3 things to get the most out of Sunday

If you are a regular church-goer then Sunday, more than likely, is the day when you gather with others who are on the same spiritual journey as you.

There are many reasons why we do this. To learn, be challenged, and fellowship with others, are to name a few. There are, however, times when this does not happen. It is quite easy to walk away from a Sunday service and feel, was that it? 

Whether you have felt like that or you always walk away satisfied, there are three things you can do before Sunday ever happens so that you can get the most out of Sunday (or whichever day you meet).

I break them down to heart, body, and mind.

1) Heart

This may seem obvious, but to get the most out of Sunday, you need to prepare your heart. But what does it mean to prepare your heart? 

To prepare your heart begins with prayer. Prayer is about repentance, thanksgiving, petition, lament. 

Consider prayers like this the tenderiser and your heart the meat. Now the Sunday becomes the grill. While not the perfect analogy, I hope you can get the picture. 

Sunday is a time when God speaks to His body corporately, which you are a part of. As Greg Boyd writes,

“…our heart conditions our ability to see and understand spiritual truths…”

You need to do your part to set aside the weekly distraction in order to hear what God is saying, which leads us to the second one.

2) Body

I’m not talking about spiritual jumping jacks or shoulder exercises so you can hold your hands up longer. Body has nothing to do with your physical body.

As mentioned previously, your part of the body of Christ. As a member of that body, you need to help the body get ready for what God is saying to His Church. You have just as much of a responsibility to help prepare the body for game day (to use a sports slogan), as anyone else.

Call someone up form your church have coffee, maybe lunch, or a someone for dinner and discuss spiritual matters. If your church has small groups, engage in them. Proverbs states that we are to be,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17. 

A great way to get the most out of Sunday is to engage others with what God is doing in your life, their life, and the church as a wholes life.

3) Mind

Depending on your tradition, this is either over or underemphasized. In most cases, it’s the latter. Surprisingly, it is almost demonized. Yet, Jesus told us to love him with all our mind (Mark 12:30, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27).

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to be lazy. When you are lazy with your mind on spiritual matters, you do your self a disservice. Most churches nowadays do series. That means you can know the topic of the series and the Scripture before it ever comes. Pick up a commentary and do a little study. Even if you’re not a reader, it’s easy to either read a verse or listen to it. Once you do that, think about it, talk about it, pray about it. You can even find other sermons or podcasts on that Scripture.

Even if you don’t know what is coming next, you know what has happened. Engage the previous Sunday. Talk, pray, and think. Do as much as you can to engage the text and hear what God is speaking to you through it.

If you do these three, I guarantee that you will get the most out of your Sunday experience.

Checkout the resources used in this blog

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#TBT Fire Falling

Here’s a song I wrote a few years ago called Fire Falling



Fire Falling by Joshua Trombley & Jesse Morin

Verse 1

Em                    D                       C                 Am

I can feel your fire falling, Your fire falling on me

Em                    D                         C                 Am

I can hear your spirit calling your spirit calling to me X2

Chorus

C                      Em                      G                                    D

Fire fall down, Spirit Breathe out, Consume me with your flame

C                       Em                      G                                    D

Move in Power, move this hour, Consume me with your flame

             C

Burn in me

Verse 2

Em               D                           C                      Am

I can feel chains are fallin’, the chains are fallin’ off me

Em                    D                                  C                               Am

I can hear your kingdom coming, Your Kingdom coming, my heart cries out

Verse 3

Em                    /D                     /C#                 /C

I can feel your fire falling, Your fire falling on me

Em                    /D                         /C#                  /C

I can hear your spirit calling your spirit calling to me

Bridge

C                       Em                       C                     Em

Fire fall down, Spirit Breathe out, Fire fall down, Spirit breathe out

Reclaiming our wild-eyed courage.

If you were anything like me as a child, you had loads of courage. I remember at four-years-old climbing a large wooden structure that stood about two stories tall on a raft and jumping into the water. There were crashes on bikes and daring feats from trees and large rocks. Even though they often eventually ended in crashes and tears, I never once thought I should stop trying adventurous things.

I don’t know when it changed, but there was a point when something did. For some reason, reason took over. 

