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The Way Home: Jason Romano on forgiveness and redemption

He worked a dream job for Mike and Mike at ESPN for 18 years. But God stirred in his heart a new passion to share his own story, of forgiveness, of living with an alcoholic father, and of redemption. Show Notes Website: jasonromano.com and sportsspectrum.com Twitter: @JasonRomano and @Sports_Spectrum Book: Live to Forgive: Moving Forward When Those We Love Hurt Us

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SBC Resolution on Human Dignity

I was grateful to see the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention pass a strong resolution on human dignity. More than ever, Christians need to reclaim this biblical view and apply it to the way we see ourselves and our neighbors. I’ve included it below: WHEREAS, In the beginning, the Triune God chose to create humanity in His image and according to His likeness, such that “God created man in His own image; He created Him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:26–27); and WHEREAS, God judged His creation of humanity to be very…

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‘Curator’: The New Line on Your Pastor’s Job Description?

“So . . . who exactly is Tim Keller?” I can still remember when this question came from a longtime, faithful member of my church. At the time, I couldn’t believe he didn’t recognize the well-known, respected pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Had he not read The Reason for God? The Meaning of Marriage? Counterfeit Gods? Apparently not. But really, why would he? Unlike me—who had spent a majority of his adult life in Christian ministry, swimming in theology—this faithful brother worked long hours and spent very little time online. He wasn’t on Twitter. He didn’t get the latest…

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Here is the Church, but Where is the Steeple?

Several years ago, a church I pastored went through a massive remodeling effort, updating a tired, ‘90s-era look with more modern, chic, 21st-century décor. Peeling wallpaper was replaced with fresh paint. Hideous brown siding was covered over with a beautiful new stone treatment. A landscaper transformed some tired and unkempt bushes into a beautiful garden walkway. Our building, which many mistook for an abandoned union hall or a Masonic lodge, now looked, to passersby, like a place that might have signs of life. Interestingly, though, we capped off our remodeling effort by adding a steeple. Yes, you heard that right—as…

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Funeral for a Stranger

I sat in my office late on a Thursday afternoon after a week of meetings, study, and a thousand other crises big and small. By that point in the week I was thinking about what I would do on Friday: lock myself in my office, take no phone calls, and crank out the final draft of my Sunday sermon. Alas, the phone rang, and I took the call. “This is the Warren Funeral Home. We have a family requesting an evangelical funeral, and we were told you could do this.” Word had gotten out, apparently. I told the caller that, yes,…

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Who Exactly Am I Preaching To?

“Um, so, did someone tell you about Dave’s job?” an anxious member told me, as she shook my hand on the way out of the auditorium one Sunday morning. “Because it seemed like you were talking to us.” I told her this was the first I had heard of their fragile employment situation. The sermon was on fear, and we were in uncertain economic times. I had offered, in passing, an example of someone who might be nervous about his or her job. But I wasn’t specifically targeting this family. It’s difficult to know how to take this kind of…

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Boring Church Services Changed My Life

I’ve never really had a moment in my life—39 years—when I wasn’t going to church. My parents got engaged and married in the church. I was born into, raised in, and baptized in church. My parents, first-generation Christians, were devout church-goers. We went every time the doors were open—and many times when they weren’t. My father, a plumber, volunteered thousands of man-hours helping build church buildings. My mother volunteered, worked as a secretary, and later served as a preschool teacher. Since the age of five, I sat in church services: Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday night prayer meetings. I…

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The Dad I Want To Be

I wrote a piece on the vulnerability of fathering for In Touch: It’s 7:30 at night, and I’m staring at my iPhone for no apparent reason. There is no crisis in the world that requires me. No organizational issue that demands a response, and no critical communication I must conduct on behalf of my family or friends. I’m just scrolling through Twitter, aimlessly. This is probably a justifiable use of time during leisure activity or when waiting in the doctor’s office, but not at 7:30 on a weekday when the kids need my attention. And yet here I am, escaping…

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The Church’s Next 10,000 Years

It was a slick PowerPoint—presented by a (self-described) cutting-edge ministry practitioner—that sent me over the edge. Carefully presenting cherry-picked research, this ministry leader offered a doomsday scenario for the American church: heresy is rising. Millennials are fleeing. Culture is changing. Of course, this inevitable slouch toward Gomorrah could be prevented, we were told, if we purchased this organization’s brand-new curriculum. If I sound cynical about the demise of the church, it’s because I am. I read Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18 and I believe them: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome…

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The glory we don’t see: Looking harder for glimpses of God at work around us

Every week I met with a drug dealer, a shady business-man, and a serial gambler. Only you wouldn’t know it, because sitting in the pew next to me, they looked just like church people. Middle class. Put together. Churchy. But here they were, trophies of grace, evidence of some strange and mysterious redemption. Glimpses of some other world where sinners become saints, not at all of their own making. Chances are, this is your reality, too, if you attend church regularly. It may seem everyone is gathering from the corners of your community on Sunday, dressed up and spiritual. But…

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The Tension of Influence and Humility

