The Daily Grind

In my last post, I briefly discussed spiritual warfare, our place in the battle between heaven and hell. Most us won't be called to deliver someone from a demon, and few of us will be asked to break a generational curse. The life of the average Christian is still one of spiritual warfare, but one on a more seemingly mundane level, more of a daily grind -- but that grind isn't a walk in the park. The last two of the Beatitudes can be combined to say, "Blessed are the persecuted." These are the ones who actively suffer for their faith. Such suffering can take many forms: loss of family, loss of friends, loss of business, loss of freedom, loss of reputation, loss of life, loss of property . . .

Spiritual Warfare

In my final semester of seminary, I enrolled in a class named "Spiritual Warfare in Ministry and Mission" -- or, as we all called it, Defense Against the Dark Arts. (Seminary is kind of like Hogwarts.) The class focused on the realities of the darker dimension of the spiritual realm: demons, possession, demonization, curses, witchcraft, deliverance, exorcism, things of that nature. To even teach such things requires a starting premise: we accept it as true, as real. Somewhere along the way, that assumption was lost to Western Christians -- and the rest of our culture. Demons became good fodder for horror movies and little else. No truly enlightened, intelligent individual could possibly beli

The Dreamers Who Dream Dreams

At least 27,189 times (as a rough estimate), I have heard the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" That particular query is answered now, but my childhood answers always depended on my latest obsession: musician, librarian, chef, teacher, roboticist, lawyer, astrophysicist, surgeon, engineer, forensic pathologist, supervillain (not everyone could be the hero, after all), linguist, you name it. Interestingly, at no point prior to age twenty-one was the answer "preacher," but God does what He wants. Recently I saw an image reading, "When adults ask children what they want to be when they grow up, they're really just looking for ideas." Adults have dreams, too, though. They may n

Another Day, Another Time

It has been repeatedly suggested I am a man born out of time. Most of the music I know and love predates the 1800s. The books (and clothes) I prefer hail from Victorian England. My vocabulary occasionally defaults to something Shakespearean (as a seminary friend will never let me live down). I write better with quill and ink than I do a ball-point pen. And every so often, I develop a fondness for people like the Puritans and the Scrooby Pilgrims. Other people feel the same way about other places in time. Many frequently long for periods as diverse as the Middle Ages and the 1950s. Some wish to return to days before the West was won. Still others, like those of the transhumanist movement, bel

Go for the Gold

In case you didn't keep up with the Olympics, I didn't win any medals. Again. My best athletic efforts would never be good enough to even get me on the team for any given event. So until the day "Poor Penmanship" or "Being Average at Walking" become Olympic sports, don't expect to see me on the medal platform. Ironically for couch potatoes like me, Paul describes our lives as Christians in athletic terms: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinth

The Sound of Silence

It's said that God speaks through the Holy Spirit. It's also said that the Spirit speaks, not in earthquakes or thunderings, but in a still, small voice, a gentle whisper. If that's true -- and I believe it is -- then it would explain why so many of us have such a hard time hearing the voice of God. Our lives are full of noise. Multiple things vie for our attention simultaneously. We encounter hundreds of advertisements each day, all trying to sell us something which falsely promises to finally make us truly happy. Our cars blare our preferred genre of music or other form of auditory stimulation. We're never beyond the reach of a telephone or the Internet. Televisions remains on even when no

Sweet Tooth

I have a notorious sweet tooth. I make no secret of it, but I should probably feel slightly more guilty about it than I do (my blood glucose levels would thank me). As it is, I profess a weakness for cake, pie, cobbler, chocolate chip cookies, and about anything involving peanut butter or labeled "Little Debbie." My candy bucket, kept fully stocked in my office, sees its share of action from my flock, too. Sugar makes friends. It also creates a myriad of health problems. Diabetes is not your friend. Obesity, including childhood obesity, is at epidemic levels. Mountain Dew has destroyed so many teeth in Appalachia it's been mentioned in a few documentaries. Sugar may be a delight, but it can