When I was ten, my friends and I would ride our bikes down a hill that we affectionately called, “Devil’s Hill,” which had a fallen tree covered with dirt that created a ramp. We would ride full tilt down the hill and fly–and I mean fly–landing roughly on the windy, rocky, root sewn path. One of the times I went down, I peddled as hard as I could. As I sailed through the air, it felt that my bravery was rewarded. Unbeknownst to me, when I landed my handlebars twist just enough to be dangerous, but not notify my ten-year-old brain to any problem. As I turned my handlebars, thinking I was straightening them, I turned the bars, aiming and hitting a rock just big enough to stop my front wheel. 

What proceeded next looked an awful lot like the Tazmanian Devil’s dust swirl mixed with tears, a little blood, and ten-year-old pre-pubescent screams.

The next day I went and did it again.

Somewhere along the way timidity, trepidation, and fear set into us.

We never plan for it. Responsibility, maybe you might call it maturity eventually takes over. However, I believe a lot of us have lost our courage.

I like what Jordan Peterson writes about our fleeting courage,

“Something is out there in the woods. You know that with certainty. But often it’s only a squirrel. If you refuse to look, however, then it’s a dragon, and you’re no knight: You’re a mouse confronting a lion; a rabbit paralyzed by the gaze of a wolf.” 

We grow up, and we allow fear to dictate our path. When rarely if ever risk the oceans of discovery. We stop chasing dreams, we avoid painful decisions, and we look for the path of least resistance. 

But aren’t experiences worth the tumble? The stories and lessons serve as valuable memories that help you for the next adventure.

We don’t risk enough. 

What if James, John, and Matthew said no to following Jesus?

What if Peter hadn’t stood up in front of the crowd and proclaimed the Good News of Christ (Acts 2)?

What if the Apostle Paul hadn’t risked life and limb to spread Christ’s Kingdom through the Roman Empire?

They all took a risk. Anyone we have known as significant has. 

We need to tap back into the wild-eyed childhood bravado. With adult wisdom and a childlike fearlessness, how would our lives and the world be changed for the better?

Yes, it’s scary to step up and out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. As Tolkien writes,

“Adventure can be scary and unpredictable, but the more you continue in it, the more you lose that sense of fear and doubt (and the less you care about being late for dinner). You begin to gather up your internal resources with confidence.” 

We need to readopt a sense of adventure. As we courageously step out in the small things, it allows us to step into the unknown a little further each time the easier it becomes.

It’s time to think like a child again.

Check out the resources used in this post

A Pastor’s Lament

I don’t know how to say how I feel.

Have you been there? It seems like I am there every day. Each day I find myself in a fog of emotions, not knowing whether I’m happy, sad, despondent, numb. Waves of joy, sadness, pride, anger seem to crash simultaneousness on all sides of my mind.

BANG!

At these times, I can’t help long to feel something–something other than the whirlpool of emotions. To feel something other than the physical pain from my injuries or the emotional pain from the internal wounds. To feel something other than the constant pressure of having to accomplish more and be successful. The force of merely surviving.

Have you been there?

More and more frequently, I find myself in this brokenness.

God can seem silent.

 I pray and nothing.

Have I lost God’s favour?

Have I done something wrong?

I long for the angel that visited Elijah to come and minister to me. But Elijah didn’t have four kids to keep him awake, nor did he have to worry about a paycheque to feed them.

It leaves me to wonder, what’s next?

For that, I do not know. What is next for me, for my family, for my church?

I don’t know.

I know to whom I belong.

I know what God has called me to.

Yet the waves keep crashing without and end in sight. Each wave pushing me deeper and deeper into a dark sea–clenching for something, finding nothing.

On Christ, the solid rock I stand. Does the fact that I feel like I’m sinking mean I find my feet somewhere else? Or is there more to the story. 

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me? 

King David wrote,

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? 
How long will my enemy triumph over me? 

Psalms 13:1–2

Even Jesus cried out while on the cross,

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)

Matthew 27:46

Jesus knew–David knew–I know that though all feels lost, it isn’t. Tomorrow the sun will rise. There will be a new day.

 But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise, 
for he has been good to me. 

Psalms 13:5–6

So what do you do in moments like this?

Praise anyway. When we do, we remind ourselves and the enemy of whose we are. 

I heard and my heart pounded, 
my lips quivered at the sound; 
decay crept into my bones, 
and my legs trembled. 
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity 
to come on the nation invading us. 
17 Though the fig tree does not bud 
and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails 
and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen 
and no cattle in the stalls, 
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, 
I will be joyful in God my Savior. 
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, 
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:16–19

Did the Supermarket wreck the Church?

