Monday Picks ~ 11-6-2017

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

I even sort of enjoy the semi-annual shake-up…

Shut Up About Daylight Saving Time, It’s Actually Great
Dan Nosowitz
The fundamental misunderstanding of DST is a result of us Americans (humans, really) being impatient and all too willing to miscalculate the the harm of short-term problems over subtle long-term benefits. Remember! DST is not the two days per year (“fall back” and “spring forward”) when we move our clocks around. DST is eight months long…

Critics of DST often focus their criticisms around those two days per year, citing confusion, schedule disruption, and even health problems…

In reality, DST is an eight-month experiment designed to make life, well, more pleasurable for humans…

…It’s a perfectly imperfect, fantastically weird idea with noble intentions. There aren’t that many of those that actually get any traction, and DST has firmly anchored itself in our lives. Let DST stay. It just wants to make your life better.


Good reminder from a guy who has made law his life…

The Deception and Dishonesty of Legalism Tim Fall
The more you learn about Jesus, the more you’ll tend to live rightly in God’s kingdom. But if you try to focus on how to live rightly, you’d be spending time on that rather than learning more about Jesus and acquiring knowledge of the truth about him.

After all, it is not knowledge of the rules for right living that makes you godly. It is knowledge of God’s truth that leads you to godliness. This is one of the blessings of Jesus’ gospel of grace, a spiritual truth that leads you to God and godliness. The more you get to know Jesus, the more you become like him.


Five things a leader may need to sacrifice…

The One Thing Great Leaders Can’t EscapeDan Reiland
Baseball players that play for stats instead of the scoreboard, rarely contribute significantly to a winning team. In the same way, church staff who build resumes instead of building the Kingdom, rarely contribute consistently and in a big way to the progress of the church.

The primary difference between the two is the willingness to make sacrifices.

From a more substantive perspective, sacrifice might look like this…


Disturbing Trends in Men’s Hairstyles…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMTEvQml6YXJyb19udGIuMjAxNzExMDVfOTAwLmdpZg==
Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 3

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.

Joshua 3:1-17
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits[a] in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people.

The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth[b] is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

14 So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. 17 Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Does this seem familiar?
Remember the Red Sea?
How is this similar?
How is it different?
Now, think about verse 7.
Who made Joshua a leader?
Didn’t he work for it?
Didn’t he train for it?
Didn’t he apprentice under one of the greatest leaders of all time?
Did any of that make him a leader?
No. It made him ready.
I made him a leader.
Who made you a leader? You or me?
It makes a difference, doesn’t it?


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

Feelings Are Liars

https://i2.wp.com/www.focuspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/iStock_000011669944_Small-e1435213843554.jpg?fit=600%2C392&ssl=1Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.

-Eugene H. Peterson

Weekend Picks ~ 11-3-2017

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

This thought-provoking series of articles has stretched my imagination and caused me to want to read Eugene Peterson’s book “Reversed Thunder”

Heaven Is EarthyJohn Frye
Heaven is immediate, not remote in either time or space. “Heaven is not what we wait for until the rapture or where we go when we die, but what is, barely out of range of our senses, but brought to our senses by St. John’s visions. … The vision of heaven is not a promise of anything other than what we have already received by faith; it does, though, promise more, namely, its completion” (172). Heaven is not a fantasy. It is not an escape from what is. If we don’t like what is, we may not like heaven. Heaven is the cosmos brought to completion.


Three Shifts to Increase Global EngagementDavid Dummitt
Three Shifts to Increase Global Engagement 
Global engagement isn’t a new idea to American churches. Mission programs, global outreach projects, generosity campaigns, and more have been a part of churches in the United States for centuries. Many methods, strategies, and best practices have come and gone, but like everything else, we need to evaluate what we are doing and adjust where we fall short of maximum effectiveness. 

Here are three shifts American churches can make to increase global impact…


You will need to free your mind from the “hijackers” for a while to read this longish article. Good luck…

‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopiaPaul Lewis
A company paying Facebook to use its levers of persuasion could be a car business targeting tailored advertisements to different types of users who want a new vehicle. Or it could be a Moscow-based troll farm seeking to turn voters in a swing county in Wisconsin…

Williams, 35, left Google last year, and is on the cusp of completing a PhD at Oxford University exploring the ethics of persuasive design. It is a journey that has led him to question whether democracy can survive the new technological age…

That discomfort was compounded during a moment at work, when he glanced at one of Google’s dashboards, a multicoloured display showing how much of people’s attention the company had commandeered for advertisers. “I realised: this is literally a million people that we’ve sort of nudged or persuaded to do this thing that they weren’t going to otherwise do,” he recalls…

“The dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will,” he says. “If politics is an expression of our human will, on individual and collective levels, then the attention economy is directly undermining the assumptions that democracy rests on.” If Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are gradually chipping away at our ability to control our own minds, could there come a point, I ask, at which democracy no longer functions?

“Will we be able to recognise it, if and when it happens?” Williams replies. “And if we can’t, then how do we know it hasn’t happened already?”


My experience as part of the leadership team of a multi-site church, who recently made the hard decision to close a campus, confirms the truth of this insightful article…

How to Tell a Campus Pastor from a Church Planter
Tammy Kelley
campus pastorIf you lead a multisite church and you’re trying to identify future Campus Pastors, you need to understand these differences or you may end up planting a church by accident. Likewise, if your mission is church planting, you will better set up new plants to succeed if you get this role right.

