In Which I Publicly Apologize For Judging Too Quickly

Last week, I read an article that a friend had linked to on Facebook.  I responded rather harshly to the article, and when the author (justifiably) asked me to elaborate on my criticism, I realized that my initial reaction was much too strong, and unbecoming of a follower of Christ.  However, since our interactions so far have been in my friend’s Facebook comments, and the necessary reply is much too long for that forum, I’m putting it here. Since my criticisms were public, my crow-eating should be as well.  - John

Hi Matthew -

After I went back to reread your article, I quickly realized that what I was reacting to was actually a conflation in my mind of 3-4 articles I had read in rapid succession, and that upon the second read, I actually agreed with much of your argument. So, my apologies for hastily and foolishly judging too quickly, and still more so for doing so publicly and with such harsh language. I know better, and you deserved better.

I do have two remaining points of disagreement/concern with the article, if you’re interested:

First, you write: “In a tragic irony, American Christians are rejecting the Christian virtue of tolerance in favor of Darwinian politics in which the strong must destroy the weak. With this Nietzschean embrace of power, American Christians abandon the subversive power of the cross.”

I somewhat agree with this, but I wonder if you’re painting with too broad a brush, especially now that the dominant culture seems to be attempting to silence anything that sounds like Biblical Christianity. To be sure, some Christians long for the return of something akin to the “Moral Majority” (i.e. political influence and power), but many of the voices I’m hearing (not the ones in my head, I assure you!) are not trying to silence the secular society, but to avoid being completely silenced themselves. I have a hard time phrasing the latter as a rejection of Christian tolerance.

Second, is there no place in your vision of Christian engagement for the prophetic voice – for someone to be able to stand up and say to the culture(s) around him, “thus saith the Lord”? Yes, Jesus came to die (amen!), but I think turning the cross into a political example is fraught with peril. I think your argument would be stronger if it took into account some other interactions between Christians and the powers-that-be (Peter and John vs. the Sanhedrin in Acts, etc.).

However, your main point (that we believers could use a dose of Christian humility on the whole war-on-Christmas issue) is one I can agree with.

Again, my apologies for acting boorishly.

In Christ’s mercy,

December 26 2013 | 2 Comments »

Realigning My Media Empire for 2013

One of my major business goals in the coming year is to increase my overall visibility in the technology community. However, one of the things hindering this is that my personal and professional blog posts aren’t clearly delineated, thus making it more difficult for readers to know what they’re going to get from my blogs on any given day.

To fix this, I’m recalibrating my websites as follows:

  • is my professional blog, where I’ll discuss issues of technology and business from my own sometimes-askew vantage point. I’ll post here at least once every week.
  • is my personal blog, where I’ll discuss issues related to family, ministry, and theology. Posts on this blog will be more occasional in nature, but I expect to post at least a few times each month.
  • And as always, is the website for my technology consulting business.

As always, you can drop me a line at for either professional or personal reasons. (Just not for spam. Please.)

(Cross-posted at

January 02 2013 | No Comments »

T4G 2012 and a few public shoutouts

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, where I’m gearing up for tomorrow’s Band of Bloggers event and the start of the Together for the Gospel 2012 conference. (Yes, the guy who posts an average of eight times a year is going to an event for bloggers. Hey, we can’t all be Tim Challies.)

I couldn’t be at this conference at all were it not for my wonderful wife, Naomi. Not only did she give me this trip as a 40th birthday present (best present EVER, by the way!), but she also is holding down the fort this week, including the start of softball season for one child, final rehearsals for the school play for another child, and the general trials of being a parent of four kids – only she’s doing it without any help from me at all. Only a woman who loves Jesus and loves her husband would do such a thing, and I want to publicly thank her. You’re the best, Naomi!

Also, I want to publicly thank my church. The dear folks at Little Brown Chapel Community Church surprised me yesterday with a check to enable me to purchase some much-needed ministry books at the conference. I love you guys, and I am honored to serve and shepherd you!

April 10 2012 | 1 Comment »

Should children be in the worship service?

My church is currently in the process of renovating our nursery ministry. One of the questions we’re wrestling with is the appropriate ages of children that the nursery should serve. (In a small church with limits both in terms of space and the number of volunteers, this issue becomes even more pressing!)