Post world war two the world began to change, according to a recent Freakonomics episode, when it came to how you purchase food.

Post-war marked the supermarket age. Northern hemisphere countries, inspired by the “innovations” in the U.S.A., began to have one-stop shops. Mass-produced products started to be in demand.

For this mass-produced revolution to happen, it meant that our food needed to change. For food to be efficiently produced, harvester machines had to collect tomatoes. That meant the tomato had to be genetically modified. They needed to be harder–more resilient. Chicken also began to be modified. Bigger breasted and lighter feathers. This meant more meat that looks better in a package.

These advancements were necessary to have lots of food for a little cost. More bang per buck. The problem is, food isn’t as nutritious as it once was, some have argued it’s even dangerous. However, it is a necessary evil if we want maximum food for a minimum price.

If you are a Gen X’er or Xennial like myself, it was our grandparents who built the modern world, hence their generational name “builder.” While they did an excellent job giving us infrastructure in a post-war world, the development of mass-produced houses, cars, and as we have spoken of, food has dramatically affected our lives.

I believe something happened similar to this with the church within the same period. This is not to say that our grandparents intentionally stripped the church of nutrition, not in the slightest. What I believe is that well-meaning Christians began to do work that had a tremendous impact, but the cumulative side effects (just as in the agricultural world) have been detrimental.

To become more productive (mass-producing Christians) and make the product cheaper (buy-in costs less), we have modified what it means to follow Jesus. Discipleship became a program. It is not that the big box megachurch is bad. It is that as anything thing becomes larger the small things that make it what it is, become increasingly more difficult to accomplish. After all, the kind of discipleship that Jesus and other followers modelled for us is not mass-producing, nor is it cheap. One might even call it inefficient.

With the industrialization of everything, the builders changed the world, not excluding the church. The neighbourhood church, like the mom and pop stores, faded away as society moved toward more efficient forms of church–the big box one-stop-shop church. After all, we can preach to more people, more revenue is pooled together, and it is cheaper.

What I mean by cheaper is that you can have all the amenities, maybe even more, with less buy-in. You can have the best speaking, music, and Sunday experience while giving less money and time. It becomes a lot easier to pull off “church” because more people giving less is more than fewer people giving more (time, money, and resources).

While this model has been successful at gathering crowds and more so introducing the character of Jesus, more often than not, it has offered light feathered, large breasted chickens, so to speak. It’s not intentional, but merely the design.

Is the solution to go back to the neighbourhood church? Maybe, but there’s a problem.

The problem lies in this, just as in our store analogy where the local shop begins to lose business and thus begins to copy the big box stores to sell the same product, they never can at the same price. The local store offers compromised food at a higher cost. The local church begins to make following Jesus into a Sunday experience while still demanding the in-depth relational collateral and workload of local church ministry. The price simply starts to surpass the return.

Neither of these speaks of the vocation in which Jesus has called us and the Holy Spirit has empowered us. The church, both large and small, has got into the business of running efficient service rather than the painstaking work of disciple-making.

In recent years there has been a push back in the food industry. People have been demanding free-range meat and non-GMO products. What is interesting is that people can taste the difference. If you’re really paying attention, you can even see the difference. To get this kind of food, it does cost more. Yet, those who have chased the products of how food should be, say they have discovered that it is worth the extra cost.

People are beginning to seek the same thing when it comes to a relationship with God and the church. As some Christians have sought and found the free-range non-GMO church, they have noticed that though it makes a greater demand on their life, it is genuinely better. There is a greater buy-in, the processes of making other disciples take a lot longer, yet the end product is much better (for lack of better language).

There is a contingent of churches and church leaders who are striving to usher a new healthier church back into the mainstream. They are trying to manifest what it looks like when Jesus said: “Go tell of the good news of God…baptize,… and teach them to obey…”

The fix isn’t the big box nor the local church. The repair is to reencounter the King of Kings, Jesus. It is His Spirit, the Holy Spirit the will reinvigorate all our churches. We need to hear his demand on our hearts again. As far as de-industrializing our churches, I honestly don’t know the solution. How do you produce quantity and quality?

Maybe you know. I hope you do.

We need to seek the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. Our big and small GMO churches have left people wanting more and allowed our culture to become morally bankrupt. We need a free-range church. We need to seek what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Does the Bible actually say anything about earth care?

