Freedom from Big Foot Christianity

While you’re trying to roll out of bed at 6:30, they’ve been up since 4:00 doing pull-ups in their prayer closets and reciting Psalm 119 in perfect Hebrew. Those sparkly, brilliant, mega-Christians. Don’t they make you feel so small?

The good news is they’re not real.

It’s a conspiracy theory. Big Foot Christianity – the belief that super Christians exists (although no one has seen one in real life). At times, we think every semi-mature Christian is really Big Foot in disguise, but they’re not. They’re just Christians. Faithful and growing and saved-by-grace Christians.

Conspiracy theories and fuzzy pictures of Big Foot breed all sorts of icky stuff in our heads. So let’s confront the theory with reality.

Stop trying to impress Big Foot. I have to remember this every day (even right now). Writing feels a little vulnerable at times and I’d rather not screw it up. There are two options I have when sitting down to write it for you:

  1. Imagine the Big Foot eyes that will peer over my words while conjuring up more sanctified and eloquent thoughts than mine. And try to impress you.(or)
  2. Remember that Big Foot doesn’t exist. Then maybe I can help someone else get over themselves enough to grow closer to Christ today too.

My default is #1. I have to choose to believe #2, and sometimes the transition is tough. It helps to have clear pictures to replace those fuzzy ones. This Scripture does it for me:

1 Corinthians 4:7
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Everything we have is a gift. You did not change your own diapers or pay rent in Kindergarten. You weren’t saved in a vacuum either. At some point, a man or woman was brave enough to share the gospel with you. Then somebody else (or more likely several people) showed you truths about Christianity and life and leadership.

Anything valuable you give to others is the result of what you’ve been given. And the wisest, godliest people you know are the products of what they’ve been given. There are no self-made, super Christians.

You don’t have to prove yourself to Big Foot (and you don’t have to be him).

Swapping Instant for Present

“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliott

Newspapers, record players, and physical books will make a comeback in the next 5-10 years. That’s my theory anyway. And a new breed of hipster won’t be the trendsetters for it either. The innovation will come from those who have felt the toll of the instant.

Instant texts
Instant emails
(and instant replies)

When we traded present for instant, it was a rotten deal. Instant can’t replace present. Being present means being fully somewhere. Instant won’t afford you that luxury. Instant makes you eye the phone when it buzzes during a conversation.  It’s the ever present third-wheel. Instant has wiped our memories of days when we weren’t always accessible.

The other week I was listening to a blues record solely because my record player can’t receive emails or texts or Snapchat. It just plays BB King. And my newspaper on the front porch every morning is filled with news. No click-bait about the president. No analytics for a marketer to read in his fluorescent lair. Just news (and sometimes sports).

It’s not all the smartphone’s fault. Going back to flip-phones won’t solve it (although some have tried, and made the New York Times). I don’t think deleting Facebook, Twitter, and everything in between will fix it either. The answer is learning to be present again. It can leave eternity ringing in your ears.

Matthew 6:33-34
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The paradox is, when my focus is the Kingdom of Heaven, it let’s me be here. I can take a breath and remember that I will exist forever as an adopted son of the Living God.

When I am present…

  • I can sit still and enjoy the normal moments (try this today)
  • I have more fun with my kids
  • Turning my phone off isn’t a big deal
  • That loud, frantic volume blaring inside my soul gets quieter

I am a son now, and I will be a son then. It makes me want to seek that Kingdom first, and be present with the people and circumstances around me.

(once I close my paper Bible and fold up the sports section, of course)

When I sin, then what?

Nothing makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy like hearing, “You need to repent.”  Or other times, “This is a sin issue.” Mmmmm, like a Snuggie for the soul.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve made repentance into a nasty word. But it’s really the opposite. Repentance is awesome. Repentance should be one of the most freeing parts of the Christian life.

The problem is most people don’t know how to repent.

From what I can tell, Christians do the first part pretty well. The turn-from-sin part. The Greek word itself means an “about face.” It’s a picture of a soldier turning quickly in the opposite direction; a dual-motion of rotating away from sin and towards Christ.