But really, that question is just the flip-side of the question “At what age should children start attending the regular worship service?” Every family and every church has their own expectations, and it’s important for us to be gracious with those who disagree, and with visitors whose children who may not be used to sitting in an odd setting for that long!

Jason Helopoulos has a great post on Kevin DeYoung’s blog detailing six reasons that children benefit from being in corporate worship:

  1. Our children are members of the covenant community.
  2. Our children will be present in the midst of the means of grace.
  3. Our children will be present in the midst of the entire congregation.
  4. Our children will be present with their parents.
  5. Our children will witness their parents worshipping.
  6. Our children will learn the rhythms of church life.

Clearly, Helopoulos is writing from a Presbyterian perspective, so I wouldn’t phrase his first two points in quite the same way as he does. Still, it’s a helpful discussion of the issues for both parents and church leaders.

March 06 2012 | 1 Comment »

Introducing The Tentmaker Diaries

Ministry is hard, as any pastor will tell you. But bivocational ministry (sometimes called “tentmaking”, because that was the non-ministry job of the Apostle Paul, history’s best-known bivocational minister) is a beast unto itself. You have all of the pastoral duties, burdens, and responsibilities of a full-time pastor, but you have significantly less time in which to do perform those duties.

Today marks the completion of my seventh month in bivocational ministry. I don’t pretend to have answers to all of the challenges, but I am starting to get a reasonably good feel for what the major challenges are. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to blog about those challenges.

So, stay tuned for The Tentmaker Diaries!

March 01 2012 | No Comments »

Why “Gay Marriage” Is Not a Civil Rights Issue

One of the major strategies of those advocating so-called “gay marriage” is to frame the issue as analogous to the Civil Rights movement of the mid-20th century.  They wish to equate the struggle that black Americans faced in the 1950’s and 1960’s to achieve equal protection under the law with today’s push to allow homosexual couples to marry.

Is this a valid comparison?  I believe it isn’t.

The whole point of the Civil Rights movement was to correct the injustice that certain persons were not treated equally under the law.  In the mid-20th century, this was certainly the case with black Americans.  They could not drink from the same water fountains, sit at the same counters, or ride in the front of the bus.  They were truly second-class citizens, and were it not for God’s grace acting through people like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and many others, they would still be considered such.

So is the modern push for gay marriage an issue of civil rights?  If so, it would have to be the case that certain persons are treated unequally under the law.  And that is not the case here.

Consider two people, Fred, a straight man, and George, a gay man.  Fred has certain legal rights in regard to marriage, and certain legal restrictions.  Fred may marry almost any person of the opposite sex he chooses.  Fred cannot marry a close relative, and Fred may not be married to more than one person at the same time.

George, like Fred, may marry almost any person of the opposite sex he chooses.  George cannot marry a close relative, and George may not be married to more than one person at the same time.  In short, Fred and George are treated equally under the law.  There is no law that applies to Fred but not to George, or vice versa.

The fact that George does not wish to marry anyone whom he is legally allowed to is irrelevant from a legal perspective.  The fact that George wishes to marry someone whom he is legally prohibited from marrying is also irrelevant.  (If George were in love with his sister, for instance, he would not be allowed to marry her, regardless of his feelings.)

In short, because Fred and George are treated identically by the law, the question of gay marriage does not rise to the level of a civil rights issue.

February 29 2012 | 4 Comments »

My LBC sermons are now online!

…well, the text of the last two sermons, anyway. Check them out at!

September 20 2011 | No Comments »

Moody Man Day 2011

My son Nate (age 7) and I have an annual tradition. Each summer, I take a day off work and the two of us spend the day together doing "man stuff." Last year, for instance, we went to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and the year before that we went fishing. My wife christened our annual adventure "Moody Man Day", and the name stuck.

When I was planning this year’s Moody Man Day, I wanted to bring more of a spiritual emphasis to our time together, for a few reasons. First, Nate’s been a Christian for a couple of years now, and he wants to be baptized. I wanted to make sure that he understands what that means. Second, I wanted to begin to steer Nate toward maturity and manhood. Most teenage boys I know (and many young adult men) show little to no maturity, and I want to guide my son in a better, more responsible path.

Nate is always excited for our day together, and yesterday was no exception. He was knocking on my bedroom door at 6 AM, ready to go! At a slightly more sane hour (around 7 AM), I told Nate to get his Bible and bring it to me. So he grabbed his ESV Children’s Bible, and I had him look up and memorize Psalm 119:9-11:

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you;

let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heard,

that I might not sin against you.