Bob Dylan once sang, “The times are a changin’.” According to most scientists the planets a changin’ too. Yet, as much as the environmental alarmists are championing extreme climate change, there is another side, called the climate change deniers. If you’re just the average person, it can be hard to navigate what is true or not. It seems we would rather fight than finding common ground. However, whether you are on one side or the other, or stuck in the middle with me, what the Scriptures teach us about caring for the earth is the same. In fact, whether you believe in climate change or not should have no bearing on Biblical care for the environment.

The two verses from the two creation accounts in the book of Genesis speak of what we call, the Cultural Mandate.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

Genesis 1:28

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15

These verses are the commission of Adam and Eve to subdue, rule, work, and care for the earth. We will address these words in a second. These Scriptures, at the very beginning, the very first things God tells his people, are too often forgotten. God is inviting us into his creative work. The Apostle Paul writes to the Church in Colossae,

“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him”

Colossians 1:16

The world has not only been created by Jesus but for Jesus, and he invites us into the process. The call goes out to subdue, rule, work, and take care. The “subdue” in Genesis 1 means bring into bondage and press. It’s the same Hebrew word for “oppress” and “beat or make a path.” The word rule doesn’t paint warm and fuzzy pictures either, it means “dominate.” Yet in Genesis 2, the work means to serve and take care means to “keep watch, preserve, to be a watchman.” It appears that these two accounts differ in how they depict how we are to respond to the earth.

I would argue that the only reason we see subdue and rule as negative is because of the view of our broken world as it is now. In this portion of Scripture, it is a very different story. This is before the fall of mankind, which happens in the next chapter. Jim Ball writes,

“yet this granting of dominion in Genesis 1 occurred before the Fall in Genesis 3 before we became warped images, distorted reflections.”

When people try to use these as reasons to squeeze every ounce of life out of the earth, they are grossly taking it out of context. The idea of bringing into bondage has to do with tending. A plants natural reaction is to spread, dominate (in a negative way), and kill anything that gets in its way. God’s call to us is to cultivate protect, set up boundaries–this is what subdue means. To rule is much the same. Don’t think of “rule” as injustice, think of it as benevolent and perfect. Everyone wants a perfect ruler. At that time, we were. Perversion had yet to take place in our hearts. If we look at these words through the lens of Jesus, they become powerful. Jesus’ form of ruling is to serve. Jesus’ form of subduing is defeating evil.

To sum up what the Scripture says is, “Give a Hoot.”

God’s charge to us is to care for the earth–tend your home.

Think of it as your house, do you just throw garbage around, no. People who do are usually children who have yet to learn or adults with some sort of psychosis. It means we need to carefully, and thoughtfully use the resources the earth supplies. Ron Snider writes,

“Our survival depends on agriculture. We need food to live. Yet, agricultural lands are threatened by desertification, land degradation, and drought, 12 million hectares (the size of Mississippi) of agricultural land are lost each year. Globally, half of all agricultural land is moderately or severely degraded. The poorest are mote vulnerable, with 74 percent suffering from land degradation.”

This doesn’t sound like we are giving a hoot. This is the wrong end of dominate. This is selfish domination. This isn’t tending, this is taking all we can.

The science may be clear to you, or it may be murky, but whether the climate is changing or not has nothing to do with responsible resource use, caring for plants and animals, and making sure we are not polluting the earth.

We have been called to be stewards. That means we defend endangered species, we protect our oceans and forests, we campaign to have harmful chemicals removed from our foods and water supplies, and it means we do what we can to care for our portion of the earth.

We have vast resources to care for. In the wealthier countries our earth is cleaner, and our waters are cleaner. This gives us a false sense of accomplishment. Developed nations are responsible for nearly all CO2 emissions. This is a big part of what we can do to change. We can rely on solar and wind for our power. As much as fossil fuels have saved trees (we have more trees on the earth than we did 100 years ago) it is far from the solution. This is where God invites us in to steward and make decisions for ourselves. We get the joy of not only being but finding the solution. If we don’t the consequences could be catastrophic. Ball writes,

“Global Warming will increase hunger and malnutrition by damaging rain-fed agriculture. The amount of agricultural land experiencing extreme drought will grow from 1-3 percent today to 30 percent by 2090. Tens, perhaps hundreds of millions will experience increased risk of hunger and malnutrition.”

The hard question to ask ourselves is, if God made everything good, as it says in Genesis 1, and we have been given the mandate to care for the earth, have we maintained the goodness? That should be our goal.

