Self-Help Is Not Enough (“When Strivings Cease” by Ruth Chou Simons)

“If we believe Jesus is all we need, then why do we live our days worn out, fearful, and anxiously striving as if we are lacking and unable to measure up?” -When Strivings Cease

Let me begin by saying that “When Strivings Cease” Replacing The Gospel of Self-Improvement With The Gospel Of Life-Transforming Grace” by Ruth Chou Simons is fantastic. Ruth’s website can be found at THIS link.

There are so many Christian books targeted at woman, and in my opinion, many of them are not very good. This book is filled with honesty about Ruth’s own struggles but most importantly it is filled with the truths from God’s Word.

The attempt to keep all the plates spinning, keeping up appearances, acting like we have it all together will drain the life out of you. Ruth points us to the one place where we can find the deep rest, peace, and contentment that we are all looking for; the good news of Jesus Christ. I strongly recommend buying and reading this book!

HERE is a podcast where Collin Hansen interviewed Ruth. Great stuff!

“If there is a gospel of self-improvement, it is a damning one. It is a gospel that is not good news at all; it will wall you off, shrivel you up, and destroy your sensitivity to God’s pursuit. This is why it must be utterly destroyed and replaced with the true gospel of life-transforming grace. Only the grace of God is enough to bring us home, make us worthy, and keep us in the love of God.” -When Strivings Cease

First Love

Man, this song hits me hard. I love it. I continue to pray that my love for Christ will burn brighter. So many distractions and temptations seek to pull me away from my first love. And at the same time the song causes me to reflect on the many people I know who have strayed from the Lord. Loving Father, bring them back to your side.

This is all I want
That the love I have for You
Doesn’t fade along with youth
Can You help with that
The reason that I ask
I’ve seen far too many friends
Walk away and not come back
I want more than that

I won’t wash away
Like branches in rain
I’d rather be kindling in the light

Set me on fire like I’ve never known
I want to love You more as life goes on
So all of my days I’ll place
My first love first again

This is all I pray
Over everything I ask
That my friends one day come back
Can You help with that
God I know You can
‘Cause the fire won’t mean a thing
If it ends right here with me
You want more than that

The river runs fast
But You wait at the banks
And pull us like driftwood from the wild

So set me on fire like I’ve never known
I want to love You more as life goes on
So all of my days I’ll place
My first love first again
Once I was drifting but You called me home
So I’ll give my life for the ones still lost
And I’ll see my friends reclaim
Their first love first again

So set me on fire like I’ve never known
I want to love You more as life goes on
And all of my days I’ll place
My first love first again
Once I was drifting but You called me home
So I’ll give my life for the ones still lost
And I’ll see my friends reclaim
Their first love first again

You’ll see this world return
And Your first love love You first

The Unsaved Christian (What is Cultural Christianity?)

“Do not flatter yourselves of being good enough, because you are morally so; because you go to church, say prayers, and take the sacrament, therefore you think no more required; alas, you are deceiving your own souls.” -George Whitfield

Have you ever been troubled by the claims that some people make of being a Christian but there seems to be little evidence of Christ in their life? I am going to argue in this video that there is such a thing as cultural Christianity. What is a cultural Christian? What do we do when we have family and friends who fall into the category of cultural Christians? Should we warn them? What is the most loving thing we can do? I talk about all of this in this video. Would love to hear your thoughts and idea so please feel free to comment.

I will also be referencing this excellent book “The Unsaved Christian” by Dean Inserra. If the topic of cultural Christianity interests you I would highly recommend you purchase this book. Challenging and biblical.

Mission Drift In The American Church

What is one of the biggest problems in the church today? Mission drift. Check out the video and then feel free to share your thoughts and ideas. Hope this video challenges and inspires you to a lifetime of discipleship.

‘Quiet Town’ By the Killers

Here is a song by the Killers that immediately made me think of the small town that I live in, Watertown, SD. ‘Quiet Town’ by the Killers tells the powerful and moving story of a town that is filled with good people and a growing darkness. Teens dying, opioid addiction, good people who love Jesus and work the land for a living. Good and bad exists in quiet towns just like it does in each one of us. Quite honestly, the desperation that you hear in this song is one of the reasons I worked with some other local pastors to start a ministry in this quiet town called Celebrate Recovery. Anyway, the song is emotional (at least for me) and does a good job of explaining what life is like right here in Watertown.

BTW: If you hear Springsteen in their music and in their in storytelling you are on the right track.

A couple of kids got hit by a Union Pacific train
Carrying sheet metal and household appliances
Through the pouring rain
They were planning on getting married after graduation
Had a little baby girl, trouble came and shut it down
Things like that ain’t supposed to happen
In this quiet town
Families are tight
Good people, they still don’t deadbolt their doors at night
In this quiet town
When we first heard opioid stories
They were always in whispering tones
Now banners of sorrow mark the front steps of childhood homes
Parents wept through daddy’s girl eulogies
And merit badge milestones with their daughters and sons
Laying there lifeless in their suits and gowns
Somebody’s been keepin’ secrets
In this quiet town
They know how to live
Good people who lean on Jesus
They’re quick to forgive
In this quiet town
Now whenever I’m near the town
I’ll find some reason to give
And I will walk with the dead and the living where I used to live
And every time I see my parents in the prime of their lives
Offering their son the kind of love he could never put down
Part of me is still that stainless kid, lucky
In this quiet town
Salt of the land
Hard-working people, if you’re in trouble
They’ll lend you a hand
Here in this quiet town
The first crop of hay is up
School let out and the sun beats down
Smoke billows from a Sunday train
That cries away from a quiet town

Deconstructionism: Losing Your Religion (Podcast)

Have you or someone you know talked about walking away from their Christian faith? Increasingly these days this process of reevaluating the faith that a person was brought up in is called “deconstruction.” Is deconstruction always bad? The answer is no. There are aspects of our faith that came more from the culture around us than it did from Scripture. What are some things that we need to know and consider as we think about deconstructing our faith? Glad you asked. I genuinely hope this episode of “Deconstructionism: Losing Your Religion” is helpful. Please keep in mind, I am very open to questions or comments. I would love to hear back from you! HERE is the link to listen to the podcast!