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.
Answering one question can start the journey.
I recently shared a before and after picture one year apart on my social feeds. It sparked congratulations and a lot of kind words. Over the last eighteen months I have lost over 100 lbs. My entire body has changed. I see old pictures and it doesn't even seem like I'm the same person.
Do you want to know something interesting? When I look in the mirror I don't really see much change at all. I will catch myself walking past a mirror and think, “wow! I've changed!” Then as I continue to look at myself I can almost see my body transform back to the “old me” in the mirror.
Why I find the Jesus Way helpful in loving well.
In the single most unsurprising thing ever written, I as a pastor think about religion. I think about it an awful lot. For a long time whenever I thought about religion I did so in a negative way. There was almost an allergic reaction to the word for me. Religion, in my understanding was nothing more than a set of beliefs or rules, an attempt by humanity to reach God.
Could religion actually be good?
When you think of religion what comes into your mind?
For many of us it's probably something like, “man's pursuit of the divine,” or “a system of beliefs,” or “the crutch of humanity,” or “the worst thing that's ever happened to humanity.” Whatever our understanding or definition it's typically tinged with a bit of negativity.
What if deconstruction was something else?
Everywhere you look people are deconstructing. For some, this looks like a total rejection of faith. Some question a doctrine here or there. Others walk away from “church” and hold on to Jesus. Loads of “Christian famous” folks are carrying out their deconstruction online for the world to see. Some are leveraging deconstruction for financial gain (yes, you can hire people to coach you through a season of deconstruction).
Then there's the response to deconstruction. Some celebrate it and almost evangelize it to others. Others point to it as a simply a way to disguise apostasy. Both seem to be missing the mark.
My certainty died but then my faith lived
I was there when he died.
I sat next to him as they turned off all the machines. His wife and daughters had left the hospital and entrusted these moments to me and another friend.
It didn’t take long.
He was ready.
There is this interesting little line in the letter that Paul of Tarsus wrote to the faith community in Galatia.
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never >again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” – Galatians 5:1, The >Message
What does it mean that we are set free to live a free life?
Is placing your faith in Christ just a different way of saying, “earn your ticket to heaven”?
That's a question that I've received often over the years. It usually crops up when a friend and I begin talking about, “grace.”
Remember, grace is God lavishing God's love on us through Christ. This lavishing of God's love is nothing that we earn. It's nothing that we can bring on ourselves. It is the effect of Christ choosing to reconcile all things through the cross. Christ sets all things right and then we get to experience this God-wrought-loving-justice by faith.