• Tests and Faith

    Are you someone that likes tests? People respond to tests very differently. Some people thrive on the pressure (whether the pressure is perceived or real). Some people crumble. Others focus less on the fact that something is a test, and just consider whatever is before them, the next task to be completed. But what is true for all of us is that we all face tests. Every day. Of course, the tests that we face change over the course of our lives. In grade school, we have tests in subjects such as math and spelling. As we grow a little older, more specific studies are added, and thus, more tests…

  • Comparing Faith

    Do you compare your faith to others? As humans, it is difficult, if not impossible to avoid making comparisons to one another. Some comparisons are simple and unimportant. For instance, I am taller than my wife. That is a comparative statement, but it is a fact. And it is not a problem unless we allow it to be a problem like using names and labels against another person. Again, some comparisons are harmless, but all comparisons can be problematic if we abuse the facts. Some people have more resources than others. Some people are healthier than others. Some people have more friends than others. Data can support each of those…

  • Announcing CEW

    This blog is meant to help us to live in, not of the world. In fact, that is the title of this blog in reverse. fotonni are the letters to the words “in not of” spelled backwards. The idea is that Christians should see this world as different than God intended. Instead of doing something upside-down, I chose to reverse the order of the letters. fotonni was the first emphasis of my personal ministry. By personal ministry, I mean what I do outside of my role on staff at a church. fotonni began in late 2003 and has largely focused on blogging over the past 7+ years. However, my ministry…

  • Communicating With God, Part 3

    In last week’s post, I shared three aspects of what prayer can (should?) be. Like with all communication between close friends, we should find ourselves sending messages and expecting replies, receiving messages and sending replies, and regularly checking in with the other person. But prayer is not just talking with any person, it is talking to God. And thus, most of us struggle with these concepts for a variety of reasons. And perhaps one of the biggest reasons is a fear of asking hard questions. Honestly, most people struggle with having difficult conversations in general. We like easy, and non-committal conversations but going deeper makes us vulnerable. And being vulnerable,…

  • Communicating With God, Part 2

    In last week’s post, I wrote of our need to pray. Why do we need to pray? Because Jesus did. And Jesus is God. So, if He, as the Son, needed to pray to the Father, then we do too. But the concept of prayer is scary to most people. Why? In part because we make it more than it is. What do I mean? Well, prayer is simply communicating. Granted, that communication is with an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, holy, and unseen God, but it is still simply communicating. So, today, I want to show you that prayer is not really much different than how you already communicate. We simply…

  • Communicating With God, Part 1

    Why is it, in a time when we cannot escape communication, we find it more difficult than ever to communicate with God? Well, the answer cannot be because we do not know how to communicate. Communication is everywhere. The light on our phone is constantly blinking which is a message from our phone to us that we have some message or action that needs to be addressed. Messages come in the form of text messages, FaceBook posts or through Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, etc. And occasionally our phones even receive a call! Likewise, advertisements are all around us as we walk, bike, or drive around. As we watch television we see…

  • Being Labeled

    Labels are common and necessary in some parts of our life. For instance, when shopping for food or medicine, reading the label is important to know what the contents of the packaging are. However, labels can be harmful when they are misapplied. And when we label people, we often misapply. On Sunday, I intentionally labeled myself a sinner. As the picture shows, I did not do this verbally, I did it physically. I did it in conjunction with teaching about the story of Jesus telling of the Good Samaritan. My sermon notes can be found here if you want the details of my approach for the day. The truth is…

  • A Day of Prayer

    This week’s post is a little different. I often use this blog to share what God is teaching me after having time to reflect on what I taught during a sermon or other lesson. But this week, most of what I learned happened beforehand. I do believe this post may encourage a few (or many) people, and thus I share it. The post is ultimately about prayer, and how our church spent a day praying. At the end of the post, I share two very different views of prayer based upon Psalm 23. At our church this past week we had a day of prayer. I have been a part…

  • Love One Another

    There are days within our lives that we wake up with the expectation that the day ahead will be challenging. Perhaps we have a meeting about a particular challenge our organization faces or with a particular person whom we find challenging. Many possibilities exist and when the day ahead is expected to be a challenge, we often do not sleep well the night before. I wonder how Jesus slept on the last night He would sleep. While the events leading up to Jesus crucifixion account for about 25% of each gospel, we do not have any real description of His sleep. We can tell by His actions that He was…

  • Towards a Healthy Church – Job Descriptions

    In last week’s post, I provided some insights on why having a team description is helpful. Although many churches and organizations do not use this idea, knowing how a person (and position) fits into the overall dynamic of a team can be helpful. Many mid-sized and larger churches are using more of these ideas as more and more are becoming concerned with the overall interpersonal dynamics that are involved. However, the primary reason Team Descriptions are not prevalent is that many churches do not have job descriptions.* And people are more concerned about what they are doing (or are to do) than they are about fitting in with others, at…