Confession comes easily. They admit what they just [did-thought-said] was out of step with the Gospel. It’s the second part that trips them up. The turn-to-Christ part. They feel, unless their righteousness is proven, they are to remain at arm’s length from God’s presence.

So, how can we turn towards Christ after a moment of sin?

We are told of two ways. Both are found in this passage:

Hebrews 10:14
For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

  1. Rest in the completed work of Christ for you.

    “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time…” Because of Christ on the cross, you are perfect. Full stop. You are perfect. For all time. Past, present, future. Don’t diminish His grace by trying to prove yourself. Rest, instead, on the finished work of Jesus. You can enter into God’s presence.

  2. Embrace the continuing work of Christ in you.

    “…those who are being sanctified.” We are both perfected (past tense) and being perfected (present tense). He who began a good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). In other words, there’s still work to do.

We should love repentance. It reminds us of our freedom in Christ and the continuing work He’s doing in our hearts. But we must remember to do more than just turn from sin.

Without turning towards our sin-conquering King, we end up wallowing in guilt and fear. Doomed, so it seems, to repeat the offense again and again. However, this is only possible when we forget the power of the Holy Spirit.

“The Christian life means moving from a battle that we could not win to a battle that we cannot lose. But there’s still a battle.”  –Tim Keller

So, from the moment you fall, repent. Jesus has set you free from sin. And He is setting you free from sin. Fight the good fight.

 Read. Books. Faster.


Something surprised me while walking through the “Christian Living” section of a local bookstore. There was almost nothing for men. Of the dozens of titles sitting on the shelves, most were marketed towards my wife. It didn’t take long on Google to figure out why. Seventy-five percent of people who buy books are women.

So, since you’ve made it this far, I’m going to assume that you are either

  1. A woman, or
  2. Someone who values reading

For years, Godly authors have helped close the distance between what I know in my head and believe in my heart about Christianity (the faith gap). And, by the end of this post, I hope to further your commitment to read and offer ways to do it better. Perhaps it will inspire you to point others towards a love for reading, and help close their own faith gaps.


Despite the statistic mentioned above, I know a lot of men who are well-read. They are also (not coincidentally) influential leaders. Sharp books shape people who shape people.

“The man who never reads will never be read. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.” – Charles Spurgeon

While articles or blog posts help and are (at very least) a good starting point for non-readers, books influence people for decades. And, if you’re slow to start one, there are ways to get past the first hurdles:

  1. Set a goal. Commit to read one before 2016 ends. (The next section will help)
  2. Read with a friend. The added accountability and different perspective makes finishing a book much easier.
  3. Make time. Create space in your schedule to read. Take advantage of small moments as well (lunch breaks, sitting in a waiting room, Saturday morning coffee).


If you’re a dude, ten bucks says you skipped all the way down to this part. Honestly, I’m just glad you’re still here. So, how can we read books quicker? On average, I read four or five books per month and have become increasingly efficient by doing four things:

  1. Flip through the whole book in one sitting to get an idea for overall content.
  2. Read the preface carefully. Mortimer J. Adler taught me this in How to Read a Book. There are good clues in the preface that will lead you to discover everything the author intends for the journey ahead.
  3. There are moments when it’s okay to mine for concepts rather than read every single word. With leadership and development books in particular, I’ve found that the devil is not in the details. It’s usually in the sub-headings and chapter conclusions.
  4. Read more than you do right now. This is the best way to become a more proficient reader.

Some Good Books:

The most valuable ones I’ve come across were recommended by friends. Here are some of them in various categories (any of which could be read in less than 6 weeks):

Spiritual Growth

The Line of Faith: 40 Days to Deeper Dependency
Bill Elliff

Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols
Brad Bigney


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Die and Others Survive
Chip & Dan Heath

What’s Best Next? How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
Matt Pearman


Felt Needs

Zeal without Burnout: Seven Keys to a Life-Long Ministry of Sustainable Sacrifice
Christopher Ash

God + Politics: Jesus’ Vision for Society, State and Government 
Mark Dever


Underground Airlines
Ben Winters

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
– Joseph Brodsky


You’re Good at Stuff – So Get Better

Too many people live in denial that God made them good at stuff. I lived that way for a long time as well. It might’ve seemed humble, but it wasn’t. I was really just afraid to say I was good at something. What if I failed? What if I wasn’t the best?

