relationships

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Free Throws Should Be Easy. Why do Professionals Miss? I enjoyed this story from Wired: " On paper, the free throw could not be more straightforward. It's a direct, unguarded shot at a hoop 18 inches across, 10 feet off the ground, and 15 feet away."

2.       Have you Talked to Your Kids About Sex? Helpful encouragement: "The sex and gender conversations in your home don’t have to be big, awkward productions. They don’t have to be embarrassing. And they certainly don’t need to be all planned out. But they do need to happen. The sooner the better. And they need to continue, the more often the easier. They absolutely must be rooted in biblical truth about how God designed our bodies and gave us the gift of gender and sex."

3.        How Relationships Spark Spiritual Growth: This is a really helpful matrix that will help any leader consider how they can grow their group relationally. Dan Mancini says that this process will, "remove hurdles to your growth... And you’ll get down into the root of the junk you’re carrying around in your life, and it will reveal motivations, appetites, and beliefs that no one (including you) knew you were carrying around.

4.       3 Things to Do When Someone is Suffering: Chris Hulshof considers what we can learn from Job's friends: " What does it look like to show up when someone is suffering? It looks like joining them right where they are and getting dirty with them amidst their grief and sorrow."

5.       8 Questions You Must Ask as you Fight Pornography: Deepak Reju offers great counsel. Two of the eight questions are "what lies are you believing?" and "will you be radical or passive about cutting out your sin?"

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Saving Retirement: Jeff Haanen on the state of retirement. This is a very helpful read. He says, "Some are now seeing retirement as a social construct that allows them to take an intentional 3, 6, or 12 months of sabbatical rest to prepare the heart for a new season of fruitfulness (Lev. 25). Rhythms of preparation, worship, feasting, learning, simplicity, remembrance, and service are chosen over consumption, travel, or a premature jump into a new field."

2.      Why Treating Your Spouse Poorly Can Be So Easy: Dave Harvey considers his sin against his wife, and his compounding sin even as he sought forgiveness: "Several years ago I became aware of a subtle, destructive habit. Whenever I sensed I had sinned against Kimm I would go to her, confess, and seek to resolve the situation. Looks pretty good when I put it that way, doesn’t it? But I came to realize that my goal was far from noble. I wanted a quick and efficient restoration of our relationship so I could stop feeling bad and get on with 'more important things.'” 

3.      Heroes, Villains, and Guides: Glen Elliott ends his reflection on leadership with these important questions, " Be honest with yourself. What are you seeking? What’s your view of being a leader? Who are you really in your leadership role? Are you seeking to be the hero or intentionally choosing to be the servant who guides others to success?"

4.      Why Tithing Isn't a Pinnacle Virtue or Legalism: Randy Alcorn pushes on some significant barriers in our hearts, "So to those who say all New Testament offerings are freewill, I say fine. My question is, even if we’re convinced tithing is an antiquated practice that doesn’t apply to New Testament believers, if Old Testament saints could rob God by withholding freewill offerings, can’t we do the same? If not, why not?"

5.      The Relationship Timeline Continues to Stretch: Fascinating data that shows a few interesting trends including the fact that the time between meeting and marriage has nearly doubled in five decades, and how the average couple now lives together for over three years before marriage.

6. Romano Tours: This hilarious sketch by Adam Sandler is helpful truth serum for us as we head out on vacations this summer: “if you’re sad now, you might still feel sad then… you’re still going to be you on vacation.”

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Unattainable Perfectionism of Millennials: Gene Veith reflects on a new study, "The young adults of the Millennial generation are showing a higher rate of mental problems than previous generations.  A study says that the problem is perfectionism and their inability to attain it. As Rachel Genevieve Chia reports, 'A study on the topic shows this phenomenon is unique to millennials, who are under immense pressure from always being ‘sifted, sorted and ranked’– in exams, job performance assessments, or on social media, where they feel compelled to curate a perfect life.' As a result, they are subject to depression, anxiety, anorexia, and suicide."

