Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm sitting here watching Heroes, one of my favorite shows and looking at facebook. I found this picture of my Gpa on my uncles facebook. The show Heroes makes people who have special powers out to be the heroes, but in real life (at least in mine) heroes often come in different shapes and sizes. My Gpa can't fly, read minds, or any of those other things, although he could out work me like I was standing still back in the day. He is one of my heroes.

My Gpa taught me the importance of reading and studying scripture. He taught me that nothing I had to say was that important unless the Bible said it first. He taught me the value of hard work, and he taught me that no matter how long I read and study scripture I will always have more to learn and more ways to grow spiritually.

Recently my Gpa and Gma came out to Colorado with my parents. It's always good to see your heroes.

Who's your hero?

Things I'm Thankful For

  • My family both immediate and not so immediate. It is amazing that family can sometimes cause the most stress in a persons life, but it is that same family that more often then not continues to love when things are far from perfect.
    • My wife is not only the love of my life, she is the one who encourages me, lifts me up when I am down, and always seems to be there when I need her.
    • My kids are both amazing!! They are so different from each other, but they both love Jesus and I believe and pray that will never end.
  • The friends I have made throughout my life.
  • My new church family here in Littleton, CO
    • This truly is a real church for real people
  • My partners in ministry (my staff)
    • My staff makes everything possible. They love God, and they love students. I love all of you, and keep serving Jesus.
  • The group of students that I have been given the privilege of pastoring.
  • Perhaps most of all I am thankful for a savior who loved me (and You) so much in spite of my sins and failures, that he decided to come to this earth take the form of man, die on a cross, and rise from the dead so that I could be in his presence for eternity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What happens at church stays at church!

Young kids have this naivety about them that is so refreshing. So often in the Scriptures we see God use young people to do his work. I am convinced that this is because they are naive. They haven't developed a system of does and don'ts or some philosophy that keeps them from serving God. They haven't developed all the boundaries that determine what is socially acceptable and what is not. They just don't know any better.
As some of you know my daughter recently tried out for the talent show at her school. She decided to do a ventriloquism program which included some conversation about Jesus and the song Jesus loves me. Originally she wanted to do a very serious program about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. My wife in her wisdom helped Catrina bring some humor to the program. After the tryouts she was asked not to sing a song about Jesus or talk about Jesus.
This morning she is going to show the program to her principal to see if she can do the program with all the Jesus stuff in it. No matter what happens we can all learn a lesson from a naive 9 year old girl. The lesson? What happens at church shouldn't stay there.
Catrina knows Jesus loves her and died on a cross for her sins. She knows that none of us are perfect and that those who do not follow Jesus are going to go to hell. She wants to tell other people about Jesus so they don't go to hell. It's so simple, but we make it so hard. Most of us have developed boundaries with our faith. They are not boundaries that God puts on us; instead they are boundaries our culture puts on us. Our culture wants the things that take place in church to stay in church. God commands us to bring Jesus to our lockers, our class room, and our life. Perhaps we should work on developing that naivety. Maybe it is not boldness we need, but instead the lack of respect for cultural boundaries that keep us from obeying God's commands.
Don't let the world tell you how to live your faith, that is God's job!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Accidents Happen!!

Last night we had a great student ministry meeting. We had a pretty creative game (I made it up) that fit in with the message of the night. We had a powerful message focusing on the work of Jesus, and we had a good worship time. The accident didn't happen until later though.

We had four students put their faith and trust in Christ last night. One of our leaders took a couple of student out for Ice Cream. One of those students and her brother were headed home late and got in an accident about a mile from the church. By the time I heard, I was already home. I jumped in the car and headed for the accident site.

So many times we (including myself) don't think accidents will happen to us. A few years back I was in a motorcycle accident. I wasn't driving reckless, but I wasn't wearing my helmet either. I was able to walk away with just a few scratches, a sore ankle, and some ripped jeans. I didn't hit anything and the accident was partly due to a mechanical failure. Still, accidents happen!!

Last night could have been worse. The students involved had only very minor injuries. Accidents can happen to any one at any time the question is, are you prepared? I believe and I hope that those two students, had the accident been worse, would have ended up in heaven. If an accident happens to you are you prepared? What if an accidents happens to one of your friends? Have done everything you reasonably could to make sure they are prepared? Those are tough questions, but important ones.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought, "wow am I good looking" or "no wonder Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week for me"? I have probably said both of those to myself at some point. There are some people who seem to be a member of the "beautiful people" club from birth and then there is the rest of us. Unfortunately our world and our society have put a significant amount of value on beauty. What does God say about beauty and self-esteem?

