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We had another great XLM Bible Study last Saturday. Here’s the audio. The background noise is the Magic players from the next table over.

God vs. Your Baggage (MP3)

Here are my notes. Hope they’re useful!


By baggage, I just mean the stuff that’s happened to us that we still carry with us. Maybe it was our fault, maybe it wasn’t (maybe we think it’s one way when it’s the other). Whatever happened, it weighs us down. It could just be depressing to think about. We might have developed a bad habit because of it, or one of those automatic reactions that gives us trouble sometimes. It’s something in our past that’s negatively affecting our present.

Baggage is stuff we don’t need to hold on to, but it’s tough to let go of.
Read the rest of this entry


Why it’s Good

In the end, Good Friday is not about guilt and shame. It’s about hope and love.

I’ve spent far too much of my life dwelling on the fact that my imperfection caused Jesus so much suffering. Understanding the impact of our sins is crucial to understanding the magnitude of the cross, but I’ve spent too much time agonizing over my mistakes. Sin is real and its consequences are dire, but that’s not the central message of Good Friday. If it were, we wouldn’t call it “good.”

Jesus endured the suffering I earned for myself. I could feel guilty about that, but that’s not what He wants. He just wants me to be grateful and live out that gratitude.

I do an awful job of it sometimes. I’ve done, said, thought things in the past couple days that He paid for on the cross. But that’s the point of the cross: it gives us a chance to try and fail. Our debt to God is paid, so He can extend overwhelming grace to us. The cross is our second chance.

Our extra life, if you will.

That’s the message of the day. Jesus’ sufferings mean hope for us. And think about it: if His death accomplished so much, what about His resurrection?

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
-Romans 5:10

There’s hope for us. That’s why we celebrate Easter. And that’s why it’s called Good Friday.

New People, New Places

Below are the notes from today’s Bible study.


Today doesn’t have to be just another yesterday. God wants to transform us into new people, and take us to new places — and He can do it.

To illustrate, I want to look at Paul today. He’s one of the prime examples of the type of transformation God can bring about in us. To recap, Paul was one of the fiercest opponents of the church when it was just starting out. Then, he had a dramatic encounter with God, and became one of the founding fathers of the church. It’s like Red Skull had a vision and suddenly joined the Avengers.

I want to look at some of the details of Paul’s transformation because as we do, it’ll give us hope for our own personal growth and change. If God can make an apostle out of Saul of Tarsus, He can make anything out of anybody. Read the rest of this entry


7:44 am

It’s another Friday morning at the surgery center. I don’t like that they call this place the surgery center. We just bring Addie here for her eye exams. They put her under general anaesthesia, so they call it surgery. Creeps me out.

See, I’m a mutant. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of mutation that lets you fly or shoot lasers. It’s the kind that gives you eye cancer — you and possibly your kids. It’s called retinoblastoma, and it’s the reason I’m missing my right eye. My aunt lost both eyes to it. My brother died from it. There’s a chance my daughter will inherit it from me.

Addie in the hall of the surgery center

Addie before the eyedrops: i.e., smiling and not flailing.

So, every few months, we head down to the surgery center, hold the poor kid down to put in the eyedrops, then hand her off to an anaesthesiologist for a short nap while they shine bright lights into her pupils to look for tumors.

Side note: my girl fights hard when people hold her down and try to put stuff in her eyes. I’m proud.

I knew there was a chance, if I ever had a kid, that they would inherit my horrid little mutation. My wife and I talked about it before we got married. Did we want to take the risk? Did we want to risk the heartbreak of a sick child? We discussed it. We prayed about it. And in the end, we let God decide.

And now we have the awesomest kid EVAR.

It’s tempting to wait for a sure thing. It’s tempting to — oh, wait. Here comes the doctor.

8:10 am

Dr. Ruben says everything looks great. No tumors. Best possible news. Thank God.

If we had just decided to play it safe, there would be no Addie. But we asked God, and He led us in a much scarier direction.

God wants to bring us to new places. He wants us to go adventuring with Him. He has plans for us beyond our own.

That’s what we’re talking about tomorrow in the XLM Bible Study. We’re going to look at how deeply God can transform our lives. Join us at Adventures in Comics and Games at 11.