I remember watching The Wonder Years growing up. I honestly don't know why I liked the show so much. I was too young to really get what was going on episode to episode. All I really remember is that Kevin crushed hard for Winnie. And I remember the theme song and its famous chorus "I get by with a little help from my friends." I pretty much know that whole song by heart because of The Wonder Years.
At young adult life group last week, we talked about James 2:14-26. The whole passage is summed up in these two verses.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. -- James 2:17-18
It got me thinking about the tricky relationship between faith, works, and salvation. Why is it tricky?
*Warning: Minor spoilers below (Very minor)*
Chances are you haven't seen John Carter. There was a lot of hype and many trailers building up the latest sci-fi movie. But sadly, very few people were lured into the theaters to watch the man on Mars. In fact, its been reported that Disney expects to lose $250 million dollars on the movie!!! As a movie, I thought it was pretty good and entertaining. However, a lot of the women are scantily clothed so depending on your maturity and weaknesses in that area, you may want just want to avoid seeing it.
I love debating theology and talking apologetics. I love it when people bring me tough questions about God and hang out long enough to talk through the answers. But what about this question? What do you do with it? How do you answer it? Can God make a rock so big that even He can't lift it?
I've Only Heard It Two Ways
Tons of people have asked me this question and, as far as I know, its always been for one of two reasons. More than half of the time that people ask me this question, its meant as a goofy joke question to stump you sort of like asking if the chicken or egg came first or like telling someone to repeat a tongue twister. The goal is to have fun and watch people squirm through the riddle. In this case, you don't really need an answer. Talking it through is half of the fun and everyone is happy in the end.
Less often though, the question comes from a very different motive and goal. There are some people who have posed this question of me as if it were the deathblow to any and all arguments for God. They'll often add a word like, "BOOM!" at the end of the question to show just how much trouble you are in because they themselves have come up with the most clever, original, and effective proof that God is not real ever. I exaggerate a bit, but has anyone ever brought this question up to you like this? In this case, you kind of need to know how to respond in order to defend your faith. So what can we say?
Date night this week was the first time Christy and I went out without Michaela. We saw The Grey because I am a huge Liam Neeson fan. Unfortunately, the movie was a bit of a disappointment. It attempts to tackle big themes and issues like depression, faith, death, and more but the answers the movie gives to life's big questions are just plain wrong and discouraging. Overall, I wouldn't recommend it.
Its about a group of men who end up stranded in a fierce snowy tundra. While trying to survive the cold and find civilization, they realize that a pack of hungry wolves wants to make them their next meal. As the wolves attempt to divide and conquer and the men led by Liam Neeson fight for their lives, Christy and I saw some interesting analogies for our spiritual lives. Without further ado, I present to you some survival tips that should help whether you are up against a pack of wolves or more everyday things like temptation to sin or even attacks from the devil.
When I'm driving the speed limit and I get tailgated, sometimes I think to myself, "I should just slam on my brakes and it will go down as their fault...that'll teach them!"
When I got home from the airport last week, Michaela was crying and everyone was talking while grandma was trying to buckle her into her car seat. We were parked for too long at the pickup curb and the lady came up and told us to move. I snapped at her quite rudely.
I got a huge and unexpected bill yesterday. When I went in to dispute it and things didn't go my way, I thought about throwing my documents in the lady's face for a second... just for a second. On the outside, I smiled and thanked her.
Do you get angry? Do you punch walls? Do you lose your temper? Do you yell at people? I'm not the only one right?
Do I really have to go to church on Sundays? As a youth pastor, I get this question a lot. Teens in particular struggle with waking up early on Sundays, sitting through a sermon that is primarily geared toward adults, and being deprived from their video games for hours on end.
But, if we adults are honest, we struggle with those things too. Sometimes its just been a long week and it would be so much simpler and easier to just stay home on Sunday morning. There are Sundays when we attend church and for whatever reason just don't feel like we got much out of the sermon. And that's not even mentioning the fact that going to church causes us to miss the first half of the game on TV. These things are normal. So... do I really have to go to church on Sundays?
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17
If you're like me, then you love your pastors. If you're like me, you admire these men and respect them greatly for what they are doing and the walk they have with God.
But if you are like me, then there have been times you haven't liked what your pastors have asked of you. I can recall a few times in my youth group years when I was a new Christian that my pastor told me to throw away some of my CD's. (CD's are old things that people used to play music by the way) For a while, I disagreed and didn't listen and I held onto my Eminem and Insane Clown Posse CD's.
I really don't think I need to tell you who this is. Adele has seemingly come out of nowhere and grabbed the spotlight. I hear her on the radio, covered on America's Got Talent, and featured on commercials. There is no doubt that she has an incredible voice and loads of talent to sing the way she does. Her song "Rolling in the Deep" seems to imprint itself deeply on practically anyone who hears it. The passion and soul you can hear as she sings it have captured all of our attention.
Have you stopped to pay attention to the lyrics? For the sake of copyright, I won't repost them here.
Mark has been happily married for five years, has a year and a half old daughter, and serves as a youth and children pastor in Oak Park.