Scot’s Post is worth passing on to you…

2Scot McKnight is not only an immensely important Biblical scholar and author but also an astute commentator on all things from the American “churchworld.”  Maybe you have heard some things of late about what is occurring within the Southern Baptist Convention in regards to leadership abuse as well as issues revolving around women in leadership.  If you have not, it may merit some attention on your part.  These are the issues that are coming to “every” Christian denomination that aggressively maintains misogynistic and sexist leadership practices.  Not only were they wrong in the past but they have shown themselves to be especially mistaken and out of touch with what the Spirit of God is up to in the 21st century in regards to these issues.

Scot posted today some comments from “uber Bible teacher” Beth Moore.  Her comments on Twitter of late have not only been outstanding but also prophetic.  Note please, if you choose to read her posts, that she is NOT ditching her history and her allegiances…rather she is attempting courageously to call out practices and theology that have promoted patriarchy and been that which has discouraged and sidelined a good percentage of the “priesthood of all believers” for centuries within her denomination while still maintaining an “insider” commitment.  For that, I’m thankful.  It is too easy to walk away from that which has been a rich part of one’s history as a follower of Jesus.  No one denomination, movement, or mega-church platform has all the “right” praxis for issues of faith.  One of the reasons that it is acceptable to have a multiplicity of divergent Christian “tribes” (if you will) is for each of us to see blind spots in our practice and theology.  For ANY denomination to display the arrogance of “rightness” is an affront to what most of us attempt to embrace in terms of the beauty of the diversity of the Body of Christ.  Even so, words need to be loudly proclaimed in terms of this issue that Beth addresses.  IF there is ANY GOOD THING that is to come out of the current struggles that individual churches, leaders, and denominations are facing in terms of issues having to do with abuse (i.e. #metoo and #churchmetoo) it may be that FINALLY eyes will be open and patriarchal and antiquated perspectives and practices in ministry leadership will fall into the annals of history.  It is time for every person who calls upon the name of the Lord to understand, embrace, and live in the calling that Jesus has so graciously given.  That calling…that anointing…is not exclusive to the male gender.  Maybe the truth that “in Christ, there is no…male nor female…we are all ONE in Jesus” finally lead the entire Church into the fullness of experiencing the “priesthood of ALL believers.”

Here is the link to Beth’s comments on Scot’s blog – worth your attention!

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The Parable of the Life-Giving Station

The Parable ON YouTube

“The Parable Of The Lifesaving Station”

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once
a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and
there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant
watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went
out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station so that it
became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in
the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station
and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its
work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little
lifesaving station grew.

Some of the new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that
the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a
more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of
those saved from the sea.

They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture
in an enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular
gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully
and furnished it as a sort of club.

Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on
lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.

The mission of lifesaving was still given lip-service but most were
too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the
lifesaving activities personally.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the
hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet and half-drowned
people.

They were dirty and sick, some had skin of a different color, some
spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was
considerably messed up. So the property committee immediately had a
shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could
be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most
of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as
being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal pattern of the club.

But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose
and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.
But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to
save the life of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in
those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the
coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes
that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet
another lifesaving station was founded.

If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive
clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those
waters, but now most of the people drown!

Comments from Robin for your reflection and prayer:

Are you a part of a club? OR a Life-saving station? Jesus looked at one of the people he loved who dared to walk on the water but quickly sank and SAVED him! Jesus is always looking for those who are struggling, living lives that would be best described as “shipwrecked.” That’s why Jesus calls those of us who follow and love him to join him in doing the Father’s work…that being, saving those who are in any risk of drowning. Let’s not lose our focus as Jesus followers. Yes, it is nice to be involved in a great faith community that has nice facilities and is blessed in more ways than we can count. Even so, our task as fellow Jesus followers should never be confused with anything that even “smells” of club membership. Jesus came to seek and save…guess what? That is our mission too! Who is Jesus calling YOU to touch with his love? Is there a shipwreck occurring in or around your circle of friends or influence that Jesus is calling YOU to attend to? That’s my prayer for you this week!

How the Resurrection of Jesus CHANGES death!

1How the Resurrection of Jesus CHANGES death!

