What should we do when we fail?

I have certainly failed many times in my life. I have said hurtful things to friends that I regret. I wish I could take my words back, but my apology does not erase the past. As a thirty-two year old single man who has never married, I’ve failed in some of my dating relationships. Earlier in my career, I made some poor financial decisions. Even this evening, I let my volleyball team down. My teammates were counting on six feet seven inch tall “Big Dave” to bring home the victory. All I brought home was lots of sand.

Have you ever felt like a failure? Maybe you’ve had an unsuccessful career, a botched marriage, or made a stupid mistake that ruined a friendship. Feeling like a complete failure can be a lonely, depressing experience. One mother expressed her feelings of failure to her pastors in this way:

continue reading

Why did God allow the tornadoes?

This blog originally appeared as an op-ed piece in WashingtonPost.com.

In moments of severe disasters like the tornado in Oklahoma, people of faith will often speak of “praying for the city” or “praying for the victims.” As the massive tornado outside of Oklahoma City annihilated buildings including a school with students and teachers, some people of faith used social media to speak messages of prayer and hope in God. However, some atheists also posted in social media, referred to this natural disaster as a “gratuitous evil” or evidence against God’s existence. One atheist tweeted:

“NEWSFLASH—If god cared about Oklahoma he wouldn’t have allowed the tornado in the first place. #PrayForOklahoma #Atheism

continue reading

Uganda Trip Highlights

Thank you Community Fellowship Church in Staunton, VA and all of my ministry friends who sponsored my Ugandan trip with my father and Larry Barrett. We left on December 12. The previous two weeks were some the busiest of the year as I wrote four papers for three graduate courses I was taking at University of Dallas, as well as grading dozens of short papers from online students at Liberty University. We connected in Washington D.C. and then London and finally to Uganda.

When we arrived, it took us hours to get settled, because our original hotel room was overbooked. We only received a couple hours of rest, before we showed up to Back to the Bible Institute in Kampala. Honestly, I had no idea how I was going to stay awake. Our driver who took on what felt like a crazy excursion through Kampala of dodging of people, random obstacles in the street, motorcycles sometimes with up to three people on the back, cows, and children. This however, did not keep me from wanting to fall asleep. However, when we arrived, I looked in the building, the orphanage, then looked at the faces of five hundred African young adults in their twenties who cheering and giving us the warmest welcome. Their friendly and enthusiasm woke me up immediately and automatically I felt an adrenaline rush.  They were the reason we were on this trip. Then the leader of Back to Bible Institute, Alex Mitala, who is currently leading about 20,000 born again churches stood up to welcome us. Alex spoke in English with his translator speaking fervently in the native Lugandan language. 

continue reading

Abraham Lincoln and Thanksgiving

I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Maybe this year, you haven’t made as money as you would like. With our economy, many people have had a tough time, but I want to encourage you during this Thanksgiving season.  Maybe like me, you have wished at times, that things were a little different here in America. Nevertheless, I still believe we still live in the greatest nation in the world. You and I have a lot to be thankful for. We still have a great opportunity to go out and be innovated and make money. We still have the rights to own property and make decisions and pursue education. We still have the freedom to worship through the religion we choose.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to invite you to think about the words of Abraham Lincoln.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans had died during a horrible civil war, but he encouraged the American people to set apart a day to be thankful. Here’s what he wrote in proclaiming a day of thanks:

continue reading

Augustine’s Confessions

In book ten (specifically chapters twenty-seven through forty-three) of Confessions, Bishop Augustine reveals a connection to the first nine books. Although Augustine speaks frequently of hope, towards to the future, he also recollects the memory of sin and struggle between options. Thirteen years have now passed since the death of his mother, Monica, which he recorded in book nine. Now as Bishop of the Catholic Church in North Africa, Augustine shepherds and teaches the community whom he is writing. Book ten is a transition, but as Carl Vaught writes, “Augustine has still not reached the end of his journey.”[1]

The Bishop recollects willfulness and the dissipation into many things. His remorse is that he not only missed out on being filled with God, and God filling him, but that he sought finite things that lead to nothingness. Augustine’s hope is turned to the one and only true mediator, who is both man and God, Jesus Christ. Though Augustine received Christ’s forgiveness in book eight, Augustine looks to the future in hope to be filled with him, healed by him, and continually praise him.

