Big Questions for God

When you meet God, what’s the first question you’ll ask him? Mine is easy: god-and-bible-front-coverWhy zits and mosquitoes, God? Sin and the fall of humankind is a serious issue. I get it. But acne and blood-drawing, itch-causing, malaria-carrying bugs seem like cruel and unusual punishment. For a kid who grew up in the mosquito infested South and battled extra-oily skin, my question was pressing!

Today I live in Southern California and I’m almost 40, so bugs and pimples are non-issues (thank God!). But my real questions for God linger, just as they do for every thinking Christian.

We believe God exists, we trust Jesus is the Way, but we’ve got tons of inquiries about him, the Bible, and this life. Continue reading

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Hope Healed Her (and it just might help you too)

Imagine waking up one morning with the ability to see out of only one good eye, without the power to move your limbs, and with a tangle of tubes extending from your body like tentacles. Now imagine having no idea how you got in such a predicament.Jay and Katherine

Such is the story of my friend Katherine Wolf, who suffered a massive brain stem stroke a few years ago. And though she should be dead, she isn’t. And though her husband, Jay–who was was left alone to care for their six-month old son and his suddenly severely disabled wife–should have lost hope, he didn’t.

Their new book, Hope Heals, tells the story of their harrowing journey and the hope that has sustained them. In it they honestly and vulnerably recount all they lost and all they found and the Source for the miracle of life and their hope amid hopelessness.

I could not recommend a book more highly than this.

My wife and I have had our own journey with pain, unexplained suffering, and an unknown future, and in the pages of Hope Heals, in the retelling of Jay and Katherine’s profound experience, we connected again with the One we trust. And hope was rekindled. Continue reading

New Baby, New Book (and a freebie just in time for Lent!)

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas was meaningful and the year has started well!

I’m excited for 2016. Very excited.

The first–and best–reason for my excitement is my newborn son, Jacob Christopher Greer. Jacob, born on December 28th, is the most amazing Christmas present. Needless to say, my wife and I are totally in love. We praise God for him and the gift of parenthood. So…let the games begin! (This is the time to start dispensing all your advice for new parents. Don’t be shy!)

Speaking of arrivals…I’m also excited to announce the arrival of this

Final Book Cover Artwork for Why It Matters

 

5 Core Christian Beliefs and Why They ACTUALLY Matter (only $0.99 for a limited time) is the first installment of a new series of eBooks. Continue reading

Who Worships a Child?

Manger 5

I’m about to have my first child. “A real boy!” as Pinocchio would say in his high-pitched Disney voice. By December 30th that real boy – my son Jacob – will no longer be hiding out in Kerry’s body; he will enter the world breathing real air, crying real hard, and growing real big as he begins down the road to manhood. His nine-month incubation has transformed him from incomplete swimming cells to a fully working human. All of that is awesome. Incredible. Mind-blowing even. But it doesn’t make him worthy of worship. Continue reading

God’s Will: Can It be Found and Followed?

What if knowing God’s will for your life was not as complicated as it seems?

Compass

pic courtesy pdpics.com

I have a friend who has struggled for a very long time to understand what God’s plan is for him. Like all of us, he longs to know that he’s in “the center of God’s will.” He’s wants to find that sweet spot where his work, relationships, family, and church jive perfectly and if feels like he’s enjoying God’s very best. Some of you know what that feels like. Some of you – like my friend – have no clue what that is like, but you wish (and pray) that you did!

I’ve been in your boat—a lot.  But there is good news for all of us who ask, “Can God’s will for my life be found and followed?”  It can. It absolutely can. And it’s not as difficult to figure out as we tend to think. Continue reading

Baptism: Wading the Waters Together

My last post—The Power of Presence—was about the power of God’s presence with us and our presence with each other, and I want to share with you a beautiful moment from last week that illustrates again the gift of God’s presence through his people…

The story begins with AJ, who walked into the church where I work and said, “I want to know God.” As a pastor, I was more than happy to reply, “Well, brother, you’re in the right place!”

After a short conversation about Jesus the Christ and Scripture’s telling of who he is and what he did, AJ responded to God’s love, repented of his sin, and chose to follow Jesus. And just like that, the heavens exploded with joy (Luke 15:7, 10), as did AJ and I!

So last Thursday our small group of 10 folks—AJ’s first real experience with the Church—met at the beach for his baptism. The most important event of the evening was AJ’s baptism, but I could not help but be moved by the actions of the two other men in our small band of believers. Continue reading

The Power of Presence

I’ll never forget where I first learned about the power of presence. It was in a hospice care facility in east Texas where my sweet grandmother, Jo, was dying. My grandfather, her husband of 58 years, never left her bedside. He comforted her, supported her, and helped ready her for eternity with the simple power of his presence. And after she died, I was humbled and grateful to learn that my consistent presence had comforted, supported, and helped him in that terribly difficult time.

In Psalm 139 King David celebrates this kind of presence. Only he was not writing about a human companion, he was writing about a holy One. Continue reading

Not Opposed to Effort: Solutions for Better Discipleship (solution #2)

(This post is the 5th and final blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 

Making disciples is what the Church was made by God to do. In this series I explain why we aren’t doinRock Climbing The Southwest, USAg it well (Read it here)  and two things that stand in our way (read about them here—Roadblock #1: the Christian message that is too easy to be good, and Roadblock #2: we have traded acts for facts).

