Tag Archives: Service

Thursday Picks ~ 11-16-2017

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

The Enduring Appeal of Creepy ChristianityDavid French
http://c2.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/cult-christian-celebrity-quest-certainty-damage-church.jpg?itok=CjN4CybMThe desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results…

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.

Read this book to discover how, by nursing, regulating their babies’ sleep patterns, and teaching their obedient young children how to silently express their desires through hand signals, you can help prepare them for happy, godly lives. Read that book to discover that if you control every aspect of your child’s education and dating lives, they’ll learn more, avoid sin, and launch into lifelong, happy marriages. Watch this sermon to discover the formula for health and wealth.

Feeling Disconnected? Here’s a Fix.Danny Franks
Whatever size church you attend, there will come a point where you feel left out. Unknown. Like you don’t have the friendships and relationships you’re craving.

Feeling connected isn’t correlated to size. It seems counterintuitive, but connection is not a size issue. You can be deeply known in a megachurch, and you can skate on the fringes in a rural country church where attendance runs double digits…

We’ve found that serving on a ministry team is a the #1 “connection factor” to help people feel engaged in the church and a be a part of the mission. Had you asked me this several years ago, I would have bet money on small groups. And while small groups are a close second, people who serve actually rank their felt engagement a bit higher.

“You can’t come in, sit down, be entertained by the band, get pumped up with a God pep-talk for the week ahead, and leave. If you don’t serve inside your church, you are not only missing out on being known by the people you regularly serve with, but you are depriving the rest of the church of your specific, God-given gifts and talents”

Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyTrevin Wax
Image result for Netflix Thinks You’re Bored and LonelyAt a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal last year, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, offered a purpose statement for his entertainment juggernaut: “Fundamentally, we’re about eliminating loneliness and boredom. . . . That’s what entertainment does.”

Eliminating boredom and loneliness. Chew on that for a while, and you’ll realize that only one of these issues is truly a problem, while the other is actually an opportunity…

Without boredom, how do we teach children how to behave in a restaurant, how to sing and pray and listen in church, or how to politely carry on a conversation that isn’t immediately interesting?

We shouldn’t treat boredom as a problem to be solved…

Is loneliness resolved when the members of a family all retreat to their own tablets or devices to watch the shows that have been tailored to their interests?…

Boredom and loneliness. The church has the opportunity to be countercultural…

Boredom and loneliness often go together. Our inability to embrace boredom keeps us from going deeper in our relationships. Then, shallow relationships boomerang back in the form of loneliness and more boredom.

What the God of Peace Will DoDarryl Dash
Romans 16:20“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

Every word in that verse matters. Every word encourages…

I used to read benedictions like “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” as throwaway lines. No longer. The longer I’ve been alive, the more I realize I need this present-day grace that’s available because of the past work of Jesus and the future, complete defeat of evil. I need this grace today.

Connecting the dots…
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 11-7-2017

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

A Small Rural Church Is Hard to KillBart Barber
A Small Rural Church Is Hard to KillWhen you … look at the story of a small church in a rural town, this event defies ranking or evaluation.

For the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, it is an extinction-level event…

The death of 26 members would traumatize any church, but for a church this size, it threatens the church’s very existence. It threatens that small church; it frightens every small church. Most of the pastors of small churches across the nation know someone whom they could imagine committing a similar crime…

A single scandal involving a key personality can make an entire network of megachurches vanish without a trace in the span of a few months. I predict a better outcome for First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

People are less likely to abandon the church they attended with their grandparents. I believe that members who have been on the sidelines will step up. Sister churches in that rural area will reach in and give a helping hand. The martyrdom of these believers will bring people to Christ.

I believe that the gates of hell remain the principal threat faced by smaller churches. I believe that the gates of hell will not prevail against Christ’s church.

Is Your Sacrifice for Jesus Getting in the Way of Your Faithfulness to Jesus?Michael Kelley
…I wonder if sometimes our sacrifices for Jesus actually get in the way of our faithfulness to Jesus.

There are opportunities all around us right now, right where we are. Opportunities to share the gospel with a neighbor. To teach a children’s Sunday school class. To tell the hard truth to a friend. To tithe to our church. But none of these things have the appearance of being large and audacious. But each and everyone of them is a small example of the kind of day in and day out faithfulness Jesus has called us to.

