Tag Archives: Discipleship

My Weekend Picks 12-4-2015

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

There has been a lot of conversation about prayer on social media recently, a lot of it negative. You’ve probably already seen the now famous “God Isn’t Fixing This” headline in the New York Daily News. I suppose we Christians should not be surprised that many of those who do not share our faith might go so far as to ridicule it as worthless. However, I would suggest that part of the problem is that those who would ridicule likely don’t really understand what we mean when we say we will pray. If we think prayer is like using a genie from a bottle then we have horribly misconstrued our relationship with God. He’s the Master, not us.

That is certainly not to imply that there is no power in prayer, there most certainly is. In fact, it is likely much more powerful than we will ever realize.

All of that is to introduce several excellent articles for your weekend reading that respond to some of the “prayer shaming” going on. My hope is that you find them helpful and encouraging…and that you keep praying.

In fact, let’s start with that…


Ignore the pundits and keep praying -Joel Miller
“So, yeah, let’s stop praying. Because that’s pointless—unless, of course, someone is shooting at you.

Despite its self-assurance, the New York Daily News was exactly wrong. (Probably not the first time.) How so? Later this month the church observes the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, that tragic moment in which King Herod responded to the gospel by trying to murder the messiah.

It’s a terrible though often overlooked side of the Christmas story. But the senseless killing, the unspeakable loss, the inconsolable tears connect us across centuries. And those tears have the potential to remind us of where our hope for justice ultimately rests.”

This post by Andy Crouch is thorough and powerful…

On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After the San Bernardino Shooting
-Andy Crouch
On ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ After the San Bernardino Shooting
“To offer prayer in the wake of tragedy is not, except in the most flattened and extreme versions of populist Christianity, to ask God to “fix” anything. It is to hold those who were harmed, and those who harmed, before the mercy of God. In many traditions, it is to recognize that the human person is more than a human body, so that even death itself is not the final word on our destiny—so prayers are appropriate even for the dead, whose lives are held by a Life that transcends death.”

Then there’s this timely reminder from Denny Burk…

Christmas means that God IS fixing this -Denny Burk

“The idea that we have to do what God has failed to do is at best out of step with Christmas and is at worst blasphemous. Christmas is the one time of year that is supposed to remind us that God is fixing this.”


When we resort to “prayer shaming” our society, not just Christian society, loses something important…

What we lose when we prayer shame politicians after a mass shooting -Russell Moore

“For religious people, of all sorts, prayer is doing something. We do believe that God can intervene, to comfort the hurting and even to energize ourselves and others for right action. For those who don’t believe in the power of prayer, the last thing any of us should want is social pressure to pretend to pray. What we can expect, though, is for neighbors to express in what ever ways they have, “We love one another, and we hurt for one another.”

When that becomes just another culture war battlefield, we’ve lost more than a set of policy proposals. We’ve lost the social cohesion we need to do anything. And social media outrage can’t fix that.”


My Picks for Tuesday 12-1-2015

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

This simple post resonated pretty deeply in me for some reason…

A Simple Rule That Can Make Life More Fun
John Richmond
Photo Credit: Loren Kerns, Creative Commons“Kids generally do not get in trouble for being silly—they get in trouble for being silly after an adult asked them to stop. It is often that last kid to stop that bears that brunt of the punishment.

This rule applies at every phase of life.

Knowing how to stop makes eating, drinking, investing, exercising, spending, skydiving, hang gliding, and everything else more enjoyable.

Interestingly, knowing how to stop is sometimes the best way to start.”

Following Rob Bell: The Edges of Faith and the Center of the Zeitgeist -Dustin Messer

“In a world where pastors wait with bended knees and clenched eyes for their heads to roll down the sandy slopes of a Libyan beach, the complacent, comfortable, Western church must reset her vision of bravery as it relates to the pastorate. There was a time—even in the West—where cultural capital was gained by being a Christian…

These days, the real adventurers are those who set sail for the risky land of Christian orthodoxy. The real brave men and women are those who consistently go to church, observe the sacraments, hear the word, and submit themselves to the discipline of the church. In an age of autonomy, it’s those who subject their thoughts, behaviors, and passions to an exclusive Sovereign that are the brave few. Those may not be the memoirs we’re interested in today, but they’ll be the ones that last tomorrow.”