Easter Day is now a memory for all of us…but the POWER and IMPACT of Easter will change our lives in the here and now AND in the future. Follow me here because this truth and this Jesus is truly the HOPE of the world. Who needs hope in life? We do…because whether we want to admit it or not, we are all on “the clock.” Life is moving forward and one day we will all have to face the reality that Jesus conquered. So, this devotional, though longer, is SO important for you to embrace. Here’s what I want you to do…read what is below. Read it slowly and prayerfully. It will change your life and YOUR anticipation and perspective on what the Bible calls, “the final enemy.”

Easter SHOUTS this truth – the resurrection of Jesus CHANGES everything about death and the grave. NOW, you might be thinking, “how morbid.” But trust me, people like you wonder about these things. You may not want to admit it, but questions about death and our anxiety about death swirl around every person’s heart and mind. So read below…if you want MORE, email me!

Because of Easter, death can now be our friend.

“Easter is God’s ‘victory over death.’ Death is no longer the curse that it was. It is no longer the power that rules. It is no longer the enemy to be feared. But here’s the twist. In doing so, Jesus also reclaims death and befriends it – not death in its perverted form, but death in its state of grace. Jesus reclaims death as a natural blessing to the rhythm of life and shows us that it is possible to befriend it.”

Death Definition – Death is the termination of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. That’s what the medical profession says about this mystery of human existence.

Even so, permit me to share with you about death from a biblical and historical vantage point:

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew Sheol, the place of the dead, was seen as not much different from Homer’s Hades. People were said to be asleep in Sheol. In and around the time of Jesus, most people were steeped in Greek philosophical and Roman ideas. For Homer, death was pretty bleak. Hades, the “god of the dead,” was not a nice guy.  The Romans spoke of the ‘hope’ of death, and indeed built temples to the goddess of death, Spes. But death for a Roman was very much filled with this-worldly ideas of the future: peace and security, social stability, crops and harvests, large families and good fortune.

In our time, it has been shown again and again, in study after study, that a primary driving force in human culture is not only an awareness that someday we will die but also the terror or high anxiety about that passage in life that most people feel. For example, have you thought about dying this week? It’s weird and scary, isn’t it?

Yet, along comes Jesus and the Resurrection and, frankly readers, that changes everything! Here are some lessons from the resurrection:

The Resurrection changed our relationship to death. Death’s sting was that either we “were no more” or that we were consigned to the gloom of Sheol/Hades with little hope. Death’s sting is the fear or death-anxiety common to all of humanity. It is through our death-anxiety, that we are held in emotional and spiritual bondage. Even so, those are the realities from which Jesus in and through His resurrection has freed us. You see, if death is an enemy, it is no longer an enemy YOU need fear. When the New Testament (NT) talks about death it is not synonymous with the cause of death, the experience of dying, the moment of death or the grievous aftermath experienced by the survivors. All of these remain most unwelcome, in need and want of God’s compassion, comfort and/or healing. Rather, in the NT death per se relates to the destiny of those who are dead. That destiny is the eternal, loving, and transformational presence of Jesus.

The Resurrection has also changed the nature of death. Jesus shifts in the nature of death in two broad ways:

Death itself has changed. Death used to mean “consigned to the grave” (whatever that meant). Death, as our destiny, shifts radically into an entirely new reality to be embraced because of Jesus. Because of Jesus…because of the resurrection, there is the new death reality, and if that reality IS our reality (through the gift of God’s grace and a growing relationship with Jesus), then this is the truth that inspires us to know that death can actually be embraced. We can embrace death, not as the thing that rips your spirit from your body (the moment), but embraced as the place of joy that lies beyond that moment…beyond the death moment, is awaiting you and me, are everlasting arms and love.

Another interesting issue that the NT asserts is the denial of death altogether. Now, this is a bit technical, so stay with me. The NT does not equate the moment-of-death with death itself. The NT treats death (or ‘perishing’) as something believers will not experience. Here are the verses that highlight this truth:

John 11:25-26 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Clearly, Jesus doesn’t mean we won’t experience the moment we call death, but rather, that our destiny is not and never will be death as ‘the grave’ or ‘sheol’ or ‘hades.’ In other words, Jesus says, “That ain’t going to happen to you!”