Mondays

Another minister called me this morning to confirm a meeting, but he opened the conversation with, "How are you doing? About as good as a preacher can be on a Monday morning?" I laughed. I've never heard that particular phrase before, but there's truth in it. The biggest work day for a minister, the day we spend the other six preparing for, is Sunday. It's not a day off; it's pedal-to-the-metal, let's-get-people-to-Jesus. Sermons, lessons, events, people who "only want five minutes of your time," everything is on a Sunday, and the preacher maintains a frenetic pace all day. We love it, mind you. Sundays are my favorite day of the week. But when Monday morning comes, we're exhausted. It's why

Youth (Present Tense)

Some of you read the title of today's post and went, "Wait. 'Youth' is a noun. Nouns don't have tenses! Someone take back his English degree!" Work with me here. When we talk about the youth in our churches, they're almost always described with one very Christianese phrase: "The youth are the future of the church." I agree -- halfway. Once the non-youth are no longer with us, or when they no longer wield decision-making authority, those who are currently classified as the youth will in fact be the ones filling the pews and calling the shots. What I disagree with is the far-sightedness of relegating our youth to the future. They're here with us right now. As they come to Christ, they join the

For a Song

When someone stands on stage in church and says, "Let's worship God!" ninety-nine percent of the time, someone will immediately burst into song. Somewhere along the way, we equated music and worship. To be fair, there's an entire genre called "praise and worship," and worship choruses don't easily fall into other categories of Christian music (hymns, gospel songs, Taize, etc.). All those types of music are for worship, even on the corporate Sunday Morning level. But worship itself isn't comprised solely of music. It's everything that happens in the service: prayer, the Lord's Supper, preaching, Scripture readings, all of it. Still, let's focus on our songs for now. Like I said, there's an ab

Vacation

Vacation season is almost over. Those families with children still in school will soon return their students to the classroom. Those without children at home prepare for the coming autumn, the warm vacation weather and good traveling conditions to be gone in another month or two. Vacation days are spent, beaches begin to empty, roller coasters slow down, and we all settle in at school and at work one more time. As human beings, we need vacations. We need time off, time away from our ordinary lives to rest, recharge, and relax. Even if you come home declaring you need a vacation from your vacation, it's good you got away for a while. A change of scenery gets the creative juices flowing again,

Hunting the Jabberwock

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe. So begins (and later ends) "Jabberwocky," the famous nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll. Anyone familiar with Through the Looking-Glass knows the ridiculous poem. It may tell the tale of the epic-worthy hunt of the Jabberwock, but it's clear that's the only part of the poem meant to be intelligible. Half the words are made up. It's utter nonsense. Life can occasionally feel a bit like "Jabberwocky." It can be filled with words, characters, and scenes which don't make sense. It's a bit bewildering, whether you're shunning the frumious Bandersnatch or facing a suddenly, i

Priesthood

I am a priest. As Paul says of his own ministry, "He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God" (Romans 15:16). This duty comes from the one true High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-5:10). The high priest enables all ministers of the gospel to be priests, to fulfill such priestly duties as the preaching of the gospel. You'll never see "Reverend Christopher Peters, Priest" on a business card, though. One reason for this is the great truth of the New Testament regained for us by the reformer Martin Luther: we are all priests. 2 Peter 2:9 makes this abundantly clear: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may decl

PSA: Election Season

Today's blog is less of a devotional thought and more of a public service announcement. The election season is quickly heating up, and the rhetoric is increasingly inflammatory. It's natural to want to know where the church stands, so before too many people ask, I decided to go ahead and post this. As one particularly famous deputy once quipped, I want to nip it in the bud. Churches are not permitted under federal law to endorse specific political candidates. Period. Any endorsement makes us subject to action by the IRS and could potentially cost us our tax-exempt status. In other words, if we get too political, they decide we're not really a church and thus have to start paying up like any

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