Nicaragua 2015

Just returned from a wonderful week in Nicaragua. I am always blessed by our time with these people.

Here is a brief look at our week…

Hidden Hurts

a699942a

Somedays it feels like the world is winning.

Somedays word reaches you of a person now gone.

Some deep struggle now done, now over. Good-bye.

And you never knew.

You had seen them around, in passing. Maybe you waved. Maybe you were in a hurry, so you looked the other way. But they were drowning, and you didn’t know.

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

Sometimes the desperation breaks through, and you have a chance to speak and love and encourage and fight. And sometimes you find out too late.

If You had been here…

I am the resurrection and the life.

Why trouble the Teacher any further?

Do not fear, only believe.

See how He loved him!

Selah.

On those days, my only hope is that Jesus is the King of Reversals.

Son, your sins are forgiven.

Talitha koum.

He has risen; he is not here.

The System

photo-1415226620463-aedee27159c5

I tend to trust the system.

I stop at stop signs…even when no one is around. I don’t question election results. I let Google search me. One time I had some fraudulent charges on my credit card; I called the bank, and they took care of it, no problem.

So, I trust the system. It has worked for me.

But what if the system didn’t for me? What if old systems had been setup against me? What if the system was broken, and I didn’t trust it anymore? What if the system hurt my friends, my family?

What would I do? How would I feel?

I don’t know exactly.

I would probably be angry. I would probably feel hurt and stuck. I would question the system. I might become irreversibly cynical about the system. I might start ignoring the system, or outright start defying the system.

What about you? What would life be like, feel like, look like if you were convinced you couldn’t trust the systems around you and over you?

[Originally appeared on Medium]

Don’t Stop Now

OSASuBX1SGu4kb3ozvne_IMG_1088

Several years ago I trained for a marathon. The first time I ran six miles I remember panting and thinking, “How will I ever run 26?” I was spent after my first long day. My legs ached. An hour of running seemed so long.

But I kept running.

I wasn’t very fast. My body creaked and cracked. And I moaned and groaned through the opening weeks.

But I kept running.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but at some point, the training started to be fun. The very thing I had dreaded I started to anticipate with alacrity. I had more energy. My legs were stronger. I felt good. I felt better for the effort. I honestly felt more alive. What had happened? How did running go from draining to fueling?

I had discovered the benefits of endurance.

Endurance

Endurance is the strength of mind, body and spirit to keep going. How do you develop this ability to keep going? Well, surprisingly, you develop this ability when you decide to keep going. Yes. The way to develop endurance is to endure. Not very exciting, right? But it’s a critical point of encouragement.

This realization means that there is hope in the fact that you’re still going right now. There’s hope in the midst of busyness and stress, suffering and tiredness. If you can just keep going, you will keep going. And eventually, you will find you have the strength to keep going. You will have endurance.

Christian Endurance

But this process is more than just a physical or psychological phenomenon. Endurance is a God-backed, Spirit-packed process designed for Christians. Paul writes:

“[W]e rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Suffering is what Paul calls the first part of training. The pain. The questions. The aches and dark nights. But through the power of God, these sufferings become soil for growth, and the first green sprig is endurance, the ability to keep going. This ability is not for the purpose of keeping you on a treadmill. As you keep going, you are going somewhere. You are headed towards character. Grit. Deeper faith. Resilience. Buoyancy. And all of this leads to hope. And no one can steal hope from you once you’ve got it good.

Don’t Stop Now

As we begin a new year, I am encouraged by this reminder.

Right now, life seems a little crazy. School has resumed for our children. Soccer practices are just around the corner. Ministry programs and events have started up. We are juggling as many balls as ever. I am sure your life is no different. But I strengthen myself when I remember that God is faithful to take this stress and make me better for it. Remembering that, I keep going. It will get better. I will get better. He will get bigger. God will do great things for me and you. He’s promised it!

So, don’t stop now! Keep going!

How to Read a Book Better

Kindle-Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren have done us a tremendous favor in supplying us with several excellent rules for reading.

They are as follows:

  1. Classify the book according to the kind and subject matter.
  2. State what the whole book is about with the upmost brevity.
  3. Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole.
  4. Define the problem or problems the author has tried to solve.
  5. Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words.
  6. Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences.
  7. Know the author’s arguments, by finding them in, or constructing them out of, sequences of sentences.
  8. Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not; and of the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve.
  9. Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and your interpretation of the book. (Do not say you agree, disagree, or suspend judgment, until you can say “I understand.”)
  10. Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously.
  11. Demonstrate that you recognize the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgment you make.
  12. Show wherein the author is uniformed.
  13. Show wherein the author is misinformed.
  14. Show wherein the author is illogical.
  15. Show wherein the author’s analysis or account is incomplete.

Bonus: The four questions you should ask of any book.

  1. What is the book about as a whole?
  2. What is being said in detail, and how?
  3. Is the book true, in whole or part?
  4. What of it?

All of these rules and questions are wonderfully illuminated in their classic work How to Read a Book. Check it out.