Ten Reasons “Tent Makers” Make Great Christian “Case Makers”

People often ask me, “How can I make a living as a full-time Christian apologist (aka: Christian Case Maker) like you?” Even though I’m semi-retired from my career as a Cold-Case Detective (I still have one case pending this year), I’ll never be a vocational Christian Case Maker. My income continues to come from my law enforcement employment, and it always will. For many years, I juggled my vocational employment as a detective with my avocational calling as an apologist. It wasn’t always easy. There were years when I worked full-time, drove 12-15 hours a week, served 25 hours a week (or more) as a volunteer Youth Pastor, and attended seminary while dodging homicide callouts! My wife, Susie, was incredibly patient and supportive.  We eventually church-planted (after I graduated from seminary), and things got even crazier. I bet many of the “One Dollar Apologists” who read this blog have similarly hectic lives.

We are “tent-makers”. Like the Apostle Paul, we draw our income from conventional careers (Paul was described as a tent-maker in Acts 18:1-3), so we can evangelize, preach, make a case or serve as we have been called by God. There may have been times when you wished there was a way to make a living doing what God has called you to do as an apologist, but be careful what you wish for. God has you exactly where He wants you, because tent-makers make great Christian Case Makers:

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Home for Christmas

Few words better capture the emotion and the attraction of Christmas than home. The simply lyrics form the song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”—originally written from the perspective of World War II soldiers—instantly inspire longing for that place in our memories (or in our dreams) where the warmth of family and the joys of the year’s most wonderful time of year come together.

The reason home has such universal appeal is simple. Home is the primary place where we are known and loved. There are no sweeter words than those you utter at the end of a long journey, especially at Christmastime: “I’m finally home.”

Yet for all its warmth and familiarity, there can be something disconcerting about home, and it’s not just the heated discussions that sometimes erupt, or the cruel words that occasionally slip out not long after we arrive. For all the charms and joys of home, something isn’t quite right. There’s a flaw that none of us have ever been able to fix. No matter how beautiful it is to go home, it’s never a place where we feel completely settled or at rest.

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If These Reasons Wouldn’t Justify Killing a Kitten, Why Would They Justify Abortion?

For most of my life, I have been unabashedly and unflinchingly pro-choice. For many years, I saw abortion as little more than another form of birth control. Today, I am pro-life. What changed my mind? It wasn’t my conversion to Christianity. My position changed when I started to think carefully about the nature of fetal humans. Once I established the humanity of the unborn (from nothing more than the science), I realized their lives warranted the same protection we offer others in our society. I am, after all, a homicide detective. I investigate killings to determine whether or not they were properly justified. Over the years, I’ve listened to many murder suspects attempt to defend their actions. Here in California, there are only two forms of justified homicide (self-defense and the protection of innocents). Any other form of killing is a murder.

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Our Lives as Parents Can Teach Us Something About the Life of the Church

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking to the congregation of North Metro Church in Marietta, Georgia. This thriving, growing church is located near Atlanta, and is shepherded by Pastor Rob McDowell. There’s something special about North Metro, and I knew it three minutes into the first service. There was a unique energy in the room; a vibrant enthusiasm radiating from the congregation. North Metro is young at heart, and it’s obvious. They’re engaged in worship, attentive to the message, and ready to respond. They have a youthful energy, even though their age demographic isn’t particularly young (I met lots of folks my age and older). Most pastors would be delighted to have a church family such as this, and I can’t wait for an opportunity to return. Afterward, as I was sitting in the airport, I started to think about how North Metro has been able to form this passionate family. I recalled all the conversations Rob and I had prior to the event as we toured the church campus. North Metro “gets it” because folks my age continue to value the needs and priorities of young people ahead of their own desires and comforts. All of us learn to do something similar in the context of our families, and we ought to use this experience to rethink our mission as a Church.

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Tests, Unemployment, Babies and Faithfulness

There are students who test really well regardless of the subject being tested on. I have never been one of those students. I struggled throughout school because of tests. I often joke that if I were given a multiple choice test on my own family, I’d likely fail that too. School tests are quite a bit different than the tests we may face throughout our lives. You may have faced a test of illness such as cancer. Maybe you’re still facing the test of loss of investments post the recession of ’07 and ’08.

With any test, it’s vital to be well prepared if there’s any hope of passing. But how can we prepare for some of life’s big tests placed before us?

I recently stumbled upon the story of Job found in the Old Testament. I was struck by a particular part of the story that happens pretty early on.

When We Fast

I got sick a week or so ago, and it was awesome.  The reason is that when I get sick, I don’t go to work, don’t do errands, and I don’t do chores – I rest and recover.  My method of recovery when sick often justifies hours of catching up on TV shows, or enjoying my XBOX – guilt free.  I mean, what else can I do when my choices are sit on the couch or lay in the bed…lest I infect everyone around me and wear my body down further?

This particular round of sick had me bingeing on a certain crime drama TV show that was taught, tense, and filled with great cliffhangers every step of the way.  The kind of stuff I can’t look away from.  And, it all served its purpose – I didn’t have to focus on my sore throat, my rising and lowering temperature, and the loss of hearing that comes from my body’s production of mucus that seems trapped between my ears.  I was able to distract myself from those pesky symptoms.  As long as the TV was on, everything else was off.

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It’s a Starbucks Sunday: Are you Ready to Order?

Here's a re-post just to remind myself.  

It’s Sunday.

Not only will 11.7 million people visit a Starbucks and ask for something extraordinarily specific like a “non-fat soy sugar-free caramel macchiato with a shot of espresso,” but a whole lot of us will shop for churches with the same self-absorbed specificity.

“I’m looking for a youthful, semi-charismatic service with a hint of reformed theology and a Donald Miller vibe.” 

“Can you help me find a progressive Presbyterian congregation for my mother—one that has a robed choir, snacks between services, and a penchant for homeless missions?

“We’re visiting a new church today. It’s slightly Willow Creek with a touch of old-school Calvary Chapel. It caters to single parents, disenfranchised boomers, and men who don’t want to hold hands. And you gotta love the stadium seating.”

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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:

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Are You Free to NOT Drink?

Brett McCracken is one of the original team of bloggers for ConversantLife.com. His newest book, Gray Matters (Baker Books), examines some of the hot-button gray matters of Christian cultural consumption. In this excerpt, Brett explores the matter of alcohol.

I went to an evangelical Christian college that did not permit the consumption of alcohol. I grew up in a household and a conservative church culture–Midwest to boot–where drinking was out of the question and seen as bereft of goodness. I’m the child of an American evangelicalism that has had a decidedly contentious (to put it mildly) relationship with alcohol (see Christians and Alcohol: A Timeline”).

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The Stories We Tell

Everyone has a story to tell. The experiences we go through lay down pavement in our rearview mirror of life, leaving a path of where we’ve been behind us. Each step taken reveals a corner turned, a decision made, a chapters ending or one beginning. We are all on the move towards something, whether our steps are that of a baby or a marathoners sprint. But do we really know where we’re headed? I often feel as if I’ve journeying through my life in the dark.

Growing up as a church kid, attending Sunday school and memorizing Bible verses to be quoted in the front of the congregation (not awkward at all by the way), I have Jeremiah 29:11 practically branded onto my brain.

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