Augustine begins chapter twenty-seven, “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you! Behold, you were within me, while I was outside: it was there that I sought you, and a deformed creature, rushed headlong upon these things of beauty which you have made. They kept me far from you, those fair things which, if they were not in you, would not exist at all. ”[2] 
continue reading

Trusting God Instead of Self

In my book, Why Trust Jesus?, I refer to Augustine’s journey and wrestle with trust, but as I have been taking a course this semester at the University of Dallas with Dr. William Frank, I decided to come back and revisit that theme of trust. I still agree with what I wrote in my book, Why Trust Jesus? but I wanted share another one of my short papers that I wrote for this class. I will eventually submit a couple more papers on this Conversant blog about Augustine.  If you have read the Confessions multiple times or are brand new in studying Augustine, please write your comments and let me know what you have observed in the text.

In Book VIII of Confessions, Augustine recollects the experience of internal turmoil, indecisiveness, self -knowledge, and temptation of old memories and habits. Augustine encounters Lady Continence, urging him to trust God. Throughout this eighth book, we see multiple pictures and stories, each in its unique way, reinforcing one of this book’s main themes of trusting God rather than self. As Continence speaks, trust seems to be such a simple act, but complex emotions including fear, lust and pride are at stake. Continence challenges, Augustine, "Why do you stand on yourself, and thus stand not at all? Cast yourself on him. Have no fear. He will not draw back and let you fall. Cast yourself trustfully on him: he will receive you and he will heal you.”[1] Trusting God, specifically through Jesus Christ, was included in the final passage that brought a peaceful light streaming into Augustine’s soul. “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in strife, and envying; but put you on the Lord Jesus Chris, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscence.”[2]

continue reading

The Metaphysical Nature of Sin in Augustine’s Pear Theft and Theater

In Book two, of the Confessions, Augustine recollected the evening in which, late one night, he and his buddies stole pears from his neighbor’s vineyard. At first reading, this does not seem like too big of a deal. Obviously, most ethical theories understand that stealing is wrong, but do not most boys steal at some point in their lives? Why would stealing fulfill Augustine’s deep description of depth of foul lust and carnality in the opening in this book: “I wish to bring back to mind my past foulness and the carnal corruptions of my soul.”[1] Augustine wrote, “For in my youth, I burned to get my fill of hellish things. I dared to run wild in different ways of love.”[2] Burning to get his fill of hellish things, does not seem to describe a few young teenagers stealing pears from a neighbor’s orchid and feeding them to pigs.   But Augustine’s aim is not merely autobiographical, to tell stories of his hell raising pear theft, but to allow the reader to see the metaphysical nature of sin.  Carl Vaught reminds the reader, “The pear-stealing episode is not simply Augustine’s story, but also our own.”[3]
continue reading

The World's Biggest Coffeehouse Video

Here is the final video of the World's Biggest Coffeehouse, streamed live on February 23. Josh McDowell and I took questions from a global audience and interacted on the most important questions of faith and doctrine. Hope you enjoy it!

Did Christianity Copy From Pagan Religions?

In one of the scenes of the Coffeehouse Chronicles, my new novella series, Nick a student who is questioning his own Christian faith, watches the popular Zeitgeist YouTube video.

The video tells a story about religious leaders throughout history who had similar characteristics to Jesus. The video implied that Christianity simply plagiarized from other religious stories that were circulating years before. Names like Attis of Greece, Krishna of India, Dionysus of Greece, and Mithra of Persia were included in the video. The narrator described how these religious leaders, based on astrology were born on December 25, born of virgin, discovered by a star in East, adorned by three kings, became a teacher at twelve, baptized and started ministry at thirty, had twelve disciples, and performed miracles, were known as the “Lamb of God,” “The Light,” crucified, buried for three days, and resurrected.

continue reading

Coffee, Spiritual Conversations and Dr. Martin Luther King

Last week, I started up a spiritual conversation with man who was sitting across from me at the local Starbucks. He was editing a Christian book for his father, who was the chaplain of a major university in the city of Dallas. I asked this young man if he was a Christian and he said no. After we talked awhile, this young man admitted that he was a practicing homosexual and he didn’t think it was right for Christians to say that homosexuality was wrong. I hadn’t told him that homosexuality was wrong at this point, but I asked him, “Well do you think that there is anything absolutely wrong with anything?”

He replied, “No, it’s just a matter of perspective and personal experiences. Different people feel different ways about certain actions.”

I responded, “Well, what about child rape? Would you admit that’s absolutely wrong or is that just relatively wrong?”

continue reading
Syndicate content
»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
Dave Sterrett is the author or co-author of six books, including the Christian best-seller, “I Am Second” and “Why Trust Jesus?” He teaches philosophy and theology at Rivendell Sanctuary in Minnesota.

Link Roll