2.       The Joys and Limitations of Male-Female FriendshipsTim Challies with a helpful reflection on the beauty of the brotherly and sisterly relationships we have in Christ and the limitation of that analogy.

3.       5 Ways to Be a Godly GrandparentNice little post by Avery Foley here. I especially like #3: "Tell stories. Many grandchildren, and even children, know surprisingly little about the lives their grandparents or parents lived. You may not want to talk about yourself, or you may be much more interested in what’s going on with the grand kids, but tell them stories. Share about the good times, the funny times, and the hard times. Tell how God’s mercy and grace got you through hardships. Be open about struggles you’ve had and how God’s Word gave you the wisdom and answers you needed. Your wisdom can help your grandchildren know what you did right so they can emulate it. And it can highlight what you did wrong so they know what not to do!"

4.       Should We Expect Miracles Today? Stephen Kneale with a helpful clarification regarding the question of the miraculous, "Now, I want to be clear that I do believe that the Lord may work miracles as he chooses today. But I do not believe that the Lord will work miracles throughany given individual today. That is, I don’t expect people to be able to wave their hand and the lame jump up and walk."

5.       Why Authenticity Matters: Eugene Cho with a brief, but thoughtful reflection. "You cannot be in relationship without authenticity."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      What Kind of Home Can You Get for $200K? Property Shark breaks down just how much home you can get, from Cleveland to Manhattan. Tucson is tucked right in the middle at just shy of 2,000 square feet.

2.      Are You in an Abusive Relationship? An important post for those who are asking themselves this question. Justin and Lindsey Holcombe say, "[B]ecause he is so good at deceptively wielding control, it can often be difficult to discern if you are being abused. From the perspective of outside observers, these signs of abuse may be cut-and-dry. But for those trapped in the cycles of abuse, making sense of these complicated relational dynamics—especially when the relationship is intimate—can be suffocating and confusing."

3.      Considering Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for LifeThomas Brewer weighs in with a thoughtful response to the meteoric Jordan Peterson's book. Brewer reflects that, "Much of [Peterson's approach] can be helpful, admittedly. The way he describes the benefits of not lying, of taking on risk, and of doing good in the world are broadly applicable and relevant to daily life. But for all of the insights, fascinating stories, and general helpful advice for encountering suffering in this world, Peterson’s advice falls short. All he can say is, “We know evil exists, because suffering is evil. Therefore, choose to stop needless suffering.” A powerful moral vision, to be sure, but a vision that’s incapable of saving us."

4.      When You Just Can't Pray Anymore: Brianna Barrier Wetherbee promises us that when we pray real prayers to our Daddy, there is transformation: "But here’s the deal. Straight up. I truly believe that there is always a purpose in our pain. That swell of “sacred sorrow,” that deep, gut-wrenching suffering that goes beyond words? It changes me. Every time. God allows us to hurt to make us more like Jesus."  

5.      You Must Disappoint SomeoneThere's so much wisdom in what Jon Bloom says here, "Why do you spend your time doing what you do? Why do you say yes to doing some things and no to doing other things? Are you saying yes and no to the right things? These are unnerving, exposing questions to ask... How other people perceive us — or how we think they’ll perceive us — has an extraordinary influence on how we choose to use our time. Coming to terms with ways we seek people’s approval or fear their disapproval will force us to face humbling truths about ourselves and may require repentance and uncomfortable change."

Forgiveness Like a Child

Forgiveness Like a Child

Most every night a transformation happens right as our put our 20-month-old foster boy down to bed. Minutes after he is happily reading books with me and seconds after he is sweetly swaying in my arms as I sing to him, he transforms. The moment happens as I place him in his crib. He rolls over and, with big tears rolling down his fat cheeks, he wails. As I leave the room and close the door, he stands in the crib, looking at me with pleading eyes. “How could you abandon me?” his eyes ask.

