Here are a few new photos from my current vacation.
It’s nice just being with my family and having fun like I’m a kid.
I just realized that I’ve never posted a photo of myself or family on here. Since they are second only to God in my life, I figured I would share. I posted a few pics of some of my tattoos since I’ve mentioned them a few times as well.
A photo of myself and my daughter, Annabelle, on Father’s Day.
My wife and me at a family wedding.
My daughter enjoying a church picnic.
Part of my sleeve. It’s from a sculpture Michelangelo did of Moses. I had most of the work done in 2002 but recently had a few of the last details finished. The cross and arm band were done when I was 17.
The bottom half of my sleeve. Backside of my forearm. I was 20 when the stars were done. All the way back in 2001.
My daughter again from last fall (2012).
A tattoo done by Whispering Danny.
I thought when I posted this originally that a comment I wrote would show up. Looks like it didn’t. This is not my writing. I’ve reposted a friends blog. They have a great ministry and I want to help show support for the leather goods that they make.
good news in the myers house.
a friend i haven’t spoken to since i was probably 12 contacted me and came to help ben and i with our faulty appliances. he shared with us how Jesus changed his life. he told a few stories of the struggles he had growing up. how older people in his life influenced him in a negative way. then in turn, how an older man in his life took him under his wing. a man who loved him and discipled him. and how it changed his life forever. he is not the same person as i remember. and it wasn’t just because its been a while. jesus changed him.
there are few mountains that i would die on. few battles that are worth fighting for. battles that will cost me my time and my resources. for the myers, one of these battles is discipleship.
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Here is another piece I wrote for Heartland Community Church’s week devotional, The Journey. The video to the actual sermon is included as well.
At the Movies: Rule Breakers
by Adam Pontier
Rules are made to serve humankind, not humankind to serve rules. Many people don’t care about why other people follow rules as long as they are followed. That’s ok to an extent. I don’t care why other drivers drive on the right side of the road, stop for red lights, etc. I’m just grateful that they do. However, in certain contexts it should matter to us, why we as individuals, follow rules. Are we following them because we think it makes us a better person and God will love us more? Operating with this mindset makes an idol of our own goodness. We try to force God to accept us based on our good works.
I’m the father of a beautiful 2 1/2 year old daughter named Annabelle. These days I’m constantly learning what it means to create rules. I don’t create rules like “no hitting” and “be nice” for her to follow blindly. Like most parents, I create rules for her benefit. I want her to understand why they benefit her.
What if my daughter followed all the rules every day and at the end of every day I rewarded her? I might be teaching her that rules are only a means to an end; that rules have no real meaning or intrinsic benefit. She would simply follow rules to receive the reward and I would have failed her. I must teach her that these rules are meant to benefit her.
Don’t get me wrong, I like rewards and they can be beneficial. Rewards are plentiful around my house. God’s not reluctant to reward us either. Rewards just can’t be the sole motivation for following rules.
When we as Christians see our relationship with God as, “I follow your rules and in return you reward me,” we are acting the same as a child who strictly obeys rules only to receive a reward. When we do this we operate without any personal connection to God. God becomes a means to an end and we exploit God for our personal gain.
I’d rather Annabelle break rules and learn the meaning of why I created a specific rule as opposed to her blindly following them and becoming self-righteous. I’ve learned that God feels the same way about me.
We cannot serve rules and God. We can serve God and follow His rules for our lives out of gratitude for the forgiveness that God has given us freely.
“The rule mattered more than the reality.”
~N. T. Wright, Mark for Everyone
Week’s Overview: Jesus had a way of cutting through to what truly mattered. That never included man-made rules. For Jesus, right relationships always mattered more than rules and love mattered more than laws.
Read: Mark 2: 23-28
Study: Jesus’ disciples did not strictly follow the traditional Sabbath rules. Why is that ok with Jesus? Why was it such a big deal to the religious leaders?
Personal: What human rule or traditional way of doing things do you consider unimportant, and what kind of reaction does that get from others?
Read: Mark 3: 1-6
Study: Here we see the Pharisees getting upset because Jesus healed a man’s hand on the Sabbath. Why would the Pharisees be upset about Jesus healing this man?
Personal: Strictly observing the Sabbath had become not only a point of personal and national pride for the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. They used it to measure and judge others’ righteousness,, and as evidence of their own self-righteousness. Pray that God will prevent anything that’s reminiscent of the Pharisees’ pride and judgment about the Sabbath from taking root in your life.