I would suggest that Jesus does not refer to the moment of death as death. Rather, for Jesus, he usually calls that moment is “falling asleep.” Jesus won’t concede to calling DEATH death because if he holds the keys of death and hades, no one is ultimately stuck there. Being stuck there is the problem that he forever ended.

Finally, what do we do with the reality of the moment-of-death? Do we fight it? Do we embrace it? Is it a friend? Or is it a grotesque curse of the fall that we resist it to the end? Here’s where all this leads – dying is an inevitable reality. Through Jesus’ resurrection, because of Easter, dying is not “death-as-destiny,” it’s simply a process prior to death and our “doorway” into the presence of Jesus.

I propose to you that when you reflect on the NT and the Easter event, that you see death has changed – Jesus sees dying independently from the cause-of-dying. Permit me to explain. There are causes of dying…cancer, heart disease, strokes, car accidents, and a multitude of other reasons that cause death. All of those things, we instinctively want to avoid, prevent, treat and/or cure.  In other words, cancer is never my friend…heart disease is never my friend, etc. We all know this. We automatically oppose these enemies of humanity as did Jesus whenever he encountered them.  He referred to sickness and disease as oppressors and treated them as such.

Now remember the question I started with? Is death now our friend? It seems to me that statement is not talking about embracing either the cause of death nor the state of the grave that Jesus negated (that understanding of death as an afterlife prison of sorts). It seems to primarily be referring to the acceptance of the dying process once it truly begins as a human inevitability. This dying process we accept on the basis of the equally inevitable resurrection aftermath. That is, dying is no longer bound to death, but to our place before the throne of God’s love. If we are bound for a fulfilled or restored or eternal Kingdom of God, then once the cursed cause of death (which we’ve fought in every way through medicine and through prayer) has done its work and we are now truly dying, then instead of fretting and thrashing against that reality, we can practice acceptance and surrender so that dying itself becomes an occasion for a fulfilled experience of Jesus’ presence. You see, we never need to surrender to disease, dying or death because our surrender is always only to Jesus. And it is because of him that death is NOW our friend. Thus on this side of death, we do not need to move from fight-mode against any disease or other reason that brings about death as if we were giving up. But we do need to remind ourselves again and again that there is NEVER a time to ultimately despair when facing death because we never do.  That’s because of the Risen Jesus. You see, my healthy children are given into his care, my granddaughter who struggled with Leukemia is given to his care, my elderly father is given into his care…the people I know facing death, are given into his care.

In my experience, the first order of business to be acted upon through the dying process seems to be “presence.” First, my presence to their situation, to their pain, and to their needs. And secondly, God’s presence throughout that journey, whether it is a healing or dying path. Ultimately, because of God’s grace and Jesus’ victory, the dying process leads to the presence of Jesus…for eternity.

Let me FINALLY close this here – we need not flip-flop between fighting and despairing when facing death because it’s all about the surrender to the presence of Jesus. More than that, we need not focus on the process of dying as our enemy or even as our friend. What we DO need to focus on is the presence of the living Jesus with you and me…with us through every experience…with us from now and through eternity.

Brokenness…a trying but important journey!

Brokenness-3A flu bug has recently made its way through many of our friend’s lives. It seemed like every day I was hearing about another person who got affected and “infected.” Although usually, news as such inspires prayer and calls/texts of support, it also brings to mind VIVID memories of experiencing illness in my own life.

You know this to be true – everything looks a little different when you’re lying on the bathroom floor. And while I do sometimes find myself wishing I had cleaned the floor a little better, normally the things that take up a lot of my time and attention don’t even come to mind at all when I am sick. Things like unanswered emails, unplanned events, work commitments and all those daily to-dos simple fall right off the radar.

Illness has a way of boiling things down to their basics. When I’m lying on the bathroom floor, it’s just me and God in a way that is rarely true in my everyday life. And although I sometimes do ask God to help me feel better or at least calm the roiling sea in my stomach, often when I’m sick, all I can think to pray is, “Thank you thank you thank you” because there are only certain things that I can learn ONLY when I am “broken.”