Denial was easier.

God made you on purpose. There’s a reason your mind picks up on math or art or language or business more naturally than others. Accept it. You’re good at stuff.

And it wasn’t meant for just you. When the nation of Israel needed a house of worship, Moses sent this decree:

Exodus 35:10
“Let every skilled craftsmen come do what the LORD has commanded.”

Notice he didn’t call for an accountant. God used skilled craftsmen for His glory and the good of Israel.

Acts 13:36
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers…

How can you step into the purposes of God in your generation?

Begin by believing that He actually made you good at stuff. What can you do well? What comes naturally for you that doesn’t come as naturally for others? What ignites your heart? There’s a reason for it.

I’m good at writing.

You have no idea how hard that sentence was to type. Out of fear of failing, I shoved the thought itself into a drawer for years. There it could stay hidden from the opinions of others. But God never intended for me to hide it.

Strengths have a purpose. Mine do. Yours do, too. Lean into them. Accept that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I’ve learned to do so, and it’s changed my life.

Here are four ways to grow your strengths:

  1. Embrace Your Limits

    There will always be somebody smarter and better and prettier. If your worth is tied to being the best, don’t be surprised when paralysis or despair sets in. There’s a helpful little book by Seth Godin called The Dip: When to Quit and When to Stick that helped me understand this principle in a practical way.

  2. Make Space to Get Better

    Paul told Timothy not to neglect the gifts he’d been given. Sharpen them, instead, for the glory of God and the good of others (1 Timothy 4:14-16). This gave permission for Timothy to make space in his life to learn. One way I do this is by reading books on writing (and well-written novels) on a regular basis.

  3. Learn with Friends

    Whatever God made you good at was not intended to be done alone. Friends encourage and challenge us. If the Lord hadn’t put Tim Grissom in my life, I would have given up on writing long ago. We need friends.

  4. Do Something

    Small, consistent steps over long periods of time move us down the road quicker than we think. Read a book. Join a club. Take the class. Try your idea out. Just start. One day I realized, “You’re not going to wake up at 50 and know how to write. So, do something today that will help you down the road.”

God wired you a certain way for a reason. He has purposes for you in this generation. Run toward your gifts. And remember that, apart from Christ, you can do nothing.

How Is Your Heart? (Foundation Inspection Included)

When significant cracks begin to show up on the walls of a house, it is a symptom of foundation problems. There are two options homeowners have:

  1. Patch and paint over the wall so people don’t notice.
  2. Spend time and money repairing the foundation.

The first option is certainly the easiest (and most tempting). It fails, however, to stop the cracks from coming back.  The truest solution requires pouring a sound foundation.

Like a house, your heart shows cracks as well.  “Why is ______________ consistently a problem in my life?” you may ask. Perhaps it is because you have slapped on a patch rather than addressed the foundation.

It’s easier to convince ourselves that heart issues are due to busy schedules or anxious seasons of life.  We attempt to paint over it with time-management strategies or simply wait for the season to change when, in reality, the foundation is off.  Read the words of Jesus,

Matthew 7:24-27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

If our life is built on sand, when the storms get strong enough, the walls will crash down around us. It’s better to stop and take a quick look at our house before that time comes.

Do an Inspection

The following short exercise will help you look closer at life’s foundation. Take your time answering the following:

(Pick which choice best describes you)

As I do this exercise, my mind is focused on…

  1. Being courageously honest no matter what it reveals about my life.
  2. What someone will think if they knew my answers.

What brings me a greater sense of self-worth?

  1. Being loved by God.
  2. Being known as an expert at what I do.

When it comes to rest,

  1. I find that disconnecting from weekly pressures and expectations comes easily.
  2. I find it nearly impossible to not think about work or to-do lists all the time.