While we in developed countries carry the weight of global warming, developing and underdeveloped countries are dealing with extreme pollution. While they have the packaging for products like we do, they do not have the infrastructure to deal with their trash. There is also a lack of consequences for bad practices. Snider points out,

“Developing nations often use less-sophisticated technology and consequently consume fossil fuels less efficiently. Desperately poor people also try to farm marginal land and destroy tropical forests.”

There is an epidemic of deforestation in African countries. As they try to develop and increase their tourism, they are clearing vital forests to build resorts to attract wealthy northern hemisphere patrons and build factories. They do this as our countries sit by idly as they rape their land and make many of the same mistakes we have. After all, if we keep them in poverty we can get clothes, fruit, and vacations cheap.

What we see is that as the livelihood of a person increases their pollution footprint decreases. The scriptures clearly teach us to care for the poor. This means that as we care for the poor, we also help with planet care. Snider again points out what incredible power Christians could have,

“Imagine what one quarter of the world’s Christians could do if they became truly generous. A few of us could move to desperately poor areas to help combat poverty. The rest of us could defy surrounding materialism. We could refuse to let our affluent world squeeze us into its consumeristic mold. Instead, we could become generous nonconformists who love Jesus more than wealth. In obedience to our Lord, we could empower the poor through generous giving, community development, and better societal systems. And in the process, we would learn again his paradoxical truth that true happiness flows from generosity.”


Help the poor, help the earth.

Whether you are earthy or not, our mandate from God is evident, tend the earth. We need to care for creation, after all, we are a part of the planet. The word Adam in Hebrew is taken for the word dirt. The difference between us and all other creation is that we were made in the image of Elohim, the God of creative works–who invites us into the responsibility for caring for his planet. We are the watchmen. Paul states to the Romans,

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Romans 8:22

The earth is groaning as it waits for us to carry the mantle we have been gifted with.

Check out the resources used in this post

Is it O.K. to struggle with your faith?

There has been a lot of doubt and skepticism from “high profile” Christians. Many have felt that there hasn’t been a place for this line of thinking in the Christian movement. While there are circles where this is not encouraged, there are also a ton of circles that are exploring.

I have seen a few rebuttals by bloggers and musicians that have some excellent points. Some have pointed out the holes in the arguments; others are urging us to follow God and not celebrity.

As much as these points are valid what needs not to get lost in the conversation and what I want to say to those who identify with the struggle of faith that has invaded so many Christian leaders is,

It is ok to struggle with God and your faith.

I believe it is un-Christian to not.

To not struggle in some capacity or another is to say that you have a full understanding of not just what the Scriptures say, but of God. If you believe in the God of the Scriptures, then both of those premises are absurd! Us understanding God is like a chair trying to understand it’s maker. The maker of the chair is so far beyond what the chair could ever comprehend.

Luckily we have Scripture and can experience God in beautiful and rich ways. To say that Scripture should be the thing that pulls us through and anchors us into the world of certainty is to claim that we have a perfect understanding of what the Scriptures say, which we don’t. Not even close. We rely on wisdom, experience, and tradition, and we do the best we can.

Often not recognizing this, we fix our faith to unhealthy paradigms.

When doubts and questions appear to unfurl our sails of faith, we become crippled. Instead of pushing forward to discovering brave oceans of new realities in God, we can either give up and lose hope or bunker down in safe coves.

I see neither of the later as viable options.

I believe it is good to doubt and question. When I look at the Scriptures, I can’t help but see a God who wants us to wrestle with the big issues, always realizing that there is more to learn.

There is a story at the beginning of Scripture that articulates this. There is a story about a man named Jacob. Jacob, like us all, has some serious baggage, much of which is self-inflicted.

As Jacob begins to travel to create a new life for himself and his family, he begins to wrestle with his ideas of what his life is and who God is. The book of Genesis records the Jacob has an encounter with an angel where they wrestled, and Jacob left with a limp and a new name. In the words of Switchfoot, however, “[he] wrestled an angel for more than a name.”

The Scriptures record,

“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Genesis 32:28

While the name change is important, we must not lose sight of how the ancient rabbis interpreted this verse. They believed that this set the premise for our approach to the Scriptures and a relationship with God. (more in this in Chapter 2 of my book Hidden faces).

There should never be a point when we stop wrestling with God, Scripture, or hard questions. It doesn’t mean a patchwork of ideas that we throw together as though we’re filling a pothole, but there are times when we need a fresh coat of pavement.

