A Time to Lament

Here we go again? Another American mass murder. First, it was ten African Americans murdered in Buffalo, New York. Yesterday, it was nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. How do we make sense of these atrocious acts in our country? I would suggest that we pause. This is not a time for trivial or simplistic answers, nor is it a time for egotistical politicians to push their agendas. Now is a time to lament before the Lord and mourn with those who mourn. Some families have had their lives changed forever, and answers that will never bring their loved ones back. The Psalm writers would often lament before the Lord with questions of "how" and "why" in response to the most challenging circumstances in life (see Psalm 10, 13, 22). Lament was a way for the psalmist to express their deep mourning and trust in God. Lament allows one to mourn the realities of this fallen world, leading back to...
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Money, Exercise, and Motivations of the Heart

How do you combine money, exercise, and the motivations of the heart? Answer: Paceline Paceline is a new fitness app that gives rewards for exercising. This app is not the first to combine exercise with rewards, but it has additional benefits. The Paceline app is the first fitness app that I have seen which combines credit card rewards and the ability to receive a free Apple Watch (Series 7). How it works First, you download the Paceline app, which connects to Apple Health, Fitbit, or Garmin. Next, you will need a fitness tracker that includes heart rate tracking. The goal is to have 150 minutes of elevated heart rate (eHr) per week (maximum 50 minutes a day). For example, a brisk walk will track an elevated heart rate. You will receive a reward each week that you reach the exercise goal. These rewards include $1 Amazon gift cards and other offers for discounts on products and services. The real benefit to the program comes with...
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Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

Book Review: Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography by Curis Solomon

I recently had the opportunity to read a new book by Curis Solomon called, Redeem Your Marriage: Hope for Husbands Who Have Hurt through Pornography. His wife, Jenny Solomon, also wrote a companion book called Reclaim Your Marriage: Grace for Wives Who Have Been Hurt by Pornography. Solomon is a biblical counselor and serves as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. The topic of pornography is important for biblical counselors to address. Unfortunately, the message in our culture seems to be that porn is no big deal, and my experience in the church is that many people struggle but few people talk about the issue. This new book by Solomon felt you were sitting with a friend over coffee who offered hope and wisdom to deal with this common struggle with sin. I appreciate the transparency from his own life and how he held the tension of calling pornography evil while not condemning the one struggling. Instead, he...
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Book Review: When Home Hurts by Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson

How should the church handle domestic abuse? What steps can a church take to help those affected by abuse? In their new book, When Home Hurts: A Guide for Responding Wisely to Domestic Abuse in Your Church, Jeremy Pierre and Greg Wilson provide a new resource to help church leaders deal with domestic abuse. In this book, Pierre and Wilson provide a practical resource for the church to help care for those affected by abuse. They deal primarily with male abusers while giving counsel in the appendix for cases of female abusers. The authors divide the book into three sections: 1) How to Understand Abuse, 2) How to Respond After the Initial Disclosure, and 3) How to Care in the Long Term. In the first section, they discuss the dynamics of abuse. They explain the experience, "Abuse occurs as a person in a position of greater influence uses his personal capacities to diminish the personal capacities of those under his influence in...
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Book Review: Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners by Michael Emlet

If someone asked, "who are you?" how would you answer? Every person answers this question about their identity. We receive our first identity from our parents on our birth certificate. Our identity includes our gender, race, and first and last name. Our identity shapes how we view the world, think about ourselves, and relate to other people. The Bible uses a variety of identity language to describe believers (i.e., sinner, saint, child of God, forgiven, and redeemed). As described in the title of his new book, "Saints, Suffers, and Sinners: Loving Others as God Loves Us", Michael Emlet uses three terms to describe a Christian's identity. The three identities saints, sufferers, and sinners are not separate categories but are true realities of all believers. These three categories are woven together in each believer. These realities teach us how God loves us and how we should reciprocate that love to others. Emlet calls these "signposts for wise love." He emphasizes the order of...
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The Sound of Solitude

Mount Baldy (elevation 10,064 ft) “All our miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone [with God].” Blaise Pascal It is hard to escape the noise of everyday life. In Los Angeles, you cannot escape the morning traffic or the evening police car chase. There are the routine sounds we hear: working in a busy office, talking with coworkers and friends, listening to music or a favorite podcast, sitting in a coffee shop, eating dinner with friends, or watching the latest series on Netflix. There are the constant sounds we hear: text messages, emails, tweets, calendar reminders, to-do list alerts, breaking news, and spam phone calls. There are also the sounds of our busy hearts: our anxious thoughts, and our endless desires. All these sounds often turn into noise that is hard to escape. I often long to be in solitude to escape the noise of normal everyday life, so that I can think and refocus. I...
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Why do I complain so much?

A week ago, my family visited a local farm to pick strawberries. As we left, I bought each of my kids a flavored popsicle for the drive home. They enjoyed it for a few minutes until I heard from the back of the car that my son wanted a napkin because he did not like it. My ten-year-old daughter told my eight-year-old son, "You never like anything, it's too hot, or it's too cold, it doesn't taste good, you are never satisfied." At that moment I did not know whether I should commend her for her skillful assessment of the human heart or to comfort my son who had just received a tongue lashing as he had his heart exposed. Over this last year it seems that complaining has become so normal that we do not realize we are doing it all the time.  Can you believe the traffic? I cannot believe I have to wear a mask outside. These politicians...
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Do you have an iPhone, or does your iPhone have you?

I came across a news article this morning that talked about a Digital Detox Challenge. I am reminded about how much technology is part of everyday life. I am not against technology by any means, I was part of the generation that grew up when the internet was gaining popularity. I am in the age group that can be part of Gen X or Gen Y (Millennials), depending on whom you ask. Wikipedia is the authority on all truth, right? The article I read this morning talked about a contest where they choose people to take a 24-hour period without any technology. They will pay $2,400 and even supply a safe to lock up your devices! There is a lot to say about how gamification, financial incentives, and preventing access can be tools for temporary behavior modification. Long-lasting change comes by aiming at the heart, which I will cover in future blog posts. All that to say, this sounds like a...
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Facing the Unexpected

James 4:13-15 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  The verses above have often come to my mind over the last year. Life in a fallen world is full of joys and disappointment, fulfilled expectations and unmet expectations, dreams fulfilled and dashed dreams. Life in a fallen world during a pandemic adds another dynamic, the constant reminder that life is short, and we have limited control of our circumstances.   How can these verses bring perspective back into our lives? One truth that we should remember is that the Bible does not always explain the circumstances of life, but the Bible...
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