Once he had memorized those verses, we left the house and headed to the IHOP for breakfast. Over our pancakes, we talked about what it means to be a man.  I told Nate that today was about beginning a new chapter in his life – he is now officially a “Man In Training.”  As we left the restaurant, I told Nate our next destination: I was going to buy him a new sword.

By the time we pulled into the Family Christian Store parking lot, Nate has already figured out that by “sword” I meant a new Bible.  (It wouldn’t do for a Man In Training to carry around a Children’s Bible, right?)  Nate picked out a nice ESV slimline Bible with a cross stitched into the cover, and I had his name engraved on the front cover.  I also told him that we was expected to read his Bible every morning, and to report to me on what he had read.  (This morning, he began reading Mark’s gospel.)

Our next stop was a hobby shop in Lynnwood.  Last Christmas, we bought Nate an HO-scale train set, but the track never stayed together well enough for the train to work properly. So Nate and I picked out new tracks for his train, and I also let him choose a model to buy as well.  Being a bit of a Star Wars fanatic, Nate chose a Snap-Tite X-Wing Fighter.

We then went to a local Starbucks and sat down at an outside table.  After talking to Nate about how a man must learn to follow instructions – from his parents, his employers, but mostly from God – we assembled his X-Wing together, step by step.

I then explained to Nate that since he was getting older, we would let him experience some new things, like the occasional “grown-up” movie.  So our next stop was the movie theater, where we watched Captain America: The First Avenger.  Nate (and I) loved it.  Afterwards, we had a great time talking about a man shows courage and determination, no matter what, and how the characters in the movie showed that courage.

At this point, our plans took a detour.  My wife was planning to check my business’s post office box and deposit an expected check, but she didn’t have a key to check it.  So Nate and I headed back to Mount Vernon, talking about how a man must take responsibility, even if it changes his plans.

After stopping by the post office, we went home (the girls had left for dinner at the American Girl Store, so we had the house to ourselves) and assembled the new train track. It worked!  We had a fun hour just playing with the train and talking, then headed for dinner at Pacioni’s Pizzaria.  (Side note: If you’ve never had prosciutto as a pizza topping, try it.  Yum!)

At dinner, we talked about how a man protects, cares for, and cherishes the women in his life. So after dinner, we went to the mall and bought gifts of chocolate for Naomi, Carolyn, Abby and Maggie.

Finally, we returned home, and concluded our evening by talking about the significance of baptism.  When I asked Nate why he wanted to be baptized, his reply was, “Dad, I want everyone to know that I’m a Christian.”  So, sometime in the near future, we’ll plan a baptism service, and I’ll have the great joy of baptizing my son.

Dads: What are you doing to help your son move toward godly maturity?  You don’t have to do what I’m doing, but do something!

August 23 2011 | No Comments »

How I Became a Pastor (Part 1)

Yes, I’m now a pastor. I still shake my head at how the whole thing came about. 

For a couple of years now, a group of men (myself included) have met at Emmanuel Baptist Church on Wednesday mornings for prayer.  Last April, one of the elders told us of an interesting development from the previous evening’s prayer meeting. A few men from Little Brown Chapel, a small church up in Wickersham (about a half-hour’s drive away), had come to Emmanuel to ask if they knew if someone who would be willing to preach for them (and maybe become their next pastor), since their pastor was stepping down in June.

During our half-hour of prayer time, several men prayed that God would raise up someone to bring God’s word to this small flock.  I, on the other hand, was stunned into speechlessness. The moment that Bruce told us of the need, I knew.  I knew that this was God’s will. I knew that I was going to preach for these people. I knew that I was going to become their next pastor.

When the prayer time was over, three different men separately told me, “You need to look into this, John. This sounds like a good fit for you.”

(At this point, I have to back up for a minute. I’ve always loved preaching and teaching, but for about 6 months prior, I had felt God stirring my heart toward pastoral ministry. I knew that this was impossible – there was just no way it could happen with my current life situation.  But the longing was there, and it was growing.)

