Luke 9:51-56

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:51-56
51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[e] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[f] 56 And they went on to another village.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What did Jesus ask the disciples to do?
Did they do it?
Were they successful?
These people obviously had a problem with Jesus and his followers.
Did Jesus need them to fight for him?
What did Jesus ask you to do?
Have you done it?
Are you successful?
Does Jesus need you to fight for him?
What can you learn here about dealing with people that have a problem with Jesus and his followers?

Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Cincinnati’s Noteworthy Cheeseburgers

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, but I’ve been afraid. We live in a highly charged and divisive time, and I have no desire to add fuel to the fire. I believe we should be able to express our opinions freely, and respectfully disagree on important topics like this without resorting to name-calling.  So, I think the time has come for me to man up and just put it out there. It’s time to express my opinion on what is sure to be a controversial issue…

Here are what I believe to be Cincinnati’s most noteworthy cheeseburgers.

Before I dive in, I want to make sure we all understand what I’m doing here. The words of the title are carefully chosen.

The Haunted Hamburger – 2007
The Haunted Hamburger – 2007

First of all, notice the word “Cincinnati.” So far, the best cheeseburger of my life was consumed in 2007. It was “The Haunted Hamburger” in Jerome, Arizona. It was the perfect combination of a great burger at the best table, with the best view, in a unique location on a vacation with some of my best friends. We sat on a small deck on the side of a mountain over a vast expanse of valley with more mountains in the distance, watching the sun set on a perfect evening. The experience is etched in my memory as one of the most enjoyable and satisfying meals of my life.

But it’s not on the list. It wasn’t in Cincinnati.

Second, notice the word “noteworthy.” This is not a ranking. These are not listed in order of my favorite to least favorite. I will be clear at the end about which cheeseburger is my favorite in the city, but the rest are merely a list of what I consider to be noteworthy culinary experiences. The burger I desire on any given day could vary with my mood. And to be perfectly clear, being “noteworthy” doesn’t necessarily mean I even like it.

Third, notice the word “cheeseburger.” If you’re not going to put cheese on it, why bother?

So here we go, in alphabetical order… Tavern and Grill is a local restaurant and bar on the northwest side with a friendly staff and regular patrons. They have added a new “stuffed” burger which I recommend. The filling varies so you’ll have to ask what’s in it. The last time I was there it was a “Reuben” burger stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese. It was wonderful. But if you’re more of a purist, get the “Naked Burger” or the “Bacon Cheddar Classic.” You won’t be disappointed. Get the beer battered fries to go with it. They are outstanding!

Bru Burger Bar is a small chain with locations in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The Cincinnati location is right downtown on 6th Street making it a great place for dinner before a baseball game. Sit on the covered patio during the summer. They offer a variety of burgers with unique toppings. So far, my favorite is the “Mexicali BBQ Burger.”, I love the onion rings! One more thing: they make their own catsup. Or, is it ketchup? I’m never sure. Either way, stay away from it. They’ll bring you regular catsup (ketchup) if you ask for it. And you should.

Five Guys know this place. You can find them all over the country. If you want a perfectly cooked basic cheeseburger with no frills, this is place. They know what they’re doing. Plus, their fries are fantastic!

Flipdaddy’s are four locations in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. They offer quite a few unique burgers, but what makes Flipdady’s noteworthy is the meat itself. Here’s what they say about it: “We have our very own awesome proprietary blend of premium quality cuts of brisket, short rib and chuck. Years of research, tasting and tweaking went into creating this blend.” I don’t know about all that, but it does taste good. I’ve had a few of their “brilliant” burgers including the Gaucho and the El Paso. Both were quite tasty. They also serve a “Burger of the Month” to add some variety to the menu. Oh, and you should try the Beer Cheese appetizer with the pretzel bites. Mm, mm!

Gas Light Cafe is a small local joint in Pleasant Ridge. I suppose it’s mainly a bar but the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming. Be careful when ordering. My first time there I made the mistake of ordering a “Cheeseburger Deluxe.” Sounds good, right? Wrong. It was ok, but nothing worth ordering a second time. Go down the menu a little farther to the “Gas Light Favorites” section and order the “Gas Light Burger.” There’s a world of difference! It’s twice the burger. No fancy fixin’s but a delicious, juicy, perfectly cooked burger that is very satisfying. After dinner you can go next door and browse Everybody’s Records, one of the few remaining record stores.

