Category Archives: Christian Growth

The Requirements for Coming

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“Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.” No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy- laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 , NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.” 

Paul Miller, A Praying Life

(Goes along well with my post for the start of 2015: A Call to Stop Doing)


Reading 2015: What’s Best Next

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Like many Evangelicals, I have grown weary of seeing Christian authors simply take secular books, concepts, and ideas, slap on the label “Biblical” (or “Gospel-centered,” “Christian,” “godly,” or other buzzwords), throw in a few (usually-out-of-context) Bible verses and call it their own, usually holding their version on a pedestal.

When I first saw this book and started into it, I’m afraid both Daniel and I did a mental eye roll, thinking that’s what this book would be.  But all those initial red flags quickly dropped as I delved further into this book.

Is it possible to disguise a theology book as a productivity book? Or a productivity book as a theology book? If so, Matt Perman just did it in What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. And actually, it seems he’s done better than simply disguising one as the other: he’s showed how the two are intrinsically linked together for the believer. (more…)


Reading 2014: Not a Fan

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Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus has been out for a few years now, and perhaps ironically, has since gained quite the following. (You can now buy the Not a Fan Student Editionthe Not a Fan: Teen Edition, or even a Not a Fan Follower’s Journal, among many other options, of which I’m sure there will be more to come.) (more…)


Reading 2013: Bread & Wine

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At this point in my life, it is rare that life should bring me to tears, though sometimes books and movies get me closer to that point (well, along with too little sleep). But a book about food? There were no heaving sobs, but Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist kept simultaneously me laughing out loud and wondering if my watery eyes would turn to flowing tears.

Bread & Wine is profound, moving, deeply spiritual, and deeply human. It’s about hoping and healing, feasting and fasting, learning to love and to accept love, learning when to hold others close and when to let go, and learning to weave together the rhythms life. Most of all, it’s about learning to gather together and embrace community and hospitality, particularly for those of us who are the people of the bread and wine.

This unique book recipe blends part spiritual memoir and part cookbook (although Neiquist insists it is not, maybe a “collection of recipes,” then?) to create a flavor all its own.

Niequist’s book will undoubtedly be on my list of favorite reads for 2013. Although I haven’t yet tried any of the recipes, the spiritual lessons are simmering away on my heart and mind. (And hopefully, I’ll make Shauna’s recipe for blueberry crisp before we eat all the blueberries the kids and I just picked!)

Shauna’s husband discovered that he had a gluten allergy, and many of Shauna’s friends have had to live with food restrictions. Her book is geared in such a way that most of the recipes are friendly or easy to adapt to diets with special limitations, particularly gluten free. (Which is good, since my gluten intake since return to the States has hit me hard with some side effects this week.)

Going into this book, I didn’t realize who the author’s father was, and I hadn’t read anything by Niequist prior to this book. Realizing who she was might have changed my perception of the book, though she certainly doesn’t she bask in the limelight of her father’s religious fame.

This is a book that offers real life and transparency without idolizing transparency or basking in brokenness. Particularly, Shauna deals with his struggles with fertility and body-image.

Evangelicals who hold to the belief that Scripture teaches total from alcohol may be a bit uncomfortable with Niequists frequent mention of enjoying alcoholic beverages (after all, the title is Bread & Wine), but I think even many who take such a position would readily take value in the overall message of the book.

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Links to Think: 06.04.12

NeverSeconds: One primary school pupil’s daily dose of school dinners. – A 9-year-old girl blogs about her daily school lunches, with photos. (I believe she’s from Scotland.) Her blog has attracted attention from worldwide school-lunch-eaters (and foodies), and she also shares pictures sent in by other students around the world.

“Coronation Chicken was invented to celebrate the Queen coming to the throne in 1953 and it’s still here today! It’s a mixture of cold chicken in a cold curry sauce. It tastes a lot better than it sounds. It was on our menu to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee this weekend. We’ve an extra day off school to celebrate and I am going to a street party. We don’t go back until Wednesday next week!”

American Scripture: How David Barton Won the Christian Right – As someone who attended high school history classes watching David Barton videos, I found this article helpful and insightful.

“Barton’s focus on returning to the original text, and his pointed disdain for the scholars whom he accuses of distorting its plain meaning, seems to resonate with his largely evangelical audience. There is a reason for this. It echoes the general doctrine of sola scriptura, the bedrock of the Reformation, that the text of the Bible alone contains the knowledge necessary for salvation. It draws on the tradition of prooftexting, using verses lifted from a larger text to buttress specific points. And in particular, it mirrors the notion of the perspicuity of Scripture — that its essential teachings are sufficiently clear that “not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.””

“His error, of course, is that the hundred thousand documents he treasures were all written by men, bereft of divine inspiration, muddling through as best they knew how. Their authors were creatures of their time and place, seized by the usual sets of contradictory impulses and passions, changing and evolving with the passage of time. To apply the same exegetical principles to the works of man as to those of God is folly.

(HT: B.T. Schoolfield)

Violent Men, Working Women, and Evangelical Gender Norms - David Crabb has Paul Matzko write a guest blog post, “writing an immensely helpful article arguing that evangelicals often get their conception of gender roles from cultural norms rather than Scriptural principles.”

“For the evangelical Christian, a series of logical questions follow: If there are so many different expectations of gender, which is right? Does the Bible mandate a particular kind of manhood and womanhood? Should Christians imitate broader cultural standards of masculinity and femininity? Do my gender norms conform to Scripture?

My purpose in writing this essay is to caution our small conservative evangelical subculture from answering those questions too hastily. It is tempting to fit Scripture to our ideas rather than the other way around. All too often, we try to legitimize our beliefs by ignoring contradictory opinions and rationalizing away inconvenient evidence. As harmful as that tendency is in politics, education, and family life, it is devastating when it shapes our interpretation of the Bible.”

Worth the read, though I’ll note in the words of one commenter, “[T]here are some very basic reasons why women (and myself included) often choose to stay at home with young children and it has less to do with Victorian values than it does with simply having certain body parts and the physical demands placed on them through pregnancy and (if you chose) breastfeeding. But for me, this is no tension. I find my place in this world through the intersection of my god-given abilities–my spiritual, mental, emotional, and yes, even physical gifting.”