Read: Hebrews 12: 1-13
Study: Discipline as a verb means in part “to train by instruction and exercise; to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.” Being disciplined is painful at times. It can be tough to accept our weaknesses and failures. Why should the idea of being disciplined by God give us hope?
Personal: How has God disciplined—instructed—you recently? What benefit did He want for you from that discipline?
Read: Romans 6: 1-14
Study: The apostle Paul says that through Jesus we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. Does that mean we will never sin? Are we free to live however we like if Jesus has paid the price for our sin? What should be our motivation to rid our lives of sin? (For further study, read Romans 6:15 – 7:25)
Personal: How new is your life (Romans 6:4)? In what other ways does it need to be new?
Read: Romans 5: 1-11
Study: How can knowing what Jesus did for us bring us peace and joy?
Personal: If you find peace and joy in God, what do you know about God that gives you these feelings? If you don’t find peace and joy in God, what stands in the way?
A friend of mine once asked me “How is the world treating you?” I said “Good”. It seemed like the beginning of a typical hello. To my surprise he followed with “How is the Lord treating you?” My response back this time, “Even better.” Then it hit me how incredible these two questions where.
How the world treats us is a real part of our daily lives that we all see. The second part, how the lord is treating us, is a totally and radically different question that puts everything in perspective. The world can treat us like dirt while the lord treats us like beloved and beautiful people.
I think of the apostle Paul in this scenario. Imprisoned and eventually martyred for sharing Jesus’ message, the gospel, yet Paul writes about how wonderful it is to be with God. Was Paul delusional? His letters, which make up majority of the New Testament, don’t appear to be ramblings of a delusional man. He seems confident and assured. He is articulate. He’s aware of his situation.
Paul wasn’t some sort of divine being. Paul was a man just like any other man. He was a man with faith in Jesus. He wasn’t always this way. As the story of Paul’s life goes, he was a Pharisee named Saul that hunted down and killed the followers of Jesus until he was blinded on the road to Damascus, where he was planning to hunt down and kill more Christians. Paul was blinded by light and confronted by God for his actions against the followers of Jesus. By all means, Paul was as against Christianity as anyone can get until God interceded. With that intercession Paul was radically changed. Paul begins to follow Jesus’ message and carries it across many nations. He is imprisoned and killed for it. It seems unlikely that Paul would change his mind out of thin air. He had every reason not to follow the teachings. It wasn’t Paul’s strength and wisdom that led him down the path he went. It was God interceding and Paul choosing to follow.
Paul also had every reason to be upset when he was imprisoned and facing a death sentence for sharing the gospel. But he still found true and honest joy in his relationship with God. It was real and he found it to be honest and liberating. He lived in the world but was not controlled by the world. The world treated Paul one way, while the Lord treated him another.
I’m finding myself understanding this reality more and more. Not just on a theological or philosophical level but on a day to day basis. I’m starting to learn that when something annoys me to think about how important it really is in light of my relationship with God.
It’s the day to day stuff that brings us down and that we allow to make us angry and bitter. It can rob us of our joy. If we allow ourselves to be conditioned to anger and annoyance with the small stuff, how can we handle life’s major hurdles? How do you handle bankruptcy, losing a child or spouse, losing your parents, etc…? It happens, life throws us huge curve balls every once in a while. Those times will be tough and if we are conditioned to see the world as the center of our mood, then we don’t have much hope in getting through these major ordeals without unbearable amounts of pain.
I haven’t experienced too much in way of major losses in my life. I’m no expert on how you deal with these types of problems. I, like every other single person, do have my daily struggles. I wake up after a restless night of sleep and I’m in a bad mood and annoyed. My wife can attest to this. I used to live by these moods without any sense of real control. Even after several years of knowing Jesus as God, I still struggle with the day to day annoyances. God has been revealing to me that with Him I don’t have to be swayed by the whims of every emotion. I recognize them for what they are and see them in their relation to God. They are so much less. They don’t begin to hold a stance against Jesus’ message and love. In a short measure of time I am overcome with gratefulness and joy because God is with me.
I no longer debate every moment whether or not God exist when things get rough. I can relax and enjoy the moments God has given me in life. It makes the annoying tasks so much less annoying. I laugh more about my own flaws. I can look at myself and see that how loved and how foolish I am all at once. I don’t have to be right, I don’t have to win an argument, I don’t have to be the smartest or most creative person in a room. I can simply be me and the person God made me to be. I feel loved, and when I feel loved for who I am by God, the world takes its rightful place and shrinks away from being a god to being something made by God.
