In 2010, I began the practice of choosing 1 passage for the year and studying it in-depth for personal and spiritual growth. This has easily been one of the most transformative practices I’ve adopted. It’s helped my Bible-memorization, study habits, and ability to think Biblically about real-life situations. Below is a behind the scenes look at the practice, as well as a guide for you to begin it as well!
When we base our value on our usefulness, it’s like covering a Picasso in Post-Its. So often in the pursuit of more (earning more, creating more, becoming more) we end up sabotaging the very value we wanted to highlight. We suffocate our masterpiece in small yellow squares and ask the world to affirm us.
Maybe the reason we have so many Sunday-only Christians is because we’ve emphasized Sundays as the end-all, be-all of our faith. Maybe, if we made Sundays less important we would have to find ways to make our faith real the rest of the week – because the Sunday checkbox no longer counts. If my Sunday attendance doesn’t prove that I love God…what will?
So miss church every now and again. Sleep in on a Sunday morning. Go see an early movie. And remember that the whole point of Jesus’ gift was to spur us to be the church. To do life with one another that models the kingdom of God. An attractive, disruptive, upside-down, boundless gospel that can't be confined to a single day of the week.
I can’t tell you what made that first crack for me. But what I can tell you is that you’re not alone. Whether you call it doubt, deconstruction, wandering, back-sliding, or anything else – the fact is that there are many others on the journey with you. And the number is growing daily. Tens of thousands of Christians are searching for a truer faith. An unbarred, unencumbered space where they can ask the difficult questions and hear from people who will not condemn their journey – but encourage it.
People fell for the hype. They believed the façade spread across social media, and handed over their money over for something that didn’t exist.
Part of me wants to write about the lure of this world, how it presents us with a false hope that only turns up empty. But I think that’s the clearer route, and I’m sure another Christian writer can create that piece beautifully.
I want to talk about something that’s a little murkier. Something that I think a lot of Christians feel, but don’t talk about.
If Easter means anything, than it must mean everything. It must not only make me unafraid of encountering a Steve Stephens, it must move me to forgive the broken and the violent, to love the dangerous and the dirty
Just like Furtick, my mind goes to Jacob who would one day be known as Israel. If there was ever someone unqualified to do something great, Jacob was it. He was a liar and manipulator from the start. Short tempered, impatient, and above all selfish. Not many of us would invite Jacob to eat dinner with us, let alone hail him as one of the founders of God’s chosen nation.
But there’s another element to the story that gets missed. Another word which needs to be paired with unqualified if we are going to get the most accurate picture of what it means to be called and led by God into great things. That word is unequipped.
Podcasts are an excellent free resource to learn a new topic, help you change some aspect of your life, or (like mine) encourage you to build a daily practice of seeking God and His Word. Because the surge in podcasting is so new, it can be difficult to navigate how they work. There's no simple way (yet) to share a clip of an episode or a direct way to support the creators and their work. But there is one thing we can do that is both important and effective: leave a review.
The women listed below have guided me towards a more mature faith. When I believed I had finally figured out some singular piece completely, their writing prompted me to take another look from a different perspective. I owe them tremendously, and I encourage you to pick up one of their works if your exposure to female theologians could use some help as well!
Over the years I have had the opportunity to read hundreds of books by dozens of brilliant, God-loving, life-seasoned authors. Of these, a few have left impressions deeper than most.
I wholeheartedly believe you can be “mentored” by men and women you have never met. If you take the time to read their words and think deeply about why they wrote them, you cannot help but be shaped by them.
I don’t know what your life or walk with God looks like at this moment, but I want to encourage you. If your leaves have fallen, that doesn’t mean they will never sprout again. Maybe you’ve pulled back from ministry commitments, switched churches, or have experienced a drought in your prayer life. None of these make you a bad Christian. None of these make you weaker or less loved by God.
Often, I find myself trying to live the Christian life like I would adhere to a diet. I plan, I avoid temptation, I peak over at what other people have on their “plates,” and convince myself that everything is fine because I am a Christian. And as a Christian, I am choosing differently.
I won’t look at that, or say that, or look like that because now, right now, for now, I am a good Christian. Sometimes I fall off the bandwagon, like any ordinary Christian does. In diets we call them cheat days. It’s where I decide to live like the world again. To want what it wants and to think like it thinks. But it’s alright so long as I go back to my Christian diet…
Despite all the negative media, 2016 was a fantastic year for many people. Me included! I married my best-friend, graduated from seminary, and began to seriously concentrate on my writing. While I am still very much as the beginning stages of my journey, I know that I have grown by leaps and bounds this year.
Writing and teaching is my calling. I’m convinced of that. I feel most alive when I am doing those activities, and numerous people this year have reached out to tell me how God has used my work to help them. This is what I want to do with my life: help people reach a deeper knowledge and love for God through learning and loving Scripture.
Here are 9 things that helped me grow in 2016, and they could help you end this year on a highnote!
While this idea with the connecting flights was playing around in my head, a friend sent me a Tedx talk by Victoria Labalme called Risk Forward. The whole idea behind her talk was that you never really know where the journey of life is going to take you. All you can do is take the next step that is right in front of you. Because it could be that place or idea which takes you to the place you actually need to be or the idea you really need to be pursuing. In other words, all of life is a series of connecting flights. The problem is, we only look for non-stop ones.
On a special edition episode, the host had listeners share one piece of advice that had a profound impact upon their life. Of the maybe dozen pieces of advice, there was one in particular which stood out. One piece of advice which really hit me in between the eyes, and one I believe you will benefit from as well.
2016 has been an amazing year. God has blessed me with so many good things and I just wanted to take a few minutes to acknowledge them, to say thank you, and to share with you all what is to come.
On May 21, 2016 I completed the journey I began nearly 4 years prior. Clothed in black robes and with a master’s hood around my neck, I walked across the graduation stage to receive my seminary degree. The moment was surreal. I shook the president’s hand, received a few pats on the back from my favorite professors, and quickly walked back to my seat. I had done it. God had done it.
I can smile as I near the finish line of seminary because I know that the forming I have undergone over the last three years will serve my goals and God’s purposes for the rest of my life. We have been prepared for extraordinary things by an extraordinary God, and this is only the beginning.
That is why I want to share these 7 lessons with you. I want us to live with BIG FAITH. And to get there we must start here, exactly where we are at today. I hope these insights inspire you to take small steps, to dig into God’s Word, and to believe that you are already living in the extraordinary story God is writing.