When someone is better than me at something,

  1. I can celebrate them.
  2. I feel threatened or insecure.

I feel like my daily choices are motivated by…

  1. Power, love and self-control.
  2. Fear and selfishness.

When I read Scripture,

  1. I am refreshed and inspired.
  2. I feel like more things get added to my spiritual “to-do” list.

I obey God…

  1. Because I love Him.
  2. So He won’t hurt or punish me.

Admit Your Need

Perhaps you are beginning to see places in your heart that need repair. So, how do we move from Answer Two to Answer One? And how can we guard ourselves from going back? There’s hope that your life can be built on the sustaining work of Jesus Christ. For today, as a next step, simply admit in prayer that you need help,

Father God,
There are places in my life that need to be reshaped by the work of Your Spirit. I am enslaved to things in ways You never intended. Would You help me experience freedom more fully? In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Repentance Brings Freedom

Many times, our areas of weakness stem from lack of faith.  Repentance is a dual-motion activity: turn away from sin and towards Christ. The example of the father in Mark 9:24 serves us well.  In a moment of doubt, he turned toward Jesus and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Turn to the Lord right now and ask Him to fill you with faith in the truths of His Word (even in the midst of doubts or uncertainty). Don’t patch it. Build your house on something better.


Four Painless Ways to Build Your Mental Toolbox

A pair of pliers isn’t something you think about much until you need it. When I was 20, I remember going to Home Depot with my soon-to-be wife and buying a basic set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, etc.).

It’s the most boring story ever.

Shopping for a new TV is way more exciting but, when your sink breaks at 10PM, those pliers become your best friends. Everybody needs some.

Our thoughts are mental tools of sorts, and we would be wise to consider adding a few to our workbench. As Scripture tells us, we should think about the way we think.

Philippians 4:8
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

How can we add more mental tools to our life so that we’re ready for when the faucet leaks or it’s time to hang a mirror? Here are four to consider:

1  – Memorize Scripture

Always start with Scripture. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. I’m convinced the main reason people struggle with the Bible is not because it’s hard to understand, but because they’ve never tried it (a subject for another day).

Here’s a couple of life hacks that will help:

Download the Fighter Verses app.

Take a screenshot of a passage of Scripture and make it the wallpaper of your phone. Like this one:


2 – Commit to build your mental toolbox.

This is crucial. If you don’t to go to the hardware store ahead of time, you will regret having to rush out in the middle of a crisis for something you could’ve already had. Decide today to invest in your thinking.

3 – Always be on the lookout for good resources that are on sale.

Amazon knocks down the prices of certain books most weeks, you just have to know where to look. Here are a couple of people I follow on Twitter that help:

Tim Keller Wisdom – @DailyKeller   Here’s an example:

Barnabas Piper – @BarnabasPiper    Here’s an example:

Books can be downloaded on a Kindle or Kindle app (eBooks are usually about 40% cheaper than the hardcopy). And, if you’re more of the listening type, try Audible.

4 – Maximize small moments.

Listen to a book or Podcast on your drive to work or in the pick-up line at school. You should build it into your weekly rhythm. (The last two hours of my work week consists of reading a book that will help me lead better).

In any case, don’t wait until your sink breaks. Get some tools ahead of time.

Why We Need to Have Fun

A little nonsense now and then
is relished by the wisest men.
Roald Dahl
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon make their living by reminding people to laugh at how ridiculous our world can be. The laughter, though, only promises a momentary escape for most. Hope doesn’t exactly linger once the audience quiets down.

Christians, on the other hand, are a people of hope. Yet we can take ourselves too seriously at times. The Gospel is serious to be sure, but it’s also what gives us the ability to laugh amidst the chaos.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

There’s something about being a citizen of a City to come that makes you less uptight about the city you’re living in right now.  Like Paul said, we’re eternal creatures. Life is too long to be worried all the time.

This allows us to live seriously light-hearted.  It gives me freedom to read a book on leadership without obsessing over the way I’m leading. Why? Because one day I’m going to die and go home. My leadership has a shelf life. So, while efficiency and effectiveness matter, there is freedom knowing that those things are a means to an end (namely, the glory of God and the joy of man).

