Are you ready for the battle?

We’ve made a mistake in how we understand the Christian life. Kate Bowler hints at this in the title of her recent book: Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. We’ve fallen in love with some lies.

This blog is dedicated to exploring one of the ways that we’ve misperceived the nature of the Christian life. We’ve lost any sense of our earthly sojourn as long, hard slog.

As Christian puts it in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress:

“To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The Bible never promises anything other than struggle, hardship, and a continual need to die to self in order to be live to Christ.

There is joy of course.

But it is the joy that comes from the shared experience of journeying together through highs and lows and in a heavenward direction. The liturgical calendar reinforces for us that this is the nature of our spiritual journey.

So. Let’s begin to explore the nature of the Christian life together and see if we can deepen and widen how we understand the life of faith.



Is online education viable?

Powerpoint Slides, Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age, #13682_2

I don’t know what you think about online education or online church. Whenever I’m around professors I sense a general skepticism toward online education.

The recent failure of the University of Texas’s online education pilot project raises concerns over the economics, but faculty are more often concerned about how the lack of classroom interaction and community affects the educational experience.

This book by Stephen Lowe and Mary Lowe is a fascinating assessment of the possibilities for both education and church. In short, they argue that a hybrid model–actual and virtual–can facilitate spiritual growth and genuine transformation:

“When we engage in online Christian education through mediated instruction, we are simply tapping into the existing spiritual communion of believers made possible by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, much like Paul did when he wrote letters to churches from whom he was separated and could not visit in person…. Both online and face-to-face learning experiences contribute to student development in their own unique ways.”

Read more here. Interview begins at p. 17

You won’t believe what’s missing at CNN

Here’s an interesting exercise in cultural interpretation. Here are two image grabs from news websites. The first is CNN and the second the BBC. What do you notice?

Image 1.

Screenshot 2018-02-21 16.56.25
Screenshot of 2/21/18 at 4:56pm


Image 2.

Screenshot 2018-02-21 16.56.05.png
Screenshot of 2/21/18 at 4:57pm

News of Billy Graham’s death at 99 is covered beneath the fold at CNN. There’s a single story with no photo. It’s eminently missable.

At the BBC, however, Billy Graham death is above the fold and there are two stories with accompanying photos.

Why the difference?

Just one more jerk

The world does not need another jerk. You know it. I know.

It’s kind of become a mantra for me. Any time I’m find myself getting impatient, frustrated, or just plain annoyed, I remind myself that the world is already full of unpleasant people. And I’m not aware that anyone’s life has ever been changed for the better because they were yelled at.

At its worst life can seem like a series of interaction with jerks. 

You don’t need to add to the queue nor do I.

Day-trade your way to a better life

Seth Godin nails it:

Every time you pick up your quickphone, you stop inventing and begin transacting instead.

The flow of information and style of interaction rewards your quickness. It helps you make decisions in this moment. Which route to drive? Which restaurant to go to? Which email to respond to?

Transactions are important, no doubt. But when you spend your entire doing them, what disappears?

We can’t day trade our way to the future we seek.


The gift of Lent

Lent I

I have to admit that my feelings about Lent ebb and flow. I see it’s value and I have no particular reason to deny its validity as something that benefits Christ’s church. At the same time, it does become such a production for many people. In places discussions of Lenten disciplines can be as regular as discussions about New Year’s resolutions.

During our corporate confession today a member pointed us to Olympic commentators. When we watch Olympic sports, we see what’s happening but we don’t always see clearly. We might watch someone perform a move and be wowed by it. The commentators, trained as they are, often seen not only the move but the small imperfections that cause points to be deducted from a perfect score.

Just as we don’t often see sport performances with absolutely clarity, it is also quite difficult to see our own lives with any degree of clarity.  After all, where’ in the midst of the game and its hard to call timeout and climb up to the box and looking at our lives like the coaching staff of a football team.

Lent gives us the chance to make space to do just that. To stop, pause, call timeout on our lives. And to ask ourselves the question: how goes it with my soul?

Don’t miss the chance to do some soul work–take the gift of Lent and let meet Christ in it.


Free productivity resources

Productive Flourishing has some really great free productivity resources that I wanted to share with you.

As a marketing manager I juggle a large number of projects from recently-published books and forthcoming books to social media curation and conference management.

Several of their free productivity pages have been super helpful. You can download them here.


One of the most helpful pages is the individual project planner sheet. I attach one of these to every project folder I have and use it to track next actions. I then review projects weekly to ensure that I’m staying current on each project.

your most valuable commodity


I once had an evening meeting.

It started not too long after the close of business so I decided to work until the meeting, attend it, and then go home for dinner afterwards.

Bad idea.

As younger guy I might have been able to handle it. As a middle-aged guy, however, my body rebelled.

The meeting was intense. We were discussing important issues. Stress levels were up. Emotions were running high.

My energy level and my emotional reservoir was empty.

In the midst of the meeting, I momentarily lost it.

Nothing bad. No violence. No one was hurt.

I yelled at someone. Most people don’t like that. I know I don’t.


The truth is that I tried to manage my to do list by working late when I should have managed my energy level.

I should have had some protein.

I should have gone to the gym or for a walk.

If you succeed in doing more, but do it like a bull in a china shop…that’s not really a win.

Choose to manage your energy first–it’ll free you to make better decisions in other areas of life and work.

Suggested resources:

“Manage your energy, not your time”  in Harvard Business Review (2007).

The Power of Full Engagement (2005)

Make the change

Change requires energy.

Everything is new or close to it.

There’s a learning curve. And while that curve is steep–which isn’t forever–it takes brainpower and emotional energy to successfully get to the top.

The thing is: while change is depleting its opposite is fossilizing.

There’s nothing easier than doing the same old same old.

When the chance comes to change–whether voluntarily or through providence–take it!


Reject personas

One of the easiest things for writers to do is to fixate on image. We ask ourselves: what personal narrative can I attach to myself in order to be more marketable. It makes sense, that’s what politicians do all the time.

The problem is that writing isn’t like getting elected. Incidentally, getting elected isn’t like governing.

Unless you do the careful work to write from the inside out–that is to write from your deepest self rather than allowing fads, image, and trends to shape what you write–you’ll end up a washed up, burnt out sophist.

If you spend your time asking and delivering what the crowd wants, before long that’s all you’ll care about.

And when that happens, you’re doomed.