Blogger, Pastor, Podcaster
When you think of Jesus, who do you think of? What about the words Church or Christianity? If you’re anything like me, you’ve met Christians who are ugly, hateful people. You’ve been burned by people who claim to follow Jesus. But I bet you’ve also met some incredibly kind, thoughtful and generous people who call themselves Christians, too. Me too. It’s a big mess, one I’m still learning to make sense of.
Here’s the story of how I learned to love the Church (and why I blog about pop culture):
I was born into the Church. I’ve been a part of the Church my whole life. My best and worst moments have happened in the Church. The best and worst people I’ve ever met have been Church people.
I always wondered how something could be so beautiful and so awful at the same time.
The Church will probably always be an institution. That doesn’t have to be bad. But when the people start serving the institution, rather than the other way around, that’s when things get toxic. Jesus never meant for the Church to keep people from God. He meant for the Church to help us discover the God who is already working all around us. In every culture. In every place.
What does the 21st century Church look like? What does it look like to follow Jesus today? Jesus’ resurrection was the beginning of a whole new story, one that each of our stories can be part of. The question is: are we paying attention? Are we telling the right story?
So that’s what I do. I learn stories. I critique stories. And I’m always trying to find where God is working and join in.
- BA in Religious Studies, Southwest Baptist University (2003)
- MA in Religious Studies, New Testament and Early Christianity, University of Missouri-Columbia (2006)
- Teaching Pastor (2010-Present)
- Podcasting (2011-Present)
- Young Adult Pastor (2009-2010)
- Blogging (2001-Present)
- College Pastor (2005-2009)
- Youth Pastor (2003-2009)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant (2003-2006)
Areas of Specialty
- Preaching & Teaching
- Biblical Studies
- Pop Culture
- Film & TV Criticism
- Church History
Don’t Just Take My Word
JR. is the most worthy intersector of culture and theology. He is prolific and provocative without losing respect nor being disrespectful. Read him, you'll love him too.
You'd think that someone with such a substantive beard would be hard to understand. Far from it. JR.'s theological knowledge, pop culture awareness, and earnest nature make him an engaging speaker you want to listen to.
JR. is a gifted speaker. He challenges me to see things in fresh ways, while at the same time relating his messages to everyday life.
Every time I hear JR. speak, he delivers. Few people combine intellect, practicality, and humor like JR. He embodies what he proclaims and that makes him an effective voice in our culture.
JR. teaches in such a way that the listener is compelled to reflect upon how the gospel is being lived out through his or her own life. JR.'s ability to design a message to meet people where they are is amazing. I've never been disappointed.
JR. is a master in the art of teaching. His carefully prepared words have the power of a cello solo in the park mixed with a rock concert on a summer night. His genuine care for his audience inspires custom creations that both teach and provoke action.
JR.'s ability to draw out Truth with intelligence and relativity to the culture has impacted my life. No topic is too challenging for JR. to begin a conversation, asking questions which lead to further exploration of any subject, leading to a new perspective.
JR. passionately believes God is involved in everyday life. From movies to music, his writings are run through with the assumption that if God has spoken to and through His creation, then it is our job to look for his presence. No one does it better than JR.
Since first hearing JR speak, he has always been a favorite of mine. He brings the gospels to life in a way that is rare in today's Christian culture but so needed and beautiful.
JR. Forasteros is not to be trusted. I came onto his website just to read about my favorite shows and movies, and instead I'm taught how to critically evaluate them and discover where Christ is present in them? Bah. I'm going back to TMZ.
JR. is a great storyteller, weaving pop-culture, our stories and God's story into a life-changing message. God is using JR. in powerful ways to connect, encourage, and challenge his listeners.
Something you should know up front: I love the Batman. Everyone loves Batman, obviously. He’s the best superhero. But I’m dedicating a whole section of my page to the Batman. So that should tell you that I’m a little bit obsessed. If you want to know why, here are a few of the posts I’ve written concerning Gotham’s caped crusader!
My Batman PostsVIEW ALL
I woke this morning to an internet all atwitter with Warner Brothers’ latest announcement: Ben Affleck will play Batman in the still-untitled Man of Steel sequel everyone’s still just calling Batman vs. Superman. The general consensus is that somehow Affleck will ruin this film, and I don’t understand it. Batman vs. Superman might end up […]
The best comics stories are the most human stories. Chronicle nails this by telling a great story about the danger of power.
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight Rises“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” — Thomas Wayne As I’ll be discussing in more detail in an upcoming post, The Dark Knight Rises is the final act in Chris Nolan’s epic and now-classic Batman […]
My detailed description and analysis of the plot of The Dark Knight Rises prologue. Who is Bane? What does he want with Gotham? Will he break the Batman?
This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight RisesIf you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely… A legend, Mr. Wayne. — Ras al Guhl By now it’s undeniable that Christopher […]
This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight Rises “You’ve made some mistakes, Miss Kyle.” – John Blake Last week, I explored how Bruce Wayne’s Hero’s Journey establishes him as a Christ-figure in The Dark Knight Rises. A further excellent parallel my friend Anthony Mako pointed out to me is […]
This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight Rises This town deserves a better class of criminal. — The Joker The Dark Knight is Nolan’s second act in a masterful classic three-act story structure. Building on what Act I established, Act II brings the conflict into the open. The main […]
This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight Rises “Do you know what makes this the worst place on earth? Hope. I learned here there can be no true despair without hope.” — Bane First, a short, spoiler-free review: The Dark Knight Rises is a must-see film. Easily the best […]
Skyfall is being hailed – and rightly so – as the best Bond of all time. On the franchise’s 50th anniversary, the new film at once completes the reboot of the bond universe begun in Casino Royale and moves forward. Skyfall‘s story is totally contemporary, setting up the franchise to keep Bond fresh in the […]
This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight Rises “You think this is part of some revolution?” — Jim Gordon One major criticism of The Dark Knight Rises is the film’s perceived stance on politics. Specifically, despite repeated denials by director Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer that the film […]
This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight RisesOne of the more common criticisms of The Dark Knight Rises revolves around the apparent ease with which Detective John Blake discerns that Bruce Wayne is Batman. Those defending the film point most often to Robin #3, Tim Drake, who in the […]
The full-length Dark Knight Rises trailer gives us a lot more information about the plot of the film. Catwoman, Harvey Dent and Bane breaking the Batman!
This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series The Dark Knight RisesMaybe it’s time we all quit trying to outsmart the truth and let it have it’s day. — Alfred In Act I (Batman Begins), we meet a Gotham overcome by corruption. The city rots, and crime runs rampant. The few good Gothamites […]