We forget that a lot. I rarely go a week without needing to remind myself on the drive home, “hey, it’s gonna be alright.” It’s my way of remembering who I am; a citizen of another City. (A City that’s way more fun than this one). That usually helps me be more fun in the meantime. There is a light-heartedness knowing all the difficulties and questions today are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

Christ’s love both sustains us and brings urgency to tell others of the hope that lifts our heaviness. Like the old hymn says,

I was sinking deep in sin,
Far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within,
Sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea
Heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me.
Now safe am I.

Love lifted me!
Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help,
Love lifted me.

We have a Gospel to share. One where the love of Christ lifts us every day. This current city is tough. There’s not much that’s funny about it. But we’re not citizens of this city. We have Good News.

So, loosen up and laugh a little. It’s gonna be alright.

Pay No Attention to the God Behind the Curtain

Remember the moment you found out the Wizard wasn’t all that great or powerful? The face of Oz ended up being a balding, fancy-mustached, lever pulling man behind a curtain. All it took was a yappy little dog to bring the whole thing down.

I used to believe that asking critical questions about Christianity would do that. It was as if my yappy little dog of doubt could somehow expose the Biblical God as a fraud and bring my world down with it.

During that time, I discovered Psalm 51:6.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Something became very clear after reading it. “If the Biblical God is true,” I reasoned, “and He desires truth in my inmost being, then doubt is nothing to fear. He’s still going to be true at the end of the day.” That idea gave me permission to face doubt head on.

One, in particular, had to do with the authenticity of Scripture. Questions like, “Did Jesus really say and do those things? How did we even get the Bible we have today?” would swirl around in my head all day. So, instead of denying the questions as they gnawed away, I sought answers to them. And my faith became stronger than ever before.

Do you have an area in your life where doubt often creeps in? Race towards it. Don’t be afraid. Take a step this week and read a helpful resource about it.

He desires truth in your inmost being. Go ahead and look. You won’t expose a fraud behind the curtain.

Helpful Resources

These were invaluable for my questions about Scripture:

Why Trust the Bible? by Greg Gilbert (148 pages)

Who Chose the Gospels? Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy by C.E. Hill (320 pages)

The Historical Reliability of the Gospels by Craig Blomberg (416 pages)

The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation for the Evidence of Jesus by Lee Strobel (320 pages)

I also wrote a short paper summarizing the arguments found in these books and others like them. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE.

The Forever Part

If you aren’t stubborn in your quest for a life that matters, you’ll waste a lot of it building hype and hope on things that won’t outlast a goldfish. The difference maker seems to lie in one’s understanding of “the Forever Part.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11
 [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. And He has put eternity into the heart of man.

There’s a Forever Part of every human heartbeat. God put it there. Even those who don’t believe He exists still have the Forever Part. It’s just hard for them to hear sometimes.

Jesus came so that we could see that death isn’t the end. He offered eternal life. It’s the life we always knew, in our heart, was the truest life. In the Forever Part. 

But Christians many times forget about it. We can work and think and stress on things that rob our attention from what makes our lives matter. The forever stuff.

I try each day to hear the Forever Part of my own heart. There are dozens of ways it stirs to life. Little reminders help the most. For instance, there’s a clock on my desk. It’s frozen in time at a quarter to 8. Each time I sit down to write she tells me, “Unless this is linked to God’s Word and stirs the Forever Part of someone, you’re wasting your time.”

This blog post will fade and be lost soon, but you won’t. God and His Word won’t either. And if reading these words reminds you of that, then I’m doing something meaningful. Something that will, in a way, last forever.

Find little, everyday things that do this. For me, it includes reading (and writing) fiction. G.K. Chesterton was absolutely right when he said, “[Fictional stories] are more than true. Not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be defeated.” Short stories are a favorite because I can read them in one sitting.

I’ve written a few that were inspired by the Forever Part and included it below. Perhaps they will inspire you as well: