Showing posts from August, 2019

Worthwhile August 30, 2019

The last Friday of August is upon us and you are craving something worthwhile to read heading into the weekend. And just two bits from me today since I am in a hurry to get to the local library book sale! First out of the gate is a lengthy piece from Matthew Anderson on pornography and the roots below it. "How Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane." While Anderson's piece is full, extremely long and you must be committed to finish it on a device, Andrew Wilson has clipped the most insightful piece. It comes down to curiositas . Find Wilson's quoting here and the full disortation from Anderson here . You choose what to read depending on how much time you have! Next up is An Open Letter to Pastors about teens in their congregations. While I agree with what I read I wonder if it would be more fair to make and open letter to parents of teens in a congregation so they know what the pastor is getting at. Katherine Forester helps us think about discipling thes

My Grudge is All I Have

This week I am struck afresh by the call of believers to pursue reconciliation. Now we are not given a task by God to earn salvation or even an increased measure of favor, but rather because we have first been reconciled. We love because we have been loved. It is a glorious order of operation for all of life. We are free to live with mercy, grace, and a starkly unique care for others, no matter how far from deserving it they are. All because we were further from it than them yet Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Still it is a regular occurrence that I want to cling to my displeasure with people over the invitation to surrender that to Jesus. Living days on end like my grudge is all I have to hold onto. To that tendency Jesus gently reminds us through his word and the community of believers that he is what we have to hold onto and he is far better than any grudge or revenge I could cook up. When I want to "get even" the Spirit says that Jesus already has, he has bala

Daily Surrender

Last week at our Men's Theology group I shared my story and how I came to faith in Jesus. Part of that story was me arriving at my lowest after many failed attempts at success and fulfillment. Exhausted and drained I had a conversation with God about my desire to try him, to give over myself to his way and purpose. This morning I was reflecting back on that story and the ride it has been since. But I was stirred to think about that act of surrender some 15+ years ago and how following Jesus has been a consistent invitation back to that posture, surrendering myself to Christ. Surrendering the idols I still wrestle with. Surrendering aspirations to greatness and popularity. Surrendering the ways I have have elevated self over others and God. Each and every day discipleship with Jesus is saying "I am relying on you again, I give myself over to your way and purpose." As I was reflecting I found myself surrendering again not to gain grace but because Jesus has already poured

Worthwhile: August 23, 2019

Labor Day is closer now than Memorial Day so we are into the fall. Next weekend the Nebraska Cornhuskers begin their football season and my Saturdays will be busy! There was a lot of action this week in the sharing of choice material, including what I share today, so hopefully you were able to engage in the meaningful things and pass over the drivel! Let's get rolling with the glory of Christ. Given the rash of recent "departures" from Christianity, Erik Raymond has a short piece on the consistent indifference to the glory of Christ. That Jesus is ignored in the statements on leaving the church. He holds out a mark for us to remember and rally around - who Jesus is and how we have faith in him. He also quotes John Owen to spur us on. No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight in heaven who does not, in some measure, behold it by faith in this world. . . . On Christ’s glory, I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the

Sanctification and Weight Loss

I start diets and new exercise regimens but I rarely stick to them long term. Usually I chalk up my lack of resiliency as a result of diminished returns. I just don't see progress that is worth the effort. And I really like sugar! Weight loss, or just plain health, takes time. It is an invested process that arrives on the far end. But when my perspective changes and the incremental gains (or losses at it would be) are not what is most important then the strategies are easier to stick with. When I am committed to health rather than look or longevity over momentary whims, that is where resiliency develops. All that said, I think sanctification is similar. The significant difference being that you don't achieve sanctification yourself, like your justification it is a gift promised and delivered by God. But you don't reject the gift because it takes a long time. When you set your mind on the glory of Christ, health, and longevity in him you can keep pressing on with expectancy.

Someone Has Been There Before

As I have discipled or mentored people in varying seasons of life one helpful conclusion for everyone has been that someone has gone through the same things before them. Once you recognize there are others with insight to give, you are likely to heed it. Increasingly I have noticed a trend of disillusionment toward the experience of others. Those I try to encourage exude an attitude that says their story or circumstance is unique and no one would have any clue what they are going through. I get the temptation toward that feeling. Just on the base level of our selfish sinfulness or course we would lean toward narcissism as if we are all that matter, or have ever mattered. And this is why community is so vital as we pursue life, and especially pursue Jesus. When we awaken to the reality that others have faced similar or the same situations, we enter into a gracious space of being understood. This is where bearing with one another happens. This is where growth happens. So please, don'

Worthwhile August 16, 2019

The back to school edition... which means it is slim. As a parent of three elementary aged kiddos, and a PTA president it has been a busy week. I also had a couple great meetings our elders, and local pastors for care and encouragement. It's the good life though. I wouldn't trade it. For our weekend reviewing and viewing, three bits, one of which you may have seen. First out of the gate is a class piece from Jennie Pollock on Think Theology . She writes to open our thinking to viewing the calming of the storm story in Mark 4. We all have heard sermons on the sleeping Jesus and the disciples waking him in fear for their lives. Jennie does good work here, not condemning the disciples for cowardice and waking the sleeping Savior, but her take does lend us a bit of a gut check about just who we think Jesus is. In the end, we can live in confidence because our Savior controls all things... Give it a read here. Next, to what you may have already seen. Anderson Cooper interviewing St

The Kingdom and Your Patch of Grass

I should say patch of sand given I live near the desert... Maybe it is time for us to see the Kingdom of God as the thing of importance rather than our little patch of it. Instead of our own brand we could build partnerships and gospel unity for the fame of Christ in our cities. I promise this is where the good stuff is. Outposts of Jesus' new reality working in unison not to draw a crowd but to see the Kingdom go forth for the glory of God. Let's do it.