Love in this world can be fickle. One day someone loves you, the next day that person has moved on. Love is conditional in most scenarios. The closest I’ve found to unconditional love in the world is that of a parents’ love for their children. Even that isn’t perfect. I think this being the closest thing to unconditional love that we understand, is the reason why God uses the description of father to describe himself in relation to us. Jesus’ calls God “Abba”, which translates to “Daddy”. This has so much more meaning to me now that I see my daughter calling me daddy every day. “Daddy, look!”, “Daddy, watch me!”, “Daddy, upy-upy!” etc…. God’s unconditional love is too far over our head to fully understand. Analogies work well for this reason.
Everyone has been created by God and everyone is loved by God. It’s our choice to separate ourselves from him. Love means allowing someone to choose to love you back, this is also free will. Our choice to separate ourselves is not God condemning, it’s God allowing us to have what we desire the most, even if it isn’t the best thing for us. We choose to condemn ourselves when we don’t allow God to love us.
The following is another piece I wrote for Heartland Community Church’s weekly devotional, The Journey.
Also included is the video to the sermon that devotional goes along with.
What If the Church: City Transformation
By Adam Pontier
Riots are uprisings that disrupt the established order. This is exactly what Jesus did and what the Pharisees killed him for. Jesus didn’t start a riot of sin but rather a riot against sin. He upset the established order with his actions and words. He turned the world upside down. The weak and lowly became the greatest while the externally upright leaders became last. Jesus’ actions and words brought out the best and worst in humanity.
As a young teen, I had an unsettling feeling about the world. The world wasn’t as perfect as what I had imagined it to be. I started to realize that adults and authority figures were flawed. It bothered me. I didn’t want to be like that. I was young and idealistic about how the world should work. I thought I had it all figured out like most teenagers. I decided that if the world is flawed that I would act and look differently to show my rejection of it. Ironically, I was rejecting one flawed culture for another flawed culture. I was looking for perfection and found instead something that served my own needs and pride. I rejected the idea of Jesus without evening knowing anything about Jesus.
When I finally chose Jesus as my Savior, I knew I was accepting a God that did not bow to the world. He is the rebel of all rebels. He didn’t tell us to act like or pretend to be a good person. He didn’t say one group of people is better than the next. He said he loved us all. That even meant me though I was confused and unsure about myself. I definitely had not lived as a “good” person on society’s scale of good and bad, but that did not diminish Jesus’ love. His love is transforming my life.
Jesus began a riot by reversing the order of things, thus beginning a transformation. We can continue that riotous transformation if, for example, we love the unlovable. We can create chaos within the order of the world by serving and loving those the world expects us to judge and condemn. Wouldn’t it be truly a riot to serve and love so much that somebody tells you, “You should not be ok with the people you are helping and loving. You shouldn’t forgive that person or those kinds of people.” Would we create a riot if we gave away so much that others became concerned about us having enough for our own needs? How might that riot serve to transform our city?
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
~ Thomas Paine, Common Sense
Week’s Overview: What if the church upset the established order—started a riot of sorts? How would that transform our city?
Read: Acts 19: 23 -27
Personal: We see that Paul has started a riot in Ephesus by declaring that man-made gods are no gods at all. Do you see man-made god’s in your own life? What are they? How do they compare to the God that Paul speaks about?
Read: Acts 19: 28 -32
Study: We see the silversmith getting all worked up in reaction to Paul’s message about Jesus and Paul’s denying the goddess Artemis any godlike nature. People react and lash out when what they feel is right is being threatened. The popular consensus in Ephesus was that Artemis was a goddess. Does Paul’s message about Jesus threaten any common beliefs in today’s world? What are they? How do you see people reacting to it?
Read: Acts 17: 16-21
Here Paul is in Athens sharing the message of the gospel. He hasn’t caused a riot but what Paul is saying is raising their attention. His message of Jesus was lost on some while others had misconceptions and confusion surrounding the gospel.
Personal: Besides talking about and explaining the gospel, how can your actions resemble and explain the message of Jesus?
