Tag Archives: Discipleship

My Picks for Tuesday 2-2-2016

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

3 Theological Luxuries of the AffluentMichael Kelley
When you find yourself in a time and place of relative peace and prosperity, some of the theological issues you have are there because of that affluence. They are, in other words, luxuries for those who have the ability to think about them. Here are three such luxuries I can see in my own life:
1. Introspection
2. Cynicism
3. Boredom
(Click the link to read his explanations.)

Why You Don’t Need an Instagram-Perfect Life
Melissa Camara Wilkins
Photo Credit: kennysarmy, Creative Commons“In Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes: ‘Fitting in is about… becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.’ Even on social media…

But fitting in is hard work, and it feels terrible.

I’m never sure I’m doing it right. And the better you fit in, the more anxious you become—because someone might notice that the image you’re projecting isn’t you at all.

I don’t have time and energy for that. I have kids to raise and exercise to avoid and stories to write. I want to spend my days creating the life and the art that are mine to create, not pretending my reality looks like someone else’s idea of perfect.

Fitting in might seem safe, but belonging feels so much better.”

Can conversation help end bigotry? An improbable example suggests that it would be unwise to discount the possibility…

The Audacity of Talking About Race With the Ku Klux Klan
Conor Friedersdorf
“I had one guy from an NAACP branch chew me up one side and down the other, saying, you know, we’ve worked hard to get ten steps forward. Here you are sitting down with the enemy having dinner, you’re putting us twenty steps back.”

I pull out my robes and hoods and say, “look, this is what I’ve done to put a dent in racism. I’ve got robes and hoods hanging in my closet by people who’ve given up that belief because of my conversations sitting down to dinner. They gave it up. How many robes and hoods have you collected?” And then they shut up.

Click image for a larger version. Source: Pearls Before Swine

My Weekend Picks for 1-29-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Kill Your (Celebrity Culture) WorshipMike Cosper
“…rather than focus on musical styles—which are always the topic of debates, trends, and preferences (just read J. S. Bach’s letters)—I think we should zero in more closely on the trouble with celebrity culture. Celebrity culture turns pastors and worship leaders into icons. Celebrity culture turns worship gatherings into rock concerts. Celebrity culture confuses flash and hype for substance.”

I’m sharing this because it’s really, really good and challenging…
…not just because Mary and I are related…

What in the world are You doing?Mary Graham
what in the world
“So much of what I’ve always thought about Jesus was because I was an American following Jesus. I’m a white, middle class, educated, Jesus follower. Those are some hard obstacles to overcome when I’m looking at what real wealth in Jesus is. Those are some huge barricades to get past when I live in a culture all about encouraging me to reward myself for my hard work, my “busy” life, and my growing bank account.

Believing those lies makes the Gospel inaccessible for millions and millions of people.”

Why It Never Helps to Pass the BuckMichael Hyatt
A_Seal_Team_is_coming_out_of_water“I once had a boss who with the reputation of being very harsh. He could be hard on people. But that wasn’t my experience. Why? I knew the secret.

My boss was definitely tough. On a few different occasions I saw him chew a person’s face off. But here’s why: He hated it when someone tried to shift blame for an outcome, especially someone in leadership.

One of the most important marks of an effective leader—a leader that other leaders can trust—is the willingness to accept total responsibility for the outcome.

I came to my boss several times with major problems—million-dollar problems. But I owned it. Instead of blasting me, he leant support, patience, and advice.”

Lazy Susan…
Click image for a larger version. Source: Pearls Before Swine

My Picks for Thursday 1-28-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Magnify the Lord WITH MEJamie Brown
1“The more complicated job of a worship leader is to convince everyone else on the platform with him or her that they are also worship leaders. When the members of a choir, and the band, and the pastors, and the technical team all see themselves as worship leaders, and demonstrate a heart like David’s, then a congregation finds itself increasingly drawn in to exalt the greatness of God.”

