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?
Jesus’ Beatitudes in Matthew 5 describe the kind of life he calls his followers into. It’s not what the religious people of his day or our day expect. What Jesus calls a “blessed” or “flourishing” life isn’t the kind of stuff that will make on the #blessed pics on Instagram. This picture of true vs false disciples becomes even more clear—and scary—when we read it alongside of his woes against the Pharisees in Matthew 23. While Matthew 5 paints a picture of true religion, Matthew 23 exposes false religion for what it is. We need to read both the beatitudes and the woes of Jesus to see the kind of disciples Jesus does and doesn’t want us to be. Together, these passages clue us in to what costly, compassionate, and Christ-honoring discipleship truly looks like.
Continue reading Disciples or Pharisees: The Beatitudes vs the Woes of Jesus in Matthew
“Brokenness precedes usefulness.”
Despite our failures, weaknesses, and weariness, despite what was done to us or what we’ve done, and despite hard seasons that feel like we’ve been put in the garage because we’re no longer useful, God uses broken people. In fact, God often walks us through a season of suffering or humility to make us usable.
Continue reading The Broken are the Useful
If you’ve been in the church for a while, no doubt you’ve heard a lot about Jesus as Savior, Lord, King, and Teacher. All these glorious truths are essential and should be held up. But there is a core reality of who Jesus is that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. There is a benefit to the gospel and believing in Jesus even deeper than forgiveness. There is a key truth motivating our walk with Christ just as important as viewing Jesus as our Lord. And this wonderful biblical truth is that Jesus is our friend.
Continue reading A Missing Part of our Theology of Jesus
Sometimes, when walking around in my yard or living room, I sense I’m being followed. And I am, by my toddler.
Continue reading Image-Bearers Parenting Image-Bearers
In every church I’ve been at, as I meet believers from other churches, and as I interact with people in my city (and sometimes overhear conversations), I often hear a similar line of thinking from people who feel like they aren’t growing in their church. They might be involved, but they express discouragement and disappointment because they walk away each week not feeling like real growth and life-change are taking place.
Continue reading 7 Ways to Grow through How You Engage Your Church
After rising earlier in the morning than we want, identity questions invade our mind as we look in the mirror, think about the upcoming day, and decide what to wear. Do I want my clothes to be the casual me, the dressed-up me, the outdoorsy me, the stylish me, or the “life beat me down so I didn’t care” me? We don’t realize we’re thinking in terms of identity, but the questions of “Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do others view me?” shape us all day long.
Continue reading How to Read the Bible with Identity in Mind
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
“And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” (Exodus 13:14)
“There is power in telling our story to our children. At the earliest age, our children can begin to hear parts of our story and to be eyewitnesses to how God is continuing to shape it. I love to tell my children aspects of my own faith story in the context of the age they are at that time.” Michelle Anthony in Spiritual Parenting
Continue reading Disciple Your Kids by Remembering with Them
Don’t get confused by the title. I’m not another millennial ditching personal growth or holiness in the name of authenticity or liberties. In this post, I won’t be arguing to stop pursuing sanctification (maturity or growth), but I will argue for understanding how the most important part of it has already happened.
Continue reading Sanctification is A Thing of the Past