No one likes pain. No one purposely goes someplace that is dangerous without first counting the potential cost. To go blindly into an inevitably painful scenario is simply naïve and stupid. Even so, believer after believer in Jesus Christ often expects pain-free living when initiating and growing into spiritual maturity and effectiveness in God’s Kingdom. Yet, we all know reality, don’t we? And when you stare squarely in the face of “reality,” the only viable conclusion that any thoughtful and honest Jesus follower can come to is that struggle and brokenness is going to be real part of the faith experience.

In fact, a man by the name of Parker Palmer once wrote, “when spiritual intimacy is developed in the heart of a sincere Christ-follower, brokenness will be the end result.”

Any denial of the actuality of the brokenness experience will only cause the hurt to entrench itself in a dysfunctional emotional underground that will eventually lead to a variety of potential behaviors. Someone once told me, “you are only as sick as your secrets”. Because of that psycho-spiritual truth, the earnest Christ-follower should pursue a path of vulnerability that leads to an honest wrestling with the dynamic of spiritual brokenness.

Truthfully, every growing disciple must wrestle with the time-honored truth that the change that occurs in the human heart only occurs when it is “mixed lavishly with pain, sorrow, and crushing.” That is what is called, ‘brokenness.” Now, there are many ways that we use the word “brokenness”. We break open bottles of wine…we break a horse…we break into a house or into a box to get to a toy. Look it up online – every definition given, and there were numerous, had to do with no longer being in “working condition”. Words like “weakened, lacking, hurt, imperfect” are woven into the fuller definition of the word. Now, as I looked at that definition, I was first tempted to get discouraged. But then it dawned on me…God wants into the heart and spirit of a disciple…and often being “broken” is the only way that that can happen.

As he worked through the process of his own brokenness, the Apostle Paul actually quotes God as He spoke to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). That is the perfect prototype for God-honoring living.

Brokenness is not a path that we can avoid in our lives. As I mentioned above, sooner or later, we all clock time on the “bathroom floor.” Now, I believed for many years that God could not and would not use a “broken tool.” It was not until I started to embrace my brokenness that I came face to face with the truth…”God’s favorite tools, those servants who are most powerfully His, are those that have been broken.”

Brokenness is where trustworthy and enduring faithfulness is forged.

As Alan Nelson remarks, “As you study different difference makers, you will find that many of them rose out of personal tragedies and overcame personal barriers such as poverty or physical or relational challenges. Tough times are necessary for the production of strong personality traits.”

The bottom line…once you take a serious and comprehensive look at the reality of what Holy Spirit can do in the midst of a broken heart and life, you will undoubtedly and consistently discover that brokenness leads to new faithfulness, new dreams, and bigger visions.

We are all a mess. Yet, spiritual truth reveals to us that we will not be the person God dreams for us to be until we look deep within ourselves, acknowledge and embrace our brokenness and humbly lay it at the feet of Jesus.

Gene Edwards states: “…many people pray for the power of God. More every year. Those prayers sound powerful, sincere, godly and with an ulterior motive. Hidden under such prayer and fervor, however, are ambition, a craving for fame, the desire to be considered a spiritual giant. The man who prays such a prayer may not even know it, but such dark motives and desires are in his heart…in your heart.”

Only when all of our personal and spiritual wounds are replaced by a new life and power in Holy Spirit can we be whole, available and useable for the Kingdom. Until we are able to allow Holy Spirit to perform a spiritual coup d’etat in our hearts, our spiritual fruitfulness and faithfulness will be deterred. Without embracing our brokenness, we will end up not obedient and worship-filled servants of the Kingdom but slaves to our passions and dysfunctions.

God uses people who are humble, teachable, and responsive. God empowers hearts that are tender and open to supernatural indwelling. Because of the depth of human sin…because of the prevailing pride that infects the human spirit…brokenness is the only means of preparing oneself for embracing all that God has in store. Brokenness is not necessarily revealed most vividly through a person’s humility…although often humility is the result of brokenness. Brokenness involves destruction. It is often the way that God allows the reality of the sinful world to work on the heart and spirit of the disciple. God does not cause suffering…but God uses suffering. Suffering is often the “school” of a growing disciple. Suffering is often necessary to accomplish all that God purposes in every person’s life…in other words, our obedience…our submission to the Lord begins at the point of our brokenness. Just as Jesus said in that garden during Holy Week, “not my will, but YOURS be done.”

