Tag Archives: Discipleship

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…
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Bizarro – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 10-30-2017

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

Four Reasons You’re Not Too Busy to Serve Your Local ChurchDanny Franks
To be clear: I’m not advocating for people who already have 15 ministry activities to take on a 16th. I’m not suggesting that people who are actively ministering in their community during the week should feel guilty because they don’t have an “inside the walls” ministry on the weekend.

No, I’m talking about the believer who isn’t currently, actively serving out of the overflow of their gifts and skill sets. Yes, they may be working 60 hours a week. Yep, they may have a job that keeps their weekend availability a bit unpredictable. But I believe that most Christians – with few exceptions – are wired to serve others, and for that reason, God dispenses grace for those believers to do what he’s wired them to do. Here’s why…


Noteworthy…

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When First Amendment conflicts erupt at U.S. Supreme Court, it’s time to ask WWDD?Richard Ostling
Over a three-day period, 47 “friend of the court” briefs suddenly clogged the inbox at the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the most important religious liberty case of this term – if not of the coming decade. This is a crucial First Amendment showdown.

Almost all these briefs opposed Colorado’s use of an anti-discrimination law against Masterpiece Cakeshop for refusing to provide the cake for a same-sex wedding…

No specialist on America’s law of religion outranks [Douglas] Laycock, who’s a principled champion of both church-state separation under the Constitution’s “establishment of religion” ban and its guarantee of “free exercise” of religion. He also supports gay marriage. Thus, he sometimes backs the so-called “liberal” side and sometimes the “conservative.”

This time around (.pdf here), Laycock lands squarely behind the Cakeshop…


3 Reasons You Should Not Pursue Full Time Ministry
Dan Reiland
One of my great personal passions is to see sharp young teens and adults called to vocational ministry, but I’m also aware that those numbers will always be small compared to the gigantic army of Christians who are out in business and the non-profit sectors of society. It is this “army” that will be counted amongst the greatest force ever to change the world.

With that context in mind, here are three things that are not good reasons to pursue full-time vocational ministry…


Change of plans…
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Bizarro

Weekend Picks ~ 10-27-2017

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

The atheist’s case against abortion: respect for human rights Kelsey Hazzard
The “pro-life generation” had a large presence at the annual March for Life in Washington on Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)I am an atheist, a 29-year-old woman, well-educated at secular institutions, and I lean liberal on many issues, including same-sex marriage and climate change.

I am also a dedicated pro-life activist, working to make abortion unthinkable.

The abortion industry would have you believe that people like me do not exist. They would have you believe that the pro-life movement is almost exclusively old white men, with a few pearl-clutching church ladies thrown in. This characterization is insulting to both young and old….

The pro-life pioneer Dr. Mildred Jefferson said it best: “I am not willing to stand aside and allow this concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live.” That’s a sentiment that anyone, from any religious or nonreligious background, can get behind.


I am very curious about the future of this…

Inside the Museum of the BibleMartyn Wendell Jones
Inside the Museum of the BibleOn November 17, Museum of the Bible (MOTB) will open its doors to the public for the first time, claiming to be the most cutting-edge museum in DC. Lavish exhibits, futuristic technology, and hitherto-unseen artifacts await visitors on the upper floors, as do lingering questions about the museum’s perceived association with antiquities smuggling. But the most enduring questions surrounding the museum will undoubtedly concern its intent. As its leadership has walked back the apologetic messaging of its early days in favor of a more open-handed mission of “engaging” all people with the Bible, skeptics may smell a ruse while some Christians may wonder if the museum is holding back…


It’s happening, and has been happening for some time…

How Holocausts HappenPhil Moore
How Holocausts Happen imageThis summer, I spent a difficult day at the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. I stepped inside the gas chambers where the Nazi prison guards killed 1.5 million people in two short years and, like the other tourists who stood there with me, I wondered how such a holocaust could have happened. On the way out, one of the tour guides confronted the question we were all thinking. His parting words were a chilling quote from the Auschwitz survivor, Primo Levi: “It happened, therefore it can happen again.”…

…the words of Primo Levi kept echoing around my head. Not “It happened, therefore it could happen again” – the parallels with our own day were too clear – but rather, “It happened and it is happening again.”

