Why You’re the Best Church in the World (for me)!

Why You’re the Best Church in the World (for me)!

The uber-mega church Willow Creek Church is currently hiring for their senior pastor opening. Willow Creek doesn’t require much of an introduction. 24,000 people meet at seven campuses in the Chicagoland area. It launched the Global Leadership Summit, which drew 118,000 people last year.

Last year, Mariners church in Southern California searched for their new Senior Pastor. Every weekend 17,000 crowd into its lush campus that could easily be mistaken for a resort.

And (not that if they would!) if they called me, I wouldn’t even pick up. Seriously.

New Life, you’re the best church in the world for me.

Our minds and hearts naturally wander. We ponder whether there is something better out there. Ingratitude makes our hearts grumble. Ambition turns our eyes green. “If only…” we think.

When my heart turns inward, when I allow my sin to go unchecked, I go to this place too.

But here is the reality: God has called us to Tucson. He’s called us to New Life Bible Fellowship. He’s decided to use my gifts in and for New Life. He’s given me the privilege of shepherding his flock, of caring for his sheep.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       How 32 African Slaves Turned Into Millions: This year we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the tragic start of the slave trade to the Americas. This powerful info-graphic rich article shows how 32 slaves ballooned into millions. 

2.       Why People Don't Think You Appreciate Them Even When You Do: Suzanne Vickberg with helpful advice for any leader. She begins by quoting Gladys Bronwyn Stern: "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone."

3.       Why Calvinists Should Be the Gentlest: John Newton, in his letter to fellow Christians exhorts gentleness and cautions a lack of gentleness, " If you write with a desire of being an instrument of correcting mistakes, you will of course be cautious of laying stumbling blocks in the way of the blind or of using any expressions that may exasperate their passions, confirm them in their principles, and thereby make their conviction, humanly speaking, more impracticable."

4.       Eternity and Mortality: Jennie Cesario with a beautiful reflection on how a scrape with death shaped her perspective about herself, God, and parenting.

5.       The Ugly History of Mass Incarceration: The United States imprisons more people than any country in the world. And with a disproportionate number of those inmates being black, it is an issue fraught with difficulty. As a former Detention Officer, the complicated history of and solution for our incarceration problem hits close to home. 

The Danger of Ingratitude

The Danger of Ingratitude

There is a deadly poison that contaminates the air we breathe. It’s a poison that, if we are aware of it at all, seems innocuous to us both because everyone else is breathing it in, and as far as we’re aware of it, others are breathing more of it in than us.

The poison is ingratitude. And it is everywhere.

Everything (that I don’t have) is Awesome

Psychologists agree that social media has made us less happy. Why is that? Because the constant access into others’ lives taps into our propensity toward ingratitude. We are surrounded by neighbors with nicer cars, friends who take better and longer vacations, couples who are happier, and everyone seems to be fitter and better dressed than we are. And it’s all there for us to see tucked into that powerful, shiny rectangle in our pockets. Every minute of every day.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Every Interview with Every Football Coach in 90 Seconds: Football season is upon us. Jon Crist nails every word ever spoken by a football coach. In a minute and a half.

2.       How Do I Stop Worrying? David Powlison offers sage advice. Third of his six steps is that we ask ourselves, "Why am I anxious? Worry always has its inner logic. Anxious people are “you of little faith.” If I’ve forgotten God, who or what has edged Him out of my mind and started to rule in His place? Identify the hijacker. Anxious people have fallen into one of the subsets of “every form of greed.” What do I want, need, crave, expect, demand, lust after? Or, since we fear losing the things we crave getting, what do I fear either losing or never getting? Identify the specific lust of the flesh. Anxious people “eagerly seek” the gifts more than the Giver. They bank treasure in the wrong place. What is preoccupying me, so that I pursue it with all my heart? Identify the object of your affections."

3.       Offer Thanks: Josh Buice: Paul offered thanks and appreciation to others, so should we.

4.       Hope in the Midst of a Recidivism Nightmare: Whatever your political stripe, we all must agree that the situation of imprisonment in America needs to be fixed. Marian Hatcher tells briefly about her hopeful story in Cook County and shares, " Among the nation’s 2,700 drug courts, Cook County is considered in the 10 model programs for prisoners. The jail has seen an 81 percent drop in felony convictions three years following prisoner release for those who have gone through their drug court program."

5.       The Problem of Nice and the Promise of New: Michael Lawrence on the allure of nice, "These days, there are lots of different kinds of nice. There’s the polite but detached tolerance of “live and let live” nice. There’s the socially conscious and politically engaged nice. There’s religious nice in many different denominational and faith-community forms. There’s “spiritual but not religious” nice. There’s even what’s known in my town as “Portland nice,” a sort of non-confrontational, “let’s not make anyone feel uncomfortable, even though we’re silently judging and dismissing you in our minds” nice. But for all the different kinds of nice, the appeal of nice hasn’t changed much in the last two thousand years. To be a nice person, a good person, a person who’s becoming a better person, is to feel good about yourself."

A Culture of Victimhood

A Culture of Victimhood

As a boy I was fascinated with pain. I often wondered how the pain I felt compared to pain others felt. I mostly kept this to myself, but I remember at least on one occasion getting into an argument with friends about who had experienced the most pain.

We all shared our stories: fractured limbs, concussions, road rash, and a hernia (that was my trump card). As each story concluded the storyteller would lean back, content with his sharing of the story expecting arms to be raised in defeat. But, in fact, each of us was disappointed with the reception of our tales of woe as the next storyteller would jump in, one-upping the last teller’s story of pain with his own.

I look back with embarrassment at the immaturity and narcissism this pain one-upmanship revealed in me. And yet, is the behavior of so many today any better?