One of the hardest things for me to do is to admit that I’m not okay. When someone asks me how I’m doing, my instinctive response is to say “great!” And I know I can always say that without lying. After all, I live the United States of America in first part of the 21st century.
I have a roof over my head, food on the table, a beautiful young family, and a church family that is supporting me in my vocational calling. Nevertheless, while just answering “great” is never a lie in that sense, it’s not always the most honest. Because sometimes I am drained, I am anxious, I am depressed, I am worried. Although I have so much, I still long for a word of Good News.
The reason I am longing for it isn’t because I’m not grateful for all that I have, but because I tend to keep trying to find my energy, identity, and security in the things and relationships around me instead of in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And I have found this to be true at every stage of my life: A a child, a single college student, a newly married man, as college minister, television producer (yes, I had a microscopically short career in television), when I have been full of doubts and full of faith, when I have been in-between local churches and as a parish priest. There is no time, no situation, no stage or station that I have experienced that I did not desperately need the Gospel.
I think this holds true for all of us. Whether you are homeless or a home-builder, self-deluded sinner or supposed saint, newborn or nearly to the end, exhausted or energized, we all need the Good News, because with out it, we will keep trying to to find that energy, identity, and and security in things that will only disappoint us in the end because one way or another they will not only fail to provide what we need on the deepest spiritual level, they are by necessity temporary.
Nothing from this world, even the good things, can sustain us past the point of death. And as human beings, we can’t survive on that kind of diet of constant disappointment and despair.
We need a life-giving Word
….a word that can free us from the tyranny of whatever situation we find ourselves in and give us hope. We need a word of life that that can free us not only from existential let-down, but that will result in real freedom from every spiritual or physical oppression.
I understand all the reasons why the movement’s prime attention is focused on the unborn. But we can also say that abortion is no bargain for women, either. It’s destructive and tragic. We shouldn’t listen unthinkingly to the other side of the time-worn script, the one that tells us that women want abortions, that abortion liberates them. Many a post-abortion woman could tell you a different story.
The pro-life cause is perennially unpopular, and pro-lifers get used to being misrepresented and wrongly accused. There are only a limited number of people who are going to be brave enough to stand up on the side of an unpopular cause. But sometimes a cause is so urgent, is so dramatically clear, that it’s worth it. What cause could be more outrageous than violence — fatal violence — against the most helpless members of our human community? If that doesn’t move us, how hard are our hearts? If that doesn’t move us, what will ever move us?
In time, it’s going to be impossible to deny that abortion is violence against children.
Before Christ went to the Cross for you and me, he told his disciples exactly what would mark them as his people to the world. Love has always been the principle thing. Love is nothing new for the people of God. Even in the Old Testament, the covenant community wasn’t simply about a strange diet. It was about loving God, and loving their neighbor as themselves. Jesus’ command to his disciples adds a another layer though:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34, NLT)
The new aspect here is not that we should love others as we love ourselves (though we certainly should do that!). It’s that we are called to love one another as Christ has loved us.
He loves us when we are politically opposed to him. He loves us when we have moral failings. He loves us when we can’t seem to make a right decision. He loves us when we don’t have the energy to love ourselves. He simply loves, without condition or qualification. By the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, this is the kind of love we are invited to share with one another, across the political aisle, across denominational divides, on the street and in our sanctuaries. It is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated on the Cross, and so it is the kind of love that marks us as Jesus people.
This is why Jesus said,
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”” (John 13:35, NLT)
In the book of Revelation we have a vision of a multitude praising and worshipping before the throne of God,
“…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 7:9–12, ESV)
All the worship given to God is also given to the Lamb–to Jesus–who retains that identity and is worshipped for it forever! There can be no separation between what God is like and what Jesus is like. The who point of incarnation is for the Shepherd to be with his sheep, to both identify himself to them and with them so that they will recognize his voice. We can be absolutely sure that if we are listening to and obeying Jesus, we are hearing and responding to God. If we want to know what God is like, we can say without qualification that God’s character is exactly like Jesus.
I continue to enjoy my 2016 13 inch Dell Inspiron. It’s still pretty snappy, can do pretty much anything I need for work, and I’ve grown to appreciate the ability to use it as a tablet on occasion at my desk. It’s nice to be able to flip it around in tent mode for watching videos and operating the interface via touch. Still, it’s kinda big to lug around everywhere I go, and takes up a lot of space when traveling.
Mostly it stays at home for heavy writing days, and goes with me to my study at church (again mostly spending time doing research and some limited graphic design). I’d love to have a smaller, lighter computer for those times when I want to write an email, do research, etc, but don’t want be so weighed down.
Currently, I have an Amazon Fire HD tablet that is actually surprisingly useful for some of these applications. It handles email and basic web browsing well, and I can connect my portable Bluetooth keyboard for a great typing experience. I can even write longer pieces (like I’m doing right now) in Jotterpad, a nice Markdown editor that has great Dropbox support. The Logos Bible app works acceptably well for basic research.
However, the performance of the Fire tablet starts to drop when it comes to heavier web browsing and biblical research via the Logos mobile app. Plus, there’s no way to mirror the display on a TV, so using my Fire as a lightweight solution for presentations is out. Right now I’d have to put a bit more money into a special case to make my tablet work well to type on while sitting in my lap.
