A Really Bad Way to Study the Bible

bible-SunlightThere are some really bad ways to read the Bible. Perhaps the most dangerous is reading the Bible to merely gain knowledge without seeking to know the God of the Bible. This kind of person wants to read the Bible, but doesn’t want the Bible to read him.

Martin Luther said,

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Soren Kierkegaard, in a sermon from James 1, discussed this. Using the illustration of God’s Word being a mirror, he made a distinction between simply looking at the mirror and using the mirror to look at yourself. Simply looking at the mirror is a terrible way to read God’s Word. You can admire it and note how shiny or clear it is, but as long as you don’t use the mirror to look at yourself, you haven’t used it for its intended purpose.

What will be the result of people who read the Bible but don’t allow it to read them? What will people be like if they simply look at the mirror instead of using the mirror of God’s Word to look at themselves? Pharisaical, self-righteous people who are convinced they are right with God and see no need for Christ. Jesus calls them “white-washed tombs”–people who look good on the outside but are dead on the inside.

Don’t just read the Bible. Let the Bible read you.


6 Lessons Learned From the Worst Pain in My Life

lessons-learnedIf you’d like to read a timeline of the battle I had with the infection, you can read that here.


I texted Dad and told him this mouth infection was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I still believe that. It has been crazy, but the Lord has been with us.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned through all of this, in no particular order.

1. My wife is the greatest person in the world.

Seriously. She has cleaned my vomit, kept my giant pill schedule, fed me, prayed for me, cried with me, carried me around to 100 appointments, and was strong when I was weak in more ways than one. She has not complained one time nor made fun of my inability to do even the simplest things like raise up to drink some gatorade. I love this woman, and can’t believe how blessed I am that God gave her to me as my wife.

2. It takes a village.

Without Mom and Dad, Tom McCullough, Chris AndJoanna Walker, and countless of you who prayed, gave food, or covered for us in several ways, we would not have been able to make it through this like we did. Thank you.

Tom took me to the ER. He basically carried me to the car. Just before I got in the passenger side I vomited again, and Tom literally held me up so I wouldn’t fall to the ground. I’ll never forget that.

3. Don’t underestimate how powerful a smile can be.

(That’s not intended to be a bad dentist joke!) On several occasions I was in intense pain and was on the verge of losing it emotionally when a stranger noticed what I was going through and smiled. Once in the dentist office after the second failed root canal a lady in the waiting room tried to make me laugh as I stood there shifting my weight trying my best to hold everything in as my face throbbed. She wasn’t very funny, but it helped, and I was thankful. Another time I was walking to get the CT scan at the hospital and as I turned a corner an elderly lady with a walker saw me. My face was giant, swollen, and nasty, but she could tell I was in a lot of pain, so she smiled. I’ll never forget those strangers.

4. Sometimes the Lord’s presence is most real in the middle of the worst pain.

During the first root canal, I was nervous as teeth and I don’t get along (obviously!) and was exhausted from being in so much pain all night. I was praying and praising the Lord for being so good to me as the drill was going into my tooth. That was one of the top 5 or so times the Lord has been so tangibly present with me. I mean guys, He was there.

5. When you don’t know what to say to the Lord, just use His Word.

This happened several times throughout this experience. If the pain is intense enough, you won’t know what to say. His Word is enough. Just rest on that and He’ll take care of what needs to happen.

6. I will think twice before I talk about suffering in a flippant way again.

When I would talk about being willing to suffer for Christ, I had nothing to base it on. I have never suffered anything remotely significant before. It’s easy to say that if you were faced with a situation where you had to choose no suffering or Christ that you’d choose Him. After going through this, I honestly don’t know what I would do in other cases that involved more suffering. I don’t have much confidence in myself. All I know is that the Lord was with me and that He gave me amazing people to help bear the burden. For me, that was enough, and I am grateful. The Lord promised He would be with me, so if that will be true in the future, then I will lean on Him to come through if He calls me to suffer for Him again.

A Timeline

Friends, thank you so much for praying. This battle is winding down, and by God’s grace, the infection is losing. Here’s a brief rundown.

Dec 10: Began to have a toothache on number 31. From here on I began to sleep about 4 hours/night.

Dec 12: Appointment with the dentist, who strongly urged me to have an emergency root canal on 31 because of a large abscess tooth (infection underneath the tooth). I took 4 amoxicillin before the procedure and began taking it after then, along with hydrocodone and 800 mgs of motrin. I had mild swelling at this point.

Dec 16: We called the dentist that morning as the pain and swelling increased a great deal. They noticed #30 also had an abscess. They gave me 20+ shots to attempt to get my mouth numb, but they were unsuccessful. When you have a substantial infection, it blocks the numbness. After trying to attempt the root canal without my mouth being numb, I decided the pain of drilling my tooth was too much to handle.

They referred us to an oral surgeon who took us in that day. He took a thorough x-ray which revealed a large infection under 30-31, which had spread to other parts of the right side of my face. He put me under, pulled 30-31, and put a drain from my face feeding into my mouth, which would hopefully drain the infection (it doesn’t just go away, it has to escape somehow).

[To get rid of this kind of infection, three things need to happen: (1) get rid of the source of the infection–aka my two teeth, (2) create an escape route for the infection to drain out, and (3) find the right antibiotic to fight it. The Dr. said in the colonial days, I would have died from this. I wasn’t so sure it wasn’t still the Colonial days.]