In his book Playing God, Andy Crouch writes of an incident with a well-known megachurch pastor. In the pastor’s study, Andy quizzed the leader about how he managed his power. “We are all servant leaders here!” he said. “We don’t care about power.” Then the two left and walked into an office space where church staff members were busy working. When the pastor entered the room, the staff immediately sat up straighter and acted busy—a visible sign that the pastor had power he didn’t want to admit he possessed. This a fitting anecdote for the age in which we live, the…

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So you want to make disciples

What does it mean to be on mission for God? Evangelicals are asking this question more often in a culture that seems increasingly inhospitable to Christian witness. So words like missional and incarnational are all the rage, driving people to think holistically (another buzz word) about their presence in a particular local community. These discussions are good because they help equip God’s people to fulfill the Great Commission in our time. And yet I wonder if we often complicate the task of making disciples. Sometimes our evangelism language is so stilted and academic that it paralyzes everyday Chris-tians from utilizing…

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Called to the cubicle: Regardless of where we work, we’re all in full-time ministry.

“Brother John gave up a lucrative career in the business world to enter full-time Christian service,” the pastor announced. “He’s working for Jesus now.” The church erupted in applause, but my heart sank because I felt sorry for the man sitting next to me. My father, a skilled tradesman, wasn’t leaving his business to enter “full-time Christian service.” Was he somehow less of a believer or less spiritual than those who received a paycheck from a Christian 501(c)(3)? These are questions that rattled around in my teenage brain. Fortunately, I later acquired a more robust theology of faith and work…

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No, you can’t have it all now: How we preach a prosperity gospel without even knowing it

If you were to ask most Christians, you’d find many consider the prosperity gospel to be an unbiblical teaching offered by religious hucksters. But there’s a subtle way in which a similar message creeps into our theologically sound churches—a back-door heresy perhaps more damaging than the promise of a bigger house or fatter bank account. It is the prosperity gospel of instant life change. I often heard a version of this during testimony time in the otherwise fundamentalist church where I grew up. Some former alcoholic would stand up and say something like, “I was hungover on Saturday, and by…

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Loving Jesus means you’re commanded to love fellow believers–all of them

I’m not a big bumper sticker guy, but I couldn’t help noticing the one proudly displayed on my new neighbor’s car. When I first saw it, I was excited because it said, “JESUS LOVES YOU” in large capital letters. Great! I thought. A Christian has moved in next to me. I imagined early morning Bible studies, perhaps even attending church together, exchanging prayer lists, or swapping casserole recipes for church potlucks. But the rest of the bumper sticker gave me pause. In fine print, under the “JESUS LOVES YOU,” was a cryptic second line: “But everyone else thinks you’re a…

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What The Incarnation Means for Our Bodies

The angel was clear, to Mary, about the mission of Jesus. In his angelic announcement, he said that Jesus would come to “save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).” To be our Savior, God had to become human. He had to suffer as a human. He had to take on the full punishment of God’s wrath for human sin. This was God’s plan all along, an event that took place at “just the right time” (Galatians 4:4-7). The prophet said that it would “please the Lord to bruise him (Isaiah 53:10).” Jesus accomplished what no man could accomplish. He, as…

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Book of Wishes: The reason we long for more

It arrived every November, wrapped in cellophane, its pages filled with new possibilities. On the cover, a dreamy holiday image, pulling your heart into the season and beckoning you to indulge in hours of wish making. It’s hard to overestimate the sheer joy the Sears Wish Book brought to my young heart. Before Amazon and Apple. Before Walmart and Black Friday. Before Facebook and Google. Every year, I waited with anticipation and longing for the day this catalog would come. A savvy wisher would ignore the advice on the front page, which warned shoppers against skipping to other sections and…

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When everything isn’t awesome: Is the modern evangelical worship service a safe place to lament?

A couple years ago, I took a day off and treated my family to a matinee showing of The Lego Movie. My wife and I have four children—three girls and one boy—so this day was like an oasis for my son and me, surrounded as we are by princess movies. As it turns out, everyone, girls included, enjoyed the film. What we didn’t realize, however, was that the theme song “Everything is Awesome” would replace “Let It Go” from Frozen as the tune that would get stuck in our heads most often. By the end of the summer, for the…

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Why recognizing our need for grace enlarges our capacity to give it

British author and thinker G. K. Chesterton was once invited by a London newspaper to offer his opinion on what was wrong with the world. Legend has it he sent a brief letter in reply: Dear Sirs, I am. Sincerely yours, G. K. Chesterton This echoes the thoughts of another philosopher. In one of his final letters, Paul wrote his protégé Timothy and volunteered an answer to a hypothetical question: Who is the world’s worst sinner? Which human being was the biggest problem, in Paul’s mind? Was it Nero, the wicked despot who gleefully slaughtered innocent Christians? Was it the…

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15 Years and Counting

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31–33 ESV) Fifteen years ago, a man waited by a church stage in Chicago as a beautiful young woman from Texas walked down the aisle. When you get married, you do it without knowing, fully, what is ahead. You know the other person,…

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