you they are a big part of my life, so I’m always reading books, and I get occasional emails asking about what I’m reading. Well I just finished this funny fourth installation of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars (yes you read that correctly). Well worth the read for any Star Wars Junkie.  I’m two weeks away from finishing that Hamilton book I mentioned, and about the same for a great book by Steve Lawson.  Recently I also finished up a book by N.T. Wright called ‘The Challenge of Jesus’, which was interesting but not very convincing, and frankly a little annoying. I finished reading the kids The Silver Chair, James and the Giant Peach (which was awesome) and we’re in the middle of The Bronze Bow right now – which is pretty interesting, definitely well written.

There was a story that Al Mohler linked to this week (also from the WSJ) about how Photos change us, our culture, and our history – pretty good. He also linked to a disturbing piece from the Telegraph about how sociologists are saying that homophobia is linked to other “undesirable psychological traits” – another ripple in the tide of the new discrimination.

Speaking of social ills, my friend Dave Harvey had an encouraging and thoughtful piece on how the Gospel of Jesus Christ confronts and repairs the damage done by sin – specifically in the context of the Ashley Madison disaster.  He isn’t just commenting, he’s prescribing here, which is both practical and helpful.

A month or so ago, one of my buddies from college lost his 1 year old baby boy. Through the sadness, he and his wife have been great examples to their friends and the wider watching world. This video gives you an idea of how they’re dealing with the loss in a way most couldn’t have imagined. 

Finally, on a lighter note, the Telegraph had a funny series of pictures on Vladimir Putin this week titled ‘Man of Action’ (i.e. gangster, corrupt pig, etc). Check out number 1, so funny.

That is it!  Enjoy your weekend!


Weekend Reading: September 11, 2015

Welcome to the weekend!  I’m writing today from sunny coastal N. Carolina. So while I’ve been on vacation, I’ve not had my normal diet of articles and blogs, but here are a few good ones I read during the week. Enjoy – and take a few minutes to remember the fallen heroes from 14 years ago.

The next Presidential debate (GOP) is coming right up. Here are the folks who made the stage.  Also, there was a really funny story in WaPo about one not-so-intense Presidential campaign. 

Maybe some of you saw this, but Tim Challies put together an infographic on what he’s termed ‘heaven tourism’ that’s pretty interesting and a little off the wall.

The article of the week: Frank Bruni at the New York Times on how quantity time is more important than so-called quality time.  

Apple revealed their new Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad – new A9 chips for these devices. Here’s a hands-on demo of the new (huge) iPad (h/t Parris P.)

Blog of the Week: When Garrett Gilkey, a guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, went down with a painful injury last week, he decided to write about his experience and his hope. Fantastic that he could write this so soon after such a painful injury.

So, for you foodies, nutritionalists, and all organic types (I guess I fit in here somewhere), you might be interested to know that Starbucks has some known cancer causing ingredients in their pumpkin spice this that and the other thing.

The (sort of) big news of the week was that Kim Davis was freed from jail. Who knows how long that will last…

And my friend James Genovese wrote up a heart warming article about a black cop, a white speedster, and how some Christ-inspired kindness went viral. 

If you’re a golf fan, you may have heard that CBS isn’t renewing David Feherty’s contract. So here are some Feherty-isms that will certainly make you chuckle (h/t Alex W.).

The folks at the Federalist are wondering if this email scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton will finally be the scandal that sinks the Clintons…

Finally, Michael Gerson has a strongly worded column on Syria and the Obama Administration’s complete and utter failure to prevent genocide over there. 

That’s it!  Enjoy your weekend and grab another cup of coffee for me!


Weekend Reading: September 4, 2015

Welcome to your Labor Day edition of the Weekend Reading!  I’ll be on the road in an hour from now driving to fun destinations with the family, and I’m sure many of you will as well.  So today there’s a concise gaggle of my favorite articles, movies, and more from the week.

Let’s start out on a not so good note – it looks like the President has enough votes in the Senate to override a veto of his terrible deal with Iran. Iran’s reaction is best characterized by a Fox News headline, ‘Iran thumbs nose at US even as Obama rallies support for nuke deal.’ Here’s the key quote from a top Iranian general:

U.S. officials make boastful remarks and imagine that they can impose anything on the Iranian nation because they lack a proper knowledge of the Iranian nation.