There are some things that can only happen when a person understands that the only way to be the person God wants us to be is to allow suffering and the vulnerability that accompanies a disclosure of that aspect of a person’s journey to hit us full force. The only way a full heart allegiance is going to be rendered to God is for a complete and total surrender to occur. Only when a person is able to say, “I can’t” will they be able to allow the Spirit of God to heal them. Only then will the “I can’t” transform into a confident, “God can.” Only in brokenness will a disciple move beyond feelings of spiritual entitlement and consumption in order to move into true worship and authentic personal sacrifice.

In actually, brokenness is one of the many complex human experiences that is easier to recognize than to describe. If someone were to use an academic system as a paradigm for describing brokenness, one might say that it is an “upper division” class in the pursuit of Christian maturity. God seeks brokenness in the hearts and lives of His disciples (e.g. Luke 9:24ff, Romans 12:1, Psalm 51:16ff). God knows that most often the avenue to effective spiritual development comes via the pathway of brokenness. It is in brokenness that dependence upon the Lord is shaped…it is by experiencing the “stripes of pain” that we experience the depth of His healing and love!

As this devotional closes, here are some notable quotes on the power and presence of God that is released in our brokenness and humility. May the Lord bless YOU as you gaze into the depths of your soul accompanied by the healing presence of the Spirit of God.

Henri Nouwen once remarked, “The way of the Christian is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross.”

David once wrote at a time of his own brokenness, “In your strength, I can crush an army; with my God, I can scale any wall” (Psalm 18:29).

“Beneath all the great accomplishments of our time, there is a deep current of despair. While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in a success-oriented world.” Henri Nouwen

“There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” Rabbi Manachem Medel

Ann Voscamp rarely disappoints – advice for crazy people with crazy lives!

I love Ann’s blog – her daily emails challenge me, cause me to think and pray and, generally speaking, always have important truths to share.  Her email today was good and if you haven’t read it, check it out HERE.  And while you are at it, subscribe to her daily emails.  You won’t regret it (or, maybe you will if you LOVE comfort zones, static living, and hard-heartedness).

https://annvoskamp.com/2019/01/crazy-stressed-days-need-this-life-plan-a-manifesto-to-stay-sane/

Yes to this article! Character counts!

69438-homerdohI read many, many blogs..that is something I have shared with you before.  I find blogs honest, challenging and personally encouraging EVEN if I do not agree with the premise or conclusions of a particular post.  THIS week, I read a blog I simply HAVE to share.  It appeared on the “Thinking Out Loud” blog and states some VERY important truths about faithful, Christian character over against “right-ness” or cultural fame.  You may want to scan this important idea!  In fact, it has some things that are included in the post that may get YOU thinking about YOUR life.

When Doctrine overrides Character by Sheila Wray Gregoire

Why is it that Christians have such a difficult time denouncing pastors who have done horrendous things? I have an off-the-wall theory, and I’d like to share it in this thread.

Two incidences this week: Tim Keller offered George Whitefield, the man largely responsible for the legalization of slavery in 18th Century Georgia, as someone to emulate; and Harvest Bible Chapel elders and members continue to support James MacDonald, despite credible accusations of spiritual abuse.

We are told “we can’t judge” and “we all have our failings.” But most of all “He’s such a great preacher!” We live in an age where preaching and doctrine reign, and anyone who has the correct doctrine must, therefore, be a staunch Christian. Yet is this biblical? Let’s take a look.

In Jane Austen’s time, the phrase “Christian charity” was common. It was our love that distinguished us from others. In those days, pretty much everybody “believed” the same thing. What showed that you were a true believer was if you actually lived it out.

Things have changed. First, few believe today. But church trends also elevated belief over practice. [Billy] Graham’s crusades, though amazing, gave the impression that if one said the sinner’s prayer, one would always be right with God. Graham himself lamented the lack of discipleship.

Neo-Calvinism elevated doctrine over anything else, and a church’s preaching became key to its reputation. Then politics fused with Christianity. Christianity became synonymous with a certain viewpoint in the world, cementing the idea that it was about beliefs, not practice.

