From Across the Net – “Preaching the Funeral Sermon I Once Most Dreaded”

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I have always hated attending a funeral service of a non-believer. The loss, the lack of hope, ultimately knowing that Christ’s redemption did not happen for the individual. Hershael York writes:

We prayed for him, witnessed to him, sent others to talk to him, and five years ago even took him to Manaus, Brazil, to go fishing for tucunaré (peacock bass), but with the real intention of sharing Christ on the entire trip. We colluded, cooperated, and conspired for his soul.

Read more here

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

From Across the Net – “Infertility Prepared Me to Reach Other Childless Men”

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Infertility, at times, whispers to me in the darkest recesses of my soul. Telling me that I am a failure.

I am thankful for those, in my church, who have dared to bridge this gap. I am thankful for a God, who loves my wife and I so much, that He has called us out of the grieving process and into adoption. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still have bad days. 9 years of nothing still haunts us. No, this means that we now focus on what He can provide… versus us. I am thankful for His hope.

This piece about gutted me this morning. Reminds me that Satan speaks into the silence of where fellow Christians are afraid to go… But we have to.

“I have so many questions about why this isn’t happening for us,” Neil told me, “and what we should try next.” For Neil, these questions included the ethics of using donor eggs or donor sperm, whether an adopted child would ever feel like “his own,” plus age-old questions about God and suffering. This is hard terrain to navigate, one I have seen precipitate theological shifts into unorthodox territory when people lack pastoral guidance.

“All my friends are fathers and grandfathers,” another man told me. “And me? I’m nothing.” When infertility robs you of being a father, what else can you become? This can be a key question for infertile men.

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Romance Is a Bonus Book

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While out in California, I had a chance to spend some time with my youngest sister, Rachelle. She got telling me about how her and her husband watch Korean soap operas together. They enjoy the dramatic stories that are clean, content-wise. Shell gave me a list of shows to check out on Netflix that included:

  • Abyss
  • Beating Again
  • Man to Man
  • Romance Is a Bonus Book

Tab and I were bored one night. All of our regular TV shows are on hiatus for the summer (NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, Madam Secretary). So we decided to check out what my sports-loving brother-in-law is cool with watching with my sister… I just can’t picture him watching THIS:

A gifted writer who’s the youngest editor-in-chief ever at his publishing company gets enmeshed in the life of a former copywriter desperate for a job.

Overall, Tab and I have been surprised by the show. I have found the story of a 38 year old woman going back into the workforce, after taking time out/off to be a mom/wife, to be both sweet and sad. Reminds me that life does not always go the way we plan… but the key here is the way the main protagonist reacts to her diverging path. She has hope and doesn’t think menial tasks to be below her.

I have loved listening to the Korean language while reading the subtitles. Super relaxing! The biggest personal drawback, for me, has been that the episodes are a little over an hour long. I like my shows to be within the 45 minute range. Allows me to often watch two shows, back-to-back, sans guilt.

If you are looking for something completely different, looking to switch up your media buffet, I suggest trying out Romance Is a Bonus Book. You’ll end up experiencing a new culture without having to step a foot outside your house.

From Across the Net – “Jordan Peterson: High Priest for a Secular Age”

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Beyond thumbing through Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life at my brother’s house, my exposure to his work has been limited. Bruce Ashford, writing for The Gospel Coalition, wrote a piece titled “Jordan Peterson: High Priest for a Secular Age“. I found this Peterson quote to be interesting:

The Bible is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western civilization (of Western values, Western morality, and Western conceptions of good and evil). It’s the product of processes that remain fundamentally beyond our comprehension. The Bible is a library composed of many books, each written and edited by many people. It’s a truly emergent document—a selected, sequenced, and finally coherent story written by no one and everyone over many thousands of years. The Bible has been thrown up, out of the deep, by the collective human imagination, which itself is the product of unimaginable forces operating over unfathomable spans of time. Its careful, respectful study can reveal things to us about what we believe and how we do and should act that can be discovered in almost no other matter. (104)

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Revenge of The Christmas Monster

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Taught my first Advent lesson for Sunday School yesterday. We talked about how Jesus is our hope, light, and peace. I shared how this holiday season can be one of darkness for myself. How Advent helps me focus on the light of the season, Jesus. Got me thinking about the things we bring into the holidays. I was telling Tab that we battled The Christmas Monster, even as a married couple, for a long, long, time. We’ve worked hard though to create our own traditions (which I love) and refocus what Christmas is all about for our family. Below is a post I wrote about the Christmas monster in 2015. Enjoy!

The holidays are a battle. A war filled with presents.

The Christmas list is a list that must be structured to maximize gifts received. I’m not sure what year I learned how much family members spent on me for Christmas, but I did. Strategic planning ensued. I would organize my list so that the most expensive items were at the top of the page. As one would read down the list, the items became cheaper. I would even take this a step further by listing the items retail price. I was a monster, used to three family Christmas events. One with my dad’s parents, one with my mom’s parents, and one with my immediate family.

Sometimes monsters look cute. I mean, handsome.

My Aunt Jody has no children. She loves giving; she loves Christmas time. On the other side of the Christmas campfire, my mom felt the need to compete with my aunt and grandparents. Growing up, she co-owned a craft business with a friend. My mom would spend hours out in the garage, cutting out craft pieces with her scroll saw. She would then paint these items, piece them together, and then go to a weekend craft show to sell. Generating money for Christmas that we did not have. I remember my Grandma and Grandpa Ayers coming out to help her paint and get items ready to sell. The holidays were stressful for my mom. I’m sure she wouldn’t tell you that. I’m sure as a kid I couldn’t have told you that my mom was stressed over having to compete. But she was.

The gift overload distorted my view of Christmas. The season became all about what I could get. I didn’t see the stress it was causing those around me.

My mom has since learned to let go and not compete. But I’m still learning, shaping, what Christmas looks like for my family. I don’t want Wyatt growing up thinking that Christmas is about maximizing what he can get. Sure, maybe kids do that to a point. But I do not want to raise a Christmas monster.

What does Christmas look like for you and your family? How do you go beyond presents?