Colton Dixon and the “Craziness” of Saving Sex for Marriage
Trevin Wax
colton-dixon-annie-coggeshall-wedding-6“As Christians, we should get used to being labeled “freaks” and “morons” and “silly” for our views on sexuality. The idea that sex outside of marriage is sinful draws cultural scorn.

The temptation for the Church is to fire back, to condemn the world and run down a list of biblical “do’s” and “don’ts.” Instead, if we are to be effective missionaries in this culture, we should try to show why God’s design is not only right, but also beautiful.”

You might find this helpful…

How to rid your Facebook feed of all those terrible viral news storiesKabir Chibber
“A couple of years ago, you may have liked the Facebook pages of some cool new digital media outlets, and maybe even a few older traditional ones too. You started to see a few stories sprinkled in your feed, and they added something to your life. You liked, clicked, and shared them with your friends. All was right with the world.

Then, the volume of posts increased. And they all started to look the same

Here’s how to take more control of your Facebook feed from the viral-content machine.”

Our Prayer Instincts Are BackwardsAndrew Wilson
Our Prayer Instincts Are Backwards“Left to our own devices, we pray the Lord’s Prayer backwards. Without being taught, we say help, then sorry, then please do X for me, and then please do Y for others…

Yet Jesus taught us to pray it forwards. The topsy-turvy order of the Lord’s Prayer is one reason it is so remarkable.”

Should I stay or should I go?


My Picks for Wednesday 1-27-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

This looks like a book worth reading…

Under Our Skinbook review by Tim Challies
“Do you remember Benjamin Watson’s Facebook post from November 14, 2015? The news had just gone out that a St. Louis County grand jury had decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Watson, a professional football player, took to Facebook with a post that would soon be “liked” nearly a million times and shared more than half a million more.

Watson received significant amounts of both praise and criticism for his words. It came as no surprise to me that he was soon invited to switch genres and to turn his brief article into a full-length book. The result is Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race–And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us…

…We have probably grown wearily accustomed to athletes who tack Jesus onto their lives as a kind of superstitious afterthought, but this is clearly not the case with Watson. He is a man who gets it—who gets the gospel and its implications for all of life.”

The Problem With Modernizing Your Worship Services
David Santistevan
The problem with
“Your goal as a worship leader isn’t to be creative to the exclusion of engagement. Participation will always win the day. Always.

A better question is, “How can we make our worship fresh?”

“Modern” feels like we’re trying to keep up with the times, comparing ourselves to what is happening around us.

“Fresh” says, “What do our people need? What will help engage them in worship on a deeper level? What will help them see their place in the story of God a little clearer?

Here are 5 ways to make your worship services fresh…”

Whether or not Trump wins, the Republican Party may never recoverLiam Kennedy
“Throughout the 2016 Republican primary campaign, the electorate’s fears and resentments have been whipped into a frenzy. Jobs are insecure and living standards stagnant or falling; immigration is destroying the fabric of the nation; national security is imperiled by imminent terrorist attacks; the government is scheming to take away Americans’ guns…

…It is a constituency to which the absolutism of Trump’s rhetorical style plays well – and in appealing to it he has revealed the chasm that has opened between the Republican establishment and its base…

…The long-cherished establishment assumption that American politics inevitably re-centres itself through the electoral process is now being sorely tested. There is growing evidence that “negative partisanship” is taking over American politics and the electorate has become more ideological and tribal.

This will be a challenge for the Democrats too – but right now, the Republicans are being consumed by a storm of animosities and passions which they simply cannot control. Whether or not Trump wins the nomination, the fallout could shatter the party for years to come.”

Source: Bizarro

My Picks for Monday 1-25-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

9 Things That Worked in the Church A Decade Ago
That Don’t Today
Carey Nieuwhof
shutterstock_281195741“You saw your ministry grow, people come to faith and the mission advance.

But times change.

And—these days especially—culture is changing faster than ever before.

As a result, the shelf life of ideas, assumptions and approaches is shorter than it has ever been.

What used to work, doesn’t. Not anymore.

