Some of our staff is slowly reading through Dane Ortlund’s Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners together. Like his book, Gentle and Lowly, it’s beautifully written and is simultaneously rich in theology, warm and pastoral in its tone, and immensely practical. I appreciate how he communicates deep truths in uncomplicated ways.
The thrust of the book is that to change or to grow, we grow in Jesus, meaning knowing more of who he is and then what means for us who are united to him. “Our growth is not independent personal improvement. It is growth in Christ.”
Continue reading 7 Facets of Christ from Dane Ortlund’s book, Deeper
“To experience the richness of life in God’s kingdom, we must reorder our lives. We need to see through the shallow promises of our culture, and we need rhythms, signposts, and practices that reorient us to another world.” Mike Cosper
My wife (Melissa) is an excellent cook. I’d much rather find myself in front of a home cooked meal from Café Crowe than any other restaurant—and not just because I’m
cheap frugal. But, there was one time when her cooking didn’t sit so well with my stomach. It was eggplant parmesan. I’m still not sure what it was, but something about this eggplant made me very sick to my stomach (to say it nicely). If you’ve ever gotten nauseous after eating a particular food, you know how it scars you…maybe forever. Even today, several years after “the meal,” the very mention of eggplant sends a shiver down my spine. It’s now “it which shall not be named” in our house.
For some people in the church, the language of “spiritual disciplines” can hit them with similar effects. Maybe those words brings on guilt or disappointment, or maybe they bring on joy and excitement. If you and “spiritual disciplines” have a long, baggage-filled history that leaves a sour taste in your mouth when you hear about them, then you might have any number of reactions to a class on spiritual disciplines.
Continue reading Spiritual Disciplines: Grace or Guilt?
“Our habits incline us to act in certain ways without having to kick into a mode of reflection; for the most part we are driven by an engine that purrs under the hood with little attention from us.” James K.A. Smith
“Without planning, we’ll practice our Bible memory just once or twice and then no more. We’ll do lots of good things, but only a couple of times. One of the great strengths of good traditions in our lives is the repetition—not something done once, then something else, then another thing altogether—but good things done regularly, dependably, until they become habits.” Noel Piper
Continue reading The Power of Habits
We’ve all had something in our life that we wanted to change, or knew we needed to change, but we never pulled the trigger. Or, we gave it a shot but gave up after a couple of days. That might be eating healthy or going on a new diet, an exercise routine, wanting to stop a behavior or pattern of behaviors, curbing spending and sticking to the budget, practicing a spiritual discipline such as Bible reading or prayer, or even just wanting to respond different than we have recently, like not responding in frustration or anger to those around us.
“You can’t give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering.” Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
My dad died on Saturday, June 25th. He had battled in the hospital for over seventy days. When he had no more fight in him and he could tell his time was up, he wanted to return to his own house and enter glory with loved ones around him. I had the privilege to be standing next to him, holding his hand, both ready for him to enter the fullness of joy in God’s presence but not ready to have him gone from earth. Though it’s not what he or we wanted, we trust in the loving kindness, infinite wisdom, and perfecting timing of God. I’m thankful for his life, the man, dad, and grandpa he was, the memories I have of him, how he has shaped me as a person, and for these last few days and the chance to be next to him with people who love him.
Below is a eulogy of sorts that I wrote for his memorial service. There is so much more I wanted to say and I had to cut a lot out, but I hope it gives a glimpse into both who he was and what it looks like to be both sorrowful and rejoicing in this time.
Continue reading Remembering My Dad, John Crowe
“Grief gives the full measure of love, and it is somehow reassuring to learn, even by suffering, how large and powerful love is.” Wendell Berry
As I’ve been processing my dad’s recent death, one of the ways I do that is by reading, which usually leads to reflection, prayer, and writing. Below are a few books and articles I’ve found helpful this week in finding hope and even rejoicing while facing the pain of death and loss.
Continue reading A Few Books and Articles on Death and Grieving
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)
Grace and peace often open the NT letters as blessings found and sought in Jesus Christ. To have these multiplied in our life is to experience the favor of God and a flourishing life in Christ. Peter opens both of his letters with this prayer that grace and peace would be multiplied to his readers (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2). Or, as he says when he closes this second letter, he wants them to “grow in grace” (2 Peter 5:18).
How does this happen? What multiplies God’s grace and peace in our lives and churches? What causes us to grow, mature, and see the Spirit bear fruit in our lives? It’s knowing God (2 Peter 1:2).
Continue reading Growing through Knowing in 2 Peter
As our church begins going through Mark’s Gospel, I wanted to recommend a few resources to either read alongside of Mark or to help provide overview and background. Here’s a short list of some books, articles, and videos to go along with a study of the book.
Continue reading Resources on Mark’s Gospel
If I had to pick my favorite fictional book, it would be a neck and neck finish between two Wendell Berry novels. It might depend on which I read most recently. But the two finalists would be Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter.
Continue reading Favorite Quotes from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
Most people want to know the magic formula for integrating into the life of a church. They desire to feel known, to grow, and to move from an outsider to an insider.
While a hospitable church will provide on-ramps for assimilating people, my experience has taught me that fully integrating into the life of a church ultimately falls on the individual. Are they willing to take an intentional step or two to get involved, or do they watch from a distance, staying in the crowd without ever trying to get into the game?
Continue reading Seven Simple Ways to Grow through Your Church
November is always a great time to leverage the national focus on gratitude by leaning into thanksgiving. One way to keep gratitude on your mind and tongue is a reading plan. While The Grumbler’s Guide to Giving Thanks has a 30-Day Challenge which includes a reading plan, and you can find a daily devotional for each of those days here, below is another 30-Day Reading Plan. This one is exclusively in the Psalms. Each day, the chapter will includes themes related to gratitude, ingratitude, or thanksgiving. My hope is these psalms can lead you into giving thanks this November.
Continue reading November Gratitude Reading Plan: The Psalms