Tom Brady beat the NFL in his deflate-gate case. This has to be the silliest waste of taxpayer dollars on a judicial matter that I’ve seen in a while.

Prepare to be shocked…Hillary Clinton had more classified emails on her personal email server ***GASP!***  so ya, no surprises there.  The only surprise to me is that there hasn’t been any speculation as to whether she’ll go to jail over all this. It seems like its a pretty huge deal to have classified information in your personal possession without anyone knowing it – maybe the intent isn’t like E. Snowden, but its still in that general category of things you just don’t do.

The Independent over in the UK had an interesting story this week (though its much too long) about how Wikipedia is being infiltrated by scammers…

Lots of social media buzz about this over the past week: looks like Planned Parenthood (along with other orgs) has received several million dollars in grant money from the feds under Obamacare. This isn’t really shocking to me, because one has to realize that bureaucrats don’t stop spending your money on a dime. These particular PP sites had been “approved” for while now. The country doesn’t turn on a dime – its still important to let your voice be heard to members of Congress who don’t think this is important enough to spend political capital.  

This week Donald Trump completely fumbled a question on whether he could match the names of terrorist leaders with their orgs. And he promised to rename Mt. McKinley back to its Ohioan moniker. Yes! Now we’re getting somewhere on the important issues of the day!

There’s been a lot of hubbub about Kim Davis being ordered to jail for not issuing marriage licenses to anyone in her county in Kentucky.  Some are demagoguing the issue saying that it proves that Christianity will be at odds with the law of the land from this point on, and I think they are right about that technically, but I think in this instance Erickson is right on the money. She was probably right to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples if that was her belief, and what the state of Kentucky had already voted on. However, when she stopped issuing licenses to everyone, she just refused to do the job voters put her there to do – basically elevating herself above the voters of the land (sort of like what the Supreme Ct. did a few months back, one might say). That wasn’t the wisest move in my opinion.

More presidential context news – one of my favorite Congressmen, Gregg Harper from Mississippi, endorsed Gov. Kasich this week. Cong. Harper is a man of integrity, and a good Christian guy, so it was cool to see him getting a little spotlight this week. You might ask: why does this matter? Well, with the new primary calendar (still in flux), many southern states will be very early in the process (GA, MS, TN, AL etc.). So endorsements from those states now make an outsized impact from what they used to mean the last few cycles.

Speaking of the Presidential: the Hill issued new rankings that are worth checking out. 

Interesting read on why Asians where surgical masks in public. I read this a long time ago, and forgot to push it out. Such an odd thing…

Tim Challies posted this fascinating Huffpost article on some things you probably didn’t know were at Yale. 

Because I’m the father of two wonderful girls, I pre-ordered Cinderella (Sept. 15) this week on iTunes. Kate and I really enjoyed it in the theatre. Check it out. 

Over at the ministry of Ravi Zacharias, Margaret Manning Shull posted an insightful blog called ‘Among the Exiles’ that you might want to check out. I don’t know Shull’s work, but this was pretty good.

Finally, the song of the week: Our Only Hope is You, by Sovereign Grace (this is a very nice acoustic version, enjoy!).

And the quote of the week…

The dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. There are no ordinary people…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. – C.S. Lewis

Weekend Reading: August 28, 2015

Welcome to your Weekend Reading, a roundup of my favorite stories, blogs, videos and more from the past week. If you’re new to the list, what you can expect is a mix of theology, politics, and fun everyday life stuff. Basically, I sort through all the stuff out there so you don’t have to.

Let’s start with a rather fascinating story about how one solitary little college student accidentally found herself in the way of a bunch of big companies working to redefine a political-geographic area for better tax reasons. They were trying to draw new political boundaries with zero voters…unfortunately they missed one. It’s actually quite amusing no matter what your politics are!

No doubt that by now you’re familiar with the news stories surrounding, so I won’t describe it here. But Gizmodo has an interesting breakdown on the data that was leaked, and their conclusion is amazing, “we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.” (h/t Challies)

Video number 8 came out this week revealing more of the sin and corruption behind Planned Parenthood’s sale of human body parts – sometimes for upwards of $75 per body part. And after the protests from earlier this week, John Piper wrote a very thoughtful blog on his observations after attending one such anti-PP protest.