Here are several of the most distinctive traits of both groups…


Also, road-trippers…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/what-the-explorers.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 2

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.

Joshua 2:1-24
And Joshua the son of Nun sent[a] two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

Before the men[b] lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.[c] 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said[d] to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
I know you’re familiar with this story.
Did you notice anything you hadn’t noticed before?
Have you ever asked yourself why they lodged at the house of a prostitute in the first place? (v. 1)
Have you considered the possibility that she was simply a sympathizer to their cause and invited them in?
Then why do you think I wanted you to know she was a prostitute?
What does this tell you about me?
What had she heard about me?
Who did she hear it from?
What do your neighbors and co-workers hear about me?
Do they hear it from you?


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

Thursday Picks ~ 11-2-2017

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

Politics and MotherhoodJames Taranto
Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters by [Komisar, Erica]Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.

Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”


So much hard truth here…

5 Ways Revitalization is Hindered in Your Church
Joel Rainey
revitalization…revitalization isn’t easy. Some churches just want to grow so they can return to a previous time they have romanticized as their “golden age.” Some churches feel obligated to sit tight until the most resistant members finally agree to a new path. Still other churches allow long-time members to sabotage the route to new life. For the most part, these things happen, and are allowed to happen, because pastors do truly love their people and would prefer to see everyone move forward together. But refusing to make hard decisions and lead with clarity and strength can prevent the very revitalization your church needs from happening. What follows are five ways to prevent revitalization from happening in your church…


One Question You Need to Answer Every Morning
Michael Kelley
Today might have been a day when the first question that entered your mind was something like this:

Is today going to be any better than yesterday?

Is today the day when the pain will finally stop?

Is today the day when he will finally come home?

Is today the day when the job offer will come?

These are the questions of real life, and they’re all important questions. No – more than that. These are questions of the soul. And yet these are all questions that are informed by the answer to the first one:

Is the Bible true?

If the answer is no, or if the answer is maybe, then the answer to all your other questions is at best, I hope so. Or maybe. Or possibly. In the end, though, if you are not convinced the Bible is true, then you are placing all your hopes for that single day, and every other day that follows, on your ability to manufacture some measure of optimism for your current situation.

But if the Bible is true? That changes everything…


A teacher’s favorite question…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMTEvWml0cy4yMDE3MTEwMl85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Joshua 1:10-18

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.

I’ve been reading Psalms for a while now. Before that I read Luke. Before that I read Leviticus. I think it’s time to continue with the next book in the OT – Joshua.

Joshua 1:10-18
10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Did you notice that the men of Reuben, Gad & Manasseh, who already had their land, helped the rest of the tribes take their land?
Why is this important?
What does it teach you about me?
What does it teach you about my expectations for my people?
Have you been helped by someone who had what you didn’t?
Have you helped someone who didn’t have what you do?

Now, about 16-18:
Did you notice the two expectations people had of Joshua?
1. May the Lord your God be with you. (v. 17)
2. Be strong and courageous. (v. 18)
Aren’t these things important for any leader?
Are these things seen in you?
What would it take to make sure they are?


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

Joshua 1:1-9

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.

I’ve been reading Psalms for a while now. Before that I read Luke. Before that I read Leviticus. I think it’s time to continue with the next book in the OT – Joshua.

Joshua 1:1-9
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant,
“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Who are you preparing to come after you? (vs. 1,2)
Three times I told Joshua to be strong and courageous.
It’s important.
Are you strong and courageous?
If not, why not?
Joshua had an important job to do.
You do, too…don’t you?
Read verse 9 again.
Is it possible that this is just as true for you as it was for Joshua?
If you doubt that you have an important job, or that I’m with you wherever you go, check Matthew 28:19-20.


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

Tuesday Picks ~ 10-31-2017

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

Three Reasons You Should Go Trick or TreatingEd Stetzer
Three Reasons You Should Go Trick or TreatingI am going to argue that Christians not only can but should put on their costumes, pass out candy, and greet guests at the door each time Halloween rolls around.

Here are three reasons you should plan on trick-or-treating…


Think you know what it takes to translate the Bible? Turns out we’re all Bible translators…

More Than Bible TranslationGreg Pruett
More Than Bible Translation That’s when I understood that the first translation of the Word people read is our lifestyle. We physically represent the good news of the justice of Jesus walking around among the people.  

That’s how I learned the truth of the maxim we often repeat: “It’s never outside the scope of Bible translation to obey the Bible.” …

…Bible translation is not about producing books. Our rallying cry is not, “A Bible on every shelf.” For me and for my teammates, it’s all about life transformation, the actual impact of the Word of God on the lives of the people. Our output is not Bibles, but churches using the Bibles for transformation.


A Message of Appreciation to Joni Eareckson Tada, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of Her Life-Altering Accident
Randy Alcorn
In 1967, 50 years ago, a diving accident left Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic at age seventeen…

Who at that time would have said, “God is clearly working out His gracious purpose in this young woman’s life”?

…the fact that Joni would be celebrating something so difficult, which a sovereign and loving God has used so greatly, shows the kind of character and Christ-honoring perspective she has.


We’ve got a long trip ahead…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMTAvQml6YXJyb19udGIuMjAxNzEwMjlfOTAwLmdpZg==
Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.