Bro, You Popping Sups?

The gym B.R.O. eats by two rules:

  1. Kill prote (translation: Consume a protein-rich diet)
  2. Pop sups (Insure overall health through maintaining a proper regimen of vitamin supplements)

Shredded chicken = Shredded abs
Ginger root = Pinchable glute

This is the gym B.R.O. way.

It just so happens that Christians feed their faith by two similar rules:

  1. Embrace promises (Receive the rich truths of God’s Word and power)
  2. Pop sups (Insure a growing faith through striving for certain qualities in your life)

2 Peter 1:3-8
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.



How Do You Know that You’re Saved?

Have you ever spent hours staring at your ceiling fan trying to fall asleep – wondering whether you’ll make it into Heaven one day? I used to all the time.

And, some days, a well-meaning Christian would ask a bunch of us, “Do you know that you’re saved?”

“You bet!” I’d think…right before their follow up question.

“Are you suuuure?

“I…I’m pretty sure. I think. Maybe. But you don’t seem convinced. So, maybe not?”

That’s when my fan-watching game would be at its strongest. It was almost like the rotating blades were slowly repeating, “are you suuuure?”

So, let’s settle the question.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
For we know, brothers  loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Paul knew the Thessalonians’ saving faith was sincere because…

  1. They had heard the Gospel.

    “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you.” He said elsewhere, “How will anybody believe what they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14). Saving faith starts with hearing the Good News.

  2. They were transformed by the power of God.

    “…our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power…” Their lives looked different because of the saving work of Christ.

  3. The Holy Spirit was evident in their lives.

    “…but also in power and in the Holy Spirit…” When we believe the Gospel, the Spirit of God makes His home in us and our lives show evidence of it (Galatians 3:2, John 14:23, Galatians 5:16-26). The Spirit also confirms with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). It’s safe to assume Paul meant all of this here as well.

  4. They were convinced that it was true.

    “…in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…”

The question you should be asking, then, is not, “Am I saved?” But “Do I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord?” (see Romans 10:9)

If your words and actions answer, “YES!” then stop fretting over that ceiling fan. In the words of the great hymn, rest knowing “Twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”

2017 Fall Reading List

I’m never the same after finishing a book. Most times I can expect ways that I’ll be impacted, but there are always surprises. Words are like that.

Clever words, silly words, wise words, inspiring words – all of them are welcome, but not all of them are equal. Only the words that are fused to the Kingdom of God will hang around when the other words are forgotten.

1 Peter 1:24-25

All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Words shape people, and people live forever. We should, therefore, invite the right words to shape our lives. Words that last forever.

Even so, fleeting words can benefit us at times.

I’ve found books help me understand the fading world so that I can better relate to the eternal people who walk upon it. And as a compulsive reader, I catch myself talking about words often and helping friends find authors who write them well – especially in the fall.

Autumn trees, football, crispy walks and reading by a bonfire are all things that make this my favorite time of year. So, if you’re looking for some great words to pair with the season, here are a few to consider:


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Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama by Kenneth L. Woodward

Written by the tenured Religion editor at Newsweek, this fascinating account unfolds the psychedelic quilt of theology, philosophy and culture that shaped three generations of Americans in the 20th century. Woodward’s writing style is effortless on the eyes as he weaves stories of personal interviews with Popes, Presidents and Billy Graham. As a Catholic, his perspective on Evangelicalism was pointed and encouraging (if not a little eye-opening).

“How a person gets religion can powerfully influence the understanding of the religion he got. There have been other periods of religious enthusiasm and upheaval but none of these, I argue, was so widespread, so wildly diverse in faith and practice, so direct in impact on electoral politics as the one that ranged from the end of the Second World War to the dawn of the new millennium.”

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The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation by Rod Dreher

“The idea [The Benedict Option] is that serious Christian conservatives could no longer live business-as-usual lives in America, that we have to develop creative, communal solutions to help us hold on to our faith and our values in a world growing ever more hostile to them.”

