My family finally went back to church — here’s what it was like

“Joshua, we need to go to a church this Sunday,” my wife said four weeks ago. We had moved to a new town right before the coronavirus hit and we hadn’t gotten much of a chance to visit churches; so for the most part, we had informal Sunday services with our kids in the living room. It was special in its own way but it wasn’t the same as gathering with other believers in person — not to say we didn’t try. After the Covid restrictions eased up and churches started meeting again, we visited one church that met in…

Looking for God outside the in-crowd

In seventh grade, the worst 15 minutes of my day were the first 15 minutes. It was the moment when I got off the school bus and faced the challenge of finding a group of boys to hang out with until the bell rang. It was a high stakes game of fitting in and I was usually losing. Outside the building were circles of kids standing around talking, reflecting their places in the social hierarchy. There was the popular crew, the druggies, the “trashy” kids, the smart girls, the “band nerds,” and the handful of African American kids in our…

What you’re doing for Jesus counts — here’s how to calculate how much

Several years ago, one of my friends authored a book and a few months after it was released, I asked her how many books had been sold.  She replied: “Well, the publisher made enough to cover the cost of my advance.“ In other words, the book hadn’t made a profit. It wasn’t until I wrote a book that I appreciated just how awkward it feels to get the “how many books have you sold” question. It’s like being asked about your salary, your weight, or why you aren’t having a drink at the party. For better or worse, the answer…

Fellow believer, here’s how we must deal with shame

I used to work at a grocery store meat department when I was in college, and one day, I started chatting with a young woman and her little girl. Her daughter had a rotten tooth and — I don’t know what I was thinking — I smiled and said: “Looks like somebody needs to brush her teeth!” The mom glared at me and said: “Looks like somebody needs to learn their manners.” A few days later, I saw the lady and her daughter at the grocery store and I apologized. Both the woman and her daughter were gracious and forgave…

I poisoned my grass and rediscovered God’s love

My mission was simple: Kill the weeds growing in the cracks of our concrete walkway. Before it was all said and done, I would definitely succeed at doing that. I just didn’t anticipate the damage I was going to do to the grass. My weed killing mission went awry the moment I purchased Roundup Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate Plus. Based on the reviews, any weed that Roundup touched would promptly whither; but I ignored the fact that it’s called “weed and grass killer.” The instructions warned against spraying Roundup if there was a breeze, which I read to mean…

I caught a glimpse of Heaven through Scripture, a C.S. Lewis quote, and a viral video

The most vivid picture I’ve ever had of Heaven was in a conversation with my dad when I was ten years old.  Dad was talking about how lovely it would be to see my two siblings who died in a plane accident when I was a toddler. Dad’s imagination caught fire and he began painting a picture of what it would be like to see his children in Heaven: blazing light and unbridled joy — images of Dad and the kids flying through space and shooting sparkling stars out of their hands. Dad’s colorful description of Heaven whipped my brother…

Major study says this is the number one quality in good relationships — but is it realistic?

Stop the presses. Somebody figured out the number one thing that makes relationships work. The Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science has published the results of a major study in which researchers analyzed data from nearly 44,000 participants and claims to have zeroed in on the top factor in healthy relationships. It’s something called “psychological flexibility.” Here’s how the British Psychological Society explains the term in its Research Digest: A psychologically flexible person is characterised by a set of attitudes and skills: they are generally open to and accepting of experiences, whether they are good or bad; they try to be mindfully aware of the present moment;…

The number one post of 2020 (by far)

I don’t regularly check the number of clicks on my posts during the year. It’s for my own sanity, really. I don’t want my creativity to be dictated by what people are clicking on. At the end of the year, however, I make an exception and share the five most-read posts. The top-read post was about my wife, who is constantly teaching me about a deeper life with Jesus — and she’s not even trying. To her credit, in 2020, she survived me taking a new job, her starting seminary, COVID-19 drama, and us moving twice in ten months.(I dedicate this…

Christmas was hijacked by laundry detergent — but there was still reason to hope

It was a box of laundry detergent than undid Christmas of 1988 for the Rogers family. Dad thought it would be a great idea for us to trek into the woods behind our house and cut down our very own Christmas tree. As a ten-year-old boy, it seemed like an awfully adventurous thing to do, but looking back, I suspect Dad was just trying to save money. By the time we dragged the scraggly pine tree home, there was no doubt we’d gotten what we paid for: a sentimental experience that ended when Dad propped the pitiful tree against the…

Get this one last gift for anyone you love, like, or hardly know

It’s the one-year anniversary of my book, Confessions of a Happily Married Man: Finding God in the Messiness of Marriage, and it’s still the perfect gift for anyone you know — well, except for kids; it’s not at all appropriate for them (but it will be one day, so go ahead and get them a copy in advance). The book is an invitation for readers to walk through the ups and downs of marriage, take a second look at their own stories, and pay attention to the ways God may be at work. I set the example by vulnerably talking about how God…

Desperately trying to save my daughter’s Lego house (and her innocence)

“Daddy, please don’t make us take our Lego houses apart,” pleaded my ten-year-old daughter. Her little sister joined in. “We worked so hard on them, Daddy.” Their pleas were understandable. These were no ordinary Lego houses. They were three-story, multi-room mansions — custom built homes made of hundreds of stray pieces from Lego sets they’d collected over the years. But we were moving and there was no way to pack the Lego houses without them being crushed. While the thought of making the girls tear down their mansions made sense to my head, my heart was torn. They had combed…

I complained about a cashier — and I won’t forget her boss’s response

It was Christmas Eve at the Hallmark store and the elderly cashier didn’t even look up when I said hello. I thought she might not have heard me. “Merry Christmas!” I said. Still no response. “That stuffed animal we’re buying is for our new baby — she could come any day now.” The woman barely looked up and coldly said, “You got anything else?” “Nope — that’s it. Just a little Christmas present for my new baby.” The woman charged my card and didn’t speak. “Well have a merry Christmas,” I said with a touch of irritation. She didn’t respond….

What happens if you don’t buy books (or Big Macs)

Do you want to know what makes me *REALLY* uncomfortable as an author? It’s selling my book. I’m talking about the book I poured countless hours into — the book I’m so proud of — the five-star book on Amazon! Here’s the problem though … Readers like free writing that they can get online. But spending $12 on a book? That’s a couple of trips to McDonalds! Gotta save that money! Here’s why authors have to sell books: If readers don’t buy books, publishers don’t ask authors to write more of them. (Imagine authors were McDonald’s but people would only…

Lessons about sin from a disastrous commute

I thought I knew how to get home from work. At least I certainly should have. I never imagined where I was actually going to end up. My family and I had just returned to a city we’d left five years before, and I was uncertain about my commute because we had moved to a new area. I used my GPS to get headed in the right direction until I knew where I was going; then I turned it off and headed to the new house. While the drive down the interstate felt familiar, something was off. I didn’t remember…