Spotlight II: Not Coming to a Screen Near You
Stephen McAlpine
88039381_still-01spHollywood loves a good sequel.  Especially when that sequel guarantees a lot of money.  There’s nothing a Hollywood mogul loves more than getting his hands on a lot of money. Actually, as we’re finding out, or as we’re finally being told as if we didn’t already know,  that’s not true.  Money’ is second on the list when it comes to what a Hollywood mogul loves to get his hands on.

So the sequel I’d most like to see up on the big screen this summer is Spotlight II, a followup to the original, and brilliant, Spotlight that focussed on the sexual sins of the Catholic Church in Boston. Those sins were overlooked by politicians and police alike, but were exposed by the fearless Spotlight team reporters at the Boston Globe.

Spotlight II could star Michael Keaton and all the crew, only this time the spotlight will be firmly turned back on itself, as Hollywood does the definitive piece on the sexual sins it has covered up, and has kept covered up by dint of its power and influence.

And the script virtually writes itself, doesn’t it?  All you have to do is take the original Spotlight script and replace the words “Catholic Church” with the words “Hollywood Establishment”.

At least he died happy…
Non Sequitur – 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…



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…

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… 
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view

Thursday Picks ~ 2-2-2017

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

I’m sharing this in love…

Gongs and Cymbals -Manuel Luz
gongFor all my social media friends out there, I want to gently but firmly remind you of one truth. If you are a Christ-follower, your ultimate motive in everything you do should be love. If you are not posting or arguing with the ultimate intent to love those who you are arguing against, then you’re doing it wrong.

You’re just banging a gong. You’re just clanging a cymbal.

Please. You can certainly post your opinions, quote your statistics, cite your sources, eloquently argue your point. But please, make sure that your ultimate motivation is love. In your words, in your attitude, and in your heart. And if you can’t, then please don’t.

Thanks for listening.

Urgent vs. Important…

Missed It By That MuchSeth Godin
Image result for seth godinWhen everything is focused on the deadline, there’s little time to work on the things that are actually important.

When we build our lives around ‘what’s due’ we sacrifice our agency to the priorities and urgencies of everyone else.

More important is the bigger issue: Time is running out.

I thought this was interesting…

Who Is to Blame for the Greatest Myth in the History of Science and Religion? These Two GuysJustin Taylor
AD_White_1865John_William_DraperThe purpose of the war was to discredit clergymen as suitable figures to undertake scientific work in order that the new breed of professionals would have an opportunity to fill in the gap for such work created by eliminating the current men of science. It was thus tendentiously asserted that the religious convictions of clergymen disqualified them from pursuing their scientific inquiries objectively.

More to the point, however, was the fact that clergymen were undertaking this work for the sheer love of science and thus hindering the expectation that it would be done for money by paid full-time scientists. Clergymen were branded amateurs in order to facilitate the creation of a new category of professionals.

To Be a Diaper ChangerNick Batzig
Image result for changing diapersA “change the world” mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those–who had hoped for more importance–jaded or callused as the years progress…

Such a mentality also has the adverse effect of inadvertently leading others to dismiss the importance of the work of the mother who faithfully changes her children’s diapers, drives them to sporting and music practices, takes them to the doctor, keeps up the organizational aspects of life at home and serves with her husband in many unnoticed capacities at church. It tells the man who humbly hangs a sign for a church plant each and every Friday night and takes it down every Sunday night that what he is doing is insignificant. It implicitly disrespects the man who gets up at 5:30 every morning and who comes home at 7:30 every night (and who then repeats that process 6 days a week for 25 years) from his job in a factory…

We must seek to become a “will of God doer” rather than a “world changer”–even if that means changing dirty diapers for the glory of God.

I might’ve needed a few more…
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 11-10-2016

Picks Thursday

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

A Day’s HaikuTim Fall

Generosity Isn’t Just About MoneyMatt Rogers
http://theblazingcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/pexels-photo-1700x1275.jpgI used to think of generosity primarily in terms of money. I was generous when I saw a need around me and provided the resources to help. Or, I might see generosity as a gift of time—I was generous when I gave time to meet a need. But, I’m not sure this is the full extent of the generosity God calls me to. In many ways this level of generosity is reactive in nature—I see a need around me and seek to do something to address it.

