Born and raised in Central Texas, Steven is thrilled to call Austin home. He and his San Diego-born wife, Hayley, met in college at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and have been married since May 2010. After graduating from UMHB with a degree in Biblical Studies, Steven completed his Master of Arts in Theological Studies from George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. Steven has a deep passion for the local church and loves to see young adults committed to Jesus who never changes in the midst of a life-stage with seemingly ending change. He loves the Texas Rangers, Baylor Bears, Dr. Pepper, and buying far too many used books.
Posts by This Author
It seems to happen at least monthly. Some public figure, a professional athlete or politician, says or tweets something selfish, hateful, and/or inappropriate. Then, the press conference follows. They all say the same thing. To be fair, we might as well, but we’re not famous. They apologize for what they said, and then they all claim the same thing… “What I said is not an accurate representation of who I am.” They all lie! They might sincerely mean their false claim, but as Brad Thomas, our church’s lead pastor, says, “It is possible to be sincerely wrong.” As Jesus said, “…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Biblically, our words are a constant and clear representation of who we are, whether we like it or not.
- As you reflect over the last month, what do your words say about the nature of your heart?
An outgoing White House communications staffer once confessed to the House Intelligence Committee of “telling white lies” on behalf of the President. The confession was not jaw-dropping because the behavior is so normative in politics today. But the accepted distinction between a “white” lie and a substantive lie should cause concern. In today’s passage, Peter warned the church of the current and future existence of false teachers. Peter warned that their infiltration methods will be subtle, not unlike telling white lies that invite us to drop our guards and accept them.
- It is often easy to point out blatant false teachers, but how are we to discern the subtler ones, whose aim is still to destroy the church?
In 2015, Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired an anti-parasitic drug that was used to affordably treat malaria all over the world. He immediately changed the price of the life-saving drug from $13.50/pill to $750/pill. Nicknamed “Pharma Bro,” Shkreli faced immediate backlash from people all over the world, yet he refused to lower the price. He had the knowledge to save lives but refused to share it with others.
In today’s text, the Preacher concludes the book of Ecclesiastes with a similar caution to us. Don’t keep it to yourself! If you have the Word of God, you have all you need to make a spiritual difference in the life of someone else.
- How have you seen God’s Word change your life? The lives of others?
A few weeks ago, I fired up the grill for the first time this year. As I wheeled the grill from its winter hiding place along the fence line, a rat screeched and sprinted frantically across my backyard. My black lab, Zoe, sprang into action and chased down the rat, killing it just before it made it to freedom. Zoe is not so young anymore herself, and she, too, will die in the next few years. Suffering and death are just part of this life. My mom has cancer. And our church just held two funerals in three days. Both in nature and in humanity, death is all around us and it often seems unfair. In today’s text, we see that Solomon wrestled with some of the same things we do every day.
- Think about a specific time in your life that felt unfair. How did God use that to point you to him?
I love our country. As I’ve traveled various parts of the world and learned from other cultures and nations, I am grateful God placed me here. However, many of the ideals that make our country great actually stand in opposition to the gospel message, when applied to our spiritual lives. For example, political independence is a wonderful gift, but spiritual self-sufficiency is spiritual suicide. Our country is full of inspiring stories of individuals rising above their circumstances to accomplish their dreams, yet, spiritually, individuals are completely helpless to rise above our sin nature.
- Think of a time when you were in a difficult situation yet didn’t ask for help. How might that have gone differently if you had reached out to someone instead of choosing self-sufficiency?
Do you ever wake up wanting to be someone else? One of the most elusive, yet proven, marks of genuine faith is contentedness. In an age when we have unprecedented access to tools and apps, degrees, and videos to help us better our lives, why are so many of us miserable? Why do so many of us seem unhappy with the life God has graciously given because what we really want is the life he’s given to someone else?
One of my favorite aspects of the person in today’s passage, John the Baptist, is that he always seemed content to play the specific part God gave him, until life took some unexpected twists and he ended up in prison.
- How do you respond when life is unexpectedly difficult?
I grew up, and remain to this day, a fierce baseball fan. One of my favorite players growing up was Kirby Puckett. I loved watching Kirby play because he was this short, squatty, black outfielder for the Minnesota Twins. He didn’t look anything like most baseball players in the 90’s, and I loved how he would crash into walls at full speed to make plays. Kirby was forced to retire after glaucoma rapidly set in, and his tremendous career was cut short. Shortly after his playing career came to an end, terrible news came out about Puckett’s personal life. He had affairs, was physically abusive, and once held a woman against her will. Kirby Puckett excelled at baseball, but routinely failed to resist temptation.
- What specific temptations have you struggled with in your life?
Moms are mind readers. They ask their children things like, “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?” Seeing her staring down over her glasses with her hands high on her hips, her child knows she knows something. More often than not, Mom knows everything. Children are children, though. They will disobey even if they know it’s wrong, and then sometimes lie about it! However, children are supposed to grow up. In today’s text, we see the king of Israel acting like a child: lying, purposefully disobeying, and trying to cover it up in fear. He runs from his deserved consequences, and it costs him his life.
- When was the last time fear led you to sin against God?
In group projects, a leader often quickly emerges. I frequently found myself in that position, assigning specific tasks or parts of the projects to my friends. In the sixth grade, we were doing a presentation on Texas history that required multiple speakers. I got up and spoke my part well, as did most of my group members, but our last group member forgot everything. In fact, he had not come prepared at all. Of course, this brought our group grade down, and I was held partly responsible as the leader. This seemed unfair, but I learned something that is true in today’s passage as well: Leaders are held responsible for the failures of their team.
- Where has God placed people under your responsibility? How can you best lead them to choose God’s way?
In nine days, the United States of America will inaugurate a new President. On that day, some will be thrilled while others mourn. One question that seemed to come up repeatedly in the election from both sides of the aisle was, “Are either one of these candidates really presidential?” The question points to an inherent truth about leadership: true leaders are already leading faithfully before, during, and after they have been given an official title. In today’s text, Paul gave Timothy directions on how to appoint leaders in the church. While there were certain criteria Timothy was supposed to look for, Paul’s instructions show that godly leadership is more about who you are than what you do.
- What kind of leader are you?