Mad Mike’s*%2C*Mad Mike’s is noteworthy to me for personal reasons. They opened in an old run down building that was occupied for years by The Chili Company. The building sat empty for many years and fell into a sad state of disrepair.  It sits on an awkward triangular lot at a busy intersection which I pass several times a week. For a long time I just wished someone would just tear the place down to open up that corner and rid the community of the eyesore. However, when Mike opened up a burger joint I shouted, “Hallelujah!” and did all I could to help the business succeed. To be honest, the service and the food have been inconsistent. It started out great, but kind of slipped for a time and lost my support. But it seems to be on the rebound again. The building and parking lot still look a bit run down, but don’t let that keep you away. The burgers seem to be grilled somewhat differently than most. They have a slight crunch on the outside, but juicy and tasty on the inside. My favorite is the “American Outlaw.” I don’t know what they put in that “Mad Sauce” but it is wonderful!

Red Robin, who doesn’t like Red Robin? “Yummmm!” Yes, they’re a little pricey, and it’s not really a “local” business, but I haven’t had a bad burger there.

Terry’s Turf Club you truly want a unique experience, this is it. The place has been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The burgers are all hand formed. You can get them topped with any of 10 imported cheeses and 12 specialty sauces, including wasabi, béarnaise, mango curry, peanut garlic and more. You might be interested in trying his famous filet mignon chili. Don’t ask me why you would want to put a filet mignon in chili, but Terry does it. It’s a small dive with limited parking on Eastern Avenue so be prepared to wait for a seat at the busiest meal times. While waiting for your delicious and messy burger to arrive, you can occupy yourself by simply looking around at all the amazing neon signs that Terry has collected.

Tickle Pickle is another small local business located in Northside. The burgers are good, but it’s worth going just for the rock & roll themed names they give them. There’s Buns & Roses, the Nom Petty, the Hot Chili Peppers (you can guess what’s on that one), the Meatallica, etc. The last time I was there I went with the basic Bread Zeppelin. The kid’s menu features Bean Day, Bun Jovi, and Fleetwood Mac & Cheese. Oh, and don’t forget the milk shakes! I had the Oreo Speedwagon.

Zip’s Cafe think Zip’s is noteworthy for being so over-rated. It seems like every list of top burgers in Cincinnati includes Zip’s at or near the top. Apparently people really like it. Honestly, I don’t get it. When I was there it was very crowded and we were seated at a long table with at least 15 other people we didn’t know. normally doesn’t really bother me to share a table with strangers, but this seems to be a popular neighborhood place where everybody knows everybody else. I felt like we were intruding on a family gathering. The burger was just ok, in my opinion. I think I’ll just leave this place for the yuppies in Mt. Lookout. They seem to like it. Oh, I did think the model train circling the place near the ceiling was pretty cool.

My Favorite Burger in Cincinnati

I kind of hate to admit it, but my absolute favorite burger in Cincinnati right now is found at a national chain…

Quaker Steak & Lube avoided going to this place for a long time simply because I couldn’t get past the name. I’ve been to lots of service stations and garages where mechanics work on your car and change your oil. I wouldn’t want to eat at any of them. Eventually I was with a group who decided this where we were going so I relented. I discovered the Arizona El Camino burger. Oh my! I don’t like to get my hands messy when I eat, so I generally have to eat this with a fork. Until I can once again make the trip to Jerome Arizona, this one will do. Must be something to do with Arizona. Anyway, it is, in my opinion, far and away the best burger in Cincinnati.

P.S. – Don’t go on “Bike Night” (Thursdays). Unless, of course, you ride your Harley…


Of course, I’m always open to trying new places in my never ending quest for the perfect cheeseburger.



Tuesday Picks ~ 2-28-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I raised two impressive daughters. These things were always my heart’s intention. I wish I could say I did them well, but I know better…

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Daughter Today
Ron Edmondson
All women (all people) have scars of some kind. Sadly, I know a few girls – most of them now grown – who have scars caused by a dad. And, the scars caused by a dad may be among the worst.

As I’ve counseled dozens of hurt or angry girls over the years, I’ve often wondered what I would have done if I had raised a girl. Would would I do now if I were raising a girl?

