The Message In Your Misfortunes

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts

Recently, in preparing the content for one of the chapters of the study guide I’m writing for my book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity, I came across this quote from Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

Justice Roberts was asked to give the commencement speech for his son’s graduating class, but the speech he gave was different than the advice and platitudes commonly given at such events. Rather than wishing them good luck, he essentially told them that he wished they would experience hardship, because of the important things which can only be learned through these experiences.

Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why.

From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted.

I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time,

I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.

Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.

What John Roberts says here is true. Some of the most formative moments in my life have been as a result of experiencing pain and hurt from other people. Sometimes we develop our most deeply held convictions and values as a result of negative experiences.

In ministry, I know that some of the most important lessons I’ve learned have been from negative examples and experiences, which I then determined not to replicate or perpetuate.

Sometimes we learn to treat people well, as a result of being treating poorly and realizing that it isn’t right.

If we are able to turn those negative experiences into positive lessons, rather than becoming bitter, it can be something that helps us grow more into the image of Christ.

This is why James is able to say: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

It’s why Paul is able to write that we, as Christians, rejoice not only in the hope of the glory of God, but we can also “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

May the pains things we experience in this life be used by God to shape us more into the image of Christ, to the glory of God, and may it better equip us to show the compassion and love of Christ to others.

Writing Update: Study Guide and New Book on the Way

Since my book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity came out in March of 2022, I have been encouraged and glad to hear from many people who say the book has been a helpful resource and an encouragement to them.

Several groups have told me that that they have used the book for group studies, for small groups at their church and for youth groups. One person told me about a lunchtime study group she started at her workplace using the book.

Study Guide Coming Soon

To help those who want to use the book for group studies, I am currently writing a Group Study Guide resource to be a companion to the book, and I’m doing it by teaching the youth group at our church, White Fields Community Church. I’ve had some great help in creating the content from some of the excellent leaders at White Fields.

When the guide comes out, each session will include a group activity, a synopsis, and several study questions which correspond to the content of each chapter. Additionally, we are planning to create a series of videos which can be watched along with the study guide, for groups to use.

That study guide should be coming out in early 2023.

New book in the works

Additionally, I am working on another book called, So That You May Believe, which will be based on the evidence given in the Gospel of John about who Jesus is, and why you should believe in him.

Since my first book was The God I Won’t Believe In, hopefully this next book will be a good follow-up or companion, showing people the evidence for who Jesus is and why he came, So That You May Believe.

I hope to be able to release that book by the end of 2023.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Liturgy: Going Through the (Right) Motions

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Aaron Damiani on the topic of liturgy.

Aaron Damiani is a pastor and the author of the book: Earth Filled with Heaven — Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments and other Ancient Practices of the Church.

In this episode, Aaron and I discuss some of the practices that Christians have traditionally done in their worship services, and how Christians today can benefit from incorporating some of those formative practices.

Additionally, we discussion some of the pitfalls or potential downsides of a liturgical approach to worship and discipleship, and some ways that High Church and Low Church Protestants can learn from each other in order to create an intentional order or service which helps develop healthy disciples of Jesus.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Liturgy: Going Through the (Right) Motions Theology for the People

Aaron Damiani is a pastor and the author of the book: Earth Filled with Heaven — Finding Life in Liturgy, Sacraments and other Ancient Practices of the Church. In this episode, Aaron and I discuss some of the practices that Christians have traditionally done in their worship services, and how Christians today can benefit from incorporating some of those formative practices. Additionally, we discussion some of the pitfalls or potential downsides of a liturgical approach to worship and discipleship, and some ways that High Church and Low Church Protestants can learn from each other in order to create an intentional order or service which helps develop healthy disciples of Jesus. If you benefited from this episode, please share it with others, and if you would like to help the podcast, the best way to do that is by leaving a rating or review on your podcast app.

How is Gluttony a Danger to Your Soul?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Mike Neglia about the topic of gluttony.