Today, if you were to ask someone what a Christian was, they would echo, “someone who believes X and Y.” The idea of “Christian charity” being our distinguishing characteristic has largely gone by the wayside.

Yet what does the Bible say? Jesus said they would know us by our love. James said faith without works is dead. Works do not save us; but works show that we truly are saved. Many people believe the Christian tenets and preach Christian doctrine for entirely the wrong reasons.

Paul admitted this—some preach Christ out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil. 1:15). James said that even the demons believe—and shudder. A person can preach excellent sermons and write amazing books, but that says little about whether they have the Spirit of Christ in them.

Yes, God saves us through our belief in the saving work of Christ. But what makes our faith REAL is that it changes us. Until the church stops idolizing the person who simply preaches an amazing sermon and teaches the right doctrine, we will never get back to the heart of Christ.

If the gospel does not change how you act—if it does not affect your view of marginalized people; if it does not make it unthinkable to yell at a restaurant server; if it does not compel you to give—then ask yourself if you are believing for the wrong reasons.

And then tremble.

*Sheila Wray Gregoire is a published author with Zondervan, Kregel and Waterbrook Press and is a featured speaker at women’s events. Her blog deals with marriage, family and parenting issues and is called To Love Honor and Vaccum.

Why we need people…not only in family, life’s journey, friendship…but in “church”

2https://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2018/october/worship-anywhere-why-church.html?paging=off

Check that link out above!  Karl Vaters is a fellow clergy guy…he writes not only a blog but a regular column for Christianity Today.  He is a “champion” for “small church” in an age that “worships” the large gatherings of mega-institutionalism.  The article is worth the read but the HEART of it is here:

“I don’t go to church to worship Jesus. I go to church to worship Jesus with other people. Because I need to worship Jesus in the company of others. We all do.

I need to worship Jesus along with…

  • People I know
  • People I don’t know
  • People who know me
  • People I share life with
  • People I share common beliefs with
  • People I disagree with
  • People who love me anyway
  • People I have to love anyway”

I couldn’t agree more!

Some “Habits of the Home”

1Habits of the Home

Today I want to share some small things that you can do in your home with your family, no matter what the size. These are great habits that can continue to solidify your commitment to building a Jesus-centered home.

1. Family Verse. Every week, month or even year, your family can choose a verse from the Bible and then recite the family verse at Sunday dinner. For example, one family chose Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

2. Fishbowl Prayers. I think it is a good habit to make a point of adding some type of intercessory prayer at meals to make sure we make a habit of focusing outwardly as a family towards other people’s needs. I don’t do it 100% of the time because a) I’m generally hungry and b) I can’t often think of things to pray for on the spot. I read a story about a pastor who figured out an easy way to handle this by keeping a fishbowl in the kitchen. The family is invited to write prayer requests on cards or slips of paper and place them in the bowl. At meals, a member of the family pull one out at random and pray for that person/situation.

3. “One Meal” Fasting. In my personal life, I try to fast one meal sometime every week. No, I’m not Catholic. But it’s a practice I think makes a lot of sense for Protestants too, which is why I’m including it here. Why? First, fasting is a “time-honored” spiritual discipline and tradition that is BIBLICAL and theologically sound. It’s something we can all do together as families. Second, many Christians around the world do still fast from meat on Friday, so there’s also a greater sense of corporate fasting as the body of Christ. Third, the practice of fasting is ancient. Why reinvent the wheel when there’s something we can do that Christians have always done? We’ve been very good at keeping this fast, though it isn’t fully meeting my expectations yet in terms of focusing our minds on the things of God.

4. Thanks Log. I’m going to start keeping a “thanks log” in 2019. Whenever something good happens in my life, I am going to try to append a dated bullet point about it in an MS-Word document. I don’t want to make this a huge chore or burden, but I want to start compiling a list of “thank you God’s.”. It’s amazing the sheer number of things that go right in our lives on a daily basis that we don’t really remember or take stock of. Re-reading some of these periodically always helps keep me in a thankful and humble frame of mind.

None of these is earth-shattering or totally unique I know. That’s the point. They are just simple, small habits. But there’s no reason not to do small things as well as large ones.

What about you? Have any good habits from your home you’d like to share? Email them to rdugall@apu.edu because we need to be sharing what we’ve learned and what works with other people.