It is not that Scripture, tradition and experience don’t matter. That somehow our wrestling with the big and small questions undermine everything. It just means that sometimes we need a tweak and other times we need a new street.

For me, because I have experienced God, it demands me to push to understand this life deeper. There have been times when my tradition has let me down, majorly. There have been times when no matter how much I trusted and looked at Scripture, it left me frustrated, confused, disillusioned. I had an experience that I could not deny. I knew and still know that there has to be something beyond myself and that faith isn’t built upon the straw of others nor upon the weak foundation of my limited understanding of an ancient text.

My faith is built upon the fact that I have had experiences with something beyond myself. It now demands of me to wrestle.

Saying this, if my faith stopped at the experience and didn’t have the structure of tradition (tried and true practices, rituals, and paradigms) and the Scriptures (God’s word that tells of the Word, Jesus) then my faith becomes a kite flying in the wind with no string.

We must wrestle with all of these aspects of faith.

As a teenager, I had a lot of struggles with the church. Its brokenness has a continual effect on me. One of the many things that helped save my faith was a little book called Joshua by Joseph Girzone. It’s a story of Jesus showing up in the church today. It was then in my first year of college that Len Sweet’s book Postmodern Pilgrims opened my eyes to new ways of expressing our faith. Sweet helped me find the traditions that could keep me tethered.

During my mid-twenties, I was struggling with the abuse of experience in my movement. As I reflected on those I grew up with and the teens I was now pastoring, it was plain to see that in many cases, their whole faith was built upon experience alone. There were no roots! No tradition or Scripture – no wonder they fell away. It was a dedication to Scripture in this season that helped me sift through the healthy and not so healthy experiences — something I still have to do.

More recently, I had a crisis with the Scriptures. They weren’t working for me anymore. I was preaching and leading others, but the words fell flat for me. Luckily, as I stated previously, my experiences wouldn’t allow me to let go. What I needed was a new paradigm of understanding. I am thankful for POD casts like The Bible For Normal People and Reknew With Greg Boyd. I’m eternally grateful of Boyd’s book, Crucifixion of the Warrior God (I suggest the abridged Cross Vision) that has given me a new lens (hermeneutic) to reading the Scriptures that have allowed it to come alive in my heart again.

If I never began to wrestle I would have thrown it all away, of this I’m sure. If I never struggled through the hard questions, I would never have the faith I do now that is vibrant and life-altering.

I not only see the value in doubting and questioning; I see it’s vital. Just remember, it must never end with doubt and question. That’s just lazy. The doubts and question must propel us forward to seek new lands of truth that direct us to new understandings of God that are never complete but continually drive us forward to new areas of discovery.

Check out the resources used in this post

How Donald Trump helped me become a better follower of Jesus

You may not believe it, but Donald Trump has made me a better follower of Jesus.

It is not because of his example. It’s not because of his integrity. Nor is it that he exemplifies leadership. That is not something I want to get into. I’m trying to be as apolitical as I can while still trying to make my point.

The reason he has made me a better Christian is that there are things that have been brought up during his Presidency. Things such as immigration, racism, and sexism.

Here’s the truth, I didn’t think in-depth about many of the dark things that have been stirred-up recently in peoples hearts.

I am a white middle-class male from Canada. This means I have seen and experienced the world in a particular way, a way that is not wrong. However, it is a way that is ignorant of the issues of others. Why? Because I’m a white, middle-class male from…Canada.

I need to be honest. I never thought about immigrants. I don’t mean this in a mean way. I didn’t think about issues of race. I’m not racist, thus I assumed neither were others. Unless I was confronted with it, I never thought about sexism. I presumed everyone thought the opposite sex was equal.

I guess I just figured that though they were issues at one time they weren’t now.

With every passing day of the last few years, I have been confronted with my ignorance. It has caused me to think deeply about the heart of Jesus.

The hatred some have propelled upon immigrants has caused me to think about how I would feel if I were desperate for a better life for my family. I think of Mary and Joseph, Jesus parents, who fled to Egypt to escape persecution (and it wasn’t because he was white…. because he wasn’t).

The racism thrust violently upon those who don’t look like me has caused me to open my eyes. I hadn’t seen it before. I naturally didn’t experience it. If my friends had, they hadn’t told me, and I hadn’t been aware of it while around them. How would I feel if I were maligned, targeted, and attacked? I would probably want to stand up for my freedom. I would probably be sick and tired of being disrespected.