Generosity can also be proactive. In Philippians 2, Paul challenges the church to count others as more significant than yourself by not merely look to one’s own interests but also to the interests of others (2:3–4). Looking out for the interests of others extends far beyond giving money or time to someone in need.

It means that I consciously ask myself, “What could I do to promote the interest of someone else?”, “How can I make them better?”, “How can I serve as a conduit of God’s grace?”, “How can I give them an opportunity they might not otherwise have?” These questions demonstrate a truly generous heart.

Planning a vacation to Hopkinsville, Kentucky?
Better book early…

The Tiny Kentucky Town That Eclipse Fans Are Obsessing OverRobbie Clark
A postcard of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, from the 1950s.You could say the stars have aligned for Hopkinsville. Or, more precisely, the Earth, sun and moon will be perfected aligned. Next summer will be the first time a total solar eclipse—when the moon completely blocks out the sun—can be witnessed in the continental United States since 1979. (Viewers could view a total solar eclipse in Hawaii in 1991.) And in a cosmic twist of fate, on August 21, 2017, Hopkinsville will be the star around which the astronomical world orbits. As the moon crosses the United States at about 2,000 miles per hour, casting its shadow from Portland, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina, Hopkinsville (population 33,000) has been identified as the “greatest eclipse” location.

Do It AgainJim Tune
The hardest part of life, one preacher said, is that it’s so daily. Every day the bed needs to be made. Breakfast needs to be cooked. Dishes, dusting, work, and sleep demand our attention every single day.

The same with ministry…

We get tired, though. The thousandth time a husband wakes up beside his wife, he may start taking things for granted. The hundredth time a children’s ministry volunteer teaches rambunctious four-year-old boys, she may wonder if it’s worth it.

It is. Do it again.

I love these photos…

Paragliding Photographer Captures Stunning Landscape Images From High in the AirLori Dorn
Polish photographer Kacper Kowalski has found a truly unique way to combine his talent with his self-described “addiction” for paragliding by shooting stunning local landscape photos taken on his way down from very high up in the air.

Humor Police…
Pearls Before Swine – Click image for a larger view.

May We Help?

Creating IndependenceA couple weeks ago Kathie asked if I wanted to go to an event with some people she works with. To be honest, I wasn’t really interested. But I’ve been married long enough to realize that when she asks something like that, what she’s really saying is not “do you want to go,” it’s “I want to go, do you know of any conflicts?”

I couldn’t come up with any.

My beautiful date.

I was virtually clueless about what the event was. I just knew it was at Great American Ballpark, it had something to do with an organization sponsored by her firm, and there was a free meal.

I got to visit the Reds dugout!
Our table with some of Kathie’s co-workers.

Turns out it was a lot of fun. We got to hang out on the field at GABP, sit in the Reds dugout and have dinner in the Champions Club. I even got to stand next to Thom Brennaman in the men’s room (no photos) and discuss the miserable Reds season and our hopes for 2017.

But mostly, I learned about a charitable organization called May We Help. I had never heard of them before, and I’m guessing you haven’t either. If you click on the image above it will take you to their web site for more info. Here’s a short (and moving) video about their work:

Pretty cool stuff.

This machine was developed by May We Help for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League to help kids with special needs play baseball.
These kids were having a blast! Teddy Kremer was the honorary umpire.

I’m glad to know of this work and wanted to share, but that’s not really the point of this post.

The thing that struck me is how important it is to simply ask that question. May we help? I’m impressed with people who are able to see a niche like this where they can contribute some positive good to the human race. A niche I probably would never have considered. They saw it because they were looking. They found it because they asked the question.

What niche do you see?

Don’t be afraid to ask the question: “May I help?”

You may be able to help in ways that no one else can.


Tuesday Picks ~ 9-20-2016

Picks Tuesday

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

The post-reality paradoxSeth Godin
When Hillary Clinton lies, her standing decreases. But when Donald Trump lies, it actually helps his standing among his followers. That’s because he’s not selling reality, he’s selling something else. It’s confusing to outsiders, because he’s not working on the same axis as traditional candidates.