Read: Philippians 4: 11- 13
Seeing Paul in action in Athens (yesterday’s verse) may seem like the works and strength of one great man. However, all people can do what Paul did. Paul was not relying on his own strength but the strength through his faith in Jesus. In this verse, we get a clear picture of Paul’s mindset. Paul declares that he “can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Personal: Have you ever felt in doubt and drawn on strength outside yourself to get through something tough? How can this apply to living out a life that reflects the radical love of Jesus’ message?
Read: Romans 8: 31- 39
Starting a riot does not come without hardship. Jesus, Paul and all the apostles except John died as martyrs for sharing the radical message of Jesus. This kind of sacrifice looks foolish to many people. However, love does not come without some sort of sacrifice. God sacrificed for us out of love and we in return sacrifice out of love. On the upside, God tells us that no one can separate us from Him and that God alone is our judge, not the people of the world.
Personal: Living out Jesus’ message can and probably will cost you something. What are the costs of following Jesus that scare you most? What is it about the price you fear you will pay that bothers you?
I think atheism is an honest approach to seeking God. I know some Christians get defensive when they even hear the word atheist. I know atheists will not like me saying that their beliefs are seeking God. Hopefully I haven’t lost or offended you at this point.
If atheism believes there is no God, how can it be considered a path in seeking God? To truly deny the existence of God requires effort and understanding of what God is. It also requires knowledge of what the different faiths believe about God. It requires philosophical understanding of God that a lot of people spend very little time considering. Anything else is mislabeling agnosticism as atheism. To truly deny a belief in something you must first have knowledge about what you are denying.
I’ve experienced 31 years of life and have found that the conversation of God is not really something people want to talk about. We live in a culture of relativism. It’s considered polite and modern to say “God is whatever you want it to be” or “all paths lead to God” and “I believe in being a good person”. Anything beyond that makes you a zealot in today’s world. The issue is that the relativistic belief system places God on the backburner and God is then of no importance. God just really doesn’t matter until something bad happens, then we might turn to God for relief.
I like atheism because it’s honest. It’s honest because if that is what you think and believe, then stand up and say it. No reason to just be polite because the world thinks it’s nice. Nice really isn’t anything more than civil obedience. Civil obedience isn’t really anything more than letting other people make your decisions for you.
Politeness can be a form of dishonesty.
I much rather someone tell me I’m a Bronze Age Moron for believing in God than someone say “you believe in Jesus? Oh, that’s nice that Jesus is your truth”. Atheism takes a stand that I can appreciate. Atheists know where they actually stand and are not just playing polite social roles. I can’t speak for all atheists but the atheists that I’ve spent time talking to have done research and critical thinking on the matter of God. I’ve had great conversations with atheists that have a wonderful amount of knowledge that challenged me to learn about and experience God in a deeper sense.
Being undecided about God is understandable, but it can also be a cop out. It’s a form of non-commitment for social politeness. It’s an easy path; an easy path that wanders in circles.
How can God be what we make him? Isn’t that just picking an idol and going with it until something else catches our eye? If we make God what we want, then that God really isn’t a God, just something we put our hope in. Isn’t the entire concept of God something that is greater than ourselves that created everything and everyone? I’m not sure how we can tell ourselves there is a “kind of, maybe, sort of God” out there. I personally don’t want to waste my time with that.
If there is a God then I feel like I need to know God and live my life with God actively involved in it. If there is no God, then I want to indulge all the desires that cross my mind. Seriously, I can’t see a logical reason not to if there truly is no God. I don’t see the point in being socially polite about this. We’ve been doing that since the enlightenment era and it honestly doesn’t do much for me in terms of living a life that matters.
I know most people aren’t this extreme. It probably borders on sociopathic behavior. I think it’s because we all honestly think God might exist whether we say so or not. We also understand that if we just indulged every aspect that came through our mind that we would end up dead or in prison pretty quickly. This motive honestly goes back to serving ourselves because we don’t want to suffer any kind of pain that’s not necessary. Are we not a people that seek comfort and pleasure?
What if God is the source of our true comfort and pleasure and we are substituting God with whatever we can find around us. Maybe God can give us the comfort and pleasure that we truly desire that won’t leave us hung-over and seeking the next moment of comfort and pleasure.