The oral surgeon put me on a much stronger anti-biotic, stronger pain meds, and sent me home.

Dec 18: We called the oral surgeon as my swelling had increased and I had not experienced any drainage of the infection, which is necessary to get rid of it. He had us come in that day. He noticed a lump near my chin which was softer (swelling in the face isn’t soft but hard) and red. This was the area where the puss from the infection was settling. It was there that he needed to make an incision to allow the drainage to release.

We went to get a CT scan this day to rule out some really, really serious stuff.

Dr. Gaul stayed late that night to put me under and perform the surgery. He also flushed my face to get as much drainage out as possible. He then stitched a small plastic cylinder in that location to keep my chin open. This would allow drainage throughout the next few days. He also put me on another even stronger antibiotic.

Dec 19: One of the antibiotics had a side effect that made me lose my appetite and caused vomiting. Because I didn’t have much on my stomach and I had ibuprofen and two strong antibiotics on my stomach, I began vomiting that evening. We decided I needed to go to the ER to regain fluids. I spent a few hours there that night. This was the low point of the journey.

Dec 20: All liquid diet and a lot of sleep, including another scrip that calmed my stomach were the theme of this day. The Dr. removed the plastic cylinder from my face as the drainage slowed and swelling began to decrease. I turned a corner this day. Mom and Dad arrived that night to help Lynsey take care of me and the baby.

Dec 21: Same as previous day. More meds, more sleep, more liquid diet. I took a bath this day. Swelling decreased even more. I held Caroline for the first time in a week on this day.

Dec 22: Same as previous day, began small amount of solid foods. Took a shower this day.

Dec 23: The oral surgeon gave us the OK to travel to Arkansas. Ate more solid foods. He also gave us another antibiotic to start after the other two are finished to give a final blow to the infection.

I continue to improve my strength. It’s silly how weak I am. This has been the grand pappy of infections.

Today we asked the oral surgeon about the sample of drainage he took during the surgery a few days prior. He said we shouldn’t worry about that. They would have only needed that if I ended up in ICU. (So glad he didn’t tell us that at the time!)

Tweetable Thoughts on Discipleship

  • DiscipleshipTitleIf you haven’t read Robert Picirilli’s book called Discipleship, buy it and read it.
  • Grace upon grace? Absolutely. But grace that effects no change in someone’s life is not real grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap or weak.
  • The Bible does not say that “Those who live unrighteous lives but made a faith decision will enter the kingdom of God.” The Bible says those whose lives have been changed by grace live righteously–they are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Trees without fruit are cut down and burned (Matthew 7). “Converts” whose lives are not changed are not counted righteous on the last day–no matter when, how, or how often they’re baptized.
  • When God makes someone righteous by His grace, at the judgment seat of Christ, the life of that person in Christ will prove God was effective.
  • Christians sin, but sin is not characteristic of them. Sin for a Christian is like a person acting a part. It happens, but it’s not who they really are.
  • Good works are not the cause of initial salvation, but they are required at final salvation to prove initial salvation was legit. (Paraphrased from Schreiner)
  • Everything that flows out of a Christian happens as a result of new spiritual birth. People born of God look more and more like their father the older they get.
  • If someone is not living a life of a Christian, I don’t tell them to shape up or ship out no matter how long they’ve been professing Christ. I tell them to look to Christ.

One Thing About Dating

We’re doing a series about sex and sexuality at Central for students. Last night we talked about dating.


One thing about dating more people need to consider is how the roles for husband and wife in marriage should influence the way you date. If God has called the man to be the spiritual leader in the home, then is he a leader in the process of dating? If you’re a guy, will the girl you’re dating let you lead her?

Who Initiates?

Is the girl the one who shows first interest? Is she the one pursuing the guy? That’s generally not a good sign. Don’t expect the man to be the leader in the home if he’s the follower from day 1 in the relationship. Men, don’t expect your future girlfriend to be a good follower to your leadership in marriage if she’s the one initiating the relationship now.

I have seen relationships where the girl is the one pursuing the guy. The guy may be flattered, but he’s not challenged. Many times, the guy gets bored and breaks it off. Ladies, he needs to see you as a challenge to win. When you pursue him, he’s not challenged. Let him initiate things and pursue you.

Who Steers?

When it comes to spiritual issues (and other issues), who is the one who says, “You know, I think we should draw this boundary here.” The guy or the girl? Nothing inherently wrong with the girl bringing things like that up, but if the guy has zero initiative in leading spiritual conversations or making spiritual decisions (or any decisions for that matter), then that’s a red flag. Ladies, he won’t change that much after marriage. If he’s not leading spiritually in your dating, he won’t in your marriage. Men, if she’s not willing to follow your spiritual leading in your dating, she wont’ in your marriage.

How else do the biblical roles for men and women impact dating?

Like a Grizzly Bear Riding a Tricycle

434855-bigthumbnailYes, Christians sin. But when a Christian sins, there’s something that’s very . . . strange about it. It’s out of character. It’s not living according to how they are. It’s not being true to themselves.

When a Christian sins its like a big Grizzly Bear riding a tricycle. You can teach one to do it, sure. But as you watch it happen you just know, “Man, you were made for more than this.”

So it is with Christians when they sin. Sure, it can happen, and it does. But when it does, I wonder if God is thinking, “I redeemed you for more than this.”

After all, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17).


*Thanks to Dr. Mark Coppenger from Southern Seminary for this analogy.