Dreher spends the rest of his book arguing why The Order of St. Benedict should be the framework for developing such a solution. Although some of the conclusions ring a bit escapist, he makes a compelling case worth hearing out.

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Making the Corps by Thomas E. Ricks

As of today, my youngest brother is completing the last two weeks of Marine Boot Camp. And, after reading Ricks’ Pulitzer Prize caliber description of it, I’ll never look at him (or any other soldier) the same. Every American should know what their warriors put themselves through to protect our freedom, and this book is a great start.

“Most of the thirty-six recruits on the bus already have been awake twenty hours or more, since they reported to military processing stations at dawn Wednesday. They won’t sleep for another eighteen, until sunset Thursday. A haze of cigarette smoke hangs in the air of the silent bus. It is the last tobacco they will smell for eleven weeks…But many of the bewildered young men staring at Staff Sergeant Biehl will never make it that far.”



Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion by Wayne Cordeiro

I highlighted an average of every other sentence. Although a fraction of leaders are mega-church pastors, all of them will relate to the burnout Cordeiro experienced and the principles that saved his life. The exercises alone are worth the price (and they’ll take you on a bulldog of a journey).

“We don’t forget that we are Christians. We forget that we are human, and that one oversight alone can debilitate the potential of our future.”

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Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work by Stephen Pressfield

Pressfield is more famous for The War of Art (a best-seller/instant classic), but I found this one far more inspiring. Although it is not written from a Christian perspective, it’s the nudge you need to pursue your God-given strengths.

“The amateur fears that if he turns pro and lives out his calling, he will have to live up to who he really is and what he is truly capable of. The amateur is terrified that if the tribe should discover who he really is, he will be kicked out into the cold to die.”

Language Warning: there is some


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Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith by Larry Osborne

I have never been more refreshed by something that punched so hard in the gut. With grace and tenacity, Osborne pulls the veil off our own self-righteousness. If you’ve been a Christian for a while now, read it.

“The problem is not spiritual zeal. That’s a good thing. We’re all called to be zealous for the Lord. The problem is unaligned spiritual passion, a zeal for the Lord that fails to line up with the totality of Scripture.”

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The Christian’s Work of Dying Daily by John Owen

This short book is a series of sermons preached by the famous 17th century Puritan. I read it after the funeral of a friend and was reminded of Paul’s words in Colossians 3, “For you have died (past tense) and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Of the hundreds of books I’ve read in my life, this is the only one (so far) I want to read every year until my death.

“Brethren, I know no man dies willingly,— no man living can have an habitual inclination to close cheerfully with this dissolution,— but by looking upon it as a means to come to the enjoyment of Christ. I tell you, your bodies are better to you than all the world, than all your goods, or any thing else; but Christ is better to the soul than any thing: and therefore, unless it be for the enjoyment of Christ, let men pretend what they will, there is no man willing to part with the body,— to be dissolved. Grow in that desire of coming to Christ, and you will conquer the unwillingness of death.”


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Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein

To do anything innovative, you need to be willing to go a little off-center. People expect center and are ready to go on a different journey. Nickelodeon did just that in the ‘90s by creating a zany cable channel aimed solely at kids. I remember summer afternoons where Rugrats, Salute Your Shorts, and Double Dare kept us glued on the couch dreaming of the green GAK fountain. Reading all of my favorite kids stars recount what life was like on set only made me miss those summers more. It confirmed two things: the ‘90s were just the best…

…and I could’ve totally won a glowing piece of the Radical Rock.

“Why did it work? Was it the casting? The writing? The irreverence? What you are about to read might explain it. Personally, I think it is like trying to dissect a joke. Why is it funny? Who cares? It worked, and we are all glad it did. Soooooo…On your mark! Get set!! Go!!!” –  from Marc Summers (host of Double Dare and What Would You Do?)

Words shape us. So, invite some good ones into your fall. Just remember that not all of them are created equal.

