Tag Archives: Discipleship

My Picks for Monday 12-7-2015

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

Joseph’s Pregnant Advent-Tim Fall

“I didn’t get any sleep last night. I haven’t been sleeping well for a while, in fact. My friends say that’s normal for someone about to get married, but it’s not just that. It’s about my Mary.

Don’t get me wrong. She’s the sweetest and wisest woman I’ve ever met. But right now we’re merely betrothed and haven’t had our wedding night yet. That’s why when she came to me a while ago with her news it caught me by surprise. Complete surprise.”

FAQ: should I curtail grandparent gift-giving?-Jen Wilkin
“Minimalist parents everywhere, I salute your desire to shepherd your kids toward simplicity. Do your best to pair it with forbearance toward silver-haired, soft-hearted spenders with whom you share a physical resemblance, a last name, or, at bare minimum, a deep love for your kids. Should you find this difficult, eggnog will help.”

This in no way is meant to minimize the tragedies (as if that could even be done) but, I did find this interesting and noteworthy…

We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States. Here’s why.-Max Ehrenfreund

“According to the FBI’s data, the national rate of violent crime has decreased 49 percent since its apex in 1991. Even as a certain type of mass shooting is apparently becoming more frequent, America has become a much less violent place.”

When Difficulty Feels Discouraging, Remember This
-Donald Miller
“Each time I read the Bible I’m taken aback by how much we dilute the power of its stories with sentimentalism. The story of Noah and his ark has been reduced to a children’s story (a God-orchestrated massacre of all humanity) and the story of the Birth of Christ into a regal pageant complete with gifts and robed choirs of angels (A poor virgin and her new husband delivering a baby in a manger of a stable. Followed by an angry king slaughtering all children under two years old to try to kill off the Messiah.)…

One of the problems with sentimentalizing the text is that we begin to sentimentalize our actual lives. We begin to think the Christian life should be free of hardship.”

Click image for a larger version.

A Noble Quest

Don Quixote – by Andrey Zhelkovsky

I’m on a noble quest and I invite you to join me.

Every once in a while one of my Facebook friends will decide to leave Facebook for a time, or even permanently. There could be lots of reasons for this. I have taken time away from social media occasionally myself, and I believe it’s a valuable thing to do from time to time.

The ones I’m thinking of right now, though, make a pretty big deal out of it. They will put a strongly worded status up announcing their intention to leave. They may be leaving because of all the “negativity” they see in their newsfeed. They are astounded to discover that (gasp) there are people who don’t agree with them. Maybe it’s about politics. Maybe it’s about how best to live out their Christian faith. Maybe they feel as if they’re fighting an unbeatable foe.

I find myself wondering where they’re going to go. Do they not encounter negativity every day? Do they never have a conversation with a friend who disagrees with them?

Do they even have friends who disagree with them? Do they ever run where the brave dare not go?

It’s only natural that our closest friends are people who tend to see the world from a similar perspective. I love these friends because they know and understand me in ways that others cannot.

But, I also love the fact that I have good friends, for whom I care deeply, who disagree with me on a number of issues (you know who you are). Our friendship is not dependent upon being the same age, or sharing the same political views, or taste in music, or “style” of worship, or any number of things that seem to divide people from one another. It also doesn’t mean that we simply avoid those areas of conversation in order to keep our friendship intact. Those subjects do come up and sometimes the conversation is passionate. But we talk about the issue without demeaning the person.

I think we should all have friends like that, who look at life differently than we do. It keeps us honest. It makes us think about what we believe and why. We need that.

Now, I realize this is particularly difficult on social media. There’s no physical presence. You don’t hear the tone of voice. You can’t look them in the eye. It’s just you, your keyboard, and your screen. It takes some effort and intentionality to stop and realize that you’re addressing another human being. One whom God has created in His own image, and whom He loves as much as He loves you.

Here’s what I try to do: If I’m engaging with a person on social media whom I don’t know well, I find it helpful to stop for a moment and imagine that I’m sitting across a table from a fairly new acquaintance with a cup of coffee. That way I’m having a conversation. I’m more careful with what I say and how I say it. I may still say what I want to say, but I may also choose to wait. Either way, I try to build a bridge instead of a wall.

I think this is what Jesus wants me to do.

It’s what He wants you to do, too.

Rather than retreating from social media, or from those who may not agree with you, I encourage you to stick with them. Be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. Don’t just argue to win points, build bridges to reach people.

I’m not saying I’m really good at this, but I’m trying. Jesus was great at it! We need to learn from His example.

I know it sounds Quixotic, but I believe if we do this one thing, remember that the people we talk to and the people we talk about are just that – people. People created and loved by God, just like us. If we do that, I believe we can change social media, and our nation.

And the world will be better for this.

I’m on a quest and I implore you to join me.



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.)