Gluttony is one of the “Seven Deadly Sins” – but why is gluttony a sin? And what constitutes gluttony? Is calling gluttony a sin actually a form of “fat-shaming” – or it is actually a danger to your soul?

In this episode, Mike and I talk about the origin of the Seven Deadly Sins and what the Bible has to say about gluttony. 

Mike is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Cork in Cork, Ireland. He is also the leader of Expositors Collective, and the host of the Expositors Collective Podcast.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

How is Gluttony a Danger to Your Soul? Theology for the People

Gluttony is one of the "Seven Deadly Sins" – but why is gluttony a sin? And what constitutes gluttony? Is calling gluttony a sin actually a form of "fat-shaming" – or it is actually a danger to your soul? In this episode I speak with Mike Neglia about the origin of the Seven Deadly Sins and what the Bible has to say about gluttony.  Mike is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Cork in Cork, Ireland. He is also the leader of Expositors Collective, and the host of the Expositors Collective Podcast. For more articles and content, visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Calvary Chapel Northern Front Range Men’s Conference 2022

We are excited to announce the second annual Northern Front Range Calvary Chapel Men’s Conference on September 23-24, 2022 hosted at White Fields Community Church: 2950 Colorful Ave. Longmont, CO 80504.

I will be speaking, as will Shaun Sells (Calvary Chapel Cheyenne) and John Nunnally (Legacy Christian Fellowship).

Our theme for this year is “Under Construction.” Our building at White Fields is currently under construction, and it’s a visual reminder that all of us men are also people under construction, but God has promised us that he will bring to completion the good work that he has begun in us. 

We will begin on Friday, September 23 at 6:30 PM with a time of worship, teaching, and fellowship, and will end on Saturday with a steak lunch. The cost is $25/person.

This conference is open to anyone who would like to come, so feel free to invite friends and family!

Spaces are limited, so please register soon. Click here to register: Men’s Conference Registration

The God I Won’t Believe In – Apologetics Conference

If you or someone you know has questions about God or the Bible that they feel makes it difficult or impossible for them to be a Christian, join me for a one-day apologetics conference in Pleasanton, California on August 27, 2022.

This free conference will be based on my book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity. At the event there will be three presentations, each looking at one of the 3 broad areas of struggle addressed in the book: Empirical questions, Moral issues, and Personal struggles – as well as a time for Q&A.

If you can’t make it to this event, but would like to host a similar event in your local area, contact me here.

Alex Jones, the Truth, and the Compelling Love of Christ

There was an interesting exchange that took place this week between Alex Jones and the judge overseeing his trial related to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In it, the judge insisted that Jones needed to tell the truth under oath. Jones then claimed that he believed that what he was saying was true, to which the judge responded that it did not matter if he believed what he said was true or not; either it was or it wasn’t.

“Just because you claim to think something is true, does not make it true.”

Finally, it came out through evidence that Jones had actually done something which he claimed he hadn’t done. Jones claims that this was an honest mistake, whereas others assert that he intentionally lied.

Here’s a recording of that exchange:

An Interesting Cultural Moment

Whatever your opinion of Alex Jones or this legal proceeding, this is an interesting moment in our culture, because – despite the attempts of some to relativize “the truth,” here we have an argument which acknowledges the existence of objective reality.

In recent history in the United States and the Western world, there has been a lot of debate over what makes something “true.” Phrases like “speak your truth,” or the idea that what is true for one person might not be true for others, make it seem like the truth is relative. Furthermore, the idea that what a person believes about themselves cannot be argued against, e.g. when it comes to gender identity, can make it seem like empirical evidence no longer matters in determining what is “true.”

Yet here is a conversation in our society about the importance of truth.

Note the words of the judge: “Just because you claim to think something is true, does not make it true.”

I wonder what would happen if we applied this same logic to other issues as well. Should this apply to how we think about gender and sexuality? How about how we believe about God, the Bible, and even the topics of sin and judgment?