The hallmark of post-reality thinking is that it watches the speech with the sound turned off. The words don’t matter nearly as much as the intent, the emotion, the subtext. When we engage in this more primeval, emotional encounter, we are more concerned with how it looks and feels than we are in whether or not the words actually make sense.

A common misconception…

Leadership Is Not For The PrivilegedDanny Franks
“Leadership is not for the privileged, it’s for the servant.” You can’t buy your way into authority, but you can serve your way there.

Beware the leader who wants to hold a title before they hold a towel.

This is a link to a podcast. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I think the highlights look really good…

Worship Leading Relationship between the Pastor and Music LeaderThom Rainer/Mike Harland

A couple of highlights:

  • “What happens on Sunday morning isn’t two things (music and preaching)—it’s one thing (worship).”
  • “Worship is not a performance ministry. It’s a discipleship ministry.”

Good reminder of the graciousness of our God…

Jesus Won’t Let It Be Awkward Between YouMichael Kelley
…today, I will wrong Jesus, and so will you. Today, we will give Him reason to make it awkward between us, as He looks down His nose at us, waiting for us to grovel and apologize in just the right way. And even when it happens, to still hold out some measure of forgiveness from us. But Jesus won’t make it awkward. He won’t avert His eyes from our presence. In fact, He will come and seek us out. He will serve us. And then He will move forward in relationship.

I think I prefer “sitting-with-your-feet-propped-up” desks…


The Bridge is Open

I’ve taken some time off from blogging but I feel like I’ve been fairly busy the past several weeks.

There was the usual stuff:

My current Habitat construction site

weekly volunteering with Habitat for Humanity,

Hubsters at WOCC

serving at church,

reframing my garage door

home projects, and more.

We also took the major step of moving my dad to Mt. Healthy Christian Village. This has been, and continues to be, a big adjustment for him, and really for the whole family. My mother is still very independent and continues to live at home. But, living in the house alone is a big adjustment for her. In addition to dealing with loneliness (They haven’t really been apart since dad returned home from his service in the Air Force at the end of the Korean War.) she is in the process of settling into her new routine.

42nd anniversary on 42nd Street

Also, Kathie & I went on a road trip to celebrate our 42nd anniversary. We spent a couple of days in Gettysburg then went on to New York City for a couple of days.

No relation.

We took in some of the usual sights and saw our first Broadway Show: Hamilton! It was amazing!

Along the way we were able to visit and reconnect with some friends and family whom we haven’t seen in a long time. (see below)

I said in my last post that I was planning to do some evaluating and thinking about some possible changes to this blog.

Well, as you can see, I haven’t changed the look of it. I tried out several different “themes” and designs but I really didn’t like any of them as well as this one.

I’m going to try a slightly different approach to social media sharing, but the truth is, the only actual change I’m making to the blog itself is to do my best to write more original material. I have found this to require more discipline, entail more work, and be more time consuming, than I expected. Discipline and hard work are not my strong suits (ask anyone), but I’m determined to try.

Thanks for reading!


In Gettysburg we had dinner with Georgianell. “George” and her husband were volunteer youth sponsors when Kathie & I were in high school. We’ve been FB friends for a few years but this is the first time we’ve seen her in about 45 years!


We had lunch near Philadelphia with my aunt and uncle, Ken and Pauline. Ken is my mother’s older brother. He and my dad were best friends in high school and that friendship is what led my dad and mom meeting. The rest, as they say, is history.


We had breakfast with Brad and Joy. Brad was an intern at WOCC when I came on staff in 1992. He later became WOCC’s Youth Minister. After 9/11/2001 he and Joy felt called by God to minister and serve the people of New York. He began a new church. This photo is taken at Postmark Cafe in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. This place was founded by Brad & Joy as a place to build relationships in the community. It is a unique work and I can’t tell you how impressed I am by this family and their love for God and for serving people.


Kathie works for a firm with offices in several cities, including NYC. This is Mary, one of her long-time co-workers. We were able to tour the offices there and to finally meet many people face to face with whom she has regular contact via email and phone.