What got you here won’t get you there.

Here are 9 things that used to work in ministry a decade ago that aren’t nearly as effective as they used to be…”

Scruffy Hospitality Creates Space for FriendshipJack King
eating“Unwritten Southern rules of offering hospitality with excellence have affected how often we invite people in our home. ‘We should have the __________s over sometime.’ And then we delay or postpone the invitation. Why? Because the to-do list is always there, the gap between our day-to-day home and the presentable, acceptable-for-hospitality version of our home.

But over the past several months, Emily and I are learning to lay those conventions aside. Why? Because inviting friends into our lives when we are only ‘excellent’ isn’t friendship…Friendship is about preparing a space for authentic conversation. And sometimes authenticity happens when everything is a bit scruffy.”

Below is a sermon by Andy Stanley that is a challenging message that we 21st century American Christians need to hear. I’d like to thank Marty Duren for bringing it to my attention. The video is North Point’s whole Sunday service. The sermon starts at about 29:00 and is about 40 minutes long. It is truly worth your time.

“Uncertainty is for certain. Fearfulness is optional.”

And then, considering all that it has cost so many through the generations: “Is our version of Christianity worth that?”

Seriously, you should set aside the time for this…

Click the image for a link to the service and advance to 29:00 for the beginning of the sermon.


Source: Bizarro

What a Friend

I had a friend; I don’t think that we’re friends any more. I’m not sure what happened. I missed a few of our appointed meetings. I felt sure he’d understand.

A couple of times when we were talking, I saw some others approach and gave them my full attention, forgetting my friend. I felt sure that he’d understand.

I didn’t see him for a couple of weeks, but then when I did see him, I was careful to be enthusiastic and pretend we’d seen each other more often.

He moved away. I wrote regularly for awhile, but then . . . well, you know how it is. I’m sure he knew how busy I was. I felt sure he knew I thought of him often.

I sent him a birthday card. It was a week late, but it was a funny one, and I was sure he would understand.

I heard recently that he’d had some bad luck. I really felt very sorry. I’d like to send him a note, just to let him know that I care, for we were really very close, you see.

As it happens, however, I can’t find his address.

Last night I went to a church service, and during it we sang the old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I felt strangely embarrassed.


Number six in God Is No Fool by Lois Cheney

(I’ve always loved this little book since I first discovered it while I was in college. Click the image for purchase info.)

My Weekend Picks for 1-22-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

On this day 43 years ago the killing of our most innocent and helpless became legal in this country due to the decision in Row v. Wade. I offer these two articles for your consideration on this occasion…

Today Is an AnniversaryGreg Morse
Today Is an Anniversary
Today is an anniversary — a time for toasting and feasting.

Never mind that every other black baby is put down before they see life — two conceived, one born. Never mind that blacks are the only minority whose population is in decline. Never mind that in some states more black babies are killed than kept — no, we cannot mind that.

For today is an anniversary.”

What Shall We Call the UnbornKevin DeYoung
“What shall we call the unborn in the womb?

If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?

So when does a human being have a right to life?

Shall we say size matters? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people?”

4 Cultural Characteristics That Make Discipleship an Uphill BattleMichael Kelley
21583937511_b3465ba9c5_o“…there are certain characteristics of our culture that make this walk seem like it’s going uphill. These are attributes that are so infectiously true of the environment we live in that they inevitably work their way into our own lives just because we are humans at this given place and at this given time. Unfortunately, though, these cultural characteristics are also obstacles to discipleship, this long walk in the same direction with Jesus. It’s important, then, for us, the people of the walk on the way to recognize some of the factors that make this walk so arduous sometimes.”

  1. The craving for immediacy.

  2. The avoidance of adversity.

  3. The crowding of messages.

  4. The complicating of process.

You Are Not a NumberRyan Higginbottom
Jamie (2009), Creative Commons License
“Enjoy this freedom: you are not a number.

You are not your salary. You are not the balance in your retirement account. You are not your credit card balance or your credit score. You are not your net worth.

