Last night President Trump gave his first State of the Union address. It was clear that one of his goals was to convince his audience that his administration has made our country safer and stronger. But in one of the high points of his address, it wasn’t the strength of his administration that he appealed to, but the strength of the American people: “The state of our union is strong because our people are strong.”

Strong, safe and healthy. It’s what we all want to be. While these things are fine for us to desire, what happens when we as a society become a little too obsessed with becoming strong and prosperous? Continue Reading

2018 Update: This is a post originally written for the 2016 year. I’m updating it again for the third year. I’ve also included recommendations for a few devotionals to accompany your daily Bible reading, books to help you in your communion with God, as well as a recommendation for a book on productivity in the New Year. I hope this post helps you reach your goals!

And hey, before you get started, can I just be honest? I fell off my plan the past few months. In fact, you could say I’ve been completely undisciplined in this area. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar spot, maybe even ashamed because you couldn’t stick to your 2017 goal. The good news is, there is grace for us when we fail; grace that picks us up to keep going. Our Father is not ashamed of you for trying – and you shouldn’t be either.

I want to persuade you to start a personal Bible reading plan for 2018. But first, a personal anecdote.

I used to be one of those people who scoffed at the concept of Bible reading plans. All of these books and calendars that aim to help Christians read through the Bible in a certain length of time just seemed too “restrictive” to me. I had convinced myself that whenever I read the Bible, it needed to be something I felt like doing. Besides, if I try to read through the Bible in a year, how could I possibly study every intricate detail of each passage that I read? Instead, I told myself that it was better to study one book in depth at a time, so that I could learn it like the back of my hand.

Unfortunately, my excuses were just my own spiritual blindness and hard-heartedness. Between having convinced myself that Bible reading needed to come from the motivation of my emotion and feelings, combined with the fact that I wanted to read extremely slowly (and focus more on a commentary than the Biblical text itself) – the end result was that I read very little Bible. So little, in fact, that it wasn’t until recently that I actually read through the entire Bible.

Can you relate to making excuses as it pertains to reading your Bible? What excuses do you make? Does your job get in the way? Your kids? Is there “just not enough time in the day”? We all do it. My goal here is not to get you to feel down on yourself, but instead I want to encourage you by providing some practical reasons why you should use a Bible reading plan, as well as give you some practical helps on how to do this in 2018. Continue Reading

A few years ago I had a neighbor from Texas. He was in his mid-30’s and had already served two tours in Afghanistan. His southern drawl was deep, as was his love for his country. If anyone embodied the southern, Texas stereotype it was him.

One night we were out talking in front of our homes and the conversation of faith came up. I was very excited at the opportunity to share the gospel with him, and so I wanted to try and ground the conversation in Scripture. In my head I thought, “Well, let’s go to a passage everyone knows.” The passage that came to my mind was the Parable of the Two Brothers from Luke 15. I began to refer to the parable as I was sharing with him. But after only a few short sentences, my neighbor stopped me and said, “Ben, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

At the time, I was stunned. How does someone not know this parable? Even more shocking – how does someone from the conservative Bible belt not know this parable? Continue Reading

They say that each generation has one or two – maybe three – television events which shape the personality and psyche of the entire generation. We remember the sights and sounds of that day, where we were and who we were with when we first saw this historic event on our television screens. Our reactions to these historic events have the power to shape and form an entire generation of people when they are young and most impressionable. Continue Reading