This week marks the 50-year anniversary since the British Parliament passed the Abortion Act, on 27th October 1967. During that half-century, the lives of eight million babies have been terminated under British law. While it’s true that the scale of the British slaughter is very small compared to that in China, where 336 million babies have been aborted since 1971, it is over five times as many human lives as were exterminated at Auschwitz-Birkenau, so let’s note the parallels…


Research Reveals the 5 Biggest Influencers on Your Child’s Spiritual HealthEric Geiger
What do you think makes the biggest impact on a child’s spiritual development? Dinner as a family? Parents who don’t miss special events? Having church friends? Being at a good Christian school? Being at a church with a vibrant kids and student ministry?

While surely those are all good things and things I want for may daughters, none of them showed up in our recent LifeWay Research study on how kids really grow spiritually

…So what did show up in the research as the biggest influencers? … I am going to briefly offer the top five. If you care for your kid’s spiritual journey, this research is gold…


@RealGeorgeWashington…
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Bizarro

Thursday Picks ~ 10-26-2017

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

The Stupidity of SinKevin DeYoung
prodigalEveryone who knows the Bible, knows people, or knows his own heart, knows this to be true: sin makes us stupid…

Sadly, we’ve all seen it before. From friends and family. Maybe from a trusted pastor or ministry colleague. It’s easier to see in others–the defensiveness, the blame-shifting, the excuse making, the nonsense of exchanging decades of faithfulness for minutes of folly. But what’s clear when looking at others can be hard to spot in ourselves. Just like the proverbial piece of lettuce on the lips, we can be last to realize how stupid we’ve become because of sin.


Red FlagsJamie Brown
I have made some wise decisions regarding whom to add to the worship team, and I have made some not-so-wise decisions. I’ve learned that there are some things to look out for (i.e. red flags) when considering whether or not someone should be asked to join the worship team.

Here are some red flags to be looking for (in no particular order of importance)…


Important, Popular or ViralSeth Godin
Image result for seth godinImportant work is easily dismissed by the audience. It involves change and risk and thought.

Popular work resonates with the people who already like what you do.

Viral work is what happens when the audience can’t stop talking about what you did.

Every once in awhile, all three things will co-exist, but odds are, you’re going to need to choose.


Discriminating Against People with Down Syndrome
Alan Shlemon
Abortion of a child with Down syndrome is unjust discrimination. Unborn children with Down syndrome are bona fide human beings but are being discriminated against because they have a characteristic that some people arbitrarily believe disqualifies them from being valuable and protected.

… in an age where society decries discrimination and values diversity and inclusiveness, it’s hard to believe there are those who argue it’s morally preferable to abort a child with Down syndrome. The pro-life view, by contrast, is the view that is inclusive, upholds diversity, and doesn’t discriminate.


Not All There…
Off the Mark

Run Harder

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“There’s one thing you can do: Keep. Showing. Up.

Approach the throne of grace every day. Multiple times a day.

Show up in the presence of God. Keep coming closer.

Run harder.

You don’t have to possess the right words. God can handle your silence.

You don’t have to understand. God can handle your confusion.

You don’t have to repress your messy emotions. God wants it all.

The enemy’s goal is for you to withdrawal from His presence.
To believe the lie that He’s forsaken you.

He wants you. He loves you.

He doesn’t just love the perfect you,
or “the-proper-way-to-respond-to-this-situation” you.

Just come.

He wants to weep with you, enjoy you, identify with you,
and be with you.

He has not forgotten you. He has not abandoned you…

When circumstances scream otherwise,
believe the truth, beautiful child of God.

Believe, believe, believe that He is for you.”

David Santistevan

Tuesday Picks ~ 10-17-2017

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

Bury The Word “Evangelical”Scot McKnight
The one thing I despise about Christianity in the USA is its aligning with a political party. Mainliners have done it; they’re Democrats. Evangelicals have followed suit; they’re Republicans. Politicization is accomplished.

Let the rest of us call ourselves Christians.