You are not your IQ, your standardized test score, your GPA, or your class rank. You are not the number of degrees you’ve earned.

You are not the number of people that attended your most recent meeting, event, or party.

You are not the number of points on your driver’s license. You are not the number of felonies you’ve committed or warrants out for your arrest. You are not your number of parking or speeding tickets…”

This is Your Brain on Piano

I saw this graphic in my FB newsfeed and decided to look for the full size version. It’s really good, even if it did leave out the biggest one of all: the simple pure joy of making music.

Click on the image for a full size and more readable version…

Piano Lessons are Good for You and Your Brain
Source: Musicologie

We built this city on Rock and Roll…
Click image for a larger version.  Source: Wrong Hands


My Picks for Tuesday 1-19-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Maybe You’re Unhappy Because You’re Too Big and Bored
Trevin Wax
new-year-2014-27“N. D. Wilson says we ought to thank God every day for life: ‘As the earth screams through space, balanced exactly on the edge of everyone burning alive and everyone freezing solid, as we shriek through deadly obstacle courses of meteor showers and find them picturesque, as the nearest fiery star vomits eruptions hundreds of times bigger that our wee planet (giving chipper local weathermen northern lights to chatter about), as a giant reflective rock glides around us slopping the seas (and never falls down), and as we ride in our machines, darting past fools and drunks and texting teenagers, how many times do we thank God?'”

What You (Probably) Don’t Know About Modern Worship
Glenn Packiam
https://mysteryoffaithblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_9864.jpeg“It seems to be in vogue to predict the impending demise of modern worship, with some even suggesting we ‘kill megachurch worship’. The subject in question has been variously named ‘modern worship’, ‘contemporary worship’, and even the more direct and provocative aforementioned, ‘megachurch worship’. While there have been a plethora of futurists and liturgists rushing to judgment, I am not certain if any of them worship regularly in a church that employs a modern worship style. And I am quite sure none of them are involved in leading either modern worship or megachurches.

So forgive my skepticism…

…The popular criticisms of megachurches and modern worship is that they are ‘merely a source of entertainment without any real substance and that large churches cannot produce feelings of intimacy, morality, and transcendence.’ A closer look says otherwise.”

Deconstructing urgent vs. importantSeth Godin
“If you take care of important things, the urgent things don’t show up as often. The opposite is never true…

The news we consume changes us. Not just the news manufactured by CNN, but the news manufactured by our boss, our investors, our customers.

Our choice, then, is to decide whether we want to engage in the hobby of living through other people’s breaking news instead of focusing on what’s actually important.”


Source: Off the Mark

My Picks for Monday 1-18-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Timely and challenging…

I Still Have a DreamMichael Kelley
USMC-09611“The church at Ephesus was a racially diverse congregation. Jews and Greeks worshiped alongside each other, and that last point is key. There wasn’t a Jewish worship service at 9 and a Greek service at 10:30, each with different music and different communication styles. Instead, there was one, unified congregation. That’s not to say they didn’t have their troubles; they certainly did. But they were together under one head. That, according to Paul, is the most convincing evidence that the gospel is real:

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:13-14).

Interesting, right? Not logic. Not personal testimony. In Ephesians, it’s the unity of the church – specifically, the racial unity – that validates the reality of the gospel. Makes you wonder whether our churches are validating the gospel in a similar way.”

As a dad of two amazing daughters, this post filled me with a lot of emotions…

Why Daughters Need Their DadsDr. Meg Meeker
Father and daughter playing
“Your daughter will view this time spent with you vastly differently than you do. Over the years, in erratic bursts and in simple ordinary life, she will absorb your influence. She will watch every move you make. She might not understand why you are happy or angry, affectionate, but you will be the most important man in her life, forever.

When she is twenty-five, she will mentally 
size her boyfriend or husband up against you. When she is thirty-five, the number of children she has will be affected by her life with you. The clothes she wears will reflect something about you. Even when she is seventy-five, how she faces her future will depend on some distant memory of time you spent together. Be it good or painful,
the hours and years you spend with her—or 
don’t spend with her—change who she is.”