Certainly the world can be a crazy place. Our children need us – perhaps now more than ever. If I were raising a daughter I would want to be wise and intentional. Maybe one dad out there will read this, consider his own role as a father, and be even more intentional in this important responsibility.

This is such a delicate balance. We must stay vigilant if we have any hope of walking this tightrope…

The Two Things We Must Say About the Transgender DebateKevin DeYoung
imagesThe Christian response to the transgender debate depends on whether we are talking about the debate or about a transgender person. I understand the two cannot be completely divorced, but they are not the same thing either. The ideas bandied about in the public square are often ridiculous. The people struggling with gender identity are not…

That means while we do not have patience for secular agendas, we must have patience for struggling people…It means we must show private care in a way that is not confused with public indifference, and make known our public concern in a way that is not confused with private disdain. We have two different things to say depending on the context–not contradictory things, but complementary things the world is eager to confuse. The agenda ought to be lampooned. The people ought to be loved.

You may find this sadly interesting. I did…

The End of the Olympics As We Know ItRodger Sherman
The Olympics are the world’s most internationally revered money-laundering scam. The host country does not pay the International Olympic Committee to host the games. (That would be bribery!) Instead, the host spends a ludicrous amount of money building infrastructure, and the IOC makes a ludicrous amount of money from selling the international television rights and licensing the Olympic name and logo to advertisers. Hypothetically, the host makes the money back in the decades to come by hosting sporting events at its stadiums.

But if that second part never happens — and it almost never does — the IOC has already made its money…

The IOC is a parasite: It latches onto hosts, leeches out all the money it can, and leaves a trail of rotting velodromes in its wake. Luckily, cities across the globe have learned how to fight back.

Back in my day…
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 9:43-50

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:43-50
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus[d] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

46 An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

49 John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Why do you think they were afraid to ask? (v. 45)
Who do you know who is great?
Would I think so?
Who thinks you’re great?
What is their standard?
You know my standard. It’s right there in v. 48.
So, do you think I think you’re great?
Maybe you should just stop trying to be great.
Let me be the great one.

Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Monday Picks ~ 2-27-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I Wish Christians Would Argue MoreTrevin Wax
LightstockNo, I’m not being sarcastic or saying this with an eye roll. I mean it.

I want Christians to argue more and fight less. To take it a step further, I’d even say that fighting less depends on our willingness to argue more and better…

Instead, we see quarreling…where people are personally offended that someone else has a different opinion, so they dig in in order to defend the point of view they already accept.

Why does this happen? For three reasons…

The church is jazz…

The Art of CommunityManuel Luz
Version 3There’s nothing like jamming in a jazz trio. Especially when the players are good and the band plays tight. There is an immediacy of every moment of every song.  Every groove percolates. Every solo is an adventure.  Every song is a work of art.

…the jazz trio is a metaphor for Biblical community. In true Biblical community, there are all of these components—selflessness, dialogue, grace, mutual submission, synergy, improvisation, and shared passion. It is necessary—even commanded—in order to play the music that is the healthy, functional Church. The Church, the Bride of Christ, is intended to birth the music that cares for the lost, loves the world, makes disciples, and worships the Living God. It is an improvised symphony, alive and breathing, bathed in the mystery and wonder of our shared journey with Him.


Tim Keller Stepping Down as Redeemer Senior Pastor
Kate Shellnutt this year, Redeemer Presbyterian will no longer be a multisite megachurch in Manhattan, and Tim Keller will no longer be its senior pastor.

Keller, 66, announced at all eight Sunday services today that he will be stepping down from the pulpit. The move corresponds with a decades-long plan to transition the single Presbyterian Church in America congregation—which has grown to 5,000 members since it began 28 years ago—into three particular churches.

His last day as senior pastor will be July 1.

I was saddened recently to witness two mutual friends break up on Facebook. One shared an introspective post concerning his fear as a man with dark skin in today’s cultural climate. Instead of caring and trying to understand, the other unfriended him because of the “negativity” in his newsfeed. What has happened to us?

Curiosity, Crossing Cultures, and Breaking Down BarriersBarnabas Piper is equally the most comfortable place to be and the most awful. By no choice of my own, I was born into and with little enough effort I have achieved a place where I can spend every day thinking nothing of how others live, think, survive, and navigate culture. They navigate around me, not me around them. It is a place of passive superiority that soaks deep into the soul. How easy. How terrible.