The Right Way to Name Drop

YOU: Hey man, how do you like the burgers here?

ME: They’re almost as good as Kel Mitchell’s. Not quite though. His burgs are cray.

YOU: Who’s Kel Mitchell?

ME: ummm…from Good Burger? All That? The throwback moment on Jimmy Fallon of Kenan and Kel doing the Good Burger sketch from All That?

YOU: Oh, I think I remember him. I’m more of a David’s Burger fan myself.

ME: I like that restaurant too.

YOU: Restaurant? Ahhh, no, I mean David Hyde Pierce.


YOU: I can’t remember all the projects he’s worked on…but, yes, I believe that’s right.

ME: My best friend Brenden Fraser hates that guy. “It’s Fray-Zer!” he always yells to Tom Hanks at parties. “Not Fray-ZHer!”  Denzel and I think it’s hilarious.

Knowing how to name drop is important business among us non-famous, ridiculous people. And it’s been that way for thousands of years.  Even the church can (and often does) get caught up in it. Paul addressed it head on. People in Corinth were saying, “I follow Paul!” and others responded, “Peter’s Burgers are way better!” (my translation), and still others were chanting “Apollo! Apollo! Ah-Paw-Low!”  It created deep division.

We see, however, that the healing balm offered is not only for the name-droppers, but also for those of us who just get too caught up in the hubbub of everyday.

1 Corinthians 3:23
So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you (plural) are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

If you have trusted in Christ, everything you want is yours already. Stop competing. The Apostles, the world, life, death, the present, the future…it’s yours. And you are Christ’s. And Christ is God’s.

So, let’s take a breath and enjoy our burger. That’s what Paul would say.  (I’d know. We’re like BEST friends.)

You Are Way Stronger than You Realize

The blood pooling on my knuckles helped me forget the knife-like pain stabbing behind both ear drums. Sinus tumors had created so much pressure that they were ready to rupture. All the pain and rage and desperation found their way to my ten-year-old fist as it punched a hole through our fiberglass shower.

After the immediate fear of “Oh shoot, what’s dad gonna say?” wore off, another thought hit as I shook off my hand…

You are way stronger than you realize.

That exact thought rolled back the other day as I was reading Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. From jail, he said

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. Philippians 1:19

He banked his future on two things:

The help of the Holy Spirit


The prayers of Godly people

The little conjunction “and” changed the way I prayed. If you’re in Christ, it should change how you pray for others as well. You’re way stronger than you realize.

Let’s Get Healthy

Be able to pop your pecks like Terry Crews. This single goal drives 99.9% of my weight-lifting routine (that and wanting to be a healthier person I guess).


But, until I’m able to look like a shredded linebacker, there are other ways I measure my physical, emotional and spiritual health. Asking the right questions tend to do the trick. Here are a few I reflect on frequently (and some posts that have helped along the way):

Physical Health

  • Are you getting to the gym regularly each week?
    Can you still hit certain exercise milestones (for me, that means being able to run a mile without stopping to throw up)? If you despise the gym, you’re in good company. I blame the Gym B.R.O.s (and wrote about it here).
  • Are you eating healthy foods?
    And, for those who just read, “Are you eating quinoa and kale salad every meal?” Ron Swanson was right when he said, “That’s food that my food eats.”
    For more on this, check out How I Lost 40lb Eating Fried Chicken.

  • Are you sleeping?
    Although studies show that adults require 7-9 hours of sleep, everyone is different. I’m not like some of you vampires who somehow survive on 4 hours of shuteye in their dusty crypt before flying off. If I’m not getting enough sleep, then my mind is dull, my emotions are haywire, and nobody likes me.
    For more on this, check out When Rest Won’t Come and Practical Rest.

    Psalm 127:2
    It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Emotional Health

  • Do you know what recharges your mind, and do you make time for it?
    Books and fishing and roasting coffee are all a part of what help me “reset.”
    If you need inspiration in this area, check out What Our Hobbies Say About Us.
  • Do you regularly laugh with family and friends over meals?
    Even in times of trial and tears and hard weeks, there can be joy and laughter.