What if Jesus told this parable to 21st century Americans?

The Good MuslimPhillip Fletcher
“But the Christian of America, didn’t fully appreciate the answer. He straightened his back. Cast a smirk of a smile and said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia, and he was car-jacked by several persons, who stole his clothes, seized his smartphone, broke his ribs, cracked his skull, leaving him unconscious on the side of the road.  Now it happened to be the time of a great conference and a pro-life group was passing by, and when they saw the man, they passed on by. Likewise a missionary group who just returned from India, when they came to the exact same location, they too passed on to the other side.

But a Muslim…”

Some awesome photos here…

National Geographic’s Photo of the Day:
Your Favorites from 2015
Mother Of The Forest, Madagascar

Is this sign necessary?

do not enter

My Picks for Thursday 1-14-2016

Just some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing…

Trevin Wax has recently written posts that analyzed the underlying philosophy of Taylor Swift’s music video for “Out of the Woods,” and one about Stephen Colbert’s definition of faithfulness. I thought both were excellent and insightful, but many Christians have trouble with these kinds of social commentary. This article helps explain why it’s important…

From Stephen Colbert to Taylor Swift:
4 Reasons I Write Cultural Commentary
Trevin Wax
word with dice on white background- culture“Whenever I write about the worldview of a cultural icon or a cultural artifact, I brace myself. The ensuing comment streams and Facebook conversations almost always devolve into debates over whether such cultural analysis should happen in the first place…

Too many Christians assume that analyzing cultural products is simply a way of saying “safe” or “unsafe,” “bad” or “good,” “acceptable” or “banned.” Not so. When done well, cultural analysis helps you ask the right questions, see the narrative in light of the gospel, and look for what can be affirmed and what should be challenged.

That’s why I plan on doing more cultural commentary in the future, not less.”

This is an excellent comparison which I may borrow sometime…

Jesus is NOT Your #1 PriorityMichael Kelley
“Jesus is not the top of the list; He’s the center of the wheel…

Jesus is not your number 1 priority; He is instead the Lord who gives shape, definition, and meaning to everything else.”

We Christ-followers need to do better at this part of being pro-life…

Abortion Kills Two HeartsRussell Moore
“If being pro-life means anything, it means having a word not just for those walking toward the abortion clinic, but also for those walking out of it. We must have something to say when we see in our churches those women and men whose throbbing consciences are crying out against them. What do we tell them?…

How much of the abortion clinic’s charm would be disarmed if our churches offered grace, friendship, and support rather than rumor, whisper, and scandal?

Abortion kills. It kills a human being, a child made in the image of God. But it also kills the conscience. “I have come,” Jesus declared, “that they may have life.” Let’s proclaim his grace—for the unborn as well as the twice-born.”

No, regardless of what some may think, the U.S. isn’t on the list. However, I prayerfully note that India (where I have friends in ministry) has moved up(?) to 17th…

The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Now Hardest To Be a ChristianSarah Eekhoff Zylstra
North Korea Gets Competition: The Top 50 Countries Where It's Now Hardest To Be a Christian“The annual list studies pressures on private, family, community, national, and church areas of life, plus levels of violence, in order to rank the top 50 countries where “Christians face the most persecution.” [Full list below.]

“Open Doors USA predicted that while Christians faced the worst persecution in modern history in 2014, the worst was yet to come,” the organization stated. “The prediction was sadly fulfilled in 2015—the persecution of Christians increased on every continent.”

More than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith last year, up drastically from 4,344 in 2014 and 2,123 in 2013. Those numbers don’t include North Korea or parts of Iraq and Syria, where accurate numbers are hard to obtain, Open Doors said. All three of those countries are among the WWL’s top five persecutors.

In addition, 2,400 churches were damaged or attacked worldwide, more than twice the number in 2014.”

 Boy, ain’t THAT the truth!
Source: Bizarro