God-washed power pollutes everything it touches but there is hope
Over the last year I've read three books that have caused me significant pause.
The first was, A Church Called Tov by Scot McKnight and Laura Barringer. The second was, Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. The third was, The Flag and the Cross by Phillip Gorski and Samuel Perry.
What if meditation was the key to reading the Bible?
I was in high school and attending something called a Summer Institute at Eastern Michigan University. Rising high school seniors could attend the institute in a number of disciplines. I attended this two week experience for music. It was an amazing couple of weeks and I met some really fun people.
Entering into silence can spiritually form us
There's only a few sermons that I've heard that I remember. As I write that I want to make sure you understand what I'm not saying, I'm not saying that sermons are unimportant. I think they are very important. The sermons I remember are likely not sermons that someone else remembers. They are moments in time that God uses in the lives of people.
There was one sermon in particular that my friend, Doug, gave a number of years ago. He was talking about how noisy the world is and how quiet God's voice can be. All during the message he had an iPod playing very quietly and then at the end he had us all get quiet and all of a sudden you could hear the music.
This shook me.
Prayer is something so difficult for me to get my mind around. As I think about praying it raises so many, many questions.
If God is sovereign why pray?
Why doesn't God answer my prayers?
Why don't I hear God when I pray?
What value is there to praying?
Why did that person get healed and that one didn't?
Why did that prayer have “results” and that one didn't?
Does prayer do anything?
And so many, many more.
I often think of prayer in the context of utility. Quite simply, “does it work?”
A simple practice to help you grow in your faith.
When you open the Bible do you feel intimidated? I know I do.
You read that right, the professional Christian with a graduate degree that included the study of both Hebrew and Greek is intimidated by the Bible.
How can that be?
As I see friends who haven’t seen me in a while they are effusive in their praise of physical fitness. Over the last year, my body has transformed. What they can’t see is the transformation that has taken place in my heart, mind, and soul. Those changes are of course nearly impossible to simply see.
As important as the physical fitness has been, it’s these other changes that are more important. They are the changes that will help me to maintain my physical fitness beyond reaching a goal.
The single most common question that I get is, “how did you do it?”
What do we do when the goal is unseen?
It was Thanksgiving and we were heading to my brother Jay's home outside Baltimore, Maryland. We were excited to spend time with his family and celebrate together. As we drove the weather grew worse and worse.
The snow and sleet were becoming overwhelming. Cars were pulling off and sliding off the road at an alarming rate. My hands gripped the steering wheel tighter than I knew I could. White knuckling was an understatement. I grew more and more tired. Tensions were rising in the car. I knew that Amy wouldn't be comfortable getting behind the wheel and so I drove on.
This journey was not going well.
We aren't made to walk the path alone.
I began my journey toward physical fitness with a commitment to walk fifteen minutes per day. My thinking was that I could do anything for fifteen minutes. I was right. Rarely did I walk for less than twenty minutes. Almost always, I walked at least thirty.
I had, in my excitement over such a plan, decided to invite some close friends to hold me accountable. My walk needed to be done by 10 pm or they were free to give me all the grief!
What if we valued perseverance over being perfect?
Sophia was walking through the forest with her friend Avil. As they were walking and talking she stubbed her toe on a root that had broken through the path. She stumbled and exclaimed her shock and surprise. She regained her footing and they continued walking.
A little bit later, Avil stubbed his toe as well. He cried out and then found another root and stubbed his other toe. When he did, he tripped and skinned his knee. He was distraught and threw himself down the side of a hill where he broke his leg. As rolled down the hill he also skinned his knee. So, he took a rock and broke his other arm.
It didn't take long before Sophia realized that the walk was over.
Our self identity shapes what we do.
A couple of years ago I read a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. He tells the story of a friend who went on a weight loss journey. To begin this journey his friend started a habit of going to the gym. At this point you might be thinking, “Well, of course he did.” But here's the kicker, he never went in. Every day he drove to the gym and parked in the parking lot.
What a strange thing to do, I thought. It surely didn't make any sense to me when I initially read it. I stopped and pondered why would he do something so strange before continuing to read. I wanted to try and figure it out. For the life of me, I couldn't. It just didn't make any sense.