For some the first verse they want to point to when the topic of self-esteem arises is Mt. 22:39. this verse tells us to love others as we love ourselves. This sounds good, but in reality it doesn't really fit. Those who struggle loving themselves will struggle loving others. What does that accomplish?

There is another approach to this problem that I think will help. Simply put it is this love yourself as Christ has loved you. I wish there was a verse that said this exact thing, but there is not. There is no one self-esteem verse. Instead there is a steady diet of love coming from Jesus towards us. There are passages like Ephesians 5 (especially verse 2) that speak of the great sacrifice Jesus gave for us and then there is the words of Jesus that proclaim, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends". Considering the fact that Jesus later gave His life up willingly and without complaint for us, perhaps we can assume that Jesus had the greatest kind of love for us. When we consider the issue of self-esteem we must take this one step further. If God created us and loves us that much wouldn't it honor God to love ourselves and wouldn't it dishonor God to hate ourselves?

This is easy to say and hard to do. It has taken me years to come to the point where I can love myself simply because God loves me. Even now I still struggle with loving myself because I keep trying to measure my worth by what I can accomplish or how good of a person I am. The problem is I am not that good and I often fail. What am I left with? The love of God!!

I strive to please God out of worship and love for Him, but I know that when I fail, God's love expressed in the cross which satisfied His anger and justice lifts me up to be righteous in His eyes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is Free Will?

After posting a blog about free will and Calvinism or Reformed theology I received the following question:

Hey Pastor John,
I just read this post and I don't quite understand it. You say you believe in free will, but yet you say that people can't become a christian unless God extends an "irrisistable grace" to them. So if that is the only way that one can choose God, then how is that free will-if God has to choose you first?
By the way, my name is Tina and I met you up at Big Sandy this past week. :)

This is a great question, but it does make a fundamental mistake in its assumptions.  First, I do not believe in what is known as "Libertarian Free Will"  Those who believe in that kind of free will would say that when a person choses something they could just as easily have chosen something else.  This may be true when it comes to breakfast serial or even more important things like what college we go to.  Is it true of salvation, or choosing between good and evil, sin and goodness, etc...  I would say it is not.  I think I have good reason to believe this. 

  • My own struggle with sin
If Libertarian Free Will was really at work I would be able to easily choose good instead of sin when I am tempted.  I don't know about everyone else, but I know the Apostle Paul and I both struggle with doing what we don't want to do (Romans 7)

  • Scripture
Again the Bible tells us that in our sin nature we slaves to sin (where is the free will in that?).  It tells us that no one choses God on there own, and that there is no one righteous.  When left to ourselves or our own free will we always choose that which we perceive to be best for ourselves.  According to our will which has been severely tainted by sin we "will" not choose God or salvation.  It is not that God does not allow us to choose Him, we are all "free" to choose Him.  Instead it is that we won't choose God because our "will" is tainted by sin. 

In the end God has chosen to overcome the resistance of some by extending an irresistible grace.  I believe God has chosen to extend extra or more grace to some causing them to in essence change their will or to put into common language "change their mind."

It is not that God does not allow some people "come to Jesus."  If it were possible (I believe it is not) for a person to come to Jesus apart from an irresistible grace I believe that God would certainly allow that.  Both because of scripture and because of experience I do not believe it is possible. 

I hope this helps clarify what I believe and what I think scripture teaches.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why Theology

Over and over again I hear crazy things like "theology is not that important" or "we want to focus on living out the Christian life rather than theology." I understand the intent behind these statements, but over and over again this kind of an approach to ministry falls short.

Recently I spoke at Big Sandy Camp in Minnesota. It was a great time. The theme was Christmas. My goal going in was to ruin Christmas for all of those students so that they saw something much more than a baby in a manger. For the most part I think I succeeded. The funny thing is this. All I did was teach how Christmas fits in with all of redemptive history from a theological perspective. That sounds complicated, but really it boils down to telling the story of the Bible (the whole thing) with a special emphasis on how a baby in a manger fits in with that. In so doing we tackled some really important theological issues like propitiation, atonement (not the same thing), imputation, the depravity of man, and so on. Two hundred Sr. High students totally absorbed it. They loved it. They loved it because it helped them understand what Christianity is all about. They even learned some of these "theological" words. They learned what hypo-static union is and what imputation is.

The reason for this blog is to attempt to help students understand the foundational truths of the Christian faith. It is to challenge them to understand more fully the gospel story and how theology can positively affect their lives in areas like sex, self esteem, living for Jesus, and so on. Though the content of this blog will be focused on High School students it will not be dumbed down. The goal here is to raise students up. It will be theological in nature with an emphasis on application. Sometimes it will be theologically controversial but always orthodox.

In the end this blog is for students, but may be helpful for everyone.