    Proverbs 17:17
    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Spiritual Health

  • Are you stirred to love and good deeds through God’s Word each day? Or has reading the Bible become a “checklist” item lately?
    Catch the Good Stuff
  • Do you pray often for God to sanctify you and those around you? Or has your prayer life slipped into the “protect them, bless that, let it be a good day, amen” cycle?
    If you need help in this area, check out Do You Pray for Ghost Stories?
  • Are you trusting in God’s goodness and plan no matter what?
    Freedom: Who Do You Trust?
    When God Seems Distant

Wherever you are in the journey, take a step towards health this week!

1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Which Economy Are You Living In?

When I was a kid, our currency was POGS. We’d trade and sell on the market at recess, and it was dog-eat-dog (unless you had a Batman slammer, then you played for keeps).  But we weren’t ruled by a single standard economy. There were always our Beanie Baby investments to fall back on.

The King of the Playground

The King of the Playground

I had Grunt…GRUNT! It was only because mom got him on the front side of the Beanie Baby Bubble™. And like some stupid kid who just wants to play with the toy, I ripped Grunt’s tag off when she brought him home. So, you can imagine the horror I experienced when I found out that there was a new thing called the “internet” where crazy moms were buying Grunt (with the tag) for $250.  “TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS?!” I collapsed in an ocean of tears. In 1994, $250 was Richie-Rich level money…at least to a third grader. I could have sold Grunt and built a roller-coaster in my back yard.


This Grunt belonged to a more fiscally responsible 3rd grader who bought the plastic tag protector. 

About two years later the Beanie Baby Bubble™ burst and now we all have trash bags full of worthless toys (that we secretly hold on to because they will still be worth millions one day).

That’s what’s so interesting about economies. They can collapse overnight – especially when they are built on shaky foundations. In Matthew 6, Jesus talks about two Kingdoms with two very different economies.  One can collapse overnight and the other has outlasted every superpower on Earth.

They are not recognized by their value statements, but by their GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Every economy produces something, and these Kingdoms are no different. According to Jesus, there are two Gross Domestic Products that characterize The Kingdom of the World and The Kingdom of God.



The word “anxiety” is used six times in Matthew 6, then Christ commands us not to be worried about our lives. Most times, we see anxiety as something out of our control, but the Greek word is in the imperative.

“Worry is believing that God won’t get it right, and bitterness is believing He didn’t.” – Tim Keller

Jesus wouldn’t call us to something His Spirit hasn’t empowered us to do. So, if your life is characterized by worry or anxiety right, don’t lose hope.


He said that the eyes are the lamp of the body. If our eyes are healthy, we will be healthy. If our eyes are pursuing darkness, we will be full of darkness. And, when the good things in us are dark…it’s really bad (vs. 22-23). In short, when we seek the Kingdom of the World, our lives produce worry and sin in mass.


That’s the revolutionary economic concept Jesus was teaching. You have exhausting stuff speeding your way, and change happens only when you pursue the right economy.

“But SEEK FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 



When we value what Heaven values, we will pursue holiness and prayer and people and worship and intimacy with God.


Food, clothing, and money are good things, but, as Jesus said, isn’t life more than these things? When we are pursuing the Kingdom of God first, then He brings our finances and relationships and physical needs into harmony with His will.

Jesus’ message is not “STAY AWAY FROM THESE THINGS!” Instead it’s, “PURSUE THIS THING.” When we are pursuing the Kingdom of God, we are naturally going to steer away from sin and worry. So, if you feel driven those things, maybe it’s because you are not seeking the Kingdom first today.

Every morning you and I are faced with the choice of the two Kingdoms, and our lives’ GDP will reflect that decision. If you’re like me, some days I choose wrongly and it catches up fast. That’s when I run to Matthew 6:33, repent, and remember the millions of Beanie Babies sitting in dumpsters.