What Does Truth Mean for Us as Christians?

As Christians, we believe in objective truth. We believe that God exists. We believe that some actions are sinful. We believe that there is a day coming when God will judge the living and the dead. We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, come to do for us what we could not do for ourselves by living a life of perfect obedience to God, dying a sacrificial death to take the judgment we deserved in our place, and rising from the grave to everlasting life.

Knowledge of these truths – regarding sin, judgment, and the love and grace of God displayed in Jesus’ saving actions on our behalf – compels us, as Paul the Apostle explains in 2 Corinthians 5, to do two things: to persuade people of the truth of these matters (2 Corinthians 5:11), and to beseech them to receive the reconciling grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:20)!

Compelled to Persuade

The Bible tells us that because we know of God’s judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10), we are compelled to persuade people (2 Corinthians 5:11). To persuade, in this sense, means to remove intellectual barriers, to overcome prejudice and ignorance, to convince by argument and testimony, and by the straightforward proclamation of the gospel.

Compelled to Implore

Furthermore, Paul says that because we know of God’s grace and the offer of salvation, we are compelled to beseech people to receive the gift of what Jesus has done for them, so they can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul even uses the word “implore” to describe how we appeal to people in light of the truths of sin, judgment, and the possibility of redemption through Jesus. To implore, according to Lexico, means “to beg someone earnestly and desperately.”

It’s important to take note in this cultural moment that, no matter how much we might try to suppress it, we as human beings know there is such a thing as truth which is independent of our personal claims, opinions, or feelings. As the people of God we should be lovers of the truth.

Finally, if what the Bible says is true about God, sin, judgment, and redemption – and we have abundant evidence to believe it is (see here for more on that), then it behooves us to persuade and implore those around us of the veracity of these things and the need to be reconciled to God through the grace God has extended to us in Christ.

May God help us to be lovers of the truth, and may the Holy Spirit cause us to be compelled all the more by the love of Christ, to live not for ourselves, but for Him who for our sakes died and was raised (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15).

The Fairytale Twist & Why Karma is Not Your Friend

The Hindu and Buddhist concept of Karma is the belief that good deeds create positive karma, and bad ones create negative karma. Positive karma, it is believed, will lead to good fortune, whereas negative karma will lead to misfortune and suffering.

Belief in karma is popular amongst modern western people, but curiously – in my observation – it is only referenced when either bad things happen to other people, or when good things happen to an individual themselves.

For example, people tend to attribute misfortune to karma when something negative happens to someone else whom they deem deserving of suffering because of their bad behavior, or when something positive happens to them. In both cases, people tend to reference karma as the reason why the person in question “got what they deserved.”

Co-opting Karma in Part, but Not in Full

It has been noted how people in the West have a tendency to co-opt certain aspects of Eastern Religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. An example of this is the way yoga has been co-opted and transformed into something very different in the West than what it originally was as a Hindu practice.

Similarly, when Western people talk about karma, they often only think of it in terms of either 1) them getting the good things they believe they have earned through their “meritorious behavior,” or 2) other people getting the suffering that the person in question believes they deserve.

What they are forgetting is that karma is essentially a system which exists to explain why bad things and/or good things happen to people in life, and it basically chalks it all up to earning or deserving.

The Shadow Side of Karma

The “shadow side” of karma is that it says that if something bad happens to you, it is because you have done something (either in this life or a previous one) to deserve it.

Just think about what a terrible concept this is when it comes to serious issues, such as abuse. If you are the sufferer of abuse, karma essentially says: “That happened to you because you did something to deserve it!” In the end, karma says that you have no one to blame for suffering in your life than yourself.

The Fairytale Twist of the Gospel

In contrast to the message of karma, that says that you deserve whatever happens to you in this life, the message of the gospel is just the opposite: That every blessing you receive in life is an unmerited gift from a benevolent God who loves you, and that the reason tragedy happens is because we live in a broken world in which evil exists.