Paying Attention

I have noticed something quite worrisome as of late. No one pays attention. There seems to be too much information coming at us each day and to be honest, we are all narcisistic so we have little attention span for worthwhile things unless we are convinced they are about us. The email that you receive but don't read. The article you skim without absorbing (that's me). The conversation you can't track with because your mind is across the room. Noise upon noise and we don't know how to listen right, hear what is said or read what is written. (Knowing this I realize the slim chance anyone will read this!) Then reading a book on Missions by Andy Johnson I came across this gem: "I once rented a vacation apartment on the sixth floor of a building with no elevator. The owner had been very clear in every email, stating, "This apartment is on the sixth floor and there is no elevator." Still, the significance of her disclosure didn't really hit me until I was

Protein Rich Preaching

The mother of one our church attenders visits every so often and she was with us this last Sunday. As she left she encouraged me with a compliment. "I love visiting, there is so much meat in your sermons." Now I am glad she notices this, but not because I have done anything special. In fact my preaching has been described as "dense" by others (you pick your definition). But it is the Word that is rich. We have no hope beyond what is revealed in Scripture so that is where we dine, it is where we get fed for life. It's not too late for you to get a good meal. Open the Bible, hear the very word of God. Stock up on your protein daily. There you will meet Jesus. The gracious and loving King.

Donuts will Do

There are plenty of times that I tell my kids "no." But there are also plenty of times I say "yes!" And nearly once a week I say yes to donuts. Sure, I like them myself, but I have also raise kids that enjoy the special treat! While parenting is most often about convincing your kids to endure pain to get better (take the gross medicine to heal) it is also teaching each other how to chase and embrace joy. What are the things you can say yes to today to dig up a smile in your family or friends? Or just uncover your own smile?! Go for it. Be it a donut, a string of silly jokes, a dance party, or petting every dog you meet in the park, go for it. Some days, donuts will do, will you?

Worthwhile August 9, 2019

What's up?! It's Friday and for some of us the last weekend before the new school year starts. Which means an end to the adventures of summer and the return to routine, kids at school and plenty of things to pull at our attention spans. I like routine, so the new schedule and three kids at school at the same time each day is enticing. So what should you consume on this potentially last weekend of the summer? Here are a few options. Tailored to my preferences of course. Killing your silly dreams. I came of ministry age in an environment of visioneering. "God-sized" dreams that outpaced everything that has come before. Innovation for its own sake... so imagine my dismay when I read the requirements for elders in 1 Peter calling us to "shepherd the flock that is among you." Wait, I want to shepherd the flock I design, I dream about. Detrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together challenges us to kill our "wish dream," and instead find gratitude for what God has

The Hit of a Finished Task List

A month ago I started using a new planner. It promised increased productivity and goal setting. I suppose it has been helpful. The first day I used its system of planning and executing I felt super efficient and accomplished. The high has worn off by now but I still love a finished task list. The feeling of finishing what the day required. The burden of responsibilities lifted as they are handled ahead of schedule. The freedom on the other side of the lists action items. Funny thing is that I set the list. I generate the tasks so how hard I work, or the amount of "productivity" is determined at my whim. Some days are easier to feel accomplished! But when the list comes to an end there is a hit of success. Sure there is some chemical reason, maybe dopamine or something. The sense of relief of coming to the end. It feels good. I wonder if this is why we are so list oriented when it comes to things best lived without a list. Like relationships and faith. In both we think we need

Worthwhile: August 2, 2019

I just did a double take when typing August... This summer has flown by and I hope you have carved out time for adventure with other people, the reading of good books, and extra naps in the afternoon heat. If not, take this as permission to catch up this weekend. Go for a hike, invite someone(s) over for a good meal, and sleep in (on Saturday, wake up and go to church on Sunday!). A few items this week that will hopefully be worthwhile. The unfornuate, the wise, and the call to something better. Starting off is an interview with a filmmaker from two years ago in a Canadian magazine. The film was a documentary on the effects of pornography. In 2016 it was a political conversation for our Northern neighbor. But the issues raised still stand. Porn is one of those things that has waves of resistance and then a baseline attitude of acceptance, as if it is a normal part of life and it's best to not talk about it. Even with data proving the devastating effects it is pervasive still. Well

We need friends from other tribes

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend, someone I highly value and am thankful for his friendship. But it has been a long time since we discussed things of theology and the church. Now we are both Christians, trusting in Jesus for salvation, but my writing, teaching, and church experience lands me within what some would call the Reformed tradition. To this I found my friend sharing a view of "reformed" theology that was foreign to me. Almost as if it would be a perspective shaped by someone antagonistic rather than inquisitive. But the banter was light-hearted and no one was harmed! I did conclude the conversation however by encouraging my friend that he needed more "reformed" friends. Given the more you know they less likely you are to have a mistaken view. This goes for all of us. Certainly outside but especially inside the church. For whatever reason God has allowed us to have a varying set of doctrines and views all within the realm of ort