~ Note from Sam & Tom ~
We are thrilled to introduce our first content editor and fourth contributor—or rather, to let him introduce himself. Lord willing, in the years to come, hundreds of posts in the gospelthread commentary will have been reviewed and revised under Phil's skilled hand. Enjoy his gospelthread debut.
"Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them."
"He who has ears, let him hear."
The person I want to be is one who humbly points the way to Christ and to freedom. I want to help remove obstructions and "prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Mark 1:3). More than anything, I want to see people free from the burden of performance.
Because that is the freedom I need, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I'm a nerd. And not in the hipster/chic "it's cool to be nerdy" sense. If I told you about the lame stuff that I'm into….
I am much more comfortable digging into books than talking face to face about anything other than sports. I’m being intentionally self-deprecating for two reasons. First, I want you to be prepared when my inner nerd worms its way into a post (though I am sure that Tom and Sam are more than capable of reining me in). Second, I want to introduce you to my idol.
Oh, yeah; I forgot to tell you. I'm also an over-sharer.
If you truly want to know someone, just take a peek at their false hopes and manufactured religions. The most notorious graven image in my Christian closet is acceptance. Notice how I've already set you up? It's like the scene in Fight Club where Edward Norton starts beating himself up in front of his boss. Why fight someone who is already tearing themselves apart? I've beaten you all to the punch, ostracizing and judging myself before anyone else can do it for me.
And that is exactly why I need the gospel. Satan is never happier than when we use our insecurities to build up a religion other than Christ and use it to trash ourselves and others. I grew up in the church and have been familiar with the basic message of the gospel my entire life. So why is it that my first response to fear and pain is to do more, to be more, to achieve more?
That’s who I have been and who my idols want me to still believe that I am. Satan whispers to my heart that God can't love me, and every sin is an echo of that refrain, so I know that in some way shape or form, he is perpetrating this lie to the whole of humanity. The truth of the gospel fundamentally dissolves this notion all the way down to its philosophical roots.
I wanted to be involved with gospelthread because my heart is broken when I look back at the winding path of self-righteousness and self-abuse that my idolatry has led me on. It makes me sad that it is so easy to add burdens to weary people. My heart aches that our answer to every sin seems to be "try harder." It makes me angry that we draw lines in the sand and say that Christ died for my personal sins on this side of the line, but yours, on that side of the line? Sorry, buddy—you're out of luck. Christ's sacrifice answers all of these legalisms and offers liberation from slavery to those idols.
My wife, Meganne, and daughter, Ellie, make up the best parts of me. My wife speaks grace to me and puts on that part of Christ that forgives, no matter what, reminding me that my essential identity is "forgiven child of God." My daughter speaks peace to me in her sincere joy in the world around her—joy that is still uncorrupted by self-reflection and social pressure. It's a constant reminder that I take myself way too seriously sometimes.
This past summer we moved from busy, bustling San Diego to Redding, California so that my wife can teach and I can spend some time focusing on my writing. I worked in property management for five years and almost killed myself in the process.
I received my M.A. in English from San Diego State University in May of last year and am focusing on scholarly research (the aforementioned nerdy "stuff" that I'm into) and being a stay at home dad. I'm currently working on developing a gospel-based literary theory and pedagogy.
I love seeing Christ work through the gospel to liberate. Our enemy wants us too busy with legalism to understand the truth of the gospel. Gospelthread seeks to be a resource to pastors and churches who can in turn speak grace and peace to their congregations.
I can't think of a better way for a nerd like me to be involved in spreading God's good news. "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Our fundamental identity is "child of God" and we will always be broken until we know the truth. The gospel gets us there.