I went home and told my wife about it, sure that she would be totally against the idea. And who could blame her? Leave our comfortable church of 600+ with a terrific children’s ministry and top-notch preaching for a congregation of 20?  Plus, Naomi (a missionary/pastor’s kid herself) had made it clear that she could handle anything but being a pastor’s wife.

“I think you should call Christian and follow up on this,” Naomi told me.

So I sent Christian Smith, my pastor at Emmanuel, the following email:

Hi Christian -

This morning at prayer group, Bruce shared with us about the visit to the elder’s meeting from the Wickersham church who are looking for someone to preach. I don’t put much stock in inner promptings, but I immediately felt prompted to volunteer to help this congregation out if the need hasn’t been filled already. I don’t know if this is a good fit (as my pastor, you can perhaps judge that better than I), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t reach out to investigate the possibility.

- John

Three minutes later, I got an email back from Christian, which began like this:

Wonderful! I had you in mind too!

The next day, I got a call from Ray, who heads up the elder board at Little Brown Chapel, and I was all set to start preaching on June 12, and to continue through June and July, at which point “we’d see how’s it’s going.”  (In other words, this was a trial run – kind of like 7 weeks of candidating!)

Oh, and since their departing pastor was going to be out of town on May 15, would I be willing to preach that day too?

(Stay tuned for part 2!)

August 16 2011 | No Comments »

TGC Travelogue, Day 0 (or, How Half a Shoe Shine Got Me to Blog Again)

This morning at 8:30 AM, four intrepid souls set out from the parking lot of Emmanuel Baptist Church.

  • Christian Smith – elder statesman and Starbucks addict
  • Eric Abisror – extrovert extraordinaire and tour guide
  • Caleb Brown – wide-eyed “newbie” and pizza vacuum
  • John Moody – your humble narrator and uber-geek

Our destination: Chicago, Illinois, for the 2011 Gospel Coalition (TGC) conference.

Thanks to the amazing driving skills of Jim Brown, we made it safely to SeaTac Airport, where Caleb took one flight and Christian, Eric and I took another, and four hours later (or six, if you factor in the miracle of time zones), we reunited at O’Hare Airport in not-so-sunny Chicago.

Then it was off to the hotel to check in, then dinner. Eric took us to Giordano’s Famous Stuffed Pizza, whereupon we feasted upon approximately 2.3 metric tons of deep-dish pizza:

After finishing our dinner at about 9 PM (and stopping by a Starbucks because Christian made us) we went for a walkabout of downtown Chicago. And that’s where we met Tony.

Tony had a mission in life: to shine shoes. And Tony was not going to be hampered by the fact that it was 9 PM at night, or that we were obviously not looking for footwear enhancement services, or for that matter, anything at all. In about 3.7 picoseconds, Tony had assessed the shoes of our group, and determined that of the four of us, I was the one who needed his love, attention, and shoe-shining services this fine evening.

“Hey, you know what you need for those shoes?”

“No thanks.” Keep walking. Maybe he’ll go away, I think.

But I, apparently, am a fool. Tony is not to be deterred so easily!

“I’m Tony. Your shoes just need a good shine.” He pulls a bottle of something out of his little shoe-shine bag-o-tricks, and aims it at my shoe. This is not going to end well, I realize.

“Seriously, no thanks, man.” I start to turn to walk away, but Tony is too fast for me. Tan colored goo is squirted onto my shoe. And at this point, I am at his mercy. He is going to shine my shoe, and then he is going to ask for money. I resolve then and there that no money will flow from me to Tony this night. If he gets mad, there are four of us, and only one of him. Plus, I hear that Christian knows kung fu. (Or is that Hebrew?)

Tony begins to scrub/buff the puddle of goo on my left shoe in, cajoling me for letting my loafers get into such a pitiable condition that he was forced to stop me on the street and correct the matter before the Shoe Mafia decide to deal with my disrespect for all things shoe.

And, then my salvation appears. A police car pulls up to the curb, and the officer in the driver seat begins to have a conversation with Tony. It appears that they are old friends. (I didn’t get to see the state of the officer’s footwear.)

I look down at my shoe. The goo has been brushed in enough that I can walk around like a respectable person. (Or, at least the left side of me can – the right side is still sadly unbuffed.) I turn and walk, and my traveling companions laugh at my misfortune as we head back to the hotel, ready for the conference to begin in the morning.

I think they’re jealous of my left shoe.

April 12 2011 | 3 Comments »

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