Disentangling Faith From Party Politics

a political map of the United States showing red and blue states representing Republicans and Democrats

Over the last number of years in the United States of America Christianity and politics have become so intertwined that in some places they are almost indistinguishable. The rise of the “Moral Majority” and the “Religious Right” have turned Christians into a voting bloc to be used. Now, the political left is even getting in on the act. Christianity bought into a bill of goods that argued that if there was support for a certain political agenda then Christianity would have greater cultural influence.

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Disentangling Faith from Tribalism

knotted up ropes

2016 was a watershed moment for the Evangelical movement in the United States of America. It was a moment that had been building for decades. It did not come out of nowhere. Kristin Kobes Du Mez outlines the rise of this moment in her excellent work Jesus and John Wayne, I would recommend reading it if you would like the historical background. The Evangelical movement had to make a decision about a singular question and that question was whether it would embrace a tribalistic identity or if it would choose an identity that transcends tribalism. It unequivocally chose the former.

I want to let you in on a little secret, the clamor for tribalism is nothing new.

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Disentangling Faith from Corporatism

Photo by Memento Media on Unsplash


For a long time I was enthralled with “leadership.” I read everything I could on leadership. It was one of those intellectual itches that needed to be scratched. During this season of my life I was leading a team of people with a large parachurch organization and I found much of it to be helpful.

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Disentangling Faith from Consumerism

Photo by Hilbert Hill on Unsplash


It was the summer of 1998 and I was raising support at the beginning of my time on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. I was in the car on my way to a church gathering with a potential donor. He was going to be connecting me with a number of people from his church at this gathering. During our hour drive across Metro Detroit he shared with me his take on the future of the church in America. It went something like this…

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Disentangling Faith


white christmas lights tangled up

Every December when it comes time to put up the Christmas decorations I have one job that is harder than the rest. This job makes me feel frustrated and a bit annoyed. The job of disentangling the outdoor lights is no easy task. It requires an engineering degree, patience, and a keen spatial sense. None of which I have. Yet, I persevere and press on toward the goal of disentangling the lights.

When I do, the results are magic! That moment when they come on and the house glows with the warm soft light from the twinkle lights just looks like Christmas. It makes me smile. But, to get to the beauty I had to go through the pain of disentangling.

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When Religion Goes Bad

God-washed power pollutes everything it touches but there is hope

Photo that reads “i’m hungry for the pwoer” by Raphael Renter | @raphi_rawr on Unsplash

Over the last year I’ve read three books that have caused me significant pause.

The first was, A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. The second was, Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. The third was, The Flag and the Cross by Phillip Gorski and Samuel Perry.

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How Do You Read the Bible?

What if meditation was the key to reading the Bible?

Photo of a woman reading the Bible holding a cup of coffee by Priscilla Du Preez πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ on Unsplash

I was in high school and attending something called a Summer Institute at Eastern Michigan University. Rising high school seniors could attend the institute in a number of disciplines. I attended this two week experience for music. It was an amazing couple of weeks and I met some really fun people.

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Silence Is Scary

Entering into silence can spiritually form us

Photo of a woman with her finger over her mouth by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

There’s only a few sermons that I’ve heard that I remember. As I write that I want to make sure you understand what I’m not saying, I’m not saying that sermons are unimportant. I think they are very important. The sermons I remember are likely not sermons that someone else remembers. They are moments in time that God uses in the lives of people.

There was one sermon in particular that my friend, Doug, gave a number of years ago. He was talking about how noisy the world is and how quiet God’s voice can be. All during the message he had an iPod playing very quietly and then at the end he had us all get quiet and all of a sudden you could hear the music.

This shook me.

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Prayer Doesn't Change God

Photo of a man praying by a misty lake by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Prayer is something so difficult for me to get my mind around. As I think about praying it raises so many, many questions.

If God is sovereign why pray? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Why don’t I hear God when I pray? What value is there to praying? Why did that person get healed and that one didn’t? Why did that prayer have “results” and that one didn’t? Does prayer do anything?

And so many, many more.

I often think of prayer in the context of utility. Quite simply, “does it work?”

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How Do You Read the Bible?

A simple practice to help you grow in your faith.

Photo of a Bible by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When you open the Bible do you feel intimidated? I know I do.

You read that right, the professional Christian with a graduate degree that included the study of both Hebrew and Greek is intimidated by the Bible.

How can that be?

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The Journey - Nuts and Bolts

a gym

As I see friends who haven’t seen me in a while they are effusive in their praise of physical fitness. Over the last year, my body has transformed. What they can’t see is the transformation that has taken place in my heart, mind, and soul. Those changes are of course nearly impossible to simply see.

As important as the physical fitness has been, it’s these other changes that are more important. They are the changes that will help me to maintain my physical fitness beyond reaching a goal.

The single most common question that I get is, β€œhow did you do it?”

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The Journey - The Unseen

What do we do when the goal is unseen?

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

It was Thanksgiving and we were heading to my brother Jay’s home outside Baltimore, Maryland. We were excited to spend time with his family and celebrate together. As we drove the weather grew worse and worse.

The snow and sleet were becoming overwhelming. Cars were pulling off and sliding off the road at an alarming rate. My hands gripped the steering wheel tighter than I knew I could. White knuckling was an understatement. I grew more and more tired. Tensions were rising in the car. I knew that Amy wouldn’t be comfortable getting behind the wheel and so I drove on.

This journey was not going well.

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The Journey - The Crew

We aren’t made to walk the path alone.

Friends overlooking a valley

I began my journey toward physical fitness with a commitment to walk fifteen minutes per day. My thinking was that I could do anything for fifteen minutes. I was right. Rarely did I walk for less than twenty minutes. Almost always, I walked at least thirty.

I had, in my excitement over such a plan, decided to invite some close friends to hold me accountable. My walk needed to be done by 10 pm or they were free to give me all the grief!

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The Journey - Perseverance Over Perfection

What if we valued perseverance over being perfect?

a meadow path

Sophia was walking through the forest with her friend Avil. As they were walking and talking she stubbed her toe on a root that had broken through the path. She stumbled and exclaimed her shock and surprise. She regained her footing and they continued walking.

A little bit later, Avil stubbed his toe as well. He cried out and then found another root and stubbed his other toe. When he did, he tripped and skinned his knee. He was distraught and threw himself down the side of a hill where he broke his leg. As rolled down the hill he also skinned his knee. So, he took a rock and broke his other arm.

It didn’t take long before Sophia realized that the walk was over.

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The Journey - Who Am I?

Our self identity shapes what we do.

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

A couple of years ago I read a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. He tells the story of a friend who went on a weight loss journey. To begin this journey his friend started a habit of going to the gym. At this point you might be thinking, “Well, of course he did.” But here’s the kicker, he never went in. Every day he drove to the gym and parked in the parking lot.

What a strange thing to do, I thought. It surely didn’t make any sense to me when I initially read it. I stopped and pondered why would he do something so strange before continuing to read. I wanted to try and figure it out. For the life of me, I couldn’t. It just didn’t make any sense.

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The Journey - Start With "Why?"

Answering one question can start the journey.

The Smoky Mountains

I recently shared a before and after picture one year apart on my social feeds. It sparked congratulations and a lot of kind words. Over the last eighteen months I have lost over 100 lbs. My entire body has changed. I see old pictures and it doesn’t even seem like I’m the same person.

Do you want to know something interesting? When I look in the mirror I don’t really see much change at all. I will catch myself walking past a mirror and think, “wow! I’ve changed!” Then as I continue to look at myself I can almost see my body transform back to the “old me” in the mirror.

It’s weird.

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The Way of Reconnecting

Why I find the Jesus Way helpful in loving well.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

In the single most unsurprising thing ever written, I as a pastor think about religion. I think about it an awful lot. For a long time whenever I thought about religion I did so in a negative way. There was almost an allergic reaction to the word for me. Religion, in my understanding was nothing more than a set of beliefs or rules, an attempt by humanity to reach God.

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Finding My Religion

Could religion actually be good?

Photo of dirty hands clasped in prayer by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When you think of religion what comes into your mind?

For many of us it’s probably something like, “man’s pursuit of the divine,” or “a system of beliefs,” or “the crutch of humanity,” or “the worst thing that’s ever happened to humanity.” Whatever our understanding or definition it’s typically tinged with a bit of negativity.

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The Thing Called Deconstruction

What if deconstruction was something else?

Everywhere you look people are deconstructing. For some, this looks like a total rejection of faith. Some question a doctrine here or there. Others walk away from “church” and hold on to Jesus. Loads of “Christian famous” folks are carrying out their deconstruction online for the world to see. Some are leveraging deconstruction for financial gain (yes, you can hire people to coach you through a season of deconstruction).

Then there’s the response to deconstruction. Some celebrate it and almost evangelize it to others. Others point to it as a simply a way to disguise apostasy. Both seem to be missing the mark.

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When Certainty Died

My certainty died but then my faith lived

I was there when he died.

I sat next to him as they turned off all the machines. His wife and daughters had left the hospital and entrusted these moments to me and another friend.

It didn’t take long.

He was ready.

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