So, I’ve been looking into a future purchase to supplement my primary laptop. This would be a secondary (yet capable) machine with a smaller form factor for travel and being out and about. I’d love for it to replace my tablet so that when I’m on the go I can have only one device with me in addition to my phone.
I was instantly drawn Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of products, of course, because this is exactly what they promise: A full computer experience in an ultra portable package, with touch support for the times you want to be in tablet mode. And since it’s a real Windows 10 device, you can easily use all kinds of peripherals like mice, external displays, etc. There are a few limitations for me when comes to the Surface Pro: 1) some apps aren’t available (like the Amazon Prime video app) 2) The expensive price tag (cheapest configuration I could find was around $800), 3) the size.
The apps that aren’t available on Windows aren’t that big of a deal to me, because that slight inconvenience is massively outweighed by the apps that are available in full desktop mode. For me, having the full Logos Bible desktop experience available on the go is incredibly compelling.
There’s no getting around the price, and by all accounts the Surface Pros are worth it in terms of build quality and performance. However, that’s the amount of cash I’d want to spend on my primary machine, which brings me to the fact that Surface Pros are still pretty big at 12 inches. I’m sure the bezels are thinner than my Inspiron, but the Pro not that much smaller. Could a Surface Pro be a total laptop replacement for me? Absolutely, but I’d really prefer a 10 inch form factor for portability.
What about the newish Surface Go? It’s exactly what I want, except for the terrible performance. Side note: I actually purchased the ASUS knockoff version of the Surface Go, the ASUS Transformer Mini, and while the price and aesthetics were on point, it also performed terribly. I returned it to Amazon after a few day of struggling to get it to really work for me. Turns out just about every small Windows computer is using super under-powered hardware.
So where does that leave me, assuming portability is one of my highest priorities and I don’t want to shell out the cash to completely replace my current primary computer?
I think the only really viable option is the Apple iPad.
Not the iPad Air (fully outfitted, even the base model gets up to nearly $800) and certainly not the iPad Pro. But the basic 128 GB iPad model gets me great performance, portability, multi-tasking, all my essential apps (but no Windows games, bummer) and the ability to mirror my screen for presentations (and hopefully secondary display support soon). I can get one of those, a bluetooth keyboard case and an Apple Pencil for under $450. I’m not ready to take the plunge quite yet, but I think that’s where I’m headed.
Now, a call to give our very lives for the sake of discipleship, for the sake of following Jesus, might seem rather morbid. It might seem rather depressing. It might seem rather pointless, yet we must remember we are in Easter season.
We have to remember that Christians are an Easter people, which means we recognize the call to die is from the Risen Christ.
And so if we follow him–even to the cross!–we can be sure that he will lead us through the cross and into eternal, Resurrected life with him.
The slaveholding mentality, which many American Christians assume is past, continues to distort the way we read Scripture and think about each other. With gentleness and humility, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove shares how we can find freedom in the way of Jesus.
Over the past few years I have been an avid user of OneNote as a way to organize reference material, plan projects, and keep personal notes. However, I have been increasingly frustrated by the direction its going in terms of how accessible your notes are. As Microsoft transitions to a more web-centric approach, your notes aren’t even fully available to you on your device; rather, they are stored in the cloud. Furthermore, there’s no easy export from the most up to date version of the app.
As I began to explore alternatives I realized that most note-taking applications suffer from the same drawback: they are hard to get your notes out of if you need to back up or take them to another service, and aren’t always available on every device, all the time. For me, the perfect notetaking application allows me to store reference files and writings in a way that’s easy to search, fully portable, easy to back up, and as future-proof as possible.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized the answer was right in front of me, and it was a strategy I had used in the past:
The file system.
Yes, just the humble file system on my laptop! It just makes sense.
Notes can be in any format needed (image, plain text, RTF PDF, Word)
Notes can be organized in virtually any way I like with a well thought out file structure and file names.
Search is robust and built in, and can include things like size, type, date modified, date created, and more.
Using apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive (but–sadly–not iCloud), all notes are fully searchable and available on any device with Internet access, while always being available offline where I need them to be.
Since everything is just files in folders and synced via a web service, a single note or a group of notes can be shared with granular control.
Backup is as easy as making a zip archive and throwing it on a USB drive.
Sometimes you just don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
I love these beautiful lilies my wife set out for Easter. Watching them bloom over the past week is a meaningful reminder that in the Great Tradition of the Church, Easter is an ongoing celebration, with its own multi-week season and every Sunday being a mini-Easter celebration in itself.
If you wonder why the Resurrection of Jesus is so important (and why it gives a real reason for hope), you could give my Easter sermon a listen.
How do I know that I’m saved?
This is a question that plagues many faithful Christians, particularly those in Evangelical circles. With such a strong emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Evangelicalism has contributed to a false mindset in which salvation depends upon a person’s sense of being saved. If I don’t feel Jesus today—if I don’t feel all that saved— then how do I know that I really am saved? If only there were something outside of my personal feelings that revealed God’s love to me! Thanks be to God, there is.