Not only does evil exist “out there” in the world, but this evil has bound itself around our very hearts. Yet, the good news of the gospel is that God is gracious to sinners like us, extending grace and mercy to the undeserving!

As my friend Pete Nelson likes to say, “The message of the gospel is like the movie where the ugly guy gets the girl!”

Malcom Gladwell on The Fairytale Twist

Author Malcom Gladwell had an interesting episode of his Revisionist History podcast, in which he talked about different types of stories, and the effects they have on people. What he points out, is that there are certain types of stories which seem to resonate with people universally, even from a very young age.

You can listen to the entire episode here, but I’ll summarize the main points below:

Little Mermaid Part 2: The Fairytale Twist Revisionist History

The quest to revise The Little Mermaid continues. This week, we call in the experts. Part two of three. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Malcom points out that most ancient fairy tales had an aspect in them which he calls “the fairytale twist,” in which good fortune befalls a person despite the fact that they are undeserving, or often straight up foolish. In these stories, good things happen to bad people who don’t deserve a good fate.

For example, he references a story in which a foolish girl wastes her family’s final money on trivial things, but then in a “fairytale twist,” her foolish decision ends up paying off and saving her family. The salvation of the family, in other words, wasn’t because of the girl’s intuition and good choices, but rather happened fortuitously, in spite of her foolish actions.

What made these stories attractive is that audiences wanted to believe that life could suddenly go from bad to good, regardless of a person’s worthiness.

The message of these stories was not just that there could be a sudden twist that could change everything, but that the twist would be unrelated to the disposition of the character in question. In other words, you don’t need to meet some qualification to be eligible for this sudden twist – rather, it could happen to anyone (even you!).

The Shift to Poetic Justice Stories

Malcom then identifies how a change took place in Western story telling in the 1700’s, when writer Charles Perot insisted that fairytales should teach the idea that good things only happen to good people, and bad things always happen to bad people. These are called “poetic justice” stories.

A good example of a poetic justice story is Disney’s version of Cinderella. In that story, Cinderella’s virtue is rewarded whereas the wickedness of the step-sisters and step-mother are punished. Everyone gets exactly what they deserved.

Measuring Visceral Responses to Different Kinds of Stories

Malcom points out that modern marketers have created a tool which can measure children’s reactions to different fairytale endings. Through their research, what they’ve found is that children prefer fairytale twist stories over poetic justice stories.

It’s not terribly hard to make sense of why this is: Every child, even at a young age, is aware of the fact that they have not always done the right thing, and that if what you get in life is determined by your actions, that is a losing proposition.

To put it in biblical terms, the point is that deep down inside, human beings are innately aware that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, i.e. the standard of what is right.

As the common trope goes, “Nobody’s perfect!” We all understand this deep down, even from a young age, and are aware that if we were to receive exactly what we deserve, we would all be in a heap of trouble.

What is hopeful, however, is the idea that somehow, people who are undeserving can receive good fortune, and not get the punishment or misfortune they might deserve.

The Hope of the Gospel is Engrained on Our Hearts

The message of the gospel is that, by God’s grace, good things can happen to bad people (like us!).

That hope is engrained in the heart of every human being. It’s the reason why we love fairytale endings, even from a young age. It’s the reason why “poetic justice” stories only make us feel good when the person receiving the poetic justice is someone else!

Deep down we all long for justice for wrongdoers and mercy and grace for ourselves.

The message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ received the justice of God, so that mercy and grace could be extended to the undeserving!

But that’s not all: along with the promise of mercy and grace, we also have the assurance that when we receive the gift of God’s grace, He will then begin a transforming work in our lives, called “sanctification” in which God begins to shape us into more virtuous, beautiful people, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

Karma or the Gospel?