The “Decline of Religion”Alan Jacobs
Related image
From C.S. Lewis:

“One way of putting the truth would be that the religion which has declined was not Christianity. It was a vague Theism with a strong and virile ethical code, which, far from standing over against the ‘World’, was absorbed into the whole fabric of English institutions and sentiment and therefore demanded church-going as (at best) a part of loyalty and good manners as (at worst) a proof of respectability. Hence a social pressure, like the withdrawal of the compulsion, did not create a new situation. The new freedom first allowed accurate observations to be made. When no man goes to church except because he seeks Christ the number of actual believers can at last be discovered.”

That’s what we are discovering. The question is whether American churches will have the intellectual and spiritual integrity necessary to recognize and accept how completely they have relied on the social appeal of a “vague Theism” and how little they have spoken to those who go to church because they seek Christ. What’s at stake here is merely life or death.


Saying True Things In Gentle WaysDaryl Dash
Angry
We believe so many things that, frankly, are hard to believe. They not only contradict our culture, but they contradict every culture at some point.

The truth is sometimes hard to believe. How should we react? …

It’s not hard to compromise truth. It’s not hard to be harsh. What’s hard is what we’re called to do: to say true things in gentle ways.


Autumn speaks…
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Weekend Picks ~ 10-13-2017

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

Why Can’t We Disagree Well? Reflections on Colin Kaepernick, VP Mike Pence, and Listening WellEd Stetzer
Why Can't We Disagree Well? Reflections on Colin Kaepernick, VP Mike Pence, and Listening Well…what has become clear in the past month—and what was driven home in Sunday’s antics by leaders who should know better—is that debate over these protests has spiraled away from Kaepernick’s objective. Those who point out that the protest has forced us to talk about injustice don’t realize that we’ve been hijacked by discussions of patriotism.

My disappointment with the protests has nothing to do with their content—a message we so need. Instead, I am saddened that they were so easily lent to this kind of co-option.

On this point I agree with President Obama, who recognized the cultural import of the anthem and flag:

I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing. But I also want people to think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.

Indeed, listening is key…

Unfortunately, people frequently boil down disagreement to: you have to agree with me or you are [blank]. Each community fills in that blank with whatever pejorative term applies: racist, unamerican, ignorant, bigoted, elitist, etc. There are times when these viewpoints do get voiced and need to be called out as such. But often, it is not the content of the disagreement that provokes these responses, but the disagreement itself.


And on a related note…

Seeking SonderSeth Godin
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Sonder is defined as that moment when you realize that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and as conflicted as yours.

That everyone has a noise in their head.

That everyone thinks that they are right, and that they have suffered affronts and disrespect at the hands of others.

That everyone is afraid. And that everyone realizes that they are also lucky.

That everyone has an impulse to make things better, to connect and to contribute.

That everyone wants something that they can’t possibly have. And if they could have it, they’d discover that they didn’t really want it all along.

That everyone is lonely, insecure and a bit of a fraud. And that everyone cares about something.

Sonder might happen to you. When it does, it will help you see the world in a whole new way. Because, if you let it, the feeling can persist. A feeling that can allow you to see others the way you’d like to be seen.


6 Reasons Pastors and Church Leaders Must be More Courageous TodayThom Rainer
courage courageousThough there have certainly been more difficult times in the course of Church history for pastors, leading a church today is much tougher than it was 20 and 30 years ago. There have been some demographic and cultural shifts that reflect this reality. But some of the challenges can only be understood in the context of spiritual warfare.

So, what are some of the specific reasons pastors and church leaders must be more courageous today? Though my list is far from exhaustive, allow me to name six of the key factors…

Church members: may I encourage you, even exhort you, to pray that your pastors and church leaders will have the courage they need to lead God’s churches?


Every single day…

3 Things to Say to Your Kids Every DayArt Rainer
As parents, the words we say to our kids can make a significant difference in their lives, both in the present and future. I am nowhere near the perfect parent. Many of my days end with parenting regrets, things that I know I could have done better or differently.