This is not what God intended…

Curiosity is the bridge between neighbors of different races because it is built on genuine interest and honest questions. It seeks to know the other person with no agenda or ulterior motive. Curiosity allows us to humbly admit ignorance of another’s way of life, perspective, or experiences and then humbly listen when they share. Curiosity assumes the veracity and validity of another’s pain or joy even if it doesn’t understand precisely because it doesn’t understand.

Almost too accurate to be funny…
Dilbert – Click image for a larger view.

Luke 9:37-43

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:37-43
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Does Jesus seem impatient here?
What if he was?
Does it matter?
What were the people astonished at?
Could “astonishment” be a good synonym for worship?
What “astonishes” you when you worship?

Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

We Are Wrong“Among the countless nuggets of wisdom I have received
over the years from my father is this bit of gold-
when you are reading your Bible and you come across
something that makes you uncomfortable,
resist the temptation to simply move on to something else.
Where the Bible makes us uncomfortable
is precisely where we need to slow down.
It is compelling evidence of a specific weakness.
When our thoughts or feelings bristle under God’s Word,
He is right and we wrong.”

R.C. Sproul

Weekend Picks ~ 2-24-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Some interesting thoughts for your weekend reading, not that it’ll change your mind at all…

Why Facts Don’t Change Our MindsElizabeth Kolbert
The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.Even after the evidence “for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs,” the researchers noted…

The Stanford studies became famous. Coming from a group of academics in the nineteen-seventies, the contention that people can’t think straight was shocking. It isn’t any longer. Thousands of subsequent experiments have confirmed (and elaborated on) this finding. As everyone who’s followed the research—or even occasionally picked up a copy of Psychology Today—knows, any graduate student with a clipboard can demonstrate that reasonable-seeming people are often totally irrational. Rarely has this insight seemed more relevant than it does right now. Still, an essential puzzle remains: How did we come to be this way?

It’s a fact that people who consider themselves committed to their church actually attend much less often than they used to. I believe it’s an unhealthy development that we should fight to change…

Church Member! Fight to Attend Your Church Weekly!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
This is not just another paper urging the unsaved to just ‘get to church’. This essay is for those whom God has saved and who have obediently committed themselves to a local church and submitted themselves to the leadership of that church. This is an essay for the saved to reorient the focus on the Lord and on His church because this in our culture can distract and disrupt and cloud our minds at times.

My argument? Fight with all your might to attend your church weekly. I’ll provide 7 simple reminders…

To Give a Good Answer, Sometimes You Have to Change the QuestionMelinda Penner
As Christians representing God’s Word, we have to be able to explain the bigger picture. In the case of homosexuality, pornography, and sex outside of marriage, we need to explain what God’s plan is for human sexuality. The reason there are negatives in the Bible is to protect the positives…

…When confronted with direct questions about what the Bible teaches about sex, you probably need to answer a somewhat different question to give a good answer. Instead of answering the question, “What does the Bible teach about being gay?” it might be more effective to help the asker actually understand the answer if you respond to the more relevant question, “What does the Bible teach is God’s design for sex?” In that context, the answer to the question he asked will make more sense.

Worship leaders, this might be worth thinking about…, parents, worship leaders: Are you teaching any songs that can be sung acapella around a hospital bed in 50 years? -Kevin DeYoung

Your Kids are Not Family Decision-Makers
Melissa Edgington
Somehow we have gotten it in our heads that kids want a say in everything. Wrong! Kids want you to figure all that life junk out and let them go play with bugs in the backyard…

Childhood is so short. Let kids be kids. I know many of you don’t believe it, but kids like to be told what to do. They like knowing you are in control. It gives them security. It makes them feel protected and taken care of and safe.

If I lived in the wild west…

Luke 9:28-36

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:28-36
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure,[a] which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering how they knew it was Moses and Elijah.
Glowing clothes, a supernatural cloud, a voice from heaven, and this is what grabs you?
Do your best to separate your familiarity with the story and try to imagine experiencing it as James or John.
Can you do it?
What are your emotions?
How do you react?
Do you want to build a memorial like Peter?
Why do you think they decide not to tell anyone about this?
How would people respond if they did?
How would people respond to you, if you did?

Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.