Karma says that, whatever happens to a person, they essentially earned it and deserved it. In contrast, the gospel says that there is a sovereign, benevolent God who entered into the brokenness of this fallen world in order to redeem it and make all things new. He, the only truly good and deserving person who ever lived, took the judgment that we deserved upon Himself, so that through Him we might receive grace and mercy. It’s the ultimate “ugly guy gets the girl” story!

Karma is not your friend. The hope of the gospel is what your heart ultimately longs for, because it’s the true story of the world, and our only hope in life and death.

Project Back to School 2022

Did you know that children in the foster system form an at-risk people group within our own communities?

In almost every case, the reason these children end up in foster care care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which may involve violence, neglect, drugs, crime, etc. These environments not only result in trauma many times, but they also tend to result in or be associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden.

Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. Children living in poverty have higher rates of absenteeism from school. Students who come from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school.  Adults without a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, which means raising their children in poverty, perpetuating a cycle of poverty which may persist for generations: poverty affects education which affects poverty. (source 1source 2)

One of the ways that we can help kids break out of this cycle of poverty is by encouraging them to stay in school – and one of the ways we can do that is by helping them have the things they need to be confident and excited about going to school, so they can succeed!

Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system, and six years ago we began a new ministry: Project Back to School.

We are working with Weld County Department of Human Services, and this year they have identified over 100 at-risk kids who need help with school supplies, clothes, and shoes. They have provided us with a list of needed items, which we will share with those who sign up to help.

We are trusting that God will raise up people to bless these families in the name of Jesus. It’s a way for us to love not only in words and in speech, but in action as well (1 John 3:18).

We will be taking sign-ups beginning Sunday, July 10 and asking items to be returned by Sunday, July 24.

How to Get Involved and Make a Difference

1. Sign up in-person

If you live in or near Longmont, visit White Fields Church on a Sunday morning this July and sign up to sponsor one or more children.

2. Sign up online

If you can’t make it on a Sunday morning, but are still local and could drop off items to us for delivery, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.

3. Contribute Financially

All monies that come in designated for Project Back to School will go directly towards buying school supplies for at risk children. You can make a tax-deductible donation on our church’s website here: whitefieldschurch.com/give/ (choose Project Back to School on the drop-down menu).

Join us in praying for these kids, and that God uses this initiative to bless them!

How is the Mission of God Progressing in the Midst of the War in Ukraine?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, Michael Payne and I speak with George and Sharon Markey, who are missionaries in Kyiv, Ukraine. George has been in Ukraine for 30 years now, and is able to give unique insight into what is happening there right now in the midst of the war.

Back in March, I posted an interview I recorded with George in Budapest, in which he talked about what was happening then, at the beginning of the war. You can listen to that interview here: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Pray & How to Help – with George Markey

In this discussion, recorded when George and Sharon visited us in Colorado in June of 2022, George tells the story of how his family moved to Ukraine in 1992, and Sharon tells her story of meeting George and joining him on the mission field.

They talk about their family’s experience in evacuating from Ukraine when the war began and how they are continuing to reach out with the love of Jesus to the Ukrainian people, and how the mission of God is progressing even in the midst of the current calamity.

Check out George and Sharon’s new website, mentioned in the episode: BridgeUA.org

This episode was originally recorded for the White Fields Community Church YouTube channel. Please visit and subscribe to that, and you can visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

How is the Mission of God Progressing in the Midst of the War in Ukraine? Theology for the People

In this episode, Michael Payne and Nick Cady speak with George and Sharon Markey, missionaries in Ukraine. George tells the story of how his family moved to Ukraine in 1992, and Sharon tells her story of meeting George and joining him on the mission field. They talk about their family's experience in evacuating from Ukraine when the war began and how they are continuing to reach out with the love of Jesus to the Ukrainian people, and how the mission of God is progressing even in the midst of the current calamity. Check out George and Sharon's new website, mentioned in the episode: BridgeUA.org This episode was originally recorded for the White Fields Community Church YouTube channel. Please visit and subscribe to that, and you can visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org