But there is something that I don’t regret. Every morning and every night I tell my kids three things…


I love this insight into what happened with Jacob & Esau… and us…

Something Better Than the LandCourtney Reissig
Something Better Than the Land
God gave Esau the land, but sent Jacob down to Egypt. Jacob was part of God’s chosen people. Jacob was the one God picked. Jacob was the one God used to grow his people. Jacob was the one who blessed the nations through his family line. But instead of the land, he went down to Egypt. And we all know what happened there.

Esau got his land right then, Jacob never got it in his lifetime. At first glance, it can seem like Esau is the favored one, the blessed one. It looks like he wins. He isn’t sent into slavery. He doesn’t wander in the desert. He doesn’t face enemies on every side (as far as we know). He gets the land immediately. He gets his best life now.


Collective nouns…
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Wrong Hands

 

Thursday Picks ~ 10-12-2017

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

Do Christians Have to Care About Everything?Aaron Earls
Should Christians care about everything?
Is it your job to do something about everything? No, it’s not, but it is your’s and my job. Let me explain.

The first thing the cause-oriented millennial or burdened baby boomer needs to hear is, “You’re not Christ. You’re part of His body. And there is a difference.”

Yes, we are to follow Christ who will one day bring justice to every unjust situation, but we are not Him. He’s called us to follow Him and work to bring justice in this world now, but you cannot accomplish as an individual what God has tasked to the entire church.


If you didn’t want to read the whole thing you could skip the intro and scroll down to his six scenarios…

When To Panic and When NOT to Panic When People Leave Your ChurchCarey Nieuwhof
Deep down, it hurt so much every time someone left. I felt like I had let them down, like I let the church down, like I had failed…

 

I realize some of this is irrational and much of it might be unhealthy, but it hurts when someone goes.

However, if you let it fester, you’ll begin to live in fear all the time.

In fact, you can end up with people-pleasing as your main goal. You will lead in a way that you hope is going to prevent the greatest number of people from leaving.

That’s a terrible strategy…

Here are six scenarios that can happen when someone walks out the door…


Trevin makes some important and challenging point here…

Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One Trevin Wax
LightstockSome Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending His Son to die for our sins is so significant.

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

In a culture that thrives on self-affirmation and self-determination, “showing grace” now means accepting someone else’s definition of their own righteousness. Our age of expressive individualism leads us to find meaning in the identities we’ve constructed for ourselves, and then to expect (no, demand!) that others affirm our self-construction and give us their blessing…

Where does this leave the church? We welcome everyone and affirm no one.

That’s right. We don’t even affirm ourselves. The last thing we need is a club of self-righteous people who pat themselves on the back for meeting their own standards of righteousness.


Only one thing holds them back… 
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Monday Picks ~ 10-9-2017

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

One Uncomfortable Implication of Praying for God’s Will to be DoneMichael Kelley
“When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are implicitly stating that our will should not be done. We are giving over our plans, our dreams, and our aspirations to the will of God. We are, in a sense, dying. Submission to God’s will requires this of us.”


Do you think we’ll ever completely understand the intricacies of God’s creation? Not in this life…

Scientists Somehow Just Discovered a New System of Vessels in Our BrainsJames Hamblin
A transparent model of the brain with a network of vessels filled inYou are now among the first people to see the brain’s lymphatic system. The vessels in the photo above transport fluid that is likely crucial to metabolic and inflammatory processes. Until now, no one knew for sure that they existed.

Doctors practicing today have been taught that there are no lymphatic vessels inside the skull. Those deep-purple vessels were seen for the first time in images published this week by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


Noteworthy for pastors…

Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalJeremy Weber
Atheists Again Get Pastors’ Best Benefit Ruled UnconstitutionalOnce again, a federal judge has declared that the longstanding clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.


Maybe you need to read this today…

God Is Not Ashamed of YouDan DeWitt
Christian, God is not ashamed of you. You may very well be ashamed of you. God isn’t.

This truth is presented in the book of Hebrews twice. It’s repetition is driving home a point that our hearts desperately long to hear but often avoid. We shrink back from it because we know ourselves too well. God must be ashamed of us. We would be if we were him.

But he isn’t. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he’s not ashamed of us. He doesn’t regret us. He doesn’t wish he didn’t save us. Hebrews give two reasons for this…


I hate sentences that begin with “at your age”…
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Bizarro