But there is hope! Blog #4 reminds us that the first solution is that  we must tell the full story!

Last but not least, here is Solution #2 for helping the Church do a better job of making true disciples of Jesus…

Solution #2 Reintroduce Rigor

If we want to be a church that effectively makes disciples of Jesus—people who actually value doing what God asks disciples to do and who actually live lives that impact the world around them—we must (must!) reintroduce and value rigor. Good old fashioned rigor.

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Not Opposed to Effort: Solutions for Better Discipleship (solution #1)

(This post is the 4th blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 

In the first post of this series (Read it here) I argued that the American church’s misunderstanding of the phrase “grace is enough” causes us to miss out on what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus.

To right the ship, we need to understand two roadblocks that prevent us, and others, from following Jesus into the life of discipleship we were created for.

  • Roadblock #1: The church presents a Christian message that is too easy to be good. You can read about it here.
  • Roadblock #2: True discipleship is obstructed because we believe facts are the same as acts. Read more here.

Two Ways Forward counting

I once had a friend who quipped, “No solution, no problem!” It was his funny way of dismissing critics who had a knack for opining about what was wrong but never offered  ways to make things right. I’m always thankful for those who are bold enough to articulate the problem and propose creative solutions. I hope to do the same here. After all, what good is it to point out two major problems with the church’s view of discipleship if I will not wade into the murky waters of solutions?

Continue reading

Not Opposed to Effort: The Second Roadblock to Discipleship

(This post is the 3rd blog in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today.)

 In the first post of this series (Read it here) I argued that the American church’s misunderstanding of the phrase “grace is enough” causes us to misrepresent the Christian life and miss out on what it truly means to be disciples of Jesus.

To right the ship, we need to understand two roadblocks that prevent us, and others, from following Jesus into the life of discipleship we were created for. The first roadblock is this: we present a Christian message that is too easy to be good. You can read about it here.smartphone user

The second roadblock that obstructs authentic discipleship to Jesus is that we believe facts are the same as acts. Here is what I mean… 

Roadblock #2: We believe Facts are the Same as Acts

In a culture where the breadth of human knowledge is accessible with only a few key strokes, we often substitute learning for mastery. We have substituted facts for acts.

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Not Opposed to Effort: Two Roadblocks to Discipleship

sheep in the road

(This post is the 2nd in a series about the nature of discipleship in our churches today. Click here to read the first post.) 

In last week’s post (Read it here) I argued that our misunderstanding of the oft-used phrase “grace is enough” causes us to misrepresent the Christian life and miss out on what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus.

We have a shallow view of grace and an incomplete definition of discipleship. In our addiction to “the easy life” we have eliminated the rigor of discipleship and simultaneously cheapened the grace God has given.

Dallas Willard’s phrase, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning,”[1] is good news. Though a life devoted to God in Christ is more difficult than we have often heard, it is also much better than we have often experienced.

To right the ship, we need to understand two roadblocks that prevent us, and others, from following Jesus into the life of discipleship we were created for. 

Roadblock #1: It’s Too Easy to Be Good

The “accept Jesus into your heart and you won’t go to hell when you die” approach to making disciples is too easy to be good. Let me explain.

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Not Opposed to Effort: The Work of Discipleship

steel worker

Grace is not enough.

That sentence alone will send the reformed crowd into orbit, and it just might make the rest of you scramble for Bible verses that refute works-based righteousness.

But when I was recently asked to comment on Christian discipleship today, I could not help but think that grace is not enough.

Obviously the truth of that statement relies on one’s definitions of “grace” and “enough.” Continue reading

Questions about God? – We’re All Asking ‘Em…

And I would really like to know what yours are.

Question_mark_(3534516458)

I’ve begun a project with a two fellow Christian authors and we want to do something the church is not doing very well: we want to help people wrestle – honestly, boldly, and productively – with the questions we are all asking about God and Christianity.

We don’t want to offer flippant or easy answers. There are plenty of books and sidewalk sages who will do that.

We want to help churches, small groups, friends, families, and people like you and me to make space to grapple with the tough questions that we often feel unable to wrestle with in our churches.

To do so, we need to know those questions! That’s where you can help… Continue reading

I’m only eating rice and beans this year (so far)

I’m never more content than the Sunday morning of Thanksgiving weekend. The previous 72 hours are filled (literally) with turkey and pumpkin pie. And lots of it.

And when Sunday morning rolls around I am primed and ready to worship God for all his bountiful blessings in my life.

But then, out of nowhere, the Holy Spirit shows up to reiterate how ridiculously good I have it here.  My contentment is turned into conviction.

In this case, the Spirit spoke through the testimony of Pastor Joel Amonde, a Kenyan pastor who runs an orphanage and primary school in western Kenya.

Orphans in Kenya

During the 11am worship service, our pastor talked with Joel: “On this particular weekend in America we eat about as much as we can. But what do the orphans in Kenya eat?” Pastor Joel replied honestly, “Rice a beans. One meal of rice and beans.”

One meal a day. Of rice and beans.

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My First Baptism

Stock_Water_Image_by_jewles654

Photo Credit: Jewels654 via CC

Actually, it was Zack’s first baptism. And I did the honors. For the first time.

For the last 4 months, a small crew of like-minded Christian fellas have been meeting at my house. It’s a typical church small group. Or community group. Or life group. Or whatever your church may call it. There are five members – Ross, Zack, John, Shane, and me. And each of us began attending the group for various, but similar reasons.

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