When we moved to our new house in NW Columbus last year, Kate and I often went back and forth about our motivation for moving. We had been living in a very “edgy” neighborhood, had our home ransacked, continually had drugs sold in front/back of our home, and even had gun shots fired in our front yard.  But ultimately we loved our neighbors (Danny had an endless supply of candy and kindness for our kids) and our home (components of which were 47% Lowes, 40% original, 13% unrecognizable), and our move was motivated by wanting to be near our church, and the people we were ministering to every week. This week Kate sent me a very thoughtful blog from Pastor Nick Nye that is worth reading if you’re thinking of moving in the near future.

On the Presidential Election frontJohn Kasich is now in second place in New Hampshire and building a formidable campaign. James Carville – Dem strategist/political guru – says that Trump has momentum that is basically unprecedented. And Carly Fiorina gave what I thought to be a really good answer this week on climate change. Tangential to all of this, yet somewhat related, is an article the Wall Street Journal did on the different Trump Towers/Buildings, really interesting stuff. Lastly, Kasich received another unconventional endorsement this week…clearly he’s got the election wrapped up…

Remember the Oregon couple who had their business devastated by activist judges after refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding? Ya, those people are now baking cakes (out of their home, mind you) for dozens of pro-LGBT organizations around the country to show them what love looks like. It’s a pretty cool story. 

In my position as a political operative and christian, devoted to my family and ministering to others, I’m often asked about how politics and religion mix appropriately. One of the questions I get from time to time is, “Is it appropriate for Christians to be involved in politics at all?” or from sort of the opposite end of the scale, “Can we expect christians to actually make effective changes in government?”  This week there was a decent piece of writing from Phillip Holmes on this subject, and I suppose its coming at the matter from that latter perspective. I like that he quotes Nancy Pearcey – find her seminal book here. 

Best of WSJ – a commonsense editorial from the Wall Street Journal on how reaction to Tim Cook’s email re: Chinese sales of Apple products (to Jim Cramer) is overblown. If you’ve been following the news at all, you’ll know that the stock market plummeted on Monday, mostly because of concerns over the Chinese economy. Also, they had an interesting piece on how women’s soccer is taking flight in Iran, of all places.

Wacko Article of the Week: There was a story/radio interview this week with a gay couple on the west coast who are raising their child in a species-less way. That means that they aren’t forcing “humanness” upon the child, but letting “it” identify with whatever it will. This is, of course, revolting, but it is also a real life example of how confusion over gender and sexual identity can lead to actually denying ones own humanity. These view points stand in conflict with the desire by the LGBT community who want to be treated “equal” – which begs the question of how they view themselves ultimately…are they human? How will people answer this question in years to come? We know the answer, of course. They are human, and they are because they were made so by God. In fact, they bear His image, and thus ought to be treated as such. (h/t Derek)

Powerful Article of the Week: Challies linked to a short post by Matthew Holst aimed at addressing men who look and lust at women. As he sits in Starbucks and notices all the men “checking out” women around him, he’s driven to write a few things for men to consider. Check it out here. 

Timely, provoking blog this week, addressed to Christians, on the matter of organic food, essential oils, and all, well, “non-essentials”.  I’m the first to admit that our family buys organic, uses essential oils, and homeschool our kids. So if you’re looking to stereotype us, that ought to help a bit. But the aim of this article is really good, namely it aims at the pride of people who spend all their time and energy evangelizing for what, at the end of the day, are really non-essentials. 

And, in case you hadn’t noticed my obsession with the DG website this week, here’s one last blog post that was worth reading by David Mathis. Mathis writes about Fasting for Beginners. This one really convicted me, and beyond that I found it helpful as well.

I don’t even know what to think about this new offering from Amazonorder TP right from the porcelain throne (h/t Ben F).

Sports lesson of the week: finish the race strong…aka: don’t celebrate prematurely

Finally, check out this hilarious video of a dude who goes into IKEA with his girl and starts clipping together IKEA-puns...laughed until it hurt (h/t Alex W.)

That’s it – go enjoy your weekend!


PS – If you’re desirous of not getting an email, just ping me.