Advocating for Life, After Colorado SpringsTrevin Wax

Colorado Springs Continues To Recover After Shooting“What does this do for “the cause?”

That is a question that presents itself to both pro-life and pro-choice people following last Friday’s rampage…

We should not be surprised to see pro-choice cheerleaders among the mainstream media and Planned Parenthood’s well-endowed politicians exploiting this tragedy, weaponizing the tragedy against the wider pro-life movement and painting all pro-life people as wild and zealous fanatics.

But our response should be different. We should grieve with those who grieve, mourn the loss of innocent life and consider the victims – the families who will pass through the weeks, months, and years ahead with a sense of loss and longing that will far surpass the volcano of words in our 24-hour news cycle.”

This is a beautiful little tribute to 20 years of Pixar animation…

Grandkid pic of the day:
Me and Oliver Lloyd work the HUB at WOCC Colerain

Weekend Picks 11-20-2015

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

Eight Words from Jesus in a World with Refugees -D. Glenn
Eight Words from Jesus in a World with Refugees“Jesus calls us to follow him. Sometimes it is clear how we do this, and often it is not. In trying to grapple with what it means to follow Jesus as it relates to the current refugee crisis, it is worth rehearsing at least eight things Jesus expects from those who follow him. May he give us all wisdom in how best to apply them…”

This post by Richard Ostling (aka The Religion Guy) is from last February, but it is timely and informative…

Is Islam a “religion of peace”? -Richard Ostling
Capture“In this tangled discussion one point is obvious: This great world religion is embroiled in an increasingly dangerous internal conflict as an expanding faction of militant ‘Islamists’ or ‘jihadis’ works to abolish Muslim thinkers’ consensus across centuries about justifications for violence, the proper conduct of warfare, and who has the authority to decide such matters. John Esposito, a Georgetown University expert, calls it a ‘struggle for the soul of Islam.'”

It’s good to be reminded that when we’re talking about refugees we’re not just talking about an “issue” but about people’s lives. Take some time to read their stories…

Humans of New York Refugee Stories -Brandon Stanton
“For ten days in September, I travelled to Greece, Hungary, Croatia, and Austria to learn the stories of refugees traveling across Europe. These are some of the stories I learned…”

You may need to free yourself from other distractions for a few minutes while you are challenged by this next piece…

The Illusion of Respectability -Allen Guelzo
The Illusion of Respectability“In every example where the courts, the celebrities or the culture-makers have trampled heedlessly on biblical norms, there are some initially robust outbursts of resistance, then a nervous glancing around to see whether anyone has joined the resistance. When it develops that the resistance is unpopular, the objections trail away so that a respectable place in society can somehow be retained…

The real measure of the integrity of the Christian scholar is distance, not proximity, to respectability.”

How to Be a Christian in the Era of Cable News Fights
-Victoria Le Sweatman
“How many times have you heard or read any of the following words in the past few months? “Refuglican,” “libtard,” “teabagger,” “gun nut,” “fascidiot,” “feminazi.” How many times have you heard somebody refer to liberals, conservatives or some other group as being in general “stupid”? How many memes have you seen that address the opposite political faction in a way that belittles them?

And how many of the people you’ve observed using this kind of language called themselves Christians?”

Happy Holidays!

Source: Wrong Hands

My Picks for Thursday 11-19-2015

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

Before You Debate, You Have to Agree -Trevin Wax
“…in a world of constantly-flowing, often-contradictory information, we rarely get to have a satisfying debate because we don’t agree on what the situation is. You can’t debate a “good” interpretation or discuss the “best way forward” if there’s no common ground of agreement…

The temptation for conservatives and liberals alike is to sideline the truth in advance of the cause. As Christians, we must resist such a practice. We are a people of truth. We should care about getting the facts right. We should be the least gullible people online and the first to challenge viral posts or Facebook videos that reinforce certain narratives with inaccurate information.”