The question, “Does God exist?” is viewed as an essay question in today’s culture. Honestly, it’s a true or false question. Yes or No, anything in between has a self-serving motive. It’s not necessarily modern thinking that has led us to our novel length essay answers; it’s politeness for the sake of politeness so as not to offend ourselves and/or others around us. It’s avoiding the issue. It seems easier to avoid the question than to truly and painfully challenge ourselves. It’s like a political game of plausible deniability in case there really is a God. Is it really our hope that if God does exist that we tell God, “I thought you might exist but wasn’t really sure, so I tried to live as a good person”.
Honestly the idea of just being a good person is really no different than following religious law. It’s still a concept of salvation based on deeds and works as opposed to salvation by grace. It’s a looser and more customizable set of rules but still a form of religious law. I think this is an idea for a future blog post.
If God is real then what does that mean for you? If you knew God existed beyond a shadow of a doubt, how would you live differently? Would you really just keep living life exactly like you have been?
I was contemplating a bit about my journey into blogging and it dawned on me that it was started because I wanted a chance to express myself. I struggled with whether or not to publish my name along with it. It took me awhile but I decided to start without my name attached. It was comfortable and easy when no one knew my name. I could write freely and from the heart without worry of criticism. I think I needed this anonymity to start with to give me a comfortable place to begin. Over time I put my name out on the blog and eventually made it known through Facebook to my family and friends that I had a blog. In the moment it really wasn’t a big deal to make the decision to share with everyone that I had a blog. Afterwards it started to dawn on me that I felt like I was being watched. It’s tough to write when you know someone that knows you personally might be reading everything you think. I’m afraid this thought could restrain me. The good news is I was able to get some experience and comfortable writing before dropping the anonymity. This gave me some very valuable experience and I was able to say what I wanted to without worry.
I started to learn to write for a targeted audience when I started writing devotional pieces for Heartland Community Church. The devotional writing has taught me several things. First, keep it short. No one wants to read a novel length blog post. Second, with a topic in mind I stay more focused. Hopefully, this experience will help me to put out better blog posts. Third, technical writing skills do matter. I haven’t always been thorough in checking what I write for technical errors. In hindsight I now see this as something that I should have been doing all along. I’ve thought about going back and editing some of my first posts, but for now I think I will stick with writing new posts.
Hopefully I come off as someone wanting to share their experience, not someone telling others how to do anything. I’m no expert on any matter and all I can offer is the knowledge I’ve gained from my own experiences.
I’ll continue to write about my faith in Jesus as God. I’ll continue to speak about theological ideas that I come across when studying. I’ll continue to share my own story as well.
One more idea before I end this blog post. It’s a bit off topic but I want to share something else that’s been on my mind.
I’m really starting to look deeper into what it means to follow Jesus’ greatest commandment. In Matthew 22: 36-40, it says “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets.”
To love God with all our hearts, soul and mind sounds like an easy task but I’ve found it is not. When we really look at what our priorities are, where do we see that we actually take the time to consider God in our hearts, soul and mind? I know I don’t do this majority of the time, let alone with ALL of my heart, soul and mind. I get caught up with everything else going on around me. We can’t eliminate the daily demands of life but what we can do is make sure that whatever we are doing, that we do it with God in our hearts, soul and mind. I’m still working on how this works out practically, but to start I must be aware that I am failing at this. The more I think about it, it’s a lot more than just doing the right thing.
To love your neighbors as yourself does not mean just the neighbors you like. It means every single person. Again, I struggle with this. I like those who I like and I am willing to treat them well when they treat me well, if I am being honest. When I come across someone I don’t like, I usually avoid them. I’ve been working at this recently and have purposely spent time with some people that would normally “bug” me. I’ve been finding that if I think about people I don’t like as a creation of God’s, then it’s easier to start seeing things about them that I do like. I may not agree with everything they do or say, but I am at least acknowledging them and that’s a big step for me.
I could go on about how this works out theologically, and I have before. Here’s a link in case you want to read more, https://bronzeagemoron.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/sin-its-not-what-you-think/.
I could also give you countless examples of where I’ve failed at this. However, for the sake of your time I will be ending this blog post now.
A blog post from Jon Shirley here in Kansas City. I found this post to be incredibly insightful with the state of “Christendom”.
There are churches out there that are not what you expect. They do honestly love others as Jesus loved others. The Gathering is a church in Kansas City that does exactly this. The Gathering is a “church plant” that came out of Heartland Community Church (also here in KC). If you follow what I write you will know that Heartland is the church I call home. However, just because I call one church home does not mean that I don’t visit other churches and also participate in serving others with them.