The vulgar words people have directed toward the opposite sex have made think about my wife and daughter and mother. Would I want someone to speak in such ways to them?

It is easy to be ignorant of things you have never experienced. How could you not be? But if it flies in your face and you still choose to ignore the issues, then it is just as bad as being the one to disperse the hate.

God told the Israelites as they were about to enter the land he had promised them, the land where they were to exemplify what it means to live a God honouring life, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.”

We love our neighbour because we are our neighbour. You are not better than them. Nor are you worse. We are equal. We are not to hold cold war grudges, or cast stereotypes upon others. We are to love. Jesus takes it even further when he declared for us to love our enemies and bless those who persecute you.

There is no place for xenophobia in God’s Kingdom.

There is no place for racism in God’s Kingdom.

There is no place for sexism in God’s Kingdom.

If right now, this is causing you to say, “Yes, they do need to treat me equal, they do need to treat me as a neighbour.” You’re missing the point.

You can’t control anyone, but yourself.

What is your role?

Who do you not treat as equal?

What issue have we ignored?

When we can begin to address these issues in our own heart, that is when we will start to see the world as God sees it. A world in which immigrants are welcomed and defended, a world in which we celebrate diversity but know we are all the same, a world where men and women see, work, and learn next to each other with full respect for one another.

Thank you, Donald Trump, you have made me aware of these vast issues that are still a very present reality. It has caused me to look at my self and the parts of the world I influence and decide to be a better follower of Jesus.

Jesus to me

This is a song I wrote while reflecting on who Jesus is to me.

Verse 1

                   A          D                   A

He is the strength when we are weak, 

                 F#m7       A/C#   D            Esus

He is the wholeness         that we seek, 

                     A      D    A            E

He is everything         that we need

      F#m7        D          Bm7         A

My rock, my fortress, Jesus-to me

Chorus

A              D     A               D                    A

Jesus to me         Is the freedom that I need

A                D    A              Bm7                   E

Jesus to me        fix this broken heart in me.

A              D     A               D                    A

Jesus to me         the only saviour that I need

                 D    A              Bm7                   E

Jesus to me        freedom that’s truly set me free.

      F#m7        D          Bm7         A

My rock, my fortress, Jesus-to me

Verse 1

                   A          D                   A

He is the calm when there’s a storm in me, 

                 F#m7  A/C#              D            Esus

He is redemption         when I need to be free, 

                              A      D                    A             E

He is the great peace         when my world is crumbling

      F#m7        D          Bm7         A

My healer, my freer, Jesus-to me

Chorus

A              D     A               D                    A

Jesus to me         Is the freedom that I need

A                D    A              Bm7                   E

Jesus to me        fix this broken heart in me.

               D     A               D                    A

Jesus to me         the only saviour that I need

A                D    A              Bm7                   E

Jesus to me        freedom that’s truly set me free.

      F#m7        D          Bm7         A

My healer, my freer, Jesus-to me

[GUEST BLOG] Affirmation girl

Written by Sarah Trombley

Affirmation girl.

That’s me–this is my love language without a doubt.

I need … I crave kind words, and that’s great, we all need an encouraging word, but there’s an ugly side of the affirmation game, and it’s called validation.

I don’t just need affirmation, I need validation. I need to know I am liked, valued and essential. It seems to me that I’m not the only one. Our culture’s obsession with social media reveals this desire. Don’t get me wrong, I love socials, but this drive for followers, likes, and influence all stem from our need to feel validated.

The problem is unless we are being validated and affirmed by Christ, it’s a trap!

You see these days just about everyone is searching for validation. Like me, they search for it in titles, people, and likes on Instagram. We even subconsciously value people based on their followers on socials.

It’s like one giant high school popularity contest.

At times I can feel small and insignificant.

I’m the stay at home mom,

who didn’t finish college

and often gets written off as a ditz.

I want to be respected, noticed, and heard, which isn’t bad, but sometimes I also find myself wanting to be envied.

As I’ve recognized this in myself and in the culture, I’ve learned the importance of checking my motivation. I need to evaluate whether I am trying to build up myself or build a kingdom for Christ. I need to check who affirms me, who validates me.

Kind words from family, friends, and strangers aren’t the problem. In fact, we could all use a few more words of affirmation, but my worth and value are determined by Christ. He respects me, notices me, and hears me. He loves me and is proud to call me His own, and that is enough!

For more on this and other identity issues check out my husband’s book.