The sun sets, the moon rises and sets, and the sun rises again. I open his door to find him sleeping. I turn off the sound machine and open the window shade. He hikes up his cute bottom in the air, rolls over, and pulls himself up and greets me with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. I smile back and he giggles.

Forgiven.

Fast forward several hours, and a couple sits on my couch in my office. He can’t move past the fact that she won’t make love to him. She can’t move past the fact she caught him watching porn.[i]

Not forgiven.

The claws of unforgiveness are sharp and relentless.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Why Men and Women Can (and Must) Work Together: Faith Whatley with an important article on how to strike a healthy balance in workplace relationships, "It’s important—especially as seemingly more and more Christian leaders are caught in a scandal—to make sure the right boundaries are in place to protect your marriage, your ministry, and your soul. But in doing so, it’s easy to put up so many boundaries you alienate yourself or stifle the giftedness and friendship of the opposite gender."

2.       Why and How to Take the Risk of Opposite Gender Relationships: Tish Harrison Warren pushes back on those who, in light of recent misconduct, have responded to cutting off opposite gender relationships with this thoughtful piece, "Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary president Danny Akin tweeted, “A valuable lesson we all can learn from this tragic situation: follow the @BillyGraham rule. If you are married, never be alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. Never!” This rule, in its most pristine form, renders male-female friendships impossible. However unintentionally, it communicates to women that they are fundamentally dangerous. And it bars men from meaningful mentorship or pastoral care of women and vice-versa. I, for one, give thanks for the many men I knowwho broke the Billy Graham Rule."

3.       6 Relevant Things the Apostle Paul Never Said: Nicholas Davis unmasks the deception of our culture with this tongue in cheek article. His final is, "'Let your guard down and just relax a bit. Everything I’ve said is more like a guideline; just be young again and live a little. Let all that you do be done for you. You deserve it!' What Paul actually said: 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: 'Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.'

4.       Baby Boomers Turn to Faith As They Age: A new study finds that, "Most boomers (56 percent) said their religiosity stayed the same over the past 10 years, while 21 percent said they became more religious and 11 percent said they became less religious. Twelve percent said they were never religious."

5.       17 Ways Christians Say NoJohn Crist on our special Christian superpowers of saying no; "I don't think it's God's will; I just don't feel peace about it right now."

What is Heaven? It's a Community

What is Heaven? It's a Community

Every so often someone will share with me that they don’t have any friends or haven’t found anyone who they think would make a good friend. And so they sit on the sidelines, disengaged from community.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around their experience. I’ve never lived in a place where I didn’t feel disappointed by the fact that we aren’t able to spend meaningful time with all of those we wanted to befriend or that we weren’t able to go deeper in our existing friendships. And many of my deepest regrets are in the ways I’ve failed others relationally: either not investing in relationships locally or not maintaining friendships from a distance.

Some have the faulty notion that relationships will cease when we get to heaven. Whether it is my childhood image of us perpetually singing around the throne of God or the ubiquitous picture of us strumming harps on clouds, relationships are largely omitted in popular conceptions of heaven.

One of the great promises of heaven are the relationships that will be rekindled, the relationships that will be deepened, and the brand new relationships that will be sparked.

Why I'm Not Giving Up on Social Media

Why I'm Not Giving Up on Social Media

There are plenty who lament the impact social media has had on our lives and relationships. The ripples are real[i]: the dilution of relationships, envy, and loss of time are all undeniable side-effects.

In reaction, more than a few of my friends have unplugged. I know several of my pastor friends who intentionally sideline social media from their lives. They might have accounts, but for the most part, they lie dormant. They have chosen to protect themselves from the negative impact of social media on their lives. I understand the decision and, in terms of personal emotional health, I think it’s actually a wise choice.

I’m unwilling to give up social media, though.

It’s not because I’m addicted (although maybe I am) or in order to use it to build a platform (I’m pretty squeamish about that word).

It’s because social media is an indispensable part of my pastoral leadership. I don’t think I could minister as effectively if I was disconnected.