What Refugees in Your Neighborhood Need from You
-Heather Evans
What Refugees in Your Neighborhood Need from You“Sitting in a bare apartment with people who speak a different language and come from a different culture is unglamorous and often awkward. It lacks the adventure and experience of traveling to a foreign land. It requires far more staying power than a two-week trip. But this presents Christians with a call to practice hospitality. God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19), and this is the mission field coming to us. It is here in our midst and accessible.”

It would un-Jesus him -Ray Ortlund
Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå Gallerix.ru“I tell you again that he cannot reject you.  That would be to alter his whole character and un-Christ himself.  To spurn a coming sinner would un-Jesus him and make him to be somebody else and not himself any longer.  ‘He cannot deny himself.’  Go and try him; go and try him.”  -Charles Spurgeon

Source: Wrong Hands

Signs You’re Growing in Grace

grow n grace
2 Peter 3:18

I ran across this list by Scotty Smith recently and thought it was very insightful and worth a little time of introspection. I hope you do, too.

A sign you’re growing in grace is less bombast about not being a legalist & more humility because you “get” the gospel.

A sign you’re growing in grace is less theological arrogance & greater appreciation for diversity in the Body of Christ.

A sign you’re growing in grace is you work much harder at remembering names and forgetting slights.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that everybody notices it
but you.

A sign you’re growing in grace is movement from destructive cynicism towards redemptive engagement. Anybody can spew.

A sign you’re growing in grace is that you’re less like a drive-by-shooting with criticisms & more of a healing presence.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when you receive feedback non-defensively and give it clearly & lovingly.

A sign you’re growing in grace is evident when people don’t feel like they have to walk on egg shells around you as much.

A sign you’re growing in grace is when you say, “I’ll be prayin’ for ya”, and you follow through on at least 50%.

A sign you’re growing in grace is committing fewer homicides in your heart of slow drivers.

A sign you’re growing in grace is praying for our government rather than simply being cynical about our government.

A sign you are growing in grace is that you are more disgusted with your critical spirit than offended by others’ sins.


My Picks for Wednesday 11-18-2015

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

Christmas Is Not for Cranks -Kevin DeYoung
“…surely we can do better than communicate to the watching world, “Screw you! I’ll get you to say ‘Merry Christmas’ if it’s the last thing I ever do, jerk!” If the idea is to keep words like Christmas in the public square–and hipper-than-thou Christians take note, that’s not a pointless goal–there are better ways to go about it.”

When Evil Strikes: A Christian Answer to
‘Isn’t Religion the Problem?’-Karl Vaters
When Evil Strikes: A Christian Answer to 'Isn’t Religion the Problem?'“After church, I was asked a poignant, difficult question. ‘How do I answer my non-Christian friends when they ask me why I’m a Christian? They’re telling me that the problem is religion and belief. When I try to tell them Christians aren’t like that, they point out the Crusades and Westboro Baptist Church. I don’t know how to respond to that.’ Here’s what I told him…”

 If your concern is truly “just making sure they’re real refugees and not terrorists” you should put your mind at ease. Read this to see what has to be done before a person is admitted to the U.S. as a refugee…

Is it easy for Syrian refugees to get to America? -Marty Durenrefugee camp Jordan
“The Economist recently reported nearly 750,000 refugees have come to American since 9/11
. Many of these are from war-torn, majority Muslim countries. To date, only two of these have been arrested on terrorist charges
(two Iraqis in Kentucky were aiding al-Qaeda in Iraq).”

I have good friends who are professors. I seldom feel this way…

(click image for larger size)


My Picks for Tuesday 11-17-2015

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

If you are having trouble with the “what to do with refugees” issue, please read and consider this article. It’s beautiful, timely, and challenging…

The Good Samaritan, a Retelling -Marty Duren
“God bringing to Christians those who need Christ is not a thing to fear. It is a time for preparation for gospel advance. But, it will do no good if all our actions and words indicate we have no good news for those who need it.”

This excellent article was published back in March but it seemed like it might be a good time to share it again…

What ISIS Really Wants-Graeme Wood
“The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

The Point of RevengeTim Fall
– a lesson from The Princess Bride and the Apostle Paul
Inigo Revenge“‘I have been in the revenge business so long. Now that it’s over I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.’ . ..I love that line … because the purpose of revenge, in my personal opinion, is completely worthless and pointless.” -Mandy Patinkin

Another insightful and challenging post by Carey Nieuwhof…

How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches
-Carey Nieuwhof
shutterstock_62970499“If a church is going to grow, congregations have to let go of the expectation that their pastor will be available for every medical emergency, every twist and turn in their lives, every family celebration and every crisis. That’s a tough sell for many congregations, but if a church is going to grow, it has to happen.”

…because they become part of the offering…


How do you like them apples?

You know what
It is about TV?
You can turn it off,
“Click,” just like that!

You know what
It is about about doors?
You can close them,
“Slam,” just like that!

You know what
It is about people?
You can leave them,
Turn and walk, just like that!

You know what
It is about books?
You can quit them,
Close the covers, just like that!

You know what
It is about God?
You can’t do anything about him,
He’s there, just like that!

How do you like them apples?


Number ninety-two 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 Picks for Monday 11-16-2015

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

Please, please, PLEASE stop indiscriminately passing on falsehood in the name of truth. It helps nothing and hurts us all! For example…

No, Thousands of Syrian Refugees Are Not Arriving in New Orleans -Aaron Earls
Powdered Wig Society Syrian refugees“You cannot lament the dishonesty of mainstream media outlets while promoting and sharing stories from conservative blogs that do nothing but exaggerate, mislead and blatantly lie to push their agenda.”

On a related note, here’s an excellent piece by Trevin Wax in Washington Post…

Should we really close the border to refugees? Here’s why fear drives out compassion.-Trevin Wax
“So, in the midst of a worldwide battle against the evil of Islamic terrorism, we must make sure that we do not allow fear to overwhelm our hearts, crowd out our compassion, or fundamentally change our character. For compassion to win, courage must conquer the fear in our hearts.”

And then there’s this important reminder…

Who Do I Make the Effort to Notice?
What Paris Should Teach Us
-Amy Medina
“In spite of all the (probably) unfair accusations of racism or prejudice that are being thrown around, times like these are great for soul-searching.  Let us not lose the opportunity to grow.

Do we allow only the media to tell us what to pray for?  Do we take the time to look for the people and places who might not be getting the same attention?  I have been convicted to look harder for the ignored stories. Jesus sought out the prostitute, the tax collector, the child.  Even a sparrow does not fall to the ground without his notice. Who do I make the effort to notice?”

And, for my cat loving friends…

My Picks for Thursday 11-12-2015

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

There is indeed a war on Christmas,
but it may not be what you think…

The War on Christmas-Steve Cuss
enhanced-31786-1446915453-14“But Jesus is not at war with a retail establishment and nor should his followers be. The job of a retail establishment is not to proclaim the peace of Christ, the good news that brings great joy.

That’s our job, Christians. We really shouldn’t be outsourcing the bidding of peace to retail. If history is our guide, anytime the church outsources the gospel, the message gets confused. Do we really want our retail establishments proclaiming the message?

Please. Please. Christians. Stop outsourcing the gospel and stop expecting your retail neighbors to proclaim the good news of Jesus.”

You Are An Artist -David Santistevan
“The call to create better art is a call to care more. It’s a call to solve problems, influence, create change, and show us beauty. Whether you are into “the arts” or not, you are an artist and it’s time you saw your daily life through that lens.”

https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/a-brief-history-of-time.jpgSource: Wrong Hands