“if there were a god, would he have let this happen?”

I received this email recently in the wake of the devastation in Haiti. I’ve been working overtime this week helping set up the ODW Haiti Relief Fund. We increased our goal to $100,000. If you’re thinking of donating, consider partnering with us.  But in the midst of busyness, I haven’t had a chance to answer many of my emails including this one from one of our blog readers. I think it would be good for us – together – to wrestle, answer, question, and believe along.

Read it and let’s discuss. Whatever you do, please don’t mention Haiti and the Devil in the same sentence. But I’d love to hear some of our collective thoughts.

Here’s the email I received:

I wanted to ask you for some help. As someone who knows and believes in God’s amazing love as represented in Christ and His love, I also know that I have doubts in my own faith.

Particularly, I have always struggled to comprehend or to help others understand God’s love when great tragedies like natural disasters happen (or any tragedy). I have just recently visited Haiti Continue reading ““if there were a god, would he have let this happen?””

religion and women

Nicolas Kristof has an article in today’s NY Times entitled, Religion and Women, that’s worth reading. Unlike some of his other pieces, it’s not super long so it’ll take one sitting but hopefully, it’ll sit with you for a bit.

I’ve written about this topic numerous times and will continue to do so. If you’re interested in some of them, here’s several to check out:

It is the oldest injustice for the simple reason that men are physically stronger and thus, can oppress the “weaker” half. And then you mix in the combustion of various religions and world ideologies that seek to elevate one half and suppress the other half and you’ve got a cycle of great devastation and oppression.

I’m not an expert on all world religions so I can’t speak with full authority but this is one of the reasons why I am captivated by Jesus: He liberates; Not oppresses. If anything, he liberates that which has oppressed.  He turned things UPSIDE Continue reading “religion and women”

my 10 most essential books for christians (+ 20 more)

Nearly every week, someone asks me about my recommendations about what books Christians should be reading.  In essence, “what are the must reads?”  And so couple weeks ago, I asked YOU for your recommendations and there were some fascinating contributions.  In a comical way, it also spurred on a spontaneous and hilarious post about Christian books that should NOT be published.

There are so many excellent books that it’s really difficult to condense it into a list of 10.  My recommendations are created with an attempt towards the  larger picture of Christian discipleship – meaning that I want to balance my list with theology, discipleship, spirituality, bibilical studies, etc.

Let me also say that nothing is more important than reading, studying, and loving the Scriptures. The Bible is important – especially in a cultural context where so many are prone to sound bytes, podcasts, RSS feeds, and video stimulation.  Read your Bible.  Having said that, I would recommend these versions:  TNIV, NIV, and ESV.  In addition to these versions, I would also highly recommend reading The Message by Eugene Peterson to accompany the reading of your Bible.  Also, a solid Bible dictionary and a set of Bible commentaries [even a single or 2 volume set] are very important for any and every Christian.

Okay, here’s my List of the 10 Essential Books I’d Recommend every Christian to Read [in no particular order]: Continue reading “my 10 most essential books for christians (+ 20 more)”

my pastor is a janitor

During the first year of Quest, I was without salary and had tried so hard to obtain a job – any job – but I realized the painful truth that pastors [outside their jobs in churches] are useless in society.  I discovered that my Masters of Divinity degree…well…wasn’t really all that divine.   It was actually pretty useless.  After several months of looking for work, I finally landed a job as a janitor at a Barnes & Noble store in Lynnwood, Washington.

Not my idea of a “dream job.” It was one of the most difficult jobs and periods in my life – especially because this took place at a time when I thought I would be kicking ass in my “career” as a pastor.  Damn my hubris…

But I digress.  I want to introduce you to Jason Douros.  He’s sort of on staff at Quest Church as our custodian.  Why am